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Review: Tropical Hotels

Updated on July 19, 2016
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When seeking an ideal destination hotel or resort, today’s world travelers can rely upon countless travel guides, agencies, websites and publications for direction. One may caress a trusted, well-thumbed copy of Fodor’s or Frommer’s or Zagat’s, or simply keystroke a path through TripAdvisor, Trivago, Expedia, Virtual Tourist, and Lonely Planet. Perhaps a friend or relation has a cherished experience to share or a striking property to recommend.

When all else fails, one would do well to pick up a copy of Kim Inglis’ Tropical Hotels. A survey of 38 luxuriant hotel and resort properties throughout the five Southeast Asian locales of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Java and Bali, this book is an immersive introduction to the luxe life of the well-heeled exotic itinerant.

The rustic grace of the Four Seasons Resort outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand is expressed in its stilted pavilions of teak and shingle surrounding rice paddies and pool. By contrast, the cool, clean lines of The Metropolitan offer a calm haven within the urban sprawl of central Bangkok. Offering yet another completely different aesthetic, the intimate Aleenta Resort of Hua Hin is a mod beachside boutique hostelry devoted to sun, sand, and surf. White limestone plaster walls and deep dark wood framing and accents punctuate the crisp coolness of Chiang Mai’s Rachamankha, laid out on the principles of feng shui.

Opulence is manifest in many variations among these fine hostelries. The Datai on Langkawi Island, Malaysia considers itself a retreat to nature, and rightfully so. Wild orchids, ferns and philodendrons provide habitat for hornbills and lemurs, framing views above the tropical canopy to the sea beyond. The small and intimately modest Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion — known locally as The Blue House — is an indigo gem, rich with mosaics, fretwork, ornate metalworking, and traditional charm. Situated upon a small portion of its own island, Pangkor Laut Resort offers a collection of wood bungalows stilting out over the water’s edge.

The author has even seen fit to profile accommodations on the move: The Easter & Oriental Express Train that traverses from Singapore through Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok and back. Decidedly Victorian in its interior décor, the train offers bedrooms with showers, bar, restaurant, library and observation car. With an exterior bearing the colors of beige and British racing green, the train is a glimpse of an earlier era. Fresh flowers, polished marquetry, the smell of fine cigars, fine crystal, crisp linens, and richly brocaded upholstery present an elite experience.

The selection of photographs and scene settings convey the full spectrum of the hotel/resort experience. Not only is the striking architecture, interior design and layout of each property conveyed, but also its art, amenities, grounds, service, hospitality and overall ambience.

The author, Ms. Kim Inglis, based in Singapore, has co-written other volumes on Far Eastern architecture, interior design, residential style and culture, and her knowledge and familiarity with her subject matter rings through. In this effort, she is joined by the team of photographer Jacob Termansen and stylist Pia Marie Molbech in showcasing the selected destinations in their full lush glory.

Tropical Hotels is a hardcover book in portrait format, 9” x 11.25”, consisting of 224 pages, with one or more color photographs on virtually every page, and with a brief prosaic introduction.

The book is published by Tuttle Publishing, an imprint of Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd., of Clarendon, VT and Singapore, and is available in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Japan from Tuttle Publishing and its affiliates.

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