Name: Bronwen Batey
Profession: Director of Strategic Accounts, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts
Favourite Destination: Having grown up in Singapore, I am quintessentially Asian at heart. So I tend to lean towards the east when it comes to holidays. I love Thailand, for its fiery food, relaxed attitude towards life and wonderful, humble people. From top to tail this country offers so much to the avid traveller, from lush mountains, hill tribes and Buddhism to crystal clear waters lapping white sand beaches and the predictable, yet resolute craziness of Bangkok – Thailand constantly surprises, so much so I have to keep returning to experience it all!
Best Place to Eat: Vertigo on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Bangkok – this is a great place to people watch and take in this glorious city from a bird’s eye view – try the appetiser plate of scallops, foie gras, tuna tartar and lobster spring roll – it definitely sets the scene for a stylish evening.
Best Place to Drink: Sands at Banyan Tree Samui – this is a very chilled out beach bar, nothing beats a private beach with waves lapping in front of you – I love the cocktails here, especially the vodka based ones such as the Tom Yum Goong which is really spicy yet surprisingly refreshing
Best Place to Sleep: For an uber luxury experience, you can’t beat the Double Pool Villas by Banyan Tree in Phuket – my bedroom was literally floating on an island, the sense of space inside and out is awe-inspiring and my personal villa host was always one step ahead of me to ensure I was taken care of like a princess. This is such a romantic way to enjoy Thailand, and being so private it means you can spend all day lounging and relaxing, swimming and eating in sheer seclusion, my idea of complete bliss especially with my gorgeous other half by my side.
Best Time of the Year to Visit: Being tropical, Thailand is hot and humid pretty much year round, and the weather varies from place to place. The hottest and driest season is from March to August. From May to July there is some rain, which means it’s cooler and a great time to go. But you can pretty much guarantee a tropical storm anytime of the day anytime of the year, but they normally only last an hour or so, leaving behind a fresh and much cooler Thailand to explore.
Things to Avoid: Durians, unless you like the smell, the really small chillies unless you like the burn, and the rush hour in Bangkok makes ours look like a picnic in the park! And unless you want to offend the locals, it’s best to keep your bikini top on at all times, no matter how much you detest tan lines.
Off the Beaten Track Finds: Bangkok is renowned for quick, made to measure clothes. My favourite is Thai Square, where the most amazing suits and dress shirts are magically created in a day or two and for a fraction of Saville Row. The market, Chatuchak is an alternative to the more touristy, Patpong. Chatuchak is much bigger and offers a greater variety of gifts to bring home. For designer clothes, there’s The Siam Centre and Siam Square where local and international brands are plentiful (but beware, they tend to stock smallish sizes).
Bikini top, £75. Bikini bottoms, £71. Cover-up, £189. All by Diane Von Furstenberg
Best Outfit or Fashion Item for Destination: Something light and loose – I love anything by Diane Von Furstenburg – especially her maxi dresses and bikinis.
Beauty Tip: Wet wipes and mosquito lotion, and forget trying to put too much make up on – it’s the tropics!
Holiday Packing Tip: It’s an old tip but a good one, especially as it’s so hot and humid in Thailand – you will wear 20% of what you have packed 80% of the time – plus by not packing to much you have more space for shopping!
What I Bought: Bangkok is a shoppers haven, so I am always spoilt for choice and could spend days wandering the streets and markets for special finds. For work – I recently had a lovely, fully lined dinner suit, complete with dress shirt, made to measure in under 24 hours. For friends – Tiffany bracelets and Ray Ban aviators (either full price from one of the malls or at a fraction at the markets).
What I Listened to/Read/Learnt: I love the whole game of bargaining with the locals at the markets in Bangkok, and it’s always good to be reminded of the importance of the simple things in life are (which only Asians can do), the graciousness and humbleness of the Thai makes you realise there is still a lot of love and humility in the world. In terms of books, it may seem a bit twee but I enjoy reading about travelling when I am on holiday (to inspire me to keep travelling) – Redmond O’Hanlon is always a good read, light hearted and very funny – In Trouble Again recently took me up the Amazon with lots of twists and turns (mind the pun).
style-passport and The Banyan Tree feature together in Novembers Harper’s Bazaar. For information on holidays with The Banyan Tree contact Elegant Resorts