Traveling through Myanmar feels natural, and untouched. A wonderful experience for travelers who truly seek to see a country’s culture, its traditions and unique people. When I checked in to the Sofitel Inle Lake I felt strange for a second. Leaving behind the simple life of this beautiful landscape, checking in to one of the countries most luxurious hotels created an odd feeling of contrast. Myanmar has been open to international travelers only for a few years and therefore the luxury travel industry has yet to catch up. Lots of International hotel brands are planning to open properties there, the boutique hotel Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min by AccorHotels is the first luxury resort in the Inle Lake area and definitely worth a visit. The resort offers 101 rooms including 36 Luxury Rooms , plus 25 Junior Suites, 12 Prestige Suites, 27 Opera Suites, and 1 Imperial Suite.
ARRIVAL - I arrived by a traditional wooden boat and made my way through floating fields of garlic, tomatoes and cucumbers. As the longtail boat glides gently through the lake waters, the property stretches along the lake shores. Cranes and other water birds startle up and fly into distant bushes to settle again. It was such a serene arrival experience, we didn’t feel the need to speak but just watched and enjoyed. I definitely enjoyed this boat arrival, however guests usually arrive by car, a 47km drive from Heho Airport to the Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min takes about 1,5 hours by car. Our boat tied up at the jetty and the Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min luxurious overwater facilities unveiled themselves right away. Contemporary interiors with local influences of old Burma have been woven into the design esthetics of this stunning property, I’m in love straight away. The 101-room resort feels intimate and guests spread out over two pools, 3 restaurants and a spa, so the Sofitel doesn’t seem crowded.
The beautiful location on the Eastern shores of Inle Lake have been chosen to provide guests with stunning sunset views over the glittering waters. The afternoon hours have become my favorite in Myanmar, the golden country. This nickname was surely not given by chance since the late hours from 4pm onwards paint the whole country in stunning, warm golden light. Inle lake is no exception and the lake reflections are just captivating and every photographers Kryptonite.
The friendly guest relation team welcomed me after a short wait at the jetty and drove me all the way up to the reception building with a little golf car. The unusual layout of this resort confused us at first but then made more sense when I found out that everything, except the reception area has been built above lake waters. I have to mention, that my check-in experience took a bit too long compared to other luxury resorts I’ve stayed at but considering the resort had only opened a few weeks back it was fine.
THE VILLA- I was escorted to my villa - again by buggy-since the L-shape resort can be quite a walk with all lake view suites and villas located at the water front. I’m flying by chic apartment style suites until we reached my Opera Suite which was located on the first floor. The hotel staff explained the extensive suite facilities such as bluetooth sound system ( score!) and provided us with organic mosquito repellent, I thought that was a nice touch as the Inle Lake mosquitoes can be quite aggressive. There was a four-poster bed and a spacious, well-appointed bathroom with two sinks on either side and a huge bathtub in the center of the room. Incorporated into the resort’s interiors are historical accents and Burmese patterns, while authentic local art is featured throughout the property. Dark wood, bamboo, rattan and silk soften the minimalistic architecture. The elegant rooms and suites are built literally over water, in a concept that mirrors the traditional fisherman villages built on stilts, strung along the lake’s shores.
I’m starting to explore the room further and find rich fabrics from handwoven Myanmar cotton, raw silks and Lavin Bathroom amenities that smell like orange blossom and vacation. There’s a heavenly curtain draped elegantly over the oversize king bed, which also serves as a mosquito net during the night. The Opera Suites comes with an outdoor relaxation area equipped with a daybed sofa, sun beds and dining space. As the villas are built quite closely to one another, therefore there’s not as much privacy on the sundecks. I walked outside and watched the sun set in awe. The resort wasn’t too busy so it felt like we had it all to ourselves. Inle Lake is a truly magical place and has become one of my favorite places in Asia.
LIFESTYLE - The sophisticated mix of styles complements the serene lake location and I feel at home straight away. The Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min is surrounded by picturesque floating vegetable gardens, with a picturesque backdrop of the majestic Shan Mountains. The area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere World Heritage site in 2015 and has lots of activitIes to offer. At the Sofitel, clean architecture finds perfect reflections in the tranquil waters of the lake. My guest suite was well positioned to take full advantage of the beautiful surroundings. Raised above the lake’s surface and looking out to its calm waters from a lovely terrace, it had sunset light shining straight to my bedroom.
CONCEPT - The Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min is a stylish, contemporary resort with western sophistication and modern “Frenchness” the Sofitel brand is famous for. There are subtle references of Burmese heritage and culture which create a calm sense of wellbeing and relaxation. The lakeside pool area has become one of my favorite places at the resort, the views are just stunning, there’s lots of choices in relaxation spaces from swing chairs to loungers and this spaces feels incredibly airy and luxurious. I’ve had some food here including the truffle fries - a culinary snack revelation! I recommend to stay at least 2 days in without day time activities on the lake to fully enjoy the facilities and enjoy the peace and quiet. For most of my time at Inle Lake, there were day trips planned every day with so much to do and see! I was happy for a bit of down-time to reflect on the amazing things I’ve experienced here, just sitting by the pool and taking it all in while watching busy fishermen and floating farmers going after their daily tasks on the lake. The resort’s activity program, connects guests into the local Shan way of life. With sustainability initiatives such as shopping at the floating market and visiting local pagodas and temples, plus bicycle excursions to the nearby winery, exploring the surrounding area is a must and part of the Sofitel experience and offers guests a glimpse into the traditional way of life adopted by local tribes and communities.
SUSTAINABILITY - To me, sustainability has become a major mindset in my everyday life, but also when I travel. I found out that 90% of all hotel staff are locals and the hotel has been integrated into the Inle Lake communities with activities such as floating garden farming. The hotel’s own vegetable gardens produce fresh herbs and vegetables such as basil, garlic, tomatoes and cucumbers which are used on the hotel’s restaurants. Floating farm to table so to speak. The onsite water treatment plant reuses grey water so nothing is sent to the lake. In addition, all villas have bio tanks protecting the foundation of Inle Lake life from harmful wastewater. I like that.
FOOD - With several restaurants to choose from, the Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min offers an array of dishes and international choices. In my opinion, the quality of food was not 100% there yet, but again, the resort has been newly opened and during one of my chats with the resort manager I found out that lots of operational equipment hadn’t arrived yet at the time. Considering the Italian Executive Chef and his team hadn’t had all their tools yet the variety and quality was quite good. Breakfast was offered in a-la-carte and buffet form. The choice of pastries impressed me, and there were even some fresh cold cuts and a large choice of cheese. The remote location of this resort surely makes international food deliveries difficult for the kitchen. Keeping this in mind, the buffet variety was completely satisfactory and fine.
When I left after blissful two days, I stood at the jetty and looked back at this stunning resort, thinking to myself:
“I cannot wait to come back here.."
I have enjoyed staying at the Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min and would definitely come back for another visit.
Rates start from approx. 100USD on Breakfast basis. To book your stay, click here
or contact the Sofitel Inle Lake reservations email under HA095-RE@sofitel.com
Through my Lense