The provenance of The Strand Yangon, Myanmar’s recently-renovated luxury urban resort hotel, dates back to colonial Burma when the famous hoteliers, the Sarkies brothers, first opened the doors on their luxury Rangoon hotel to explorers and adventurers in 1901. Built in a prime location at the cultural centre of the city, the renaissance of The Strand Yangon has happened at the same time as new art galleries, shops and restaurants have popped up amid the historical and architecturally significant buildings surrounding the hotel.
The hotel has launched two new packages – Off The Beaten Track Artisans and Landmarks of Yangon – that include some of the Strand team’s personal recommendations of what to see and do in Yangon, based on their expertise as ‘Yangon Insiders’.
The two-night Landmarks of Yangon tour includes one full day tour, or two half-day tours, of the colonial-era architecture of downtown Yangon. A guide will take guests on a walking tour of some of Asia’s most impressive late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings, both religious and secular. In the late afternoon, guests will then take a car for the short journey to the Shwedagon Pagoda where a private area will be set aside so that guests can participate in the lighting of 500 oil lamps as part of the daily sunset ceremony. Priced from AUD$1235 per room based on double occupancy during low season, and includes accommodation in a Superior Suite, return airport transfers and excursions.
The two-night Off The Beaten Track Artisans package includes two half-day guided walking tours with visits to the contemporary art galleries close to the hotel, a handcrafted gold jewellery workshop, the spice market, a fortune teller and local fair trade shops, with lunch in a nearby restaurant. Priced from AUD$1250 per room based on double occupancy during low season and includes accommodation in a Superior Suite, return airport transfers and excursions.
Visitors to The Strand Yangon can explore the city and take advantage of some of the insider tips from the team with either of these two new tours, bookable through the hotel’s concierge.
“The majority of our team here at The Strand Yangon are Myanmar nationals and have worked at the hotel for an average of 15 years or more. They are family in more ways than one, with generations of some having worked here through the hotel’s colourful history,” said Olivier Trinquand, Vice President, The Strand Hotel & Cruise.
THE STRAND YANGON TEAM SHARES THEIR #YANGONINSIDER TIPS
Mark Murraybrown – Operations Manager
Mark first visited Myanmar in 2014 and moved from London to Yangon in 2016, having worked for many years developing the teams of some of London’s finest restaurants.
“Visiting Myanmar is an experience rich in culture, spiritual wellbeing and serenity. Even within the bustle of Yangon, it’s possible to find a quiet place for reflection. When time allows, I like to take an hour to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda as the sun is setting upon it’s golden stupa, light a candle and find secluded spot in the gardens. My other recommendation is to visit one of the fair trade shops within a 5-10 minute walk of the hotel that sell beautiful and affordable crafts, such as Pomelo and Hla Day.“
Christian Martena – Executive Chef
Christian Martena has been part of the Strand team for just over a year and spent the months while the hotel was being refurbished last year travelling to different regions of Myanmar, learning about the different ingredients and styles of cooking in order to combine the century-old Myanmar recipes he discovered with a modern European style of cooking. Christian suggests that visitors wanting to learn more about local cuisine and wanting to take home a taste of Myanmar should visit the Yangon spice market – “a true delight for all the senses, with vibrant colours, smells, tastes and textures from all regions of Myanmar.”
Thin Aye Khine – Head Concierge
Khine joined The Strand Yangon in 2001 and, on attaining the position of Head Concierge at the hotel, was instrumental in establishing the Myanmar chapter of the Concierge Association of Les Clef’s d’Or. She has a personal interest in the welfare and social development of less fortunate communities and suggests that visitors to Yangon might like to take a rickshaw from the hotel to visit some of the villages on the far bank of the Yangon River, where they can see working local markets and meet villagers going about their every day lives.
Mya Mya – Head Butler
Mya Mya has been at The Strand Yangon for over 20 years and is Head Butler, leading a team of eight providing 24-hour service to the hotel’s 31 suites.
“We are like a family at The Strand and the hotel is our home. I always suggest to our guests who love a traditional afternoon tea to try out our new Myanmar style afternoon tea at The Strand Café. It’s served in beautiful lacquer ware boxes and has all the sweet and savoury dishes we would enjoy at home, like Laphet tealeaf salad, Myanmar wontons with shrimps from the Rakhine region, and sticky rice balls with brown bean paste. Delicious!”
Jared Green – International Director of Sales
What first struck Jared when he came to Yangon was the genuineness and spirituality of the people.
“Myanmar is on the cusp of greatness and it’s great to be sharing that experience. Yangon is such an energetic and creative place with a serene soul. It’s been exciting to see over the past couple of years the galleries of local artists popping up in the area around The Strand Yangon. You can literally take a stroll around the block and see work from up and coming contemporary artists from Myanmar at places like the River Art gallery and the Pandosan gallery.”
Ohnmar – Executive Housekeeper
Ohnmar leads a team of 19 housekeepers at the hotel and is the second generation of her family to work at The Strand. For a fascinating glimpse into every day life in Yangon, she suggests visitors take the three-hour round trip on the circular train track that loops the city.
“The circular train stops close to the hotel and is an inexpensive way to discover the scenery and every day life of Yangon and its people. Be sure to pack your camera and a bottle of water!”
Olivier Trinquand – Vice President – The Strand Hotel & Cruise
“Each and every day is a reminder of the wonderment that is Myanmar; a country with such a rich heritage and a wealth of endearing qualities. This history and heritage is evident everywhere in Yangon. From architecturally significant colonial buildings such as The Strand Yangon, to the treasures to be found in the many good quality antiques shops that we suggest our guests visit, such as Augustine. The spirit of an elegant bygone age can also be captured whilst touring the city by taking an excursion in the beautifully restored vintage Elephant Bus.”
Shwe Sin – Director of Sales – Myanmar
“The Sarkies Bar is a city landmark in itself, having been a gathering point for raconteurs and explorers for over a century. We recently renamed the bar after the famous brothers who founded the hotel, along with Raffles Singapore and the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang. I love the atmosphere of relaxed glamour we have recreated in the bar, with it’s leather banquettes and teak paneling, bringing to mind explorer’s clubs of old. I can just imagine Noël Coward and Orson Welles stood at the bar as they once did, swapping stories over a Strand Sour. The Strand Sour is a cocktail that has become synonymous with the hotel’s colonial grandeur. Originally mixed by the bartenders at The Strand in 1968, it’s a refreshing mix of local Mandalay rum, lime juice and Angostura bitters – the perfect long cool refreshing drink to combat the heat of the day.