Legendary hotelier Adrian Zecha has at last launched his next venture. The Aman resorts founder is back in the business of luxury hospitality with the February opening of Azerai in the Laotian ancient capital of Luang Prabang. The first property of Zecha’s new hotel brand of the same name—which was inspired by the hotelier’s initials combined with the word caravanserai (a Persian term for “resting place for travelers”)—the 53-room hotel is set within a 100-year-old structure surrounded by verdant mountains and Buddhist temples. Architect Pascal Trahan followed the original footprint of Azerai’s circa-1914 colonial officer’s quarters and in its place constructed an intimate retreat with guest rooms that feature wraparound balconies, timber floors, and local artwork like hand-stitched batik textiles designed using the techniques of the region’s Hmong Lao tribe.
Excursions take travelers to nearby palaces, monasteries, and temples, as well as the banks of the Mekong River. Still, guests will surely be forgiven if they choose not to leave at all. Indeed, Azerai’s manicured grounds offer many a cultural immersion right at home, from a yoga pavilion and an 80-foot-long swimming pool shaded by an ancient banyan tree to a restaurant offering traditional Laotian cuisine.
Though Zecha and his team have been mum on details, the Azerai marque is said to be expanding soon beyond Luang Prabang. Rumor has it the brand’s next stop will be a destination even Aman has yet to venture into: Havana, Cuba. (azerai.com)
Robb Report | May 2017