Pan Pa­cific’s stay­ca­tion:

All you need is here, some 220 me­ters above the ground.

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend|Hotel - Pho­tos: Zuza­kar Kalaung ZUZA­KAR KALAUNG

THE con­cept of stay­ca­tion is tried and tested. Spend­ing time in one’s home coun­try or city rather than abroad is both eco­log­i­cal and in vogue. But the idea of hav­ing a re­lax­ing time while staying in down­town Yangon seemed far-fetched.

Could one re­ally take a break from the city with­out even cross­ing the River or Inya Lake? This is what Pan Pa­cific, one of the swanki­est ho­tel in town, prom­ises with its stay­ca­tion pack­age. Week­end was in­vited to test the idea.

Just like a va­ca­tion abroad, our adventure started by a great deal of time spent in a taxi – we were not go­ing to the air­port, but cross­ing down­town from east to west on a Satur­day af­ter­noon. Shak­ing off the chaos of the city will take more than a nice room and a wel­come cock­tail, we thought.

Upon ar­rival, we were im­me­di­ately taken to St Gre­gory’s spa on the well­ness floor of the ho­tel. Our stay­ca­tion started with a fresh tow­ell, a cup of jas­mine tea and a sim­ple ques­tion: “what sort of mas­sage do you want?”. The noise and the smell of petrol started to wear off gen­tly.

As our bags went up to our room, we landed on a mas­sage ta­ble over­look­ing Yangon – or rather, face down, look­ing at a bowl of freshly cut flow­ers placed un­der the ta­ble.

I opted for a traditional Burmese mas­sage, my stay­ca­tion part­ner for a ba­li­nese one. One is usu­ally asked to un­dress for a mas­sage, but a Burmese mas­sage en­tails putting more and more lay­ers of cloth. I was of­fered a cot­ton shirt from Shan state (if you are taller than 1m70 you will in­evitably look like an over­sized kid in a pi­jame), and my masseuse started putting tow­els af­ter tow­els on my back.

Burmese mas­sage are a se­ries of pres­sures ap­plied all over one’s body with thumbs and el­bows. It is both mus­cu­lar and re­lax­ing. The man­ager of the spa told us that, tra­di­tion­ally, lay peo­ple would give mas­sages to the monks, hence the ab­sence of skin con­tact.

Af­ter 60 min­utes, I could not claim to have at­tained any sort of en­light­en­ment but I was to­tally re­laxed and my sense of self gone out of the win­dow.

Into a cor­ner Af­ter hav­ing been mas­saged into the week­end, we checked in and were taken to our room. We were “put in a cor­ner” we were told. That sounded harsh. It wasn’t. The cor­ner in ques­tion was a room sit­u­ated on one an­gle of the ho­tel’s tower, over­look­ing both the Shwedagon pagoda to the right and the Yangon River to the left. The view was breath­tak­ing.

The glow­ing spire of the pagoda re­minded us that the sun was about to set. We grabbed our swimsuits and went to the pool.

In the el­e­va­tor we met a fam­ily in bathrobe and slip­pers who gave us the im­pres­sion of hav­ing ex­tended their stay­ca­tion, in­def­i­nitely. We al­most felt em­bar­rassed to be dressed.

The pool held all its prom­ises. The tip of the Holy Trin­ity cathe­dral gave the im­pres­sion of float­ing over the water. The noise of the cars could only be heard from a dis­tance.

As the sun came down, a gen­tle folly started to seize the guests. On our left, a group of girls started to wa­ter­board each other with cham­pagne. Iphones were out, flash­ing in­sta­gram pic­tures left, right and cen­tre. A dozen of peo­ple started to pose around the pool. Ev­ery­body stood still, hav­ing fun tak­ing pic­tures of them hav­ing fun (imag­ine Madame Tus­saud turned into a disco). But Pan Pa­cific pool­side is def­i­nitely one of the best place to snap a pic­ture and have your Facebook friends die of jeal­ousy, we were told.

Af­ter sun­set Right af­ter dark, we went back to our room to freshen up be­fore din­ner. What was to be a quick fix turned into a real cer­e­mony. For our room had…. a bath. I could not re­mem­ber the last time I took a real bath, in a proper bath tub. Non-self started to be­come an even more tan­gi­ble con­cept as the stay­ca­tion went on.

All dressed up we joined the ho­tel man­age­ment for a chat. The bar, the el­e­gant guess, the vodka mar­tini gave the ter­races of Pan Pa­cific an air of James Bond movie.

We were ex­plained that the idea of a stay­ca­tion pack­age was born dur­ing the Thingyan fes­ti­val when some Yan­go­nites who wanted to es­cape the noise and the splash­ing took refuge in the ho­tel for a few days.

That makes sense. Pan Pa­cific is lo­cated right on top of Junc­tion City, one of down­town’s biggest city mall. While par­ents go to the gym or the spa, kids can eas­ily pop down­stairs and en­joy games while teens have one of the biggest cin­ema at dis­posal. “Ev­ery­thing you need is here,” is the stay­ca­tion pack­age’s credo.

Af­ter hav­ing slurped our drinks, we

pro­ceeded to the din­ing. This re­viewer had al­ready re­viewed Saan in the past and gave it a cou­ple of stars. Af­ter a few month run­ning, we can add an­other. The diver­sity of the buf­fet has im­proved and the qual­ity of the ser­vice has sig­nif­i­cantly gone up. Your glass is never left empty and dirty plates are be­ing cleaned up the minute you go for a re­fill.

It would be too long to list here all the del­i­ca­cies one can en­joy at Saan, but suf­ficed to say that the buf­fet is “all you can eat” but also “all you can dream of” (from a sa­tay buf­fet, Pol­ish sausages, to noo­dle, sushis, roast beef and Burmese cur­ries).

The day ended with a full belly, un­der crispy fresh bed sheets, stream­ing movies. Pan Pa­cific beats the most lux­u­ri­ous Nay Pyi Taw ho­tels in that sec­tor.

Dur­ing sun­rise In the morn­ing, as the elec­tric blinds let the sun­shine un­cover Yangon, I stood by the win­dow and looked as the long queues of cars some 200 me­ters down. Never had the im­age of Yangon’s traf­fic looked so re­mote and ap­peas­ing.

The scene was so grip­ping that I de­cided to go off-piste, ditch the break­fast buf­fet and or­dered or­anges, cof­fee and crois­sant via the room ser­vice. I stayed there for a good hour, look­ing at the waltz of cars on Bo­gyoke street.

Af­ter a quick read by the pool, we headed towards our final stay­ca­tion ac­tiv­ity: the Chi­nese buf­fet.

This was the high­light of the trip. Pan Pa­cific offers a very high-end sort of Chi­nese cui­sine (can­tonese, to be pre­cise). The at­mos­phere is a tad more sophisticated than at Saan. Ta­bles are el­e­gantly laid with porce­lain bowls. Tea, of course, is served the sec­ond you sit down.

Most of the rolls are made un­der your eyes on a lit­tle sta­tion. Steamed dumplings are both gen­er­ous and del­i­cate. Our very fa­vorite was the poached shrimp dumpling in Szechuan sauce.

The roasted duck was juicy and ten­der. The stir fried squid with XO sauce was ex­quis­ite – I had for­got­ten squid needs not to be chewy and rub­bery. Hav­ing or­dered an­other round of pretty much ev­ery­thing we had liked, we were left with no space for dessert.

Pan Pa­cific stay­ca­tion pack­age is a com­bi­na­tion of lux­ury treats, ex­e­cuted with style by a well-trained staff and a man­age­ment with an eye for de­tails. The in­te­rior of the ho­tel has been de­signed with taste – ho­tels are usu­ally im­per­sonal, Pan Pa­cific is not.

But the most strik­ing thing is that wherever you lay your eyes, you’re con­stantly re­minded that your up, way up. There, in your glass bub­ble, the chaos of the city is al­most a show to be en­joyed.

The week­end ended and we re­turned to ground zero. True to the prin­ci­ple of stay­ca­tion, we had not flown any­more. Still, the land­ing was bru­tal.

The Stay­ca­tion Es­capes pack­ages are avail­able on week­ends (from Fri­day to Sun­day and on public hol­i­days.the pack­ages are only of­fered to lo­cal res­i­dents. The first pack­age in­cludes one room with break­fast and all-you-can-eat Chi­nese lunch at our Hai Tien Lo Chi­nese Restau­rant, for USD132 (one per­son) or USD160 (two). The sec­ond pack­age in­cludes a room with break­fast and din­ner at the SAAN Restau­rant for USD 140 (sin­gle) or USD 175 (dou­ble). A third pack­age is in prepa­ra­tion and will in­clude a room with break­fast, Af­ter­noon Tea at Teak Bar and 60 minute spa treatment at St. Gre­gory Spa. Pan Pa­cific is lo­cated on the cor­ner of Bo­gyoke Aung San Road and Shwedagon Pagoda Road, Pabe­dan town­ship, Yangon. Tele­phone: +95 1 925 3810 Email: en­quiry.ppygn@pan­pa­

A va­ca­tion in a high-cas­tle.

Ex­pert hands for bro­ken backs.

An all you can eat, all you can dream buf­fet.

High-end break­fast.

Chi­nese del­i­ca­cies.

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