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Discreet boom highlights Yangon's resilience

Politics have fueled Western criticism, but new investors are flocking

Rosewood Yangon, the city's first "ultraluxury" hotel.

With its graceful riverfront colonnade and grand facade, Yangon's first "ultraluxury" hotel, the Rosewood Yangon, is also a striking reminder of the city's past. Originally a British colonial-era law court, it was occupied by Japanese troops during the Second World War and later became party headquarters for the military regime that ruled what was then called Burma. Now, after a painstaking $150 million five-year restoration, the sprawling 205-room hotel is a conspicuous sign of confidence that Yangon -- Myanmar's economic heart -- is on the up.

"I fell in love with Yangon because the city has so many heritage buildings," says Supalak Foong, whose Bangkok-based family business, Kanok Furniture and Decoration, designs and builds luxury hotel interiors from Asia to the Middle East. It was Foong, helped by Yangon-based partner Jewellery Luck Group, who was the driving force and main investor in the restoration, and brought in Rosewood Hotel Group during the final stages.

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