In the Burmese capital of Yangon, hotel stays have traditionally been focussed on the colonial city centre but Awei Metta offers a more spacious, quieter offering outside of the city. This urban golf resort is located in the gated community of Pun Hlaing Estate, in striking distance to Yangon's heart but in a place where where you awake to birds on your balcony and the crack of a nine iron, instead of the bustling sounds of Burmese street life. The resort is set across two acres, including the country's premier golf course designed by Gary Player, a wellness centre, restaurants and a cigar bar.
Pun Hlaing Estate sits across the Hlaing River from downtown Yangon and is a peaceful collection of housing, country club and the Awei Metta hotel. It's so new, it can be a bit tricky to find in a taxi if your Burmese is rusty, but you soon get the hang of the quiet residential waterfront locale, and can be in town in around 40 minutes.
The large open reception is hung with dramatic portraits by Belgian artist Christian Develter who has lived and worked in Asia since the 1990s. Check-in takes place in the cigar bar where another Develter portrait oversees things from a wall with teak detailing and comfortable lounges. Non-smokers can sit on the deck overlooking the perfectly coiffed golf greens. The hotel has a sleek, modern feel with nods to local culture such as the welcome longyi, a traditional long wraparound sarong worn by men and women.
You move to the burbs for the space, and the size of Awei Metta's rooms is a huge selling point. More than enough space to swing a golf club, the rooms are decorated with historic black-and-white Burmese portraits and the carpet and soft furnishings take their design cues from local textiles. My balcony faces the signature 18th hole that is situated on its own island in the midst of a tranquil lake. Beyond are new developments set to house permanent residents when they open this year.
The house restaurant, Oscar, offers a French-inspired menu with dishes such as fish tartare with a citrus salad and pork terrine. The signature dish is a rich and tasty French onion soup. Oscar also takes care of breakfast with the usual fare plus Asian options. The Cigar Bar offers more casual fare like beef burgers and croques monsieur that can also be ordered as room service.
If you are not stepping out on to the golf course, previous home to the Myanmar Open, you will likely be heading into Yangon. Take a trip on Yangon's Circle Line, a sexagenarian train loop that has a charmingly ramshackle feel to it with open windows and doors, a constant parade of snack sellers (try the boiled eggs) and a behind-the-scenes view of life in the city; though regular commuters will no doubt welcome some modernity which is constantly predicted but yet to be delivered.
If you are a regular to Yangon, or a mad golfer, you will appreciate the different stay offered in the capital's quieter suburbs. Awei Metta is also owned by local operator Memories Group that has a range of other Burmese tourist offerings to take part in, in Yangon and beyond.
Double rooms from $US140 including breakfast and access to the country club. Pun Hlaing Estate in Hlaing Tharyar Township, Yangon; See memoriesgroup.com
If you plan to be in the city centre for most of your stay, the commute might wear thin.
A terrace drink at sunset where you could be miles from anywhere.
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE: 3.5
Paul Chai was a guest of Memories Group and Thai Airways.