After nearly 24 hours of travel, I landed in Bangkok at 11:40 p.m. But even as jet lag set in, I couldn't help but admire the splendor of the massive marble lobby of the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen's Park. Before checking in, I documented the soaring ceilings, shining stone floors and romantic ambience via Instagram story.
It was September, and the five-star hotel — the first Marquis to open in the Asia-Pacific region — was celebrating its grand opening.
In my room awaited amenities from Thann, which are free of artificial colors and fragrances. While tempted to put the aromatic bubble bath to use in the freestanding tub, I opted to plunge into the sleek king-size bed instead and made use of the expansive walk-in shower the next morning.
Amid the expanse, the Bangkok Marriott Marquis offers spaces that feel more intimate. For instance, within the hotel's all-day dining venue, the Goji Kitchen & Bar, there are "micro restaurants" such as the Soba Factory as well as secluded sections of beautifully appointed seating, all of which helps breaks up the layout and fosters the feeling of a luxury dining experience.
Located on Sukhumvit Road in downtown Bangkok, the hotel's surroundings include the city's best shopping. A walk through Queen's Park leads you to the M District, where you'll find EM Quartier and the Emporium Shopping Complex. The immense mall features a five-story waterfall, panoramic views of Bangkok, high-end retail, food court and gourmet market.
Also near the hotel is Terminal 21, an airport-inspired mall. Picture nine stories of retail where every level is inspired by major cities, including Paris, Rome, Tokyo and Istanbul.
Back at the hotel, guests can unwind from a day of shopping at Quan Spa. Treatments include isolated massages of the head (45 minutes for $40) or feet (45 minutes for $30, one hour for $37). Highly recommended is the Thai Heritage Massage (60, 90 or 120 minutes for $50, $60 and $65, respectively), which combines pressure techniques with stretching to balance chi energy in the body.
In the Lobby Lounge, guests can partake in high tea under the guidance of a tea sommelier or sip Champagne or a cocktail if tea's not their thing.
Rates for a standard double queen or king room start at about $175 a night.
Before heading home, I took a 90-minute flight to the island of Phuket, where I stayed at another shiny, new property, the Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach. Nestled on the beach near a national forest, the resort has 180 rooms (rates for a standard double queen or king room start at about $100 a night) as well as 15 private one- and two-bedroom, beachfront pool villas (rates start at about $600 a night). There are also three dining options: the Andaman Kitchen, Big Fish Restaurant & Bar and the Lounge. Must try: sticky mango rice and deep-fried meang leaves with egg and shrimp.
Like Bangkok, Phuket also features shopping, street fare and night markets, including the Walking Street Market on Thalang Road in Old Phuket Town, where the architecture is comparable to New Orleans. The island also has authentic Thai massage destinations like the Pheangchit Traditional Thai Medical Clinic that had me planning my next visit. Until then, I'll be dreaming of this paradise.