A corner of blissful tranquility in a region rich in cultures and legends
By Marie Starr
If Kayah Resort was to be described in a single word it would be tranquil. Located at the edge of town in the state capital Loikaw, it is just 5 minutes drive from both the airport and the bus station. The tranquility of the resort is set off by the mature cedar trees shading the grounds and well-maintained gardens. Arriving under a tastefully-designed wooden porch, guests are struck by the remarkable view across the pool and beyond to the golf course, lake and rolling mountains on the horizon.
“We are the only resort in Loikaw.
None of the other hotels can offer a beautiful swimming pool like ours,” said U Nay Myo, Hotel Manager of Kayah Resort.
Located to the front of the hotel between the reception hall and road, the pool is surrounded by wooden decking and lounge chairs. The area is bordered with glass paneling so as not to obstruct the fantastic views beyond, though this means passers-by on the road below may catch glimpses of guests by the pool as they drive by. Soon, a poolside bar will be constructed to serve drinks and snacks to guests as they lounge and swim.
“Coming soon we plan to open a pool bar. We hope to start work on that next month,” said U Nay Myo.
The architecture and design of the resort are strong points – subtle luxury is a theme throughout with the main building a low, wood-and-stone structure with wrap-around deck. Rooms are located in bungalows which are well spaced out maximizing privacy. These factors, along with generous verandas and leafy surrounds, evoke a log cabin-like experience.
The resort has two room types – deluxe rooms (some with a pool view) and executive suites. Deluxe rooms are a generous 320ft2, naturally bright and tastefully furnished, though the bathrooms are a bit of a squeeze. The executive suites are large (1250ft2) with two bedrooms accommodating up to 6 people. They feature well-equipped kitchens, dining and lounge areas which are well designed and comfortable opening onto a large wooden deck.
The restaurant and bar on site offer lunch and dinner at fair prices. The menu is made up of mostly European dishes with some Asian staples to satisfy all tastes. Breakfast served at Kayah Resort is a buffet of mostly western food – chicken sausage, crispy bacon, eggs and French toast. The chunky muesli with yoghurt deserves a thumbs up while cheesy pasta for breakfast was a little odd.
Hotel staff in Myanmar are always friendly and warm but those at Kayah Resort are particularly gracious and professional. According to U Nay Myo, all members of staff are Loikaw locals who receive on-the-job training as well as skill-building and language classes on an ongoing basis. He explains:
“New staff get training when they join but also regular language and service training monthly.”
Apart from a small number of adventurous travellers, Kayah State wasn’t popular as a destination until recently. This was due to area restrictions as well as a lack of facilities for visitors. Now however, travellers can fly to Loikaw from Yangon on a 50 minute fight with Myanmar National Airlines. There is now easy access to an abundance of activities and sights to keep every traveller busy as well as good-quality restaurants and hotels.
“Tourism in Kayah has only opened to international tourists very recently. In the last two or three years the number of travellers has increased. Depending on our guests’ requests, we always try to assist them,” said U Nay Myo adding that, “tours, car and driver hire and local guides can all be arranged by us.”
The hotel provides bicycles and riding around the area is enjoyable and a good way to observe local life. Guests may also play a round of golf at the nearby course. Most guests come to the area to visit villages where Kayan women – famous for the brass coils they wear around their necks – live in their smoky wooden houses. These tours should be arranged through the local ‘inclusive tourism’ project (094 28017074/ 099 60107733) and are usually full day trips. There are a number of waterfalls, lakes, and a cave within driving distance of the Loikaw too.All in all, if you haven’t already been, Kayah is a place to visit no matter what the season. Loikaw and its surrounds deserve at least a couple of days and Kayah Resort is an ideal place to stay while you are in the area.