Lucky dips for the cool crowd

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Asia - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

If swim­ming with an au­di­ence is not your thing, con­sider a stay in a walled villa with pri­vate pool. Asian prop­er­ties lead the way with this form of ac­com­mo­da­tion and not all are in clas­sic beach­side set­tings.

The Siam in bustling old Bangkok, for ex­am­ple, has river­side ac­com­mo­da­tion with plunge pools, which neatly slots this ex­em­plary ho­tel into the “ur­ban re­sort” cat­e­gory so loved by brochure writ­ers.

Sim­i­larly, Park Hy­att Siem Reap (see above) has pool suites of one or two bed­rooms nes­tled in its gar­den — just the spot for cool­ing off af­ter a dusty day ex­plor­ing and climb­ing the tem­ples of Angkor Wat.

In more ex­pected set­tings, the Sin­ga­pore-based Banyan Tree group has a port­fo­lio of re­sorts in Asia, many with free-stand­ing vil­las; my favourite is Banyan Tree Lang Co in­land from Da Nang on the cen­tral coast of Viet­nam where each of the 49 guest quar­ters, with claytiled roofs and ex­quis­ite fur­nish­ings, is the size of a hol­i­day week­ender. All have views of a la­goon or ca­suar­i­nafringed beach.

The high-rise Banyan Tree Ma­cau, in the Las Ve­gas­wor­thy Galaxy com­plex, has two cat­e­gories of vil­las, each with pools, which surely are the shot for gam­blers to cool down af­ter the ex­hil­a­ra­tion (or not) of the ad­ja­cent casino. In Bali, the ter­raced es­tate at The Mu­lia (as above) en­com­passes 108 vil­las of var­i­ous con­fig­u­ra­tions, cul­mi­nat­ing with the six-bed­room Mu­lia Man­sion.

Aman­re­sorts usu­ally in­cludes a top level of pool ac­com­mo­da­tion at its Asian prop­er­ties and pri­vacy-seek­ing swim­mers would not be dis­ap­pointed at the clifftop Amanoi in Viet­nam (in­land from Nha Trang) or any of the group’s In­done­sian of­fer­ings, although the tented Aman­wana on Moyo Is­land, east of Bali and fac­ing Sum­bawa Is­land, does not have en­suite pools un­der can­vas (the new pre­serve of top-notch African sa­fari lodges).

At Capella Sin­ga­pore on Sen­tosa Is­land (linked by a bridge to the city proper) there are huge vil­las and manors with lap pools; this prop­erty sits amid trop­i­cal plant­ings and sweep­ing lawns and, again, the “ur­ban re­sort” tag firmly fits.

Some ho­tels in Asia have la­goon-ac­cess gue­strooms, which are a mid­way (and mid-priced) so­lu­tion be­tween a pool villa and stan­dard ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Ba­si­cally, you step from your room’s ter­race into a me­an­der­ing la­goon, which will be used by other guests, but you can hop in (and out) di­rect.

In Bali, RIMBA at Jim­baran and Con­rad at Benoa have ac­com­mo­da­tion of this type, as does Oberoi Udaivi­las in Ra­jasthan, In­dia, and in Queens­land, One & Only Hay­man in the Whit­sun­days and Pull­man Sea Tem­ple at Port Dou­glas.

But how about a pool of your own and lad­der ac­cess to a la­goon where car­ni­val-coloured fish dart about and sil­very mack­erel sud­denly pop and plop?

At the as­ton­ish­ing new Amilla Fushi on Baa Atoll in The Mal­dives, the ac­com­mo­da­tion cat­e­gories are known as “houses” and if you choose an over­wa­ter op­tion, there is a flaw­less in­te­gra­tion of deck pool, la­goon and sky.

Think: three shades of blue. Swim and siesta. Flop and drop. Bliss.

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