Tim Foolery

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Bagan Lodge

Our tour guide had booked us for two nights at the Bagan Lodge without any real guidance from us.  We were excited about this property when we first received the initial itinerary as the photos and reviews were stellar.

I love open air hotel experiences. Being in an area where the weather allows for a reception and dining area open to the elements just amazes me. I’ve never lived in and place like this, so I still get excited whenever I can experience it.

As we pull into the driveway, we are greeted by several hotel staff members welcoming us. Some grab our bags, others hand us cold towels to help refresh us after our travels, another brings out a tray of watermelon juice and the rest stand off to the side with enormous smiles.

This interesting art piece was a showcase in the lobby/reception area. Watch out for those sharp teeth.

The reception area had a pool table, a bar and ample seating, which we saw no one use during our stay.

We don’t check in. Our guide tells us that our rooms are ready but we need to wait a moment for the hotels driver to pick us up in the golf cart. I wasn’t too keen on staying at such a sprawling property where a golf cart is really the best option to get around. We loaded ourselves into the cart (sans luggage) and got a bit of a tour of the grounds. We drove past the spa that was adjacent to the reception area. We saw two pools, one of which is next to the restaurant, bar and reception area, while the second was area little farther afield. Both were beautiful and were definitely calling my name. As we continued our tour the driver tells us not to worry that our rooms are are nearby…we arrive at our rooms (57 & 58), which were less than a minute walk from the reception desk. We were given a tour of the property while our luggage was delivered to our rooms, which was a nice surprise.

The rooms are separated into a couple dozen buildings, each building housing two rooms. As we toured the property by cart, I thought the rooms had tent like canvas roofs, which can be quaint, but it can also be an utter pain.  The tent roofs are not the main roof for the rooms, a proper ceiling and roof is under the white tent. Sometimes with tent roofs you can run into heating/cooling issues and more bugs that you’d expect. Neither of those were issues here.

The rooms do have a connecting door, which is a pet peeve of mine, but we heard no noise from our friends who were in the room next door.

We opted for two twin beds this time (Mike can snore and I am and light sleeper, so a little space can allow me to get some better rest).  Our room was really well appointed. I likes the dark wood finishes – although the floor was polished to the extreme and was very slippery in sock feet.

Like Fred and Ethel, we had our comfortable twin beds waiting for us. It worked out, since my was sick that night.

The room was spacious, but those floors are as slippery as they look.

There was a small TV in the corner that had about a dozen news channels (France24, DW, BBC, CNN, MiTV and a couple others). The small seating area wasn’t all that comfortable, but it was nice to have a spot to sit and chat that wasn’t the bed. The desk was under the TV and while on the small side, would allow you to get a bit of work done. Speaking of work, the hotel’s WiFi was very fast – surprisingly fast, especially considering what we had heard before we left and what we were expecting.

The not-so-comfortable seating area in our lodge.

The bathroom had two vanities, separated by a large bathtub, which we didn’t use. On one end of the room you’d find the WC and the other was the shower.

In general I don’t like these sinks — it’s too hard to shave without using a ton of water, but aesthetically it’s beautiful.

The lodge branded bath products were perfectly fine – but a little too much packaging for my taste.

The shower had an outdoor, rustic feel, but it was great. Hot water and great pressure whenever we needed it.

Why do so many hotels have to leave the toilet seat up after they clean?

We ate dinner at the restaurant the first night and the food was perfectly fine. The Myanmar selection tasted like the other Myanmar food we had eaten. Not spicy, not a wide range of flavors, nothing outstanding, but perfectly acceptable food, which met our needs. The restaurant closed at 22h00 and we popped over at 21h15 for dinner to find that most of the tables had been reset for breakfast and the staff was a little put off that we wanted to have dinner at that hour. They got over their initial shock and frustration pretty quickly and provided good service throughout that dining process.

We used the pool bar a couple of times. The service reminded me of EVA Airlines. You didn’t really see the servers, but once you asked for help they leapt into service. I ended up spending a few hours in the pool our last night as Mike was a bit sick and I had been looking forward to the pool since I first laid eyes on it.  Our first day, we tested out the water and it was warm and utterly luxurious. The next day, the water was quite frigid – it was a big shock getting into the pool.

A trumpeting elephant flanked the beautiful pool.

A view from reception to the pool, the bar and the restaurant.

The pool lounge area and the bar in the background.

The restaurant was pool adjacent.

We decided to visit the spa one day and of all things at the Bagan Lodge, this is the one that needs some work.  We were able to get on-demand massages (no need to book ahead) at all the places we stayed in Myanmar.  This property was a little strange – there was no spa music, so you’d hear the staff members chatting, you’d hear other guests getting their massages and sounds from the nearby bar.  It wasn’t all that relaxing of an experience.  We were required to put on the disposable spa underwear, which burst into thousands of small underwear pieces as I brought it up to my knees.  Evidently my 6′ 185lbs frame is too much for the disposable underoos.  My friend had the exact same experience – except he was given just a couple of seconds to change before the masseuse came back into the room – catching him in all his glory as he loudly proclaims ‘I’m not ready…not ready…NOT READY.”  I heard this interaction loud and clear, since there was no music in the facility – and I nearly died laughing.

The Bagan Lodge was a great base for all of our exploring in and around Bagan. The hotel staff provided better than expected service.  The property was stunning and I wouldn’t hesitate to return again.

Where did you stay in Bagan?  Did you go higher end like our guides picked out for us, or did you choose to stay in a more modest traveler hotel?

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