|In Thailand—chosen in Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Awards as the Sexiest Romance/Honeymoon Destination in Asia for the fifth consecutive year—a returning visitor invariably finds that despite the colossal|
strides the country has made to elbow its way into the 21st century and the recent natural disasters to strike there, the magic of the kingdom is alive and thriving. After all, this is the fabled magic that transformed the country from a far and exotic land into an enthralling destination that continues to draw a record number of visitors.
“We were delighted to learn that Recommend’s readers have chosen Thailand as the ‘Sexiest Romance/Honeymoon Destination in Asia,’” says Chanchai Doungjit, Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) director for Western USA and Latin America. “The country is always ready to welcome visitors planning a romantic getaway, and our offices are always willing to assist in such plans.”
Doungjit adds that in order to meet the demand from travelers seeking secluded hideaways, TAT has unveiled a new and comprehensive website (honeymooning-in-thailand.com) full of ample suggestions for those seeking the perfect romantic vacation.
For travel agents, Thailand symbolizes romance personified and perhaps offers Southeast Asia’s most extraordinary trove of destinations—significant historical sights like the revered Emerald Buddha in old Bangkok, or the gold stupa at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep near the northern city of Chiang Mai, where the Buddha’s remains reputedly lie—along with the allure of splendid seaside retreats like Phuket, Koh Chang and Ko Samui. While there, it also doesn’t hurt to bargain in silk and gems or participate in thrilling elephant rides through rainforests.
And among the many resorts within the country, two are most likely to catch the attention of discriminate travelers seeking romance in the tropics. The Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, the jewel island easily reachable by Bangkok Air’s 1-hour flight from Bangkok. At times the property gives the impression that it was made to order for those seeking seclusion surrounded by luxury and awesome natural beauty. Sitting precariously on a bluff high above Laem Yai Bay on Koh Samui’s northwestern edge, it has 58 secluded villas and 13 private residences.
Amanpuri, the flagship resort of Amanresorts, was built in 1988 and immediately gained status as one of the most luxurious and magnificent resorts in Thailand. This is where one comes to sample style and elegance in a thoroughly Thai style.
It sits on the Andaman Sea on the west coast of Phuket, Thailand’s iconic resort island. Its 40 Thai-style pavilions are scattered in a coconut plantation and all feature an outdoor sitting area, a sun deck and a private dining terrace.
Of course, even a cursory glimpse of the evening news divulged Thailand’s recent crisis: a flood of Biblical proportions that, at least from news reports, gave the impression of having paralyzed the country.
According to Doungjit, however, the floods should not cause long-term damage and deter visitors from considering Thailand when planning a trip. “Most of the [flood’s] impact were in agricultural and industrial sectors,” he says.
So it’s apparent that, as the floods ebb, a surge of tourism is inevitable due to Thailand’s wealth of gorgeous and exciting destinations.
For travel agents, the kingdom is a mine that gives no indication of becoming exhausted.
As it is, the alluring kingdom continues to be the enthralling destination that it’s been in the past, with 2011 as the most profitable year for tourism on record, even with the negative impact of the severe flooding during the fall months. l