Tucked away in the north of Laos is a city, Luang Prabang, a UNESCO site since 1995, known for its gentle spirit and unspoiled nature.
The name evokes jungle, adventure but also serenity, mystery and romance. Many travellers through history have marvelled at the beauty of the area and the city is a place that lives on in people’s hearts.
Luang Prabang features hotels and guesthouses, which have exponentially grown in the past years, from 50 guesthouses in 2006 to 300 and from 10 to 63 hotels.
The oldest of the hotels is the five stars La Résidence Phou Vao by Orient Express, a one of a kind luxurious place located on the top of a hill with a view over the city’s 100 temples and the luscious greenery. Legend goes that the hill was the place where the king used to go with his son to fly kites, the name Phou Vao meaning the kite mountain. Quite a stunning location to fly kites indeed!
John Dopere, the general manager of the hotel recalls: “When I first came to this magical place it was 12 o’clock: at 12.01 I was in love with the property”.
Mr Dopere, a very experienced GM who has been working in five stars hotels in places such as the Seychelles, France and Bahrain is rightfully proud of what he represents: “It is all about genuinely caring about your guests. As the GM I like to be in the front, enjoying the best side this job has to offer: the contact with the people. We want our guests to feel welcomed all through their stay.”
La Résidence is more than a fine, luxury resort: it’s an exclusive and moving experience: the rooms, in a classical Laotian-colonial style, or the infinity pool, the only one in Luang Prabang, offering the most incredible view over the surrounding mountains; the restaurants and the signature dining experiences, such as the 500 candle light dinner; the spa, offering unforgettable energising and tender moments.
When Mr Dopere thinks back at one of the best moments in his career so far, he says it’s been when one of his guests after exercising in the newly opened archery field told him he could forget about the existence of his job for an hour and a half. “This is the magic of Phou Vao”, he says, “This is the power of Luang Prabang.”
One last secret revealed: La Résidence offers a truly magnificent boat excursion on the Mekong river, on a typical Lao boat, tastefully decorated. The promise is to have a comprehensive and authentic travel experience, with the feel of the bygone days, the taste of adventure of an Agatha Christie book and a real and authentic encounter with the locals.
Luang Prabang is a quiet little world on its own, allowing you to undress from stress and conventions and simply enjoy.
Best time to go:
The rain season lasts from May to October, but don’t let the rain scare you off! This is also the quietest time of the year, there are fewer tourists around and it is possible to better enjoy the city and the surroundings, no queues anywhere.
Flights are also cheaper.
How to get there:
Direct flights from Bangkok, Vientiane, Hanoi with Lao Airlines.
What to do and see in Luang Prabang:
Visit the temples, the Palace Museum, stroll around the city or rent a bicycle. Experience the kindness of the local people; be mesmerized by the colours and the scents at the local market.
Tip of the general manager of La Résidence Phou Vao
Get up early and go and see the waterfalls, a true encounter with wild nature and beauty, only a 40 minutes drive away!
(Mr John Dopere – the general manager)