Where in south-east Asia would you go if you wish to stay at a really top hotel?
It would appear that the answer is either Siem Reap in Cambodia or Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.
This is not, we should make clear, in REm’s estimation. In fact, both as a publication and individually, we are fans of the Kingdom’s hotels and have spent many happy hours staying in, eating in and being entertained in them.
But, it appears we are out of step with the visitors to the TripAdvisor website.
Their votes make the world’s best hotel – anywhere, not just south-east Asia – to be Viroth’s not far from Cambodia’s Ankor Wat. At No 11 is the Shinta Mani Shack in the same area. The Vietnamese capital has two establishments in the Top 10 – the Hanoi La Siesta Hotel and Spa (4th) and the Hanoi La Siesta Hotel Trendy (10th).
No Thai hotel appears in the world’s Top 25. Indeed, Thai hotels don’t fare especially well in any of the website’s lists.
The site highlights the 25 best (according to their travellers) in 10 categories – World Best; Small Hotels; Luxury Hotels; Value for Money; Best for Service; B&B and Inns; Romance; Family Hotels; Bargain and All-Inclusive.
Because of the way the law is structured in Thailand we would not expect the country to have any representation in the B&B and Inns class, nor the (Mexico-dominated) All-Inclusive one for that matter. As an aside, the UK features prominently in B&B, no surprise there.
But how do the Thai hotels fare in the top 25 of the other eight classes?
World-wide: As stated, no representation for Thailand.
Small hotels: A similar story.
Luxury hotels: Koh Lanta’s Layana Resort and Spa is 17th.
Value for Money: At 15 is the Reverie Siam Resort in Pai. But Hanoi hotels are first and fifth; Siam Reap hotels occupy second and sixth. In fairness, given the strength of the Thai baht I think the Kingdom’s hotels might have one hand tied behind their collective backs in this category.
Best for Service: Nothing from Thailand, but Siem Reap has two (5th and 13th); and Hanoi also has two (8th and 15th).
Romance: Neither Siem Reap nor Hanoi gets a mention here. But Thailand has two. The Palace Luxury Boutique Villas, Koh Tao, is 12th and the Layana Resort and Spa (see luxury list) is 20th.
Family: No Thai hotel and Vietnam’s representation is not from Hanoi. The Premier Village Danang Resort earned a very creditable second place.
Bargain: No Thai hotels. Two Vietnamese hotels (again, not in Hanoi) feature plus one from Siem Reap. Our comment under “value for money” also applies here.
Do the maths. Just four Thai hotels in all those lists. In an Asian-only top 25 there are just three from Thailand – the previously mentioned Layana resort (11th), Pillars House in Chiang Mai (14th) and The Siam Bangkok (22nd).
In the Thailand-only list the above three are placed first to third in the same order. Sadly, the name Pattaya features just the once – the Royal Cliffs’ Royal Wing Suites and Spa at 21st.
Is any of the above a cause for concern? Were I working for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) I would think the answer might be “yes”.
As stated very early in this piece, we’re fans of Thai hotels. But maybe TAT should consider sponsoring trips for Thai hoteliers to Siem Reap and/or Hanoi to discover what it is about them that TripAdvisors’ travellers especially like.
Imitation is, as the saying goes, the sincerest form of flattery. Let’s “flatter” Siem Reap and Hanoi a little to the benefit of our own hotels.
By Dave Buckley