EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was verified by Aruzhan Kenessova, an executive assistant and Kazakh food expert based in Aktobe, Kazakhstan.
Borat put Kazakhstan on the map. In the years after its release, tourist visas to Kazakhstan rose tenfold. You remember the fake mustache and funny accent but how much did that movie really teach you about this country in Central Asia?
Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world with one of its lowest population densities. It lies mostly in Central Asia with a small portion crossing the border into Eastern Europe. It’s favorable climate and large areas of grassland have made Kazakhstan’s terrain ideal for a nomadic lifestyle.
Historically, Kazakhstan has been inhabited by nomadic Turkic groups who migrated seasonally to find pasturage for their livestock. In fact, the name Kazakh comes from the ancient Turkic word qaz, meaning “to wander”, while stan means “land” or “place of”, so Kazakhstan literally means “land of the wanderers”.
With nomadism being such an important part of their culture and identity, traditional Kazakh food had to be well-suited to this nomadic way of life. As a result, you’ll find that portability, durability, and a heavy lean on meat and soured milk products are common threads in traditional Kazakh cuisine.
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WHAT IS TRADITIONAL KAZAKH FOOD?
Traditional Kazakh food is nomadic food. For centuries, Kazakhs were herders who raised horses, sheep, cows, and Bactrian camels. They relied on these animals for transportation, clothing, and food, developing cooking techniques and methods of preservation that facilitated their nomadic lifestyle.
Being able to produce food that was portable and long-lasting was important to the Kazakh way of life. Food needed to withstand many months on the road so salting and drying meat became a necessity. Milk was soured to improve its shelf life while boiling was the most practical and commonly used method of cooking.
The nomadic lifestyle made raising crops difficult so meat has always formed the biggest part of the Kazakh diet. Mutton and beef were considered everyday food while horse and camel were regarded as festival meats. Horse and mutton are the most popular proteins in Kazakh cuisine and figure prominently in many dishes, including Beshbarmak, the Kazakh national dish.
Kurt is a hardened fermented ball of cheese and one of the best examples of nomadic Kazakh food. It’s one of many fermented dairy products Central Asian herders have been preparing since the Middle Ages, to create a source of sustenance that can withstand many seasons on the road.
To prepare, soured milk from a sheep, mare, cow, goat, or camel is strained into soft curds and then shaped into small balls or disks before being left to harden in the sun. This creates a portable high-calcium snack that can last for many seasons and withstand long trips.
Kurt is an incredibly salty snack that’s best enjoyed in small doses. It can also be crumbled into stews, soups, and salads or dissolved in kumis (fermented milk drink) or water to make shalap. Because of its high salt content, it also makes for great bar chow.
Some Kazakhs joke that kurt gets its intense saltiness from being rubbed under someone’s armpits. Not the prettiest picture but you get the analogy.
Shubat is a drink made from fermented camel’s milk. It’s a Turkic beverage popular throughout Central Asia, particularly in Turkmenistan (chal) and Kazakhstan, where it’s a staple summer drink.
To prepare, fresh camel’s milk is poured with a prepared starter into a leather wineskin bag or ceramic jar. It’s left to ferment for the next few days before the soured milk is gently stirred until it takes on a thick, homogenous consistency.
Shubat is touted as having a multitude of health benefits. It’s beneficial to the digestive system and pancreas and great for people suffering from anemia. When applied topically, it’s said to have a moisturizing effect while nourishing the skin with vitamins, proteins, and minerals.
Kumis (or koumiss, kumys) is a popular Kazakh drink made with fermented mare’s milk. It’s been an important source of refreshment and nourishment for Turkic and Mongol nomads for thousands of years.
Mare’s milk is naturally high in sugar and lactose. It has a severe laxative effect when consumed fresh but it’s high sugar content makes it easy to ferment. To prepare, fresh mare’s milk would be kept in vats until it acidified and alcoholic carbonation was produced. Nomads would then transport the liquid in leather bags and punch it from time to time to keep the kumis agitated.
Like shubat, kumis is known for its many health benefits. It’s good for the gut and nervous system and is said to be effective in the prevention of tuberculosis. Mothers would even give their babies a milder form of kumis that was low in, but not completely devoid of alcohol.
Kumis was traditionally made with a higher alcohol content but modern versions contain only about 2% alcohol. Commercial versions are now commonly made with fortified cow’s milk, but in rural areas, you’ll find kumis still made in the traditional manner using fermented mare’s milk.
Shalap is a type of fermented drink made with water, salt, and either qatiq (yogurt) or kurt. Traditionally, it was made with regular water but modern versions of shalap are often made with carbonated water instead.
Shalap is also popular in Kyrgyzstan (chalap) and Uzbekistan (chalob). Though not often, it can sometimes be made with herbs which gives it the appearance of a cold soup. Like shubat, it’s a popular and refreshing summer drink whose taste has been described as pleasantly salty, sour, and smokey. For some westerners, it may be an acquired taste.
Tandyr nan is a disc-shaped bread popular in Kazakhstan and in other parts of Central Asia. It’s essentially a Central Asian version of naan bread traditionally cooked in a tandyr (tandoor). Depending on where it’s from and how it’s made, it goes by many different names like tandir non, tonur non, patyr nan, and lepyoshka.
About the size of a dinner plate, tandyr nan is characterized by its raised edge and decorated indented center. It can be prepared in a number of ways – plain, enriched with egg, or dusted with sesame or nigella seeds. Plain or seeded versions are typically eaten for breakfast while heavier versions are enjoyed for lunch or dinner with salad and meat dishes. At Kazakh restaurants, you may be served smaller, highly-decorative versions called damdy nan.
In spite of its name, it’s interesting to learn that the Kazakh version of tandyr nan wasn’t traditionally made in a clay tandoor the way it is in Uzbekistan. Instead, it was baked between two metal pans, either in an oven or more traditionally over a dung fire. It’s essentially a portable mini-oven that was well-suited to a nomadic lifestyle.
Shelpek is a type of Central Asian flatbread widely consumed throughout the region. It’s made with a dough consisting of flour, milk, sour cream, butter, baking soda, sugar, and salt. The dough is formed into balls and rolled out into discs before being fried in hot vegetable oil till golden brown.
In Kazakhstan, there’s a tradition of giving out seven or more shelpeks on Fridays, the holiest day of the week in Islam. They’re given to friends and neighbors, left at mosques, or consecrated by reading The Koran. This practice of commemorating the dead is common to many Turkic nationalities.
Baursak (or boortsog) are puffy pieces of fried Kazakh bread. They’re essentially Central Asian donuts made with flour, yeast, eggs, margarine, milk, water, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. Shaped into triangles or spheres, they’re usually served with tea and eaten as a dessert with sugar, honey, or butter.
As tempting as they look, baursak isn’t an everyday Kazakh dish. It’s typically reserved for special occasions like weddings and memorials. According to legend, the aroma from the oil and frying baursak floats into the heavens so that your deceased loved ones can enjoy them with you.
On 7 September 2014, a Guinness World Record for the most baursak ever made was set in Almaty. To celebrate Mother’s Day, 856 kg (1,887 lbs) of baursak were cooked in a competition consisting of seven mother-in-law / daughter-in-law teams.
Manti refers to a type of dumpling popular in Turkic cuisine. It’s widely consumed throughout Central Asia, the South Caucasus, the Balkans, and beyond.
Manti exists in different shapes and sizes depending on where they’re from, but they’re typically made with a spiced meat mixture, usually ground lamb or beef, that’s wrapped in thin dough and either boiled or steamed. They’re similar in appearance to Mongolian buuz, Chinese baozi and jiaozi, Tibetan momo, and Korean mandu.
The exact origins of manti are unclear but the strongest theories suggest it may have originated from the territories of the Mongol Empire. Others trace it back to the Uyghur people of northwest China while some believe it may have originated in the Middle East.
In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, manti is commonly filled with minced lamb but it can be made with beef or horse meat as well. The minced meat is usually spiced with black pepper and mixed with chopped pumpkin or squash. It’s typically served with butter, sour cream, and an onion or garlic sauce, but when sold as street food, it’s usually sprinkled with hot red pepper powder.
Lagman refers to a hand-pulled Uyghur noodle dish made with meat – usually lamb, goat, or beef – and different vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, green beans, garlic, and potatoes. It’s common throughout Central Asia and northwestern China where it goes by different names like laghman, lag’mon, and lengmen.
Lagman is especially popular in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan where it’s considered a national dish of the Uyghur and Dungan ethnic minorities. Interestingly, no native Turkic words begin with the letter “L”, so it’s believed that the name lagman is derived from the Chinese “lamian”, though its taste and preparation are distinctly Uyghur. This seems to indicate that the dish originated in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwestern China, though Bukharian Jews also lay claim to the dish.
Lagman exists in many forms throughout the region, as a soup, stew, or stir-fry. In Kazakhstan, stir-fried lagman is one of the most popular versions of the dish.
Lagman shurpa is essentially the soup or stewed version of lagman. Shurpa refers to a meat and vegetable soup common in Central Asia, so lagman shurpa is a type of shurpa made with lagman noodles.
Plov (or palau) is the Central Asian version of pilaf, a dish consisting of rice cooked in stock or broth with spices and other ingredients like lamb, onions, and carrots. It’s typically cooked in a kazan, as a common family meal or when entertaining a large number of guests.
Kuurdak is an ancient Central Asian dish made with roasted or fried meat, offal, onions, garlic, and potatoes. Originally from Kyrgyzstan, it’s widely consumed throughout the region where it goes by different names like qýyrdaq, gowurdak, qovurdoq, and qordaq.
Kuurdak can be made with different types of meat depending on where it’s from. In Kyrgyzstan, it’s most commonly made with mutton or beef but Kazakh versions of kuurdak are typically made from sheep offal like liver, heart, kidney, and lungs. It’s usually prepared immediately after slaughtering the sheep.
Beshbarmak is the national dish of Kazakhstan. It consists of boiled meat served with thin pasta sheets and a sauce (chyk) made from onions, meat broth, salt, and pepper. Horse and mutton are most often used but it can be made with beef as well.
Beshbarmak is one of the most culturally significant Kazakh foods. Even the manner in which it’s served is dictated by ritual (ustukan). When an animal is slaughtered in a guest’s honor, the host serves the different cuts of meat to people according to their age, gender, and social rank. The oldest people and honored guests are always served the best cuts of meat.
For example, the oldest men receive the thigh bone (jambash) while the oldest and most respected women are offered the tailbone (kuiruk or kuymulchak). The smaller bones are reserved for the daughter-in-law of the house. The legs and shoulders are given to younger adults while the children are left with the animal’s spine (omurtka).
One of the best parts of the animal – the head (bash) – is given to the guest of honor or the eldest or youngest male, to cut pieces from it and distribute to other people. Other parts of the animal like the shin bones, femur, and ribs are apportioned according to tradition as well.
Beshbarmak is the national dish of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan but it’s widely consumed throughout the region. It goes by different names like naryn, turama, dograma, tullama, and khorkhog. The name beshbarmak literally means “five fingers”, in reference to how nomadic people traditionally ate the dish using their hands.
Kazy (or qazi) refers to a type of horse meat sausage popular in parts of Central Asia like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. It’s traditionally made with the meat and fat taken from the animal’s ribs.
To prepare, the horse’s ribs with the meat still attached are hung to dry for several hours. When completely drained of blood, the meat is seasoned with garlic, pepper, and salt before being stuffed into the animal’s cleaned and brined intestines. The sausages are then smoked for several hours or left to dry for a week in an area exposed to the wind and direct sun.
Kazy is boiled and sliced before serving. It can be eaten cold as an appetizer or incorporated into other Kazakh dishes like beshbarmak.
Zhaya refers to another Kazakh dish made with horse meat. It consists of salted, dried, and smoked meat derived from the horse’s hip or hind leg. Often served with onions, zhaya is typically enjoyed cold as an appetizer but it can be incorporated into other dishes as well.
Kazakh cuisine is a great reminder why food is one of the best communicators. It can tell you so much about the local culture and Kazakh food is the perfect example of that.
Dishes like kazy and zhaya may not be for everyone, but keep an open mind and the food in Kazakhstan will show you what life was like on the plains. At the very least, it’ll do a better job than Borat.
Article ‘Disability-inclusive business models for an enabling environment’ by Piroon Laismit, Asia-Pacific Centre on Disability (APCD) Executive Director
Disability-inclusive business models for an enabling environment
I have led many groups of visitors to our “chocolate factory” run entirely by persons with disabilities. The expressions of awe and amazement on the faces of my guests never fail to warm my heart. Enter our training centre for chocolate making and you will see to your left, visually impaired staff, meticulously wrapping chocolate bars with high precision, due to their heightened sense of touch and space. Turn to your right and you will see hearing impaired employees, stirring and pouring different chocolate mixtures into chocolate molds, monitoring these molds while they bake in the oven, and then taking them out of the oven for further processing. Every time I observe them busy at work while explaining to my guests the different steps involved in chocolate making, I always feel proud, not only of their achievements but also how they continue to inspire others. Every branch of 60+ Plus Bakery and Café was established with the aim to provide a space for training persons with disabilities, and to serve as a model for coffee shops, or restaurants, successfully run by persons with disabilities.
60+ Plus Bakery & Chocolate Café and products
60+ Plus Bakery and Café by Yamazaki is a collaborative project between the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand, the Embassy of Japan, Thai-Yamazaki Co. Ltd, and APCD. It is a project under the royal patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, established to commemorate HRH’s 60th birthday anniversary in 2015. In a very short time after its establishment and due to its immense success, the Café has expanded to include a branch at the Royal Government House and a restaurant run and serviced entirely by persons with disabilities.
Most recently in 2019, we had the honour to produce chocolate for world leaders during Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship that year and Thailand’s APEC Host Economy Year in 2022. It was a special opportunity to showcase the potential and talent of persons with disabilities to policy makers worldwide and a great source of pride for the men and women behind 60 Plus Café. My only hope is that with each new project and activity, their work will continue to inspire others to see beyond our limitations and to contribute whatever they can to society.
The Importance of a Disability Enabling and Disability Inclusive Future
As a regional development centre on disability, we strive to communicate the importance and necessity of working towards a disability enabling and disability inclusive future.
Since the 1970s, it was estimated that 10% of the world’s population was disabled. Some 40 years later in 2011, a first-ever joint report on disability produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank (WB) put that number at 15%, or approximately one billion people who were living with some form of disability. By the end of 2022, this figure had increased to 1.3 billion. In Thailand currently, 3.19% of the population, or roughly 2.1 million people, live with some form of disability.
One conclusion that can be drawn from these statistics is that disability is a fact and reality of life. Whether due to an increase in chronic diseases or ageing populations or sadly, war and conflict, disability is not something we can ‘eradicate’. Another conclusion is that the percentage of persons living with some forms of disability is not small and rather a number that must prompt us to action.
And this action must come from having the right attitudes towards and understanding of persons with disabilities. We must continue to find ways to enable and empower persons with disabilities, to live independently and contribute to their communities. This is valuable not only for the disabled population themselves, but for society as a whole, in reducing inequalities that prevent us from reaching our full potential.
Thailand’s Journey in Creating an Enabling Environment: From Social Welfare to Development Cooperation
In my opinion, what was so distinct and pivotal about the royal patronage behind these foundations was that it gave these organizations much-needed publicity and support, improving access to critical funding and collaboration with other agencies. This, in turn improved ‘access’ for people with disabilities to public infrastructure and social services. It was the spark that ignited the engine behind a robust machinery that moved vital work forward in this area.
As these foundations became more established in providing support to the disabled population in Thailand, some even extended outreach to other countries, especially developing countries in Africa and the South Pacific – adding positive momentum to Thailand’s development cooperation. Deserving particular mention is the Prostheses Foundation of HRH the Princess Mother. Set up officially in 1992, it initially worked with the Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteers (PMMV), whose mobile units of doctors and nurses have been in operation since 1969 to reach out to the sick and disabled in remote areas. From the outset, the Foundation focused on using locally-sourced materials for the production of prosthetic legs to reduce costs, based on the principle of self-sufficiency. Over the years and through the support and status lent by the royal patronage, the Foundation was able to collaborate widely with academia and the private sector in the comprehensive production, design, distribution and practical application of these artificial devices.
Towards Sustainable Development through Training and Knowledge Sharing
In 2007, the Prostheses Foundation started projects with community hospitals to offer all-in-one service for prosthetics wearers, including repairs, refitting of spare parts and training for prosthetics production. It was at this point that the knowledge-sharing took on an international dimension, with training extended to Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. A few years later, the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) initiated cooperation with Burundi and Senegal. By then, the Prostheses Foundation had already produced prosthetic legs for over 3,000 disabled persons, and become among the most prolific in Southeast Asia.
Source: TICA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
On 28 September 2013, I had the opportunity to attend a donation ceremony for artificial limbs at the R.J. Grast Memorial Hall in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and to witness the life changing impact that they had with my own eyes. The donation was made upon the request of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, whereby the Royal Thai Government, represented by TICA, in collaboration with the Prostheses Foundation of HRH the Princess Mother, donated one hundred artificial limbs to victims of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, which housed five garment factories. Its collapse on 24 April 2013 killed at least 1,132 people and injured more than 2,500 workers. Our donation of artificial limbs from Thailand gave these workers in Bangladesh a new life and hope.
Thailand-Senegal cooperation on prosthetic services
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
In Africa, the Royal Thai Embassy in Dakar, in collaboration with TICA, extended the expertise of the Prostheses Foundation to Burundi and Senegal by creating regular exchanges, and providing training on the production and management of prosthetics-related services. This collaboration also served to boost bilateral relations, with Thailand helping to set up a prostheses centre at a military hospital in Dakar. Officials from Senegal and Burundi also visited Thailand for study visits and further training.
In 2016, the Prostheses Foundation found exciting new collaborators. This time they were leading companies in the fields of material science and design. Dow Thailand Group, SCG Chemicals and Rubber Soul Company added innovative value by providing specialty urethane, polypropylene, elastomers and ergonomic design for better comfort and durability.
The Foundation had indeed come a long way – from gaining royal patronage to assist the disabled in Thailand’s remote countryside, to offering comprehensive learning support to communities and villages in other countries.
Institutionalising Disability Inclusiveness
Efforts to improve the welfare of people with disabilities require constant attention and commitment. There is a need for an established infrastructure of public agencies, foundations, and private sector collaboration to sustain projects. And this collaboration, as we have seen in this space, does not need to be limited domestically. Rooted in the philosophy of self-sufficiency and the principle of sustainable development, the various Foundations in Thailand whose missions are to empower people with disabilities are now all operating with a vision towards self-reliance, holistic learning, and partnership with the private sector on disability-inclusive businesses, as well as development cooperation with other countries.
We have to recognize that disability, after all, is not inability. Rather, persons with disabilities are differently abled with their own set of unique strengths. They can be empowered through inclusive policies and society will benefit as a result.
* * * * *
Mr. Piroon Laismit is the Asia-Pacific Centre on Disability (APCD) Executive Director and has extensive experience on the empowerment of persons with disabilities through capacity building programs. Before joining the APCD, Mr. Laismit headed Thailand’s development cooperation projects as the Director-General of the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has also served as Ambassador of Thailand to the State of Qatar.
1225000 – “Production of meat and meat products (by types)”
Qualification:— 122502 2 “processor of meat”— 122504 2 “producer of meat finished products”Qualification:— 122502 2 “processor of meat”— 122504 2 “producer of meat finished products”Language of study:Kazakh, Russian
Graduates of this course can be helpful in catering companies, hotels and restaurants, cafés, bars and various categories of canteens. Specialists of this profession are trained to cook the dishes, decorations, price fixing of food, arranging the menu and serving the guests.
Period of study:As basic secondary education – 2 years and 10 monthsAs general secondary education – 1 year and 10 months
Our social partners:
- Rixos Astana Hotel
- Imperia G Hotel
- Kaz Management Group LLC
- Radisson SAS Hotel Astana
- Management of Akim Affairs of Nur-Sultan, of Akimat of Nur-Sultan
- Solux Hotel Astana
- “Elorda Ashanasy” LLC
- Marriott Hotel
- Coffee boom
- Hilton Hotel
- Hotel Astana
- “ARKA ST” LLC
1219000 «Baking and confectionery industry»
Baking and Confectionery Industry specialists are trained to cook various sorts of pastries, baguettes, buns and cookies. Bakery products generally contain high amounts of sugar and flour. In fact, when baking bread, baguettes or buns the amount of flour must not be less than half of all the ingredients. Bakers and confectioners invent their own recipes, explore different condiments and syrups, and decorate their wares, giving them beautiful shapes and drawing on them with edible dyes.
- “Цесна” Corp.
- «Хлебный двор»
- “ARKA ST” LLC
1211000 «Garment Industry and Dressmaking»
Specialists graduated from this course find their jobs in light industries, clothing manufactures, felt and wool production areas. They are needed in atelier services, sewing shops and garment studios.
Period of study:As general secondary education – 2 years 10 months
- “Utaria” LTD
- “Tіgіn salony”
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- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Booking
- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Location
- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Check-inThe Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton SuiteThe Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite BedroomThe Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite Bathroom
- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite
- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite Bedroom
- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite Bathroom
- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Breakfast
- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Ozen & Selfie Restaurants
- The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Spa, Pool, & Fitness
After checking out of The St. Regis Astana, I hotel hopped to The Ritz-Carlton, Astana where it’s more centered compared to the previous hotel. This hotel would be my first time staying at a Ritz-Carlton brand. Indeed, my first St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton stays are from the capital of Kazakhstan alone. Again, it’s one of my most anticipated hotel stays in Central Asia!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Booking
I booked 2 nights for my last days in Astana under the Staycation package that this hotel and the St. Regis usually offer on 2+ night weekend stays starting from Friday. What really makes this rate a good deal is that it costs less than the Standard rate with the same cancellation policy. It comes with free daily breakfast and guaranteed 3pm checkout. Since Ritz-Carlton don’t usually offer free breakfast, even to its elite members, I figured that it’s better to book the Ritz instead of the St. Regis at this rate. Surprisingly, the Ritz-Carlton, Astana doesn’t participate in the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program.
Booking through Marriott STARS would get me a $100 property credit, but the Staycation package still ends up $100 cheaper than the standard rate, thus cancelling out the supposed $100 credit without the worry of having to use it during my stay.
This hotel also makes it convenient for me to use up all of my Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant‘s $300 Marriott credit before it goes away. The nightly rate is roughly $212 per night under the Staycation package, which is pretty good for a Ritz-Carlton!
For Marriott Bonvoy points redemption, expect to pay 30,000-40,000 points per night depending on the hotel’s occupancy. I must say that it’s still a good redemption if you choose to redeem points instead.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Location
The hotel is situated inside one of the twin Talan Towers where the other tower consists of offices and shopping retailers. The central location makes it a very attractive option for business purposes, and to see many of Astana’s opulent architectures. The most famous one is the Baiterek Tower that’s pretty much in front of the hotel. Some rooms in the hotel will get you a really nice view of it.
Getting around Astana is very easy with Yandex Go, a popular ride-sharing app in Central Asia. It accepts Visa and MasterCard in this city as well!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Check-in
I arrived at the hotel at 5pm from checking out late at the St. Regis. Outside of the hotel, I noticed some really cool two lion statues. One copper and one steampunk. Amazing!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Lion Statues
The hotel has few door attendants ready to bring my luggage in and open the doors to me leading to the lobby.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Lobby
A prominent horse statue makes a big presence in the lobby, a great symbol of Kazakh culture.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Lobby Horse Statue
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Lobby Rolex
The lobby has the old boys’ club vibe, but also feels very approachable with elements of modern design that don’t feel very stuffy at all. I really love the black/dark purple and gold schemes!
Checking-in was fast and smooth. I did request a suite upgrade beforehand through the Marriott chat app. As a Marriott Titanium Elite, I’d be eligible for suite upgrades at Ritz-Carlton properties if the room’s available.
I did mention it was my first time in Kazakhstan. I was really excited to be upgraded to their Carlton Suite, which is their version of a Vice Presidential Suite! Unfortunately, upgrades don’t come with the Club Lounge access at the 14th floor. But, it’s not a big deal for me since free breakfast is included on the Staycation package already.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite
I was assigned to Room 1104. The Carlton Suite is positioned in the middle section of a floor, and takes up pretty much more than half of one side of the floor based on the floor plan! The Carlton Suite is also retailed at $5900 a night, which makes it my most highly-valued free suite upgrade that I’ve received so far!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Floor Plan
The surprise doesn’t stop there from this hotel. As I checked out the dining table, I was delighted by a custom message that made me pace around like an idiot for quite a while.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Welcome Message
Apparently, the hotel has done some “research” on me by creating a custom welcome message that has my blog’s logo on it! I never disclosed my identity to anyone in the travel industry just so I can do my reviews as objectively as I can. Still, it feels very good that I am being noticed even though I’m just a very small-time travel blogger.
Some people might think it’s creepy, but I personally find it very sweet that the hotel, especially Bota, the Guest Relation Agent, put more thoughts and work than I expected to make me feel really special! The hospitality I’ve experienced in Kazakhstan really can’t be beat! During the rest of my trip in Kazakhstan, I made sure that this custom message gets back to California in one piece. A special gift for a special stay!
Kazakh sweets inside a lock box were prepared too!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Welcome Gift
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite Living Room
The Carlton Suite is very large, and is estimated to be ~1600 sqft, which is similar to the St. Regis Suite in The St. Regis Astana where I’ve stayed at on the previous day. What a sweet suite!
To the left of the entrance, there’s a half bathroom, and a waiting area to the right.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Half Bathroom
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Waiting Area
The living room comes with sofas, chairs, and a very large ottoman in the middle. Lots of curtains to open for a nice city view.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Living Room Seats
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Living Room TV
There’s a smart home system in the living room that controls the lights, curtains, and temperature. Very modern stuff that I didn’t expect the hotel would have!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Smart Home System
There’s a cupboard where the minibar is stored, or you can make your own tea and coffee. Lots of still water given on this suite by default too!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Cupboard
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Minibar
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Coffee
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Newby Luxury Tea
The dining table is situated to the left side of the living room.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Dining Table
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Counter
There’s an office next to the dining table with a badass door design of an eagle. I’ve admired it too much during my stay.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Office Door
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Office Bookshelves
Next to the office is the kitchenette. While there’s no stove, there’s a Nespresso coffee maker and a fridge where you can store some food and beverages. However, there’s no microwave.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Kitchenette
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Kitchenette Counter
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Kitchenette Fridge
There’s also a door from the kitchenette that serves as an exit, which means that the Carlton Suite has 2 entrances. It’s my first time being in a suite with multiple entrances, and knowing such a concept exists.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite Bedroom
Moving on to the bedroom, it’s adorned by wood and gold decors that enhances the coziness of the room.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Bedroom
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Bedroom TV
One feature that I really like are the LED master switches that controls many aspects of the whole suite that’s similar to the smart home system in the living room. The power outlets are also universal with additional USB-A outlets. This is the only hotel in Central Asia where I did not have to use my power adapter at all. Very convenient!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Bedroom LED Switches
What’s also great is that the switches are very clear. One of the things that grind me about many other hotels are that the bedside switches are usually very vague that I have to play around with them to know what they do.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Coat Rack
The bedroom includes a walk-in dressing room where you can find the bathrobe and slippers.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Dressing Room
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Closets
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Closet (Safe)
A complimentary shoe shine service is included too if you wish to have it.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Shoe Shine Service
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Carlton Suite Bathroom
The suite comes with a sweet marble bathroom.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Bathroom Sinks
The shower pressure is excellent, and there’s two levels of control for the rainfall shower head. You can choose the inner or outer stream, or both!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Shower
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Toilet & Bidet
The bathtub is positioned by the window overlooking downtown Astana. It makes for a great view for a bath!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Carlton Suite Bathtub
Asprey Purple Water bath amenities are by the bathtub and inside the shower room. A Ritz-Carlton standard. Bath salts are included.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Asprey Purple Water Bath Amenities
Overall, the Carlton Suite is very beautiful, and I was very ecstatic with the very generous room upgrade!
Here’s a video tour of the whole Carlton Suite:
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Breakfast
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Mokki Restaurant
The breakfast spread is not the largest, but the food tastes very high quality.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Breakfast Bakery Sweets
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Breakfast Juice
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Breakfast Cereal
I had some of the best Eggs Benedict here.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Breakfast Eggs Benedict
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Breakfast Plate
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Breakfast Cappuccino
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Breakfast Honey Stars Cereal
I don’t care where I stay at, as long as I can find my favorite childhood cereal (Honey Stars), I’m going to eat them. It’s unfortunate that the US doesn’t sell these.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Ozen & Selfie Restaurants
The Ritz comes with two main restaurants. Ozen is located at the ground floor next to the lobby. They serve the more casual dining options, afternoon tea, and special cocktails of their own. I was able to try it during one time during my stay.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Ozen Restaurant
The seating structures are casual, but intimate at the same time with dim lighting and the meandering walls.
The food is really good also. I started to miss plain old steamed white rice that I didn’t realize I’ve had since my trip in Central Asia.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Ozen Sushi
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Ozen Fried Chicken
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Ozen Kung Pao Chicken
I had an interesting cocktail called “Choco Milk Punch”. Just as the name suggests, it tastes like chocolate milk, but laced with bourbon. The name itself reminds me of the “Choccy milk” meme, so that’s why I gave it a try.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Ozen Choco Milk Punch
Tasty food overall, but a little bit too pricey even for me who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. I did order quite a bit of food for myself to be fair.
There’s also another restaurant called Selfie that’s located at the top floor of the hotel. I didn’t try it out, but I managed to take a peek on what it looks like. It looks really nice, and would give panoramic views of Astana.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Selfie Restaurant
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana- Spa, Pool, & Fitness
Spa treatment is available at the third floor next to the Mokki Restaurant. I didn’t get a spa treatment this time since I did it at the St. Regis, but they look similar in many ways.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Spa
I did make time for the indoor pool and Jacuzzi. The interior design is just stunning!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Indoor Pool
There are metal bars barely submerged in the pool so you can lounge in the water.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Indoor Jacuzzi
The gym is in between the spa lobby and the pool. It’s very comprehensive with calisthenic workout tools.
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Gym
During checkout, the front desks greeted me by my name and appeared sad that I was leaving so soon. They asked whether I’ve tried some of their amenities like spa and some of their specialty breakfast dishes. They really wanted to make sure I really enjoyed my stay, which I really did! I also saw a staff with a really nice traditional Kazakh dress just as I was about to leave. Really cool stuff!
I had some fun conversations with the door attendant while I was waiting for my Yandex taxi to the airport about interests, the country of Kazakhstan, and other things to kill time. I believe it’s small things like this that can make a hotel stay feel like home, and I really appreciate that about this hotel.
My stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Astana left a very memorable impression towards my first experience at a Ritz-Carlton brand, and is one of the best hotel stays I’ve had. I’m in love with the generous suite upgrade, and there were many times where I wrestle with the thoughts of leaving the room to explore Astana, or to just stay inside. The staff went above and beyond with the special custom welcome message to make me feel like a very special guest! It is just so heartwarming that I still rave about it even weeks after my checkout time, and it’s something that I will cherish for a very long time!
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana’s central location makes it an excellent choice for first-time visitors to see Astana’s major landmarks like the Baiterek Tower, and the hotel provides superb value for the rates it charge, especially for a Ritz-Carlton!