Lifestyle

A Relaxing Staycation at the Shangri-La

By Lwin Mar Htun 9 July 2018

With Myanmar’s rainy season in full force, people aren’t choosing to take weekend getaways. Instead, they are opting for relaxing staycations at local luxury hotels.

Staycations are perfect for those who want to take a vacation but don’t have time to travel. People take a day trips to see the city’s sights and then stay at a hotel, allowing them to relax with less stress, less travel and less planning.

Last weekend, I was invited to stay at the 5-star Shangri-La under their ‘Monsoon Special Staycation Package.’ It was a great break from the stress of work.

The package is only offered on the weekends, and I chose to stay Sunday night. I checked in at 2 p.m. with only a small bag including extra clothes to go to work the next morning.

The Hotel

This is the city’s hottest hotel and it is located in a prime location downtown. It first opened in November 1996 as the Traders Hotel and was later rebranded as the Sule Shangri-La in 2014.

The hotel has 474 rooms and is just blocks away from the city’s landmark Sule Pagoda, which is more than 2,000 years old and a major fixture in the city’s business district.

The location is a popular spot for networking and gathering for both business people and tourists. The hotel design effortlessly mixes simplicity and elegance.

My weekend started with a quick 20 minute cab ride to the hotel, with no traffic because it was a Sunday. On the ride I planned how to spend my day there. When I arrived, a hotel’s friendly communication executive Kay Thari led me to the reception desk to check in a took me to my room.

The hotel is also connected to Sule Square Mall allowing for shopping and dining at your doorstep.

A deluxe room, offered with Sule Shangri-La’s staycation package. (Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/ The Irrawaddy)

Accommodation

The Monsoon Staycation Package offers a deluxe room and I requested one with a city view. The view wasn’t great. There was construction on the other side of the road with a view of Shwedagon Pagoda in the background. But it still offered a different view than I get at home.

The room was spacious and clean, with a luxurious feel. The furniture was high quality and there was natural light coming in through a big window.

I couldn’t resist collapsing onto the king-size bed in the center of the room. The sheets were soft and the pillows comfortable – it was like sinking into a fluffy marshmallow. Above the bed, were large windows framing Shwedagon Pagoda.

The room had a minibar, flat screen TV, 24-hour Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service and an oversized soaking tub. There wasn’t a standalone shower area.

I dropped my bag, slipped into the king-size bed and began my day of relaxation.

Hotel Amenities

A guest working out at the hotel gym. (Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/ The Irrawaddy)

Gym

If you don’t want to miss a daily workout even on vacation, the Shangri-La has a gym on the fifth floor complete with treadmills, stationary bikes, weights and more. There are also trainers available. Gym access is included in the staycation package and you can get your workout in at any time of day.

A spa where the therapist works out your back. (Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/ The Irrawaddy)

Spa

On the same floor as the gym and pool is a spa. I signed up for a complimentary spa session, which is not included in the staycation package.

I choose an aromatherapy oil massage (US$50/hour) and chose my favorite smelling oil from the counter. You can also ask for staff recommendations.

The massage therapist led me to a massage room for one person, including a shower area. The spa music and aromatherapy made me sleepy. I got under the sheets and the massage began. After 60 minutes I was completed relaxed and loose. I’m really thankful that therapist Aye Aye Htwe gave a great massage and wasn’t a talkative person. Then, I headed to the pool.

Hotel swimming. (Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/ The Irrawaddy)

Pool

Over the gym, there is an outdoor swimming pool with plenty of deck chairs to lounge around on. Most hotel pools have a strong chlorine smell but not this one. There is also a trainer who stays near the pool at all times. Pool access is also included in the staycation package.

I got to the pool in the evening after my massage. There was one foreign family, with the parents teaching a little girl to swim, and a group of friends playing in the pool and taking photos. It wasn’t the best place to snap pictures but it was still pretty.

When the sun went down, I went back to the room to take a proper shower in the huge bathtub before dinner.

A chef cooking for hotel guests at Cafe Sule. (Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/ The Irrawaddy)

Food

I choose the weekend international buffet as my dinner at Café Sule. The dining room was decorated beautifully but it was a bit crowded, possibly because it was a weekend.

I chose a table with comfortable chairs with a view of the road outside. The international buffet includes Western, Eastern, European and Halal foods, along with a big dessert counter. Most of the food was delicious and the service was impeccable. It cost $36 per person.

After dinner, I went to my room with a full belly and read a book and watched movies until I fell asleep.

Boiled crab, prawns and mussels are served at Cafe Sule’s buffet. (Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/ The Irrawaddy)

The next morning, I went to Café Sule for the breakfast that was included in the package. The buffet was excellent and offered a ton of choices.

I checked out of the room at 10 a.m. and crossed the road to my office and back to normal life. Overall, the Shangri-La staycations are $99 for two people and it’s really worth the cost. I’d definitely recommend a break from the stress of everyday life with a relaxing staycation package.

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