Words by Colin Hinshelwood/ CPA Media
Many of us may be stuck at home right now, but that hasn’t stopped us from dreaming of our next luxurious getaway. Here are 10 incredible hotels across Asia that we can’t wait to visit once the world gets back to normal.
The Reverie Saigon (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam)
Located in downtown Ho Chi Minh, The Reverie Saigon is a jaw-dropping blend of decadent Italian design and genuine Vietnamese hospitality. Inside Vietnam’s most lavish hotel, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, Italian Carrara marble covers the floors and walls, a custom-made 24-carat gold Baldi clock, and a five-metre-long Colombostile sofa in purple ostrich leather adorn the lobby. Meanwhile, top Italian brands (such as Poltrana Frau and Giorgetti) furnish the 286 rooms and suites – all of which have stunning views of the Saigon River and the city skyline.
The property features five restaurants and bars, including The Royal Pavilion (Cantonese fine-dining) and R&J (which serves authentic Italian fare and is named after Romeo and Juliet), plus a two-storey spa and fitness centre, and a rooftop pool. In addition, guests have a fleet of more than a dozen luxury cars at their disposal as well as exclusive access to the hotel’s 60-foot Monte Carlo yacht.
Tanah Gajah, A Resort by Hadiprana (Bali, Indonesia)
Moored among the rice paddies of Bali’s spiritual heart at Ubud, the idyllic 20-key property was once the private family estate of noted Indonesian architect Hendra Hadiprana. Built in the 1980s as a holiday home for the legendary designer and transformed into a resort in 2004 when the architect’s imagination conjured the possibility of another estate nearby, this Leading Hotel of the World came back into the Hadiprana family’s fold in January of last year.
The resort’s extensive art and antique collection, collected over decades, remains a pillar of the property and strolling the grounds is an immersion in Balinese art and sculpture. The secluded five-hectare estate also features two dining destinations, both with uninterrupted views of some of Ubud’s most iconic scenery, an indulgent spa that also makes the most of the view, and a spacious swimming pool with mythic gajah (elephant) statues standing guard over the water. Rooms are in traditional Balinese style with semi-outdoor bathrooms and several with private plunge pools.
Alma Cam Ranh (Cam Ranh, Vietnam)
On the Cam Ranh peninsula at Long Beach, Alma resort commands some 30 hectares of inspiring ground. Emblematic of Vietnam’s maturation as a beautiful destination, the bold and spacious resort offers 580 oversized suites and pavilions that all afford sweeping vistas of the ocean, including contemporary three-bedroom oceanfront pavilions each totalling 224sqm with a living room, kitchen, four bathrooms and a private pool.
Alma features a broad spectrum of restaurants helmed by top chefs, a food court with an array of local and international cuisine, as well as a sports bar, pool bar and beach bar. Other highlights include 12 swimming pools cascading down to the beach, a waterpark, 13-treatment room spa, 70-seat cinema, convention centre, amphitheatre, art gallery and science museum. There is also a gymnasium and yoga room, 18-hole mini-golf course, a youth centre with virtual reality games, a kid’s club, water sports centre and even an ‘Alma Mart’ mini supermarket.
Meliá Koh Samui (Koh Samui, Thailand)
At Choeng Mon Beach on the north-eastern tip of Thailand’s Koh Samui island, Meliá Koh Samui deploys a compelling nautical theme. Paying homage to Koh Samui’s heritage as a safe haven for sailors and sea traders, the 159-room and 41-suite resort has given teak wood merchant vessels, that are more than 100 years old, a new lease on life, converting them into elegant two-story boat suites sized 91 to 100sqm. Each boat suite offers either sea views, garden views or direct access to a remarkable 700m-long lagoon pool that loops through its grounds like a river.
The first property in Thailand launched under Spanish hotel group Meliá Hotels International, the resort is also home to two restaurants, an executive lounge shaped like a ship’s hull, a two-level infinity pool with sunken seating areas, a swim-up bar, spa, fitness centre, ballroom and, for families, a kid’s club, outdoor playground and mini water park.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (Hanoi, Vietnam)
With its stately grandeur and 120 years of history, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic hotels. Famous guests over the decades have ranged from Charlie Chaplin and Graham Greene to Angelina Jolie and innumerable heads of state. The hotel’s popular Path of History tour includes a look back at this illustrious past, as well as a visit to the underground bomb shelter that protected Joan Baez, Jane Fonda and others from air raids during the US-Vietnam War.
In February, the Metropole Hanoi was awarded a five-star rating, the highest level of recognition, from Forbes Travel Guide. The hotel is home to several celebrated restaurants, including Le Beaulieu (French fine dining), Spices Garden (Vietnamese), and Angelina (international), as well as venues like Le Club Bar (for afternoon tea), La Terrasse (a Parisian-style café) and Bamboo Bar (for bespoke cocktails).
Adrian Zecha cut the ribbon last November on Azerai’s first oceanfront property, Azerai Ke Ga Bay, located on Vietnam’s stunning south-eastern coast 180 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City. The 46-key resort features a combination of suites and private-pool suites in a contemporary aesthetic defined by elegance and minimalist design.
In central Vietnam, Azerai La Residence, Hue offers postcard views of the centuries-old Hue citadel and iconic flagpole from its perch overlooking the fabled Perfume River. Earlier this year, the hotel launched a new luxury riverboat providing three different types of daily cruises. In the Mekong Delta, Azerai Can Tho is situated on a lush private islet that’s only accessible by boat. One of southern Vietnam’s most unique wellness destinations, the resort has unveiled monthly, multi-day yoga and Pilates retreat in its outdoor yoga pavilion and in an all-new, purpose-built Pilates studio.
The Chedi Al Bait (Sharjah, UAE)
Eight years in the making, the 53-room resort by GHM debuted in marked contrast to the world-famous hotel towers of nearby Dubai, cultivating a low-slung profile and an aesthetic that celebrates indigenous building design and materials. Its historic barjeel, or wind tower, punctuates the district’s age-old appeal. A museum-worthy of stand-alone status signals the ambitions of the hotel – and the city – to showcase the emirate’s particular heritage.
The name of this Leading Hotel of the World – Al Bait – means home in Arabic and is a reference both to the intimate atmospherics of the property’s design and to the five historic residential chambers at the heart of the new property. The homes are each named for former inhabitants and resound with their original purpose as residences that did double duty as a post office, a customs’ house and a salon or majlis, for the city’s intellectual elite. Its coral building blocks and gypsum have stood the test of time. In 2020, Travel + Leisure trumpeted the hotel on its IT List as one of the most remarkable new hotels in the world.
Laguna Lang Co (Lang Co, Vietnam)
Golf courses all over Asia are often anchored by a great hotel. Few clubs can boast of having not just one, but two of the region’s highest-rated resorts within a well-struck iron shot of the clubhouse. At Laguna Lang Co, one of Vietnam’s finest golf tests – Laguna Golf Lang Co – is anchored by the multi-award-winning pair Angsana Lang Co and Banyan Tree Lang Co, both ranked among the top 30 resorts in Asia, as recognised by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards in 2020.
Angsana Lang Co, which commands extended beach frontage and features 229 stylish suites, more than 100 of which come with their own private pools overlooking the East Sea, was ranked at number 30 on the list. Banyan Tree Lang Co, a multi-award-winning all-pool villa resort, meanwhile, was rated number nine in Asia by readers of the publication, regarded by many as the world’s leading authority on luxury travel.
Banyan Tree Samui (Koh Samui, Thailand)
Tiered into a verdant 38-acre hillside, and overlooking a secluded cove of beach, coral reefs and sapphire waters, this majestic resort is a haven of luxury and tranquillity. The 88 villas, each with a private infinity pool and 24-hour butler service, are tiered into the tropical landscape to provide guests with maximum sea views and sunshine. Relax at the award-winning spa which has its own rainforest-themed hydrotherapy facility. Or take a speedboat trip with your friends and family to do a spot of island-hopping. It’s close to here that many of the scenes in the Leonardo Di Caprio movie The Beach was filmed, and oh what a paradise it truly is.
Banyan Tree Krabi (Krabi, Thailand)
Nestled into a lush hillside, affording a gorgeous panoramic vista across some of Thailand’s most iconic limestone wonders in the Andaman Sea, Banyan Tree Krabi opened its doors on 24th October 2020 at little-known Tubkaek Beach, a 45-minute drive from Krabi International Airport. Facilities at the new hotel include two restaurants, a sunset-facing beach bar, a kids’ club, a fitness centre, a meeting centre, an elevated outdoor wedding deck, and in keeping with Banyan Tree’s global wellbeing branding – a rainforest-themed spa.
The centrepiece of the resort, and one of the first things guests will see as they walk through the Buddhist temple-like entrance, is a circular sinkhole in the lobby where a waterfall cascades into a pool below. With a backdrop of emerald sea and karsts, the awe-inspiring spectacle is shaping up as one of the resort’s signature images. “Water and nature are the predominant themes here at Banyan Tree Krabi,” said the resort’s new hotel manager Haruethai Maneerat. “You are never more than a few steps from a canal with quaint wooden bridges or within earshot of fountains and cascading waterfalls among the gardens.”