The 2010 King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament takes place this month at the 77-room Anantara Golden Triangle in northern Thailand, overlooking the Mekong Valley between Laos and Myanmar. Teams such as Moët & Chandon, Mercedes Benz and Audemars Piguet are battling for the top trophy, with proceeds going to the National Elephant Institute, which oversees the protection of these gentle giants.
During the rest of the year, group participants can climb aboard these polo-playing pachyderms for a ½-hour Elephant Driving course, followed by an Elephant Trek through the bamboo forests. There’s also an Elephant Bathing program but we’re not going to go there.
The Small Luxury Hotels member offers a handful of jungle-luxe suites with views of three countries; the two meeting rooms host 140 and 20; and Thai Airways flies into Chiang Rai International about 40 miles away.
Keep an eye on Anantara Resorts, with 10 properties in Thailand, the Maldives, Bali and Abu Dhabi, and more on the way soon in Morocco, Oman and Hainan, China.
“Anantara Resorts offer an experience that couples serenity with exoticism and state-of-the-art convenience with indigenous charm,” says Dillip Rajakarier, COO of Minor Hotel Group, Anantara’s umbrella company. “Creating a destination experience is at the core of the Anantara philosophy.”
Golden Triangle offers visiting groups a series of interactive cultural immersion programs including cooking courses, fruit carving demonstrations, a weekly floating market and instruction in the traditional martial art of Muay Thai.
WHERE W GOES, WE FOLLOW If you’re looking at bringing a group to China, we stopped in at the new 393-room W Hong Kong last year, located inside a 92-story tower at the tip of the Kowloon district overlooking Victoria Harbour. This semi-private area is being developed as the new artsy hub of Hong Kong—coined the West Kowloon Cultural District—which has the globe’s greatest museum architects and curators chomping at the bit. And, the first W Hotel in China sits right on top of it.
Inside, the towering glass walls show off the harbor and Asia’s most impressive cityscape across the water in “Central.” That feeling of wide-open expansiveness is rare in Hong Kong, and the big natural daylight continues throughout the meeting space. It’s worth stopping by just to see the art installation of a seal balancing a full-size baby grand piano on its nose in the prefunction area.
The rooms have some of the best views in Hong Kong, and the decor is what’s to be expected with W: clean, colorful and ever-so contemporary. A nice touch is the Extreme WOW Suites with glowing fish tanks in the walls. The scene stealer however is the rooftop pool, the highest in the city, exquisitely well positioned for small cocktail receptions and Tai Chi classes overlooking half of China. Total meeting space is 8,200 sf.
Just minutes from the front door, the big-name Canton Road designer shops lead to the harbor for dinner at Nobu or Alain Ducasse’s SPOON restaurant, both at the 495-room waterfront InterContinental Hong Kong.