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At the confluence of colonial era charm and French joie de vivre in Laos

December 14, 2016 Hotel Openings No Comments Email Email

Ringed by mountains, and idyllically set 700 metres above sea level, the historic royal capital of Luang Prabang is more than just the country’s picture-perfect showpiece. With its glistening temples, historic French provincial architecture and gracious residents, even the most jaded of travellers is soon lulled into a dream by its timeless tranquility. It is  a dream that comes vividly to life in the green of the ancient trees with their scarlet flowers, the saffron-clad monks, and the pearly-white perfumed frangipanis whose fragrance mingles with that of fresh-brewed coffee and exotic spices.

Here, at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers, three 100-year-old UNESCO world heritage buildings, each a stunning blend of vintage French architecture and classic Lao design, have been superbly restored and transformed into 3 Nagas Luang Prabang, MGallery by Sofitel, which opened in February 2016, becoming the first MGallery by Sofitel in Laos.

“Luang Prabang is a rising star in Mekong region, the international market is growing and tourist arrivals to the town are forecast to reach 700,000 by 2020 from the current 500,000. Visitors here are thirsty for outstanding cultural, historic and architectural values and seek a harmonious link between the natural and built environment,” says Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer of AccorHotels, Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia, “engaged explorers who are fueled by passion, curiosity and an interest in the world around them”.

“MGallery by Sofitel is an intimate collection of hotels for adventurous travellers who are clued in to travel and seek out the unbeaten path,” says Pablo Barruti, the hotel’s General Manager. “The brand represents charming and genuine hotels with their own thoughtful stories and the 3 Nagas Luang Prabang, MGallery by Sofitel is the quintessential expression of the brand, offering the perfect accommodation for those looking for a memorable hotel experience in this heritage city”.

Two of these three world heritage buildings with their exotic hardwood floors, traditional cob walls and clay roof tiles, have been devoted to guest accommodation. The 15 impressively spacious rooms housed here range from 30 to 56 sqm, and open onto either the 3 Nagas Garden or overlook the quaint town of Luang Prabang. Colonial furniture amidst traditional Lao design adds warmth and atmosphere to the 12 Deluxe Rooms and 3 Executive Suites, which are complimented by an attached terrace or balcony and well-appointed for optimal comfort and convenience, with Wi-Fi, coffee and tea making facilities, a minibar and in-room safe deposit box.

Lamache House consists of seven rooms and was built in 1898. Painstakingly restored using traditional techniques that respect the original structure, most of the woodwork, floors and furniture are made of a wood called may pow that was traditionally used in the construction of boats. A sculptural staircase following today’s specifications for comfort and security was added to the building. The final result is a warm atmosphere inspired by tradition with contemporary comforts and facilities.

Khamboua House is a jewel of traditional Lao architecture, comprising a unique garden on the Nam Khan River, from where guests may glimpse the subtle and serene Lao lifestyle. Built in 1903, the mansion features traditional Lao architecture: a single pitch roof, veranda and perpendicular kitchen. The structure and flooring use exotic woods, and the walls are torchis – lime screed on bamboo. Khamboua House is comprised of eight rooms and suites, each uniquely styled with a distinctive character of its own, and accented by French joie de vivre and hospitality.

Outside, the 500 sqm 3 Nagas Garden – one of the last of its kind in Luang Prabang – faces the Nam Khan River. The scenic central pond is under UNESCO protection and privacy is maintained by a delightful picket fence. Guests find this an idyllic spot to relax with some of the literature from the hotel library or savour an intimate candlelight dinner.

For breakfast, lunch and dinner, 3 Nagas Restaurant entices with its traditional Lao cuisine prepared with a French twist. It is a culinary experience that begins before guests even arrive here with the aromas of lemongrass and pepper wood drifting on the balmy breeze. In a town that is nationally renowned for serving the most delicious dishes, thanks in part to the former royal chefs, guests at 3 Nagas are served an amuse bouche of French soup with a Lao twist as they discover the menu’s wide array of traditional favourites, including royal specialties such as buffalo.

To the delight of many hotel guests, the former Royal Family’s official ice cream parlour was also housed here in Lamache House, and has been reimagined as a local retro café where those with a sweet tooth are introduced to a variety of flavours – raisin, bitter orange, coconut – but ultimately encouraged to try the 3 Nagas favourite: sweet, nutty-flavoured pandan mixed with the refreshing taste of coconut. And to make every stay even more dreamlike, guests of 3 Nagas have privileged access to the nearby Sofitel Luang Prabang, including Governor’s Grill, Ka-Toke Cooking School, Le SPA, the Fitness Centre, the swimming pool and meeting rooms.

Unforgettable excursions at 3 Nagas Luang Prabang, MGallery by Sofitel begin the moment guests touch down at Luang Prabang International Airport 15 minutes away, from where they are escorted to a classic 1952 dark-crimson Citroën and presented with a bottle of water, a cool, orange-coloured, frangipani-scented cloth, and pandan madeleines served in an elaborate handmade Lao bowl. Driving through the heart of the spiritual centre, the driver explains the town’s landmarks, its history, the importance of the rivers, and the local culture and customs. Passing through fields of green and ornate temples, guests arrive in front of the charming 3 Nagas and are presented with a vintage walking map.

Whether on foot with walking map in hand, by bicycle, tuk-tuk, or in the hotel’s chauffeured cream-coloured 1956 Mercedes-Benz or 1952 Citroen, Luang Prabang’s graceful colonial buildings, riverside cafés and magnificent museums offer the traveller a rich and rewarding experience. The Leisure Concierge is always on hand to tailor activities and tours to individual guest preferences, and point the way to some of the hidden art galleries and antique shops where authentic souvenirs may be collected.

Guests are invited to experience the languid pace of 19th century colonial Luang Prabang with all of its charm and graciousness. The “Classic Time-Travel” package offers rates starting at USD87++ per room per night or USD120++ with daily breakfast for two.

3 Nagas, MGallery by Sofitel is located on Sakkaline Road in Luang Prabang, a 15-minute drive from Luang Prabang International Airport. For general information or reservations, please visit http://www.accorhotels.com/9641, email h9641@sofitel.com, or  call +85671260777.

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