Tucked away in the pleasantly leafy diplomatic enclave of Yangon Myanmar, the Governor’s Residence Yangon doesn’t need to advertise its presence.
A restraint entrance, almost hidden from view by greenery, has a small desk where guests are greeted and escorted promptly along a covered wooden walkway that crosses over ponds and a fan-shaped swimming pool.
The main residence – built in 1920 with throwbacks to the Victorian era- is a teak house with red-tiled roofs fringed by white overhangs – housing the Kipling bar, the Mandalay restaurant, alfresco dining areas and shop. The 48 suites are located in clusters of low-lying bungalows sprinkled on the grounds.
Black and Red Silk Cushions
While ushered to my garden room, expectations mount. Once my door is opened I take in the sight: could I say it is both Spartan and luxurious?
That is certainly an oxymoron, however, this is what I find: expanses of polished teak floors serving as the perfect background to a palette of off-white cottons; a huge bed and a sitting area by a bay window dressed in plain white; black and red silk cushions providing the only splashes of colour.
An overhead fan stirs the white cotton curtains despite the fact the rooms are fully air-conditioned. Through the window, I see lotus ponds and wooden little bridges.
The feeling is restful and of a stripped bare nature. Rooms are blissfully darkened, exactly what you crave after touring around in the searing tropical heat.
By the Pond
Breakfasts, lunch and dinners alfresco by the pond are particularly enticing. Dinner by candlelight with the cicadas chirping in the background and a balmy breeze carrying the sweet garden’s scents is very romantic.
If it happens to be raining, it is doubly pleasurable, as there is nothing like a monsoonal downpour drumming on palm leaves to conjure up the essence of Southeast Asia.
Upstairs in the main house, in a stunning open-sided pavilion with fan-cooled verandas and rattan furniture, the GM holds a cocktail reception for all guests on Tuesday evenings.
The Kipling Bar is well stocked, the finger food delicious and the company the expected well-heeled devotees of Orient-Express about to embark on a river cruise and the ex-pats introducing Yangon new comers to a world of refined elegance from a bygone era.
The food, whether it is the buffet selection for breakfast or the a la carte menu for dinner, is exceptional. Executive Chef Ricardo Lujan who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico, has a passion for the freshest of ingredients and a background to propel him to Chef sainthood.
Trained by a Japanese chef, he learnt very early on the value of taste, quality and aesthetics in food preparation.
His French classical training provided him later on with a superior knowledge of ingredients.
His creations taste as good as they look whether is local fare he has refined to a heavenly level, Latin touches introduced in the menu or the truly Asian classics he finishes with a twist.
A must try is the dedicated Burmese breakfast section set up like a market stall in the morning. It is a revelation of taste.
The egg noodles in a coconut broth are to die for. Humble but brilliant, these offerings co-exist side to side with an astonishing breakfast spread which has mostly imported components: from prosciutto and capers from Italy and smoked salmon from Norway to local yogurt which is a velvety dream delight.
Chef Ricardo Lujan does not like to be confined to one cuisine be it French, Italian or Mexican. He embraces the flavours of Asia and combines them to delight, entertain and satisfy.
This green gem of a Yangon hotel made it to the Conde Nast’s Best Luxury Hotels of 2014 and it is a unique place to launch your exploration of the wonders of Myanmar.
Complimentary bicycle tours and hotel grounds discovery walks are on offer. Make a request and be surprised by one of the best Yangon hotels…
Maria Visconti was a guest of Belmond Governor’s Residence, Yangon.