When newlyweds Marissa, 28, and Sean Cavenagh, 31, of Chicago decided to spend their honeymoon in Southeast Asia this summer, they planned to stay in Airbnbs and modest hotels as they made their way through Singapore, Thailand. , Vietnam and Indonesia. But when they discovered the amazing bargains to be had on some of the most luxurious properties in these destinations, they made a radical upgrade.
“We went to Airbnb a place in Singapore when we got the . saws Marina Bay Sands offered a special two-for-one night, so we stayed there instead,” said Ms. Cavenagh, who ended up paying $300 a night per room, a far cry from the $600-and-more rooms normally charged in 2019. They then upgraded us to an incredible suite on the 35th floor, connected to Sand’s famous rooftop pool, which stretches like a flying saucer over the resort’s three skyscrapers. .
On the Thai island of Koh Samui, they stayed for 11 days in a seaside villa bordering the gin clear waters of the Crystal Bay Yacht Club Beach Resort for a total of $280, which is about half the daily rate for a hotel room there. “It’s crazy,” said Mr Cavenagh. “We pay less for the best luxury hotels in the world than for a Red Roof Inn in the US”
While inflation has made the price of travel in the United States exorbitant, the dollar is king in Southeast Asia. For example, the US dollar is currently worth about 35 Thai baht, or 17 percent more than in January 2020, before the pandemic.
Tourist dependent countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia are coming out of Covid isolation to find that their largest market, China, is still in semi-lockdown, and the rest of the world is only waking up to the fact that these countries are back. welcoming visitors. Despite simple e-visas and the lifting of quarantines and Covid testing requirements, airports like Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok appear empty as planes are parked nose to tail on unused runways. To attract returning tourists, many of Southeast Asia’s top hotels, resorts and restaurants have slashed their prices against an already strong dollar.
This turn of events is a godsend for American tourists who are starting to trickle in.
“We were only going to stay in hostels,” said Julie Jones, 34, who quit her consulting job in Dallas to travel through Asia with two friends for the summer. “But seeing how cheap some of these famous hotels are makes us eager to experience a little bit of history and luxury.”
Mrs. Jones and her friends had just spent two days in the… Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, the gleaming Art Deco hotel that anchors the Vietnamese city’s French Quarter, where Charlie Chaplin honeymooned with Paulette Goddard, and former President Donald J. Trump had his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It’s a glamorous place filled with bejeweled Hanoians and workers in sharp dark suits. Did they mind that Mrs. Jones and her friends showed up in sandals and beach shorts? “They upgraded us to a suite,” said Ms. Jones. Price: $185 per night, or about half the price rooms routinely went for before the pandemic.
Unlike hotels, airline tickets have not stayed low. While finding round-trip flights from Los Angeles and New York to Bangkok for under $1,000 in May was easy, prices have now crept above $2,000, although Japanese airline ANA, which shares codeshares with United Airlines, recently offered flights for as low as $1,489 from Los Angeles and $1,734 from New York.
Current visitors to Southeast Asia may feel less tourists, as most of the people they will encounter in their hotels and restaurants are locals who, like in the United States, have started traveling in their own country rather than to the United States. abroad. During a recent visit to the BKK Social Club in the new Four Seasons complex on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, I was clanging cocktail glasses not with fellow tourists, but with a decidedly chic and sociable crowd of Thais. Earlier, on the other side of the terrace on the river at the bakery Cafe Madeleine, Thai school children and their mothers enjoyed afternoon tea and brioche; there was no other westerner to be found in the Michelin-starred next door Yu Ting Yuan restaurant.
Across the river, in the lush Bangkok Peninsularooms went for $135 a night while the ? Mandarin OrientalThailand’s original grand hotel that once hosted the likes of Joseph Conrad and the future Tsar Nicholas II cost $345 a night — still about 30 percent lower than two years ago.
“This is like Paris in the 1920s, when you had people like Hemingway and Fitzgerald leaving their middle-class lives in the US to hang out at the Paris Ritz,” Ms Jones said. She and her friends were about to leave for Bali. They tried to choose between a $147 a night yoga retreat at the five-star inland hotel Komaneka in Ubud or a $51 per night surf break at the Montigos Resorts in Seminyak, until it was noted that the apparently permanently jammed traffic crippling the entire island was currently moving so they would likely fit in both.
“This feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Ms. Jones. “We’re going to make the most of it while we can.”