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September 1, 2009updated Feb 08, 2013

Orient-Express’ Road To Mandalay Returns To Cruise The Ayeyarwady River

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

After an absence of more than 12 months, Orient-Express’ Road To Mandalay river cruiser will once again take to Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River on August 26, 2009, plying the scenic waters between Bagan and Mandalay.

The re-launch follows a complete remodeling and refurbishment, led by French-born and Laos-based architect Francois Greck and carried out by teams of local craftsman, after damage suffered in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The “new” ship now features larger cabins and a capacity of just 82 passengers, down from 108, making for an even more indulgent and roomy onboard experience.

As before, the Road To Mandalay will offer a range of itineraries along Burma’s main artery giving passengers access to the very heart of the country. Three-, four- and seven-night cruise itineraries will be available between Bagan and Mandalay as well as three special voyages each year to Bhamo, in the remote northern area of the country. All itineraries can be combined with stays in Yangon, Inle Lake or Ngapali on the Indian Ocean.

The stylish new surroundings onboard, courtesy of lead interior designer Ali Kennedy in collaboration with Ateliers de la Péninsule, complement the color and atmosphere of the riverbanks seen through its picture windows, while maintaining the ship’s relaxed and comfortable feeling.

A new spacious Governor’s Suite and 34 new State and Deluxe Cabins have been created with maximum comfort and en-suite bathrooms featuring Burmese Jade wall tiles and large walk-in showers.

The restaurant, too, has received a complete makeover with a fresh new color scheme of soft yellows, greens and reds, which complements the traditional Burmese natural matting on the walls and ceiling, hand-woven by local village craftsmen. The detailed teak wall carvings are handmade by Burmese artisans in Amanpura near Mandalay. New chrome wall and standing lights designed by Greck give the restaurant a more intimate feel, which is decked out with furnishings covered in luxurious Jim Thompson fabrics from Bangkok.

Outside, the Top Deck and Bar boast a newly laid teak floor with comfortable large cane sofas and chairs made in Yangon. The sun deck area features 15 new ‘steamer’-style deck chairs, also made in Yangon. Jim Thompson fabrics have been used for the cushions.

The new Road To Mandalay Wellbeing Centre offers exercise machines, floor workout area and changing facilities. Next door to this is the hair and beauty treatment area, which offers a range of relaxing treatments using Decleor products.

New menus have been developed for the re-launch of the restaurant by Executive Chef Christian Markert-Bourdon. A buffet-style lunch is served on the Observation Deck or in the Restaurant in seven different themes – Burmese, Shan, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Indian and European. For dinner, guests can partake of dishes from the Asian- and European-style menus that change daily.

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