Arrivals & Departures Grand dame's new era

Photo of Angie Tomlinson

What do Sir Noel Coward, Orson Welles and Rudyard Kipling have in common?

Kipling and Welles once drank at the bar and it was one of South East Asia's most enduring landmarks, now The Strand Yangon has entered a new era.

After a six month renovation Yangon's grand dame will reopen on November 15 with its history intact thanks to a painstaking restoration.

"The Strand Yangon was one of the first luxury colonial outposts to open in South East Asia, founded in 1901 by the famous hoteliers, the Sarkies brothers, and it remains one of the most architecturally beautiful landmarks in the region," The Strand Hotel and cruise vice president Olivier Trinquand said.

"This latest project has preserved the heritage at the heart of the hotel and honours the Strand's part in Myanmar's history, whilst creating a more relaxed, refined and glamorous setting for 21st century travellers and explorers."

Those new-age explorers can revel in tales of those that came before them. For more than a century the hotel's bar was at the epicentre of high society in Yangon, with luminaries such as  English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer Sir Noel Coward,  American actor, director, writer, and producer Orson Welles, and English journalist, poet, and novelist Rudyard Kipling.

The bar has been renamed The Sarkies Bar in honour of the hotel's founders, Aviet and Tigran Sarkies. The brothers were responsible for many of the finest colonial hotels in the region, including Raffles in Singapore and the Eastern and Oriental in Penang.

The teakwood-panelled bar now has leather seating and an extensive menu of cocktails and single malt whiskies.

During the renovation local artisans meticulously restored original architectural details of The Strand Yangon, from the teak panelling and antique bedsteads, to traditional Myanmar lacquer ware and marble floors.

The 31 rooms and suites have been decorated with traditional furniture, vintage-inspired textiles and original artwork.

The Strand Restaurant is a step back in time with a high-vaulted ceiling, chandeliers and black and gold lacquer panels from Bagan.

Christian Martena, trained in Europe's Michelin-starred kitchens and running his own acclaimed restaurant in Bangkok, heads up the kitchen as executive chef. He has spent the past few months travelling the country sourcing local produce and spices.

The Strand Restaurant opens December 1 for dinner four nights a week.

Superior suites cost from $US334 ($A436) a night, including breakfast and taxes. A special New Era package is on offer for stays from November 15 to April 30. Guests booking a superior suite for two nights or more will be upgraded to a deluxe suite (subject to availability with some blackout dates), along with return airport transfers, high tea for two, a bottle of wine on arrival and a Myanmar degustation menu for two at The Strand Cafe.


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