STOP, DROP AND FLOP

Just when you thought re­sorts couldn’t get bet­ter, along comes a new breed

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - BEST RESORTS - AMANDA WOODS

They call to us year round with their sooth­ing siren songs, and while some things – in­clud­ing sun, sand and sea – re­main the same, there are new things to look out for in the world of trop­i­cal re­sorts. Not to men­tion some tempt­ing new op­tions to try.

MAK­ING A SPLASH

Over­wa­ter bun­ga­lows are the dream for many of us, but Ex­pe­dia travel ex­pert Lisa Perkovic says they could be our new re­al­ity.

“In 2018, over­wa­ter bun­ga­lows might just move from the bucket list to the book­able list as more af­ford­able op­tions be­come avail­able and trav­ellers ex­plore the trop­i­cal set­tings of Malaysia and the Mal­dives,” she says. “While not cheap, savvy trav­ellers can un­earth good deals on over­wa­ter bun­ga­lows if they’re flex­i­ble with travel dates and des­ti­na­tions.”

Lux­ury wa­ter toys that can make you feel like you’re in an ac­tion film are ap­pear­ing in more re­sorts with Se­abobs that zip you along both over and un­der the wa­ter, and Jet­packs and Jet­blades that give you the power of hy­droflight.

Full-face snorkels are a rev­e­la­tion for those of us who of­ten strug­gle with leak­ing, ill-fit­ting masks, and have the added ad­van­tage of let­ting you breathe through your nose and talk un­der­wa­ter, while glass-bot­tom kayaks let you see the fish be­low you with­out get­ting your hair wet.

And while lots of trop­i­cal re­sorts have a reef on their doorstep, one now has one within the re­sort it­self. The Ritz Carl­ton in Koh Sa­mui, Thai­land, opened last month and in­cludes a one-of-a-kind swim reef with more than 50 types of fish. Not only is it a snorkelling space for all ages, it’s also pro­vid­ing a safe place for clown­fish breed­ing and coral prop­a­ga­tion pro­grams.

SPE­CIAL GUEST STARS

Af­ter team­ing with spir­i­tual healer Jody Shield this year, Shangri-La’s Villingili Re­sort and Spa in the Mal­dives is part­ner­ing one of the world’s most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in fit­ness, Faisal Ab­dalla, or “Mr PMA” (Pos­i­tive Men­tal At­ti­tude) from De­cem­ber 22 to Jan­uary 5.

Also in the Mal­dives, Gor­don Ram­say’s Bread Street Kitchen pop-up re­turns to Amilla Fushi from De­cem­ber 22 to Jan­uary 10, while the night­club of choice for celebri­ties, 1 OAK, will host three or four spe­cial events in 2018 at Amilla’s sister re­sort, Fi­nolhu.

JUST FOR FUN

When UK de­signer Kelly Hop­pen set to work re­mod­elling the LUX* Grand Gaube Re­sort & Spa in Mau­ri­tius, she ran with the retro-chic vibe and sprin­kled ex­tra fun around the re­sort.

Among the new fea­tures to be launched on De­cem­ber 1 is a “Rum Tree­house” where guests or­der cock­tails with one of 88 types of rum by tug­ging on a rope to get the at­ten­tion of the bar­tender be­low, and a Citroën H van made into a pop-up bar.

The LUX* South Ari Atoll in the Mal­dives has “disco toi­lets” com­plete with a photo booth that looks more like a night­club than a loo, along with a junk art stu­dio where guests make art from re­cy­cled ob­jects.

Mean­while, other whim­si­cal and retro touches to be found in var­i­ous LUX* re­sorts in­clude red vin­tage phone booths from which guests can make as many free in­ter­na­tional VOIP calls as they like.

NIGHTS AFLOAT

Go­ing out for the af­ter­noon on a boat is one thing, head­ing out for a night or two with per­sonal but­lers and a crew is an­other. AYANA Ko­modo Re­sort, Wae­cicu Beach, will be­come the lat­est re­sort to of­fer its own ship to guests for overnight when it opens on Labuan Bajo in sum­mer 2018.

The first five-star re­sort on what’s con­sid­ered to be the launch­ing point to the home of Ko­modo dragons, this lat­est AYANA will in­clude a 54m-long, nine-bedroom, tra­di­tional In­done­sian phin­isi ship. Named AYANA

Lako’dia, the ship will be book­able by bedroom or pri­vate char­ter.

In the Mal­dives, a dhoni is a tra­di­tional fish­ing boat. At Hu­vafen Fushi, the re­sort’s dhoni has been given a lux­ury makeover with a king­size bed, Bose sur­round sound, Philippe Starck bath­room fit­tings, a well-stocked Smeg fridge, wine cel­lar and a kitchen for the on-board chef.

DIS­COVER A NEW­COMER

Cham­pagne corks will pop in the Ba­hamas this week with the open­ing of SLS Baha Mar this Tues­day. The re­sort boasts 8ha of pri­vate beach and will mix nightlife and day venues, in­clud­ing a rooftop lounge where an open-air pavil­ion will of­fer some of the best views in the Ba­hamas. Restau­rants will in­clude Kat­suya Baha Mar, the 10th restau­rant Philippe Starck has de­signed for sushi chef Kat­suya Uechi.

Of­ten re­ferred to as Pearl Is­land, Viet­nam’s Phu Quoc Is­land is about to wel­come an­other lux­ury re­sort to Bai Dai Beach. The Radis­son Blu Re­sort will have 522 rooms and suites and in­clude a sa­fari park, wa­ter theme park, re­tail sec­tion, spa, con­ven­tion cen­tre and 27-hole golf course. The re­sort is due to open in early 2018.

Nor­jamin De­los Reyes, Philip­pine Tourism at­taché, says a range of new re­sorts on the hori­zon is good news for Aus­tralians who have fallen in love with the Philip­pines.

“The Crim­son Re­sort and Spa Bo­ra­cay is an ul­tra-ex­clu­sive hideaway sit­u­ated at Sta­tion Zero. Guests will be trans­ferred by boat to this trop­i­cal haven,” he says.

As well as a pri­vate beach, the re­sort will have three swim­ming pools, three restau­rants and a fit­ness cen­tre and spa when it opens in Jan­uary.

Seda Lio in El Nido, Palawan, will fea­ture lots of open spa­ces and take de­sign in­spi­ra­tion from its trop­i­cal sur­round­ings when it opens early in the year, while the Dusit Cebu Mac­tan Is­land will be­come a five-star re­sort for busi­ness and leisure trav­ellers from late 2018.

In the Sey­chelles, the Four Sea­sons will be open­ing the only re­sort on the coral is­land of Des­roches Is­land in early 2018. One of Four Sea­sons’ most in­ti­mate re­sorts – with only 71 vil­las, suites and res­i­dences, all with pri­vate pool and beach access – the Four Sea­sons Re­sort Sey­chelles will also have a sanc­tu­ary for Aldabra gi­ant tor­toise.

Thai lux­ury bou­tique re­sort com­pany SALA Hos­pi­tal­ity Group is open­ing its third re­sort in Thai­land in Koh Sa­mui, with the first-phase launch tak­ing place this month and the fi­nal phase ex­pected to be fin­ished in late 2018. The SALA Sa­mui Chaweng Beach Re­sort will in­clude suites with pri­vate pools and an ope­nair and beach­front restau­rant.

Closer to home, Day­dream Is­land in Queens­land has tem­po­rar­ily closed for con­struc­tion fol­low­ing dam­age caused by Cy­clone Deb­bie in March. The $65 mil­lion rede­vel­op­ment will in­clude the ex­pan­sion of the Lovers Cove func­tion area and a new Asian­in­spired restau­rant. Day­dream Is­land ex­pects to wel­come guests from Oc­to­ber.

Mal­dives might seem to have its fill of re­sorts, but Moven­pick Ho­tels & Re­sorts will open its first prop­erty there next year in the north­ern Noonu Atoll. By the sec­ond quar­ter of next year, the re­mote is­land of Kured­hivaru will have 72 over­wa­ter and 32 beach vil­las. And April will see the sec­ond LUX* re­sort in the Mal­dives. Res­i­dences at LUX* North Male Atoll will all fea­ture a ter­race 5m above the main house la­goon so guests can soak in the view over the flat­test coun­try on earth.

KO­MODO

PIC­TURES: SUP­PLIED

AYANA Ko­modo Re­sort, Wae­cicu Beach, has its own ship (left); and Club Med Kani, Mal­dives (main). MAL­DIVES

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