Approaching from the lake by boat, engines are switched off
and guests are rowed through the private bay to the hotel jetty by a resident
Intha leg rower. The low-lying traditional wood bungalows slowly raise their
sleepy heads and emerge from their blanket of the green Shan Hills. Passing by
blooming lotus flowers and the gentle lapping of the water against leg-powered
oar makes for a charming start to an experience in bucolic pleasures.
Managing Director Ma Yin Myo Su, who first opened the resort
in 1996, recognized from early on that people visiting Myanmar wanted an
authentic local experience. Getting around by boat and sleeping in stilted
lakeside houses gives visitors an insight into the typical Intha lifestyle.
“The real art of travelling is to experience things that you
don’t usually experience. People who come here want to learn about how we live,
what we eat how we sleep what we enjoy and so on,” said Ma Yin Myo Su.
Inle Princess has 36 rooms of four varieties – mountain,
garden, lake and princess houses. Rooms are beautifully designed, spacious and
bright wooden structures with delightful outdoor garden showers in most units.
Careful consideration went into the selection of every detail of the finishes
and soft furnishings with traditional Intha textiles and crafts visible all
The Lake Houses and Princess Houses feature verandas over the water with lounge
chairs and fantastic views across the lake and on to the blue mountains on the
east side of Inle. Nature lovers will delight at the binoculars and old bird
watching book provided in these rooms.
The resort grounds are green and leafy and guests can wander
around the pond, vegetable garden and craft village on site. The spa offers
free morning yoga classes on a platform overlooking the lake.
While these little comforts add to the guest’s experience,
Ma Yin Myo Su believes that the real charm of a place lies in the people and
the human interactions guests have during their stay.
“You can have a very modern hotel with great amenities but
this is only the hardware. Where is the software? To me, the software is in the
In fact, the resort is something of a village with the
majority of the staff and their families living on the grounds. At breakfast on
the terrace over the lake, guests may see school children leave the jetty using
their legs to row themselves to their school on the lake. This is community
that makes up the ‘software.’
Inle Princess appears to go to great efforts to preserve the
delicate balance of the health of the lake which has suffered in recent years
due to changing agricultural practices, overfishing and an exploding tourism
industry: all waste water at Inle Princess is treated through bio filters on
site and recycled in the irrigation of the gardens. Organic pesticides are used
in the gardens and textiles are made using only natural dyes, for example.
“This lake is a rice pot for everyone. If we damage this,
people won’t come. If they don’t come, we can’t fill our pockets or our tummies
so that sense of responsibility is very important for hotels and all across the
Many elements in the rustic design of the resort are
produced locally or even on site. This was initially a result of the cut-off
nature of Myanmar as a country at the time Inle Princess opened – Ma Yin Myo Su
found that it was easier to use what they have in the local environment than to
try and source modern goods from abroad. In fact the on-site ‘craft village’
where guests can watch and participate in the making of traditional crafts such
as basket weaving, paper making, pottery and wood carving was initially
established as a supply workshop for the resort.
The resort is located a one-hour journey by boat and car
from Heho airport and a 20-minute drive from Nyaungshwe, the nearest town where
more restaurants and entertainment can be found. Trips on the lake can be arranged
through the hotel and the nearby Red Mountain vineyard is a must-visit around
sunset. Bike rides in the area are popular and another great way to take in