Tour Mandalay recommends: The Governor’s Residence (Yangon)
Formerly the official residence of a Kaya state governor in the 1920s, the carefully preserved teak mansion you see today has been lovingly restored as a boutique, luxury hotel that captures the charm and elegance of a more leisurely era.
Having won the ‘Belmond Governor’s Residence Producer of the year award’ in 2014, and with quiet hopes of winning it again in 2015, it is no secret that Tour Mandalay have always been big supporters of this much sought after property. On the back of a two night ‘under cover’ inspection trip, Tour Mandalay got the chance to test out the property first hand and here’s our thoughts.
First and foremost, the Governor’s location is key. At a quick glance of a map, it might appear a bit out of the way, especially when compared to other popular hotels, but this is not the case. Located just off the busy Ahlone Road, the Governor’s Residence is situated in a quiet neighbourhood, surrounded by lots of green and colonial-style, embassy mansions. This is a side of Myanmar’s commercial capital that visitors rarely view, with most choosing to locate in the busier, built-up areas of the city. Just a short walk away is the Pegu Club, a famous Victorian gentleman’s club built in 1882, known by cocktail connoisseurs as the birth place of the Pegu Cocktail. Unfortunately the building now lies in a state of disrepair, but it is still possible to walk around the grounds and marvel at the crumbling Victorian architecture. There are a friendly few stray dogs and squatters around, so visitors are requested to be mindful of their presence.
The Governor’s Residence is also a ten minute walk away from Shan Yoe Yar, Myanmar’s first fine dining Shan-style restaurant, a must for anyone looking to sample this tasty, low in fat, speciality cuisine. Saying that, the Governor’s Residence serves up a great Myanmar curry table buffet, complete with free flow beer, which is hard to pass up on when the restaurant’s only a few steps away from your bedroom.
Speaking of which, on this occasion, Tour Mandalay were lucky enough to stay in the Governor’s Room, a room, which like the name, exudes class and style. Successfully combining Burmese tradition with contemporary luxury, our room was furnished with tasteful wooden furniture, intricate wood carvings, traditional textiles and fine linen sheets, all of which were complimented with modern amenities.
As part of Tour Mandalay’s ‘under cover’ inspection experience, we thought it would be wise to pretend it was our anniversary, doing so will be sure to prompt even higher levels of customer service (if possible!). We were not disappointed. From the moment we made the reservation to the moment we checked out, the staff at the Governor’s residence could not have done anything more to make the occasion more memorable. Take the beautiful towel and rose petal decoration below for example, this took us completely off guard and we were wowed by the amount of time and effort that clearly went into making this thoughtful gesture.
The same goes for the tasty chocolate cake and bouquet of flowers. It’s this attention detail and thoughtful service that makes this the best 5-star stay in town. For our final night, the Governor’s Residence also set-up a poolside table for dinner, complete with flower petals and romantic candle light. This provided the perfect setting in which to enjoy a Shan tomato and mozzarella starter, osso bucco main and a 2013 bottle of pinot noir. During this time we were also served by a lady called Thinzar, who provided us with some of the best service we’ve received in Myanmar thus far. Even though the restaurant was close to full, Thinzar managed to control the floor with ease. Experiences like this help to justify why you pay more to stay at establishments like this – even though it’s Myanmar, a country that has not long opened up to the world, Belmond’s management refuses to compromise, especially when it comes to providing high levels of customer service.
When we were not busy wining and dining, Tour Mandalay spent plenty of time relaxing by the side of the pool. Even though the experience was thwarted by grey clouds and a bit of rain, it provided the perfect oasis in which to relax. Just imagine coming back here to relax after enjoying a full day’s worth of touring?
Whilst it will be necessary for us to make reference to food again, Tour Mandalay would also recommend ordering some light bites from the comfort of the poolside recliners. On this occasion, we ordered ice cold bottles of Myanmar Beer – complete with ice bucket – and a plate of delicious Mexican tacos. As we hope you will agree from the photograph below, this was hands down the best looking dish of tacos we’ve ever laid eyes on, let alone tasted. In fact, we’re still drooling at the thought of eating it again!
Tour Mandalay were also invited to try out the Governor’s Oasis, the hotel’s exclusive spa. Offering a full range of soothing treatments, a 90 minute massage here is a great way to shake of any lingering jet lag, or treat yourself at the end of an adventure packed itinerary. Options include purifying facials, stimulating body therapies and pampering hand and foot packages. There is also a choice of revitalising express treatments, convenient for those with limited time.
Yes the Governor’s Residence might be the most expensive hotel in Yangon, but it’s certainly worth the investment. Every detail has been thought of, from the moment you step out of the car on arrival, to the moment you hand over the keys at checkout. It’s also worth mentioning that, shortly after this ‘undercover’ inspection, Tour Mandalay were sent a 25-page feedback form to complete including everything from how the welcome drink tasted to the efficiency of the laundry service. It is this attention to detail and dedication to exceed perfection that makes the Governor’s Residence one of the best hotels in the country. For a truly memorable stay in Yangon, be sure to consider a stay here before anywhere else – even if it means staying just the one night at the end.