With Myanmar continuing to welcome an exponential number of international travelers, the new Rosewood hotel – which opened its doors earlier this month – has taken on a transformative role in the country’s largest city, combining an elevated level of luxury with strong cultural outreach.
Housed in one of the grandest and most expansive buildings built during the colonial era, formerly the New Law Courts built in 1927, the hotel is located in the heart of the historic center amidst other heritage buildings at the junction of the famous Strand and Sule Pagoda Roads. With its dramatic row of original three-story-high Ionic colonnades, the hotel forms a formative presence on the banks of the Irrawaddy River.
“Rosewood Yangon exemplifies a perfect balance between heritage an d chic modernity in this vibrant city,” says Sonia Cheng, chief executive officer of Rosewood Hotel Group. “We are thrilled to be a launching point for ‘affluential explorers’ to begin a journey of discovery in one of world’s most evocative, captivating and still relatively undiscovered destinations.”
The hotel is a truly exquisite expression of the Rosewood brand’s A Sense of Place®, the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® brand philosophy of reflecting the history, culture, architecture and sensibilities of the location.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the hotel’s majestic portico lit up by three grandiose 1920s chandeliers before stepping through two sets of stately iron-framed doors into the lobby. Above the receptiondesk, a stunning mural by famed local artist Than Kyaw Htay immediately evokes the charm of Myanmar with sunset-bathed pagodas atop peaks floating over a rugged landscape.
Every step throughout the hotel showcases the hotel’s transformation – one that preserves the architectural past while offering the ultimate in contemporary comfort. The hotel offers a wide range of facilities under its roof, including five distinctive dining venues; recreational amenities including a spa, a rooftop infinity pool and a fitness studio; extensive meeting facilities featuring a grand ballroom, bridal suite, event studio, Heritage Salon and three meeting rooms; and a sophisticated retail gallery and barber shop.
“Our hotel’s blend of sophistication, relaxation, highly personalized service and support for city arts and culture not only offers a portal to the past, but helps spearhead Myanmar’s leap into the future,” says Ed Brea, the hotel’s managing director. “Through our rich and diverse arts and cultural program in collaboration with various embassies, we are encouraging people in Myanmar to discover Western cultural heritage as well.”
1927 Grandeur Meets 21st-Century Design
In order to ensure that the conversion of the New Law Courts to Rosewood Yangon maintained the architectural integrity of the building as part of the neighborhood’s highly intact historical streetscapes, a conservation management plan was strictly adhered to.
The hotel’s duo of internal courtyards have been entirely preserved and restored, along with the original portico on Bank Street, the pyramidal pavilion rooftops, the majestic promenade along Strand Road and the entrance halls on the building’s north and south sides. The various interior details which were conserved include, among others, perforated metal screens set in wall openings to provide cross-ventilation, cast-iron balustrades along first-floor landings and wooden screens and panels in various public rooms throughout.
To commemorate its efforts in restoring the building to its original form, Rosewood Yangon received the 31st Yangon Heritage Trust Blue Plaque in celebration of the building’s deep historic and cultural significance and its enduring legacy.
The collective work of leading interior designers has produced groundbreaking design: New York-based Lillian Wu Studio led the guestrooms and spa, and Tokyo’s Bond Design Studio spearheaded the restaurants and lounges. These talented designers were supported in full by Yangon Heritage Trust and local artisans, who together transformed the historic property into an ultra-modern and energy-efficient building.
“Our biggest challenge in approaching the décor was working within the restrictions that necessarily come with designing for any heritage landmark,” says Lillian Wu. “But it was very important for us to adapt and make sure the concept not only complements the existing space but allows the design to flow seamlessly as well.”
The hotel’s 205 stylish rooms and suites have been carefully curated to highlight the architectural beauty of the building. Along with high ceilings and abundant natural light, most guestrooms feature patios and balconies overlooking the city or the beautifully landscaped internal courtyards.
The refined Executive Rooms, starting at 45 square meters, have been thoughtfully conceived to create comfortable, residential-style living spaces that are equally suited to business and leisure stays. The property’s suite collection boasts the 90-square-meter Rosewood Suite, which includes a separate enclosed bedroom and a spacious terrace that is ideal for afternoon tea or in-room dining experiences.
The Suites have been tastefully decorated using a combination of the old world and the new. Dazzling lacquerware and papier-mâché objets d’art from upcountry Bagan, along with handwoven bed-throws and cushions created by artisans from non-profit Turquoise Mountain, evoke a sense of place. Paintings by Nyein Chan Su lend a contemporary ambience to the elegant guest suites with his bold use of color in semi-abstract compositions. Meanwhile, Pyayt Phyo Aung’s stylized portraits of young Myanmar women wearing traditional thanaka paste on their faces, displayed at guestroom entryways, create a warm and welcoming touch.
High-Concept Dining and Entertainment Experiences
Rosewood Yangon has five distinctive dining venues with an individualized character, showcasing a creative and modern gastronomy and beverage craft. The hotel’s culinary approach focuses on local producers and seasonality via its Partners in Provenance program.
The vibrant NOVA European Brasserie features an open kitchen and a large skylight for natural daylight dining. Seasonal vegetables and herbs are sourced directly from northern Myanmar’s Shan State farms while fresh seafood comes from the Andaman Sea. In a great feat, at least 70 percent of all ingredients used at the brasserie are the bounty from Myanmar’s land and waters.
“We aim for authenticity and traditional cooking, but with an up-to-date flair, using modern cooking methods,” says executive chef Vladimir Siljegovic, who comes from a long line of French restaurateurs. The brasserie’s delectable menu boasts European favorites such as Salmon Pastrami and Roasted Porchetta, along with contemporary Burmese fare. A well-balanced wine list with an excellent mix of international labels complements the menu. Conveniently located near the entrance of the restaurant, a crudo bar serves the freshest oysters, seafood and more.
Destined to become a popular Yangon gathering place, Living Room & Patisserie is the perfect venue for a cup of local artisan coffee or premium quality tea paired with chocolates and homemade French desserts. Here, afternoon tea meets the highest expectations in terms of service, creativity and quality, including a bespoke selection of loose teas. Retail counters showcase chocolates, cookies and cakes for diners to enjoy.
At CourtRoom Bar, impressive heritage décor featuring restored dark teak wall paneling creates a luxurious, intimate space. Within these walls, the city’s best whiskey selection takes center stage, along with bespoke cocktails, a curated selection of fine wines and sophisticated bite-sized snacks. The Judge’s Chamber, a separate lounge in CourtRoom Bar, offers a world-class variety of premium cigars amidst faithfully restored wood parquet in a space where the New Law Courts’ judges once deliberated. A large-scale portrait of a cheroot-smoking Pa-O grandmother, painted with acrylic on canvas by Zay Zay Htut, presides over the lounge.
When it opens in spring, the rooftop Y Bar will be the heritage building’s crown jewel. The city’s only luxury bar with panoramic views over Yangon River, this venue will undoubtedly become a prestigious evening gathering place for Yangonites, expatriates and international guests. It will provide a differentiated, stylish experience with a live DJ at night and a selection of cocktails inspired by Yangon’s eclectic streets.
Also set to open later this year, a Chinese restaurant will showcase authentic, uniquely presented Cantonese and regional Chinese specialties served in a contemporary interior. A wine cellar and tasting room at the restaurant’s entrance will cater to wine lovers, while a tea library inside the heritage cage lift will offer a comprehensive, exclusive selection for guests who appreciate the Chinese art of tea, along with a bespoke collection of tea-infused cocktails. An interactive dessert bar, four private dining rooms and two semi-private rooms will also be a part of the experience.
Rich Cultural Experience
In a bid to showcase the true richness and dynamism of Myanmar culture, Rosewood Yangon goes beyond historic preservation and exquisite dining and drinking by providing guests with an opportunity to experience the city in a deeper and more meaningful way.
The hotel has crafted a suite of bespoke experiences to give guests an insider’s look at the city, including its “Rosewood Limited Edition” package, available until April 2020. A one-of-a-kind arts and history experience, visitors will both preserve and help make history. Guests have the exciting opportunity to discuss the Yangon’s preservation efforts with Dr. Thant Myint-U, Myanmar’s leading historian and writer, and founder of the Yangon Heritage Trust, in a rare private audience. To better understand how Yangon is managing its transition to modernity, guests also get a hands-on experience with Delphine de Lorme, artist and co-founder of Yangon Walls, and see how the city’s burgeoning creative community is responding to its modernization. Together with de Lorne, guests will get the opportunity to rejuvenate Yangon’s back alleys with colorful murals. These and more rich experiences, plus three nights accommodation, are also included.
Relaxation & Recreation
Much like the rest of the hotel, Rosweood Yangon offers an extensive range of relaxation and recreation opportunities. The Fitness Studio is equipped with a full range of state-of-the-art fitness equipment which is available 24/7, ensuring that guests can maintain their fitness regimes while traveling. A resident fitness trainer is also available for assistance on request, while an infinity swimming pool on the rooftop level is open for guests to swim laps or have a soothing bathe.
Rosewood Yangon will be further enhanced with additional facilities opening later this year. A refined retail gallery will feature gifts and collectible souvenir items inspired by the hotel’s rich heritage and the local Burmese culture, while a classic barber shop will offer a premium grooming experience with a highly skilled barber.
Rosewood’s award-wining, signature spa brand Sense, A Rosewood Spa, will also open later this year, offer guests a sanctuary of simplicity and serenity. Time-honored Burmese practices will be perceptively tailored to guests’ needs, and paired with sustainably cultivated and carefully sourced natural products.
For Special Occasions
Rosewood Yangon boasts prestigious event spaces, including the Grand Ballroom, the Heritage Salon and the Terrace Suite for hosting exclusive private celebrations, from talk-of-the-town weddings to international conferences and important corporate meetings.
The hotel’s majestic and capacious Grand Ballroom offers one of the most distinguished and elegant event venues in Yangon with its lofty, coffered ceilings and custom-designed crystal chandeliers. A movable partition allows the 1,400-sq.m. ballroom to be divided into two spaces. Meanwhile the Heritage Salon, formerly Parliament’s Chamber of Nationalities (1948-1962), has been meticulously restored and modernized to become, in late 2020, one of the city’s most impressive and unique venues with its double-height ceiling and decorative frieze, renovated to all its past glory.
The complete hotel opening is scheduled to follow in the coming months as the remaining room inventory, restaurants and Sense Spa are completed and opened to the public.
To find out more and to boo, visit Rosewood Yangon’s website.
Images © Rosewood Hotels