THE LUXE LIST 2017
AUSTRALIA Jackalope, Merricks North Young entrepreneur and filmmaker Louis Li is putting the state of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula on the map for something other than its great wines. An hour’s drive south of Melbourne, Jackalope marks Li’s first foray into the hotel business, and what a debut it is: the property is, quite simply, stunning. Many of the 46 rooms offer views over the vineyard (Willow Creek) on which the low-slung building sits, with monochrome interiors and bespoke furnishings courtesy of Melbourne sister act Zuster. The deep-soak Japanese tubs in each room are black, as is the 30-meter infinity pool and a glossy seven-meter-tall sculpture of the hotel’s namesake jackalope (a folkloric jackrabbit with horns) by local artist Emily Floyd. The restaurants and bars bring equal whimsy both in name—Doot Doot Doot, Flaggerdoot, and Rare Hare—and design. But their style doesn’t come at the expense of substance, with the former already garnering rave reviews for its seasonal tasting menus that draw from the hotel’s kitchen garden and select peninsula producers. — 61-3/5931-2500; jackalopehotels.com; doubles from US$520 CHINA The Sanya Edition, Hainan Island It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the resort city of Sanya on Hainan Island has been attracting more than its share of luxury hotel brands. Few, though, have managed to capture the imagination quite as vividly as the crescent-shaped Sanya Edition. For the Asian debut of his Edition brand, Ian Schrager has pulled out all the stops. For starters, he tapped the Singapore-based architects SCDA to create a sleek silhouette of grandly proportioned blocks of gray stone and dark timber that fan out over the sprawling 22-hectare site, which includes an artificial lagoon filled with purified seawater, two swimming pools, and a clutch of restaurants and bars. Schrager’s interior design team, meanwhile, has dressed the calm, capacious rooms—there are 500 in total, plus 17 pool villas—in white stone, pale oak, and wispy ceiling-height drapes that encircle the bed, a theme that’s carried over in the two-story all-white spa. The resort truly stands apart from the pack with an unusually wellstocked bookshop filled with tomes on art, design, photography, and architecture, alongside eye-catching installations and art pieces by contemporary Chinese artists that have been curated by Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. — 86-898/8835- 9999; editionhotels.com; doubles from US$258 W Shanghai - The Bund, Shanghai You feel like you’re about to wander into a nightclub— or a wall—as you navigate the lobby at W Shanghai, where the scene is dark, thumping, and achingly hip, especially by night. Let the bleached smiles and flashy footwear of the clientele light your way to the central WooBar with its DJ deck, or the expansive WetBar, which hosts champagne-fueled summer pool parties backdropped by Shanghai’s zeitgeist skyline. Back inside, the reimagined ’70s-style guest rooms pop with slinky yellow-velvet window lounges, aqua bathrooms, and silver-tiled walls (a gilded take on classic Shanghai brick alleys). On the bed, a pair of giant chopsticks and a gold lamé cushion in the shape of a Shanghai xiaolongbao dumpling with the words “bite me” set an unabashedly flirty tone. Martini glasses and a cocktail shaker stand at the ready, while the impressive neon city views through curving windows seem custom designed to the psychedelic W color palette. The Kitchen Table, a stylish all-day bistro with black-and-white floors, copper lamps, and alfresco poolside tables, serves a seriously tasty buffet breakfast, and you can work off the calories at the well-equipped gym and cycle room or in the indoor and outdoor swimming pools (though you could just float about on the inflatable gold flamingos instead). — 86-21/2286-9999; starwood.com; doubles from US$314 The St. Regis Shanghai Jingan, Shanghai Shanghai has often been called the New York of China, so it comes as no surprise that this outpost of the venerable Manhattan-born St. Regis brand feels right at home in China’s most cosmopolitan city. Away from the hotel-crowded Bund riverfront, the high-rise property resides in the downtown Jingan district, a short saunter from parks, museums, temples, and the fashionable shopping and dining of Nanjing West Road. Exuberance prevails in the tripleheight lobby, adorned with chandeliers the size of small swimming pools, giant urns of fresh flowers, and gold-trimmed carpets. Jazz music sets a jaunty vibe as travelers and local trendsetters lounge on tufted leather armchairs in shades of sherry and olive and butlers sashay through the scene. Presenting sweeping city views from the 36th to 68th floors, 491 elegant guest rooms and suites feature soothing blue silk walls and pale marble bathrooms, with pops of flamboyance in the stingray-upholstered work desk and tasseled gold curtains. Guests can choose from six restaurants and bars, including traditionally styled Cantonese and Japanese dining and the not-to-bemissed St. Regis Bar, where a Shanghai-inspired riff on the Bloody Mary—the Mary Jing—is made with fig-infused vodka, yellow tomatoes, and osmanthus honey. — 86-21/6257- 9999; starwoodhotels.com; doubles from US$470 INDIA Ayana Fort Kochi, Kochi This 200-year-old courthouse building has been transformed into a boutique hotel with chessboard floors and 16 big high-ceilinged rooms furnished in a restrained Art Deco style. Located in the historic center of Kerala’s Malabar Coast, The Ayana isn’t right on the waterfront, but its sexy rooftop pool offers magnificent views of the harbor from which spices have been transported for at least 2,000 years. Other local attractions—including the Portuguese-built St. Francis Church (where Vasco da Gama was originally buried) and Mattancherry Palace—are within easy reach. There are three in-house dining options offering everything from a full English breakfast to kebabs, but guests will also want to work in a meal at the nearby Brunton Boatyard’s History Restaurant, where the menu compiles dishes from the various historical communities—Syrian, Dutch, Portuguese, British, et al.—that have called Fort Kochi home. The hotel can also arrange excursions into Kerala’s scenic backwaters aboard a traditional kettuvallam houseboat. — 91-484/301-1711; ayanahospitality.com; doubles from US$160 Chittoor Kottaram, Kochi Taken over by Kerala-based boutique hoteliers CGH Earth a few years back, Chittoor Kottaram, the erstwhile residence of the Raja of Cochin, has been revamped and relaunched under the guidance of British philanthropist Lady Helen Hamlyn, a keen
supporter of local restoration projects. The 18th-century backwater retreat in the sleepy village of Cherranelloor has only three bedrooms—the master suite spans the entire upper floor—and can only be booked in its entirety, making it ideal for small groups. Now a repository for Lady Hamlyn’s idiosyncratic collection of art and antiques, the former palace is filled with period details and updated fixtures, though the grounds are just as appealing. An octagonal temple pond has been transformed into a swimming pool, lush palm-studded lawns lead down to a private dock for boat excursions, and a waterside gazebo sets the scene for lunches and dinners prepared as you watch (young chef Sandeep Satheesan’s gourmet dinners play with local cuisine—think Keralan “cannelloni” of gourd tubes stuffed with yam and spinach in a rich tomato gravy). Come evening, guests can look forward to exclusive performances by musicians from the 800-year-old Chittoor Temple next door. — 91-484/301-1711; cghearth.com; exclusive rental from US$835 Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner The brainchild of aristocratic model-turned-hotelier Manvendra Singh Shekhawat, this former royal mansion, replete with intricate jali lattice screens and red sandstone arcades, has been reborn as a fanciful tribute to its onetime resident Narendra Singh, the last maharaja of Bikaner. His eclectic tastes are immortalized in the 82-room hotel, where Bombay Art Deco, Portuguese tiles, Rajasthani tribal art, and a bright red baby grand piano make for a chic yet whimsical combination. Regally dressed butlers on each floor cater to your every need, while guest quarters celebrate the life and times of the late maharaja, with room categories recalling his youth as a globe-trotting bon vivant, his military career, and the modernist style favored by post-independence Indian architects. Elsewhere, guests can unwind in a gentlemen’s smoking room and a “withdrawing room” for ladies, where chandeliers droop with Basra pearls; take a dip in the rooftop pool; and, at the Pearls & Chiffon restaurant, sample Bikaner’s royal cuisine against a Victorian-style backdrop. For something wilder but no less indulgent, opt for a sundowner with a spread of fresh fruit and pastries at a nearby desert oasis. — 91/7827-151-151; narendrabhawan.com; doubles from $187 Roseate House, New Delhi This sister property to the recently rebranded, Lek Bunnag–designed Roseate in South West Delhi is situated at Aerocity, a burgeoning hospitality district near Indira Gandhi International Airport. With such jet-set credentials, guests can expect rooms as sleek as an iPhone X, plenty of marble, oak, velvet, and high-tech gadgetry, and a plush 71-seat movie theater aptly called Upstage. Other highlights include a rooftop spa—the five-hour Aheli Journey treatment is the ultimate in pampering— and a quartet of dining options, including pan-Indian restaurant Kheer and rooftop Japanese lounge Tara. The Roseate brand was launched by India’s Bird Hospitality last September, and now includes a trio of smart hotels in London too, making it one of the few Indian hotel groups to go global. — 91-11/7155-8800; roseatehotels.com; doubles from US$132 INDONESIA Bawah, Anambas Archipelago Remoteness is an increasingly elusive state these days, but it’s one that you’ll experience at Bawah, a cluster of hilly islands with three lagoons, 13 beaches, and just 35 rooms. Located to the northeast of Singapore in Indonesia’s Anambas Islands, the resort somehow feels like it has been dropped at the ends of the earth—partly because getting here entails ferries, flights, shuttles, and boat transfers (a seaplane from Batam will start services in November, shortening the trip). But Bawah’s take on eco-conscious luxury is well worth the schlep. Beachfront and garden villas with a bamboo exoskeleton have canvas roofs, recycled teak floors, and roller shutter–style walls that can turn the room into an openair space at the touch of a button. Overwater villas boast large decks and steps leading straight into clear turquoise seas. Beyond the rooms, marine-themed art pieces grace two bars, and Treetops restaurant dishes up fine fusion cuisine by an Italian chef formerly at Singapore’s Mandarin Oriental. Outdoors enthusiasts have plenty to keep them occupied, from a roster of water sports to stargazing sessions and jungle hikes. Even more memorable is the staff. Unfailingly warm, goodhumored, and without any sense of hierarchy, they’re collectively known as the Bawah Family. The name makes sense: You’ll miss them when you leave. — No telephone; bawahisland. com; all-inclusive from $1,960 Cempedak Private Island, Riau Archipelago Ten years after launching Nikoi Island in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, Australian banker-turned-hotelier Andrew Dixon and his partners have done it again, opening a second eco-resort just a half-hour speedboat ride away. Fresh off his work on Bali’s Mandapa, a Ritz- Carlton Reserve, New Zealand–born architect Miles Humphreys—along with Balinese bamboo specialists Chiko Wirahadi and Ketut Indra Saputra—were recruited to create a grownup fantasy of a Robinson Crusoe getaway. While Nikoi was constructed with driftwood, the buildings of 17-hectare Cempedak are made entirely of sustainable bamboo, recycled teak, and rubber wood, and topped with grass-thatched roofs. Fringed by thick stands of jungle that also act as
privacy screens, the 20 double-story pool villas are dressed in organic linen, cotton mosquito netting, and bamboo ceiling fans. There are no walls, not even in the second-floor bedroom and shower—the better to catch the sea breezes and to be lulled to sleep each night by the sound of the softly lapping ocean waves. By day, diversions include tennis on a grass court, nature walks, scuba diving and snorkeling in the surrounding crystalline waters, while the cocktail bar’s timber deck is a dramatic front-row seat for watching the sunset, thanks to its position high above the jungle treetops. — 62/811-700-8040; cempedak.com; doubles from $360 Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach, Bali The first-ever beach resort from the Hotel Indigo brand has made its debut on the southern end of Seminyak’s Mesari Beach, bringing a fresh injection of style to one of the liveliest neighborhoods on the island. Its 270 spacious rooms and suites—most with swinging daybeds on their ocean-facing balconies—as well as 19 pool villas are spread across almost five hectares of meticulously landscaped grounds. References to the local milieu are everywhere, from the outdoor artworks in the expansive lobby space to the tenun songket (a traditional Balinese textile) motifs seen about the resort. That kind of flair extends to the smaller details—think custom-made pottery from Bali-based Kevala Ceramics, room service in tiffin carriers known as rantang, and a special “Seminyak blend” by homegrown company Dharma Teas. A taste of the island can also be found at Hotel Indigo’s signature Balinese restaurant, Salon Bali, where delicacies such as babi guling (suckling pig) are served as part of an eight- or 12-course menu. Other facilities include a beachfront bar, a pottery-making workshop, and a spa that offers everything from nail treatments and reflexology sessions to muscle-melting Balinese massages. There’s still more to come, with the attached SugarSand beach club slated to open by year’s end. — 62-361/209- 9999; seminyak.hotelindigo .com; doubles from US$290 MALDIVES Milaidhoo Island, Baa Atoll Barefoot luxury takes on a distinctly Maldivian flavor at this 50-villa island in the UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve of Baa Atoll. Discreet nods to local culture include lacquerware on the walls, an undho
alhi (swinging daybed) by the pool in each villa, and candy-colored front doors modeled on those of native homes. Less subtle but entirely welcoming is Ba’theli, a modern-Maldivian restaurant and lounge set above the lagoon in a trio of faux fishing boats. In the afternoons, the teardropshaped isle seems cloaked in silence with its guests out on excursions to nearby Hani- faru Bay, at yoga sessions on a nearby sandbar, or being pampered in the overwater spa. Later hours bring champagne and sundowners in the sand-floored Compass Pool Bar, or in-villa evenings of room-service meals designed to promote good sleep with dips in those large private pools, whose floors light up with LED stars at dusk. — 960/660-0484; milaidhoo.com; doubles from US$1,900 SRI LANKA Santani, Kandy A scenic journey through highland jungle, pint-sized villages, and along the serpentine bends of the Hulu River brings you to Santani, an eco-luxe wellness retreat perched on a secluded hillside. Upcycled decor accents the otherwise minimalistic communal areas, with high ceilings and large windows bringing in fresh mountain air. Each of the 16 standalone rooms are ingeniously designed to mimic the cool interior of a cave, with a single glass wall and sliding doors opening onto the balcony. The concept is driven by what Santani terms “Wellness 2.0,” which involves meeting an on-site Ayurvedic doctor who crafts a personalized retreat plan including treatments, massage, yoga, meditation, and diet. But it isn’t just the design or the level of attention that gives Santani its wow factor. From a salad of Indian pennywort and bulgur with tamarillo and grapefruit salsa, to the homemade pepper ice cream on a multi-textured strawberry platter, the dishes that emerge from Santani’s kitchen are as tantalizing as they are wholesome. And with a 25-meter infinity pool, thermal salt soak pool, sauna, and steam room, self-care has never felt so good. — 94/76-399-1919; santani.lk; doubles from US$450, full board THAILAND Bangkok Publishing Residence, Bangkok This unusually themed property in the Thai capital’s Old Town area literally and figuratively sits between the grand riverside luxury hotels and the hip, smallscale boutique lodgings popping up in Chinatown just a few blocks away. Housed inside an old printing factory on historical Lan Luang Road, the eight-room hotel blends 21stcentury luxury with a touch of nostalgia. The lobby doubles as a museum preserving the history of the owner’s family publishing business, with vintage typewriters, antique printing blocks, and kooky keepsakes all sourced from the family archives. Rooms are charming and well-appointed with thoughtful touches like Marshall speakers and incredibly comfy micro-gel mattress toppers. On the top floor, the lush rooftop garden is a welcome retreat after a day spent exploring the Old Town. Here, guests are invited to soak away their aches in the greenery-clad Jacuzzi, or pour themselves a cup of tea and relax with a maga-
zine in the annexed library: staying true to its theme, the hotel stocks a wide range of travel and lifestyle publications. The only thing missing is an on-site restaurant, but local favorites like the cozy lunchroom Eden’s and Mediterranean-inspired venue Seven Spoons are just a short walk away. — 66-2/282-0288; bpresidence.com; doubles from US$145
137 Pillars Suites & Residences, Bangkok
Taking up the top eight floors of a brandnew, 35-story skyscraper in upscale Thonglor, 137 Pillars Suites is one of the latest arrivals on Bangkok’s hospitality scene, but its history runs deeper than most hotels in the capital. Its sister property, 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai, is a suave reinvention of a teakwood mansion that was once part of the East Borneo Trading Company’s northern headquarters, and careful details in the Bangkok outpost recall this 19th-century heritage. Each of the 34 highceilinged suites, which start from 64 square meters, comes with a balcony and rocking chair; Jack Bain’s Bar is gentlemanly with dark leathers, gilt, and old black-and-white photographs of its namesake Trading Company manager; and Louis Leonowens, who established the original Chiang Mai office, has his lady-killing ways immortalized in an old London cab named Louie that woos guests with champagne as they’re chauffeured around town. Despite its high-rise confines, 137 Pillars manages to pack in a golfing green and pro shop on the fourthfloor terrace, a Japanese hair salon that’s separate from the organic spa, and two infinity pools: one underneath Nimitr restaurant—which, being at the forefront of modern Thai cuisine, draws a crowd of its own—and the other on the roof with cabanas that look out over the city. — 66-2/079-7173; 137pillars hotels.com; doubles from US$440 Villa Mahabhirom, Chiang Mai Unlike most luxury hotels in Thailand’s second-largest city, you won’t find any Lanna architecture at Villa Mahabhirom. Instead, the hotel pays homage to the rich history of Central Thailand. Set inside a lush garden in Chiang Mai’s leafy Umong area, this small but opulent property con- sists of 23 historical Thai houses sourced from villages in the central region. Each one was dismantled, then meticulously reconstructed and fitted with mod-cons such as Italian marble bathrooms with high-tech Toto toilets. All villas feature their own open-air living areas, and two or three can be booked together to form a private garden courtyard and saltwater plunge pool. Surrounding the villas, a carefully selected mix of antiques, contemporary furniture, and artworks from the owner’s private collection adorn the common areas. Look out for the commissioned sculptures by Mae Rim’s Thongma studio, several of which take pride of place outside the lobby. On-site dining options include the chic Mahabhirom Tea Room and the Krua Mahabhirom restaurant, specializing in Thai home-style cuisine with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The hotel’s khao soi, a northern Thai coconut curry soup, is delectable— even by Chiang Mai standards. — 66-53/271-200; villamahabhirom.com; doubles from US$317
Hotel Bocage, Hua Hin
While most beachfront hotels in Hua Hin flaunt their waterside location, the new Hotel Bocage sets its focus firmly inward. It sits atop the city’s liveliest retail and entertainment destination, Seenspace, sister mall to the one in Bangkok and an indooroutdoor complex of restaurants, cafés, and design-led stores. Both Seenspace and the Bocage were designed by Thai starchitect Duangrit Bunnag to be irrepressibly modern, with precise lines and a brutalist, semi-industrial aesthetic. Flanking a lobby that resembles a chic living room, the six high-ceilinged rooms start at a generous 40 square meters, with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors and balconies looking out onto Seenspace’s green roof and the Gulf of Thailand beyond. A palette of white, gray, and black dominates, complementing the polished concrete floors, with furnishings from Italian designer brands: low-slung platform beds by Porro, sofas by Living Divani, and, in the glass-walled bathrooms, white Antonio Lupi showers and freestanding tubs. On the whole, the rooms are refreshing for their near-monastic restraint. Guests also enjoy access to the impressively long pool at Oasis beach club in Seenspace; there is no restaurant at the Bocage, but you will never lack for choices at the places to eat in the mall right below. — 66- 91/712-8822; hotelbocage.com; doubles from US$160 VIETNAM JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, Phu Quoc The first property of its class on Vietnam’s emerging paradise island is exceptional for a few reasons, but most of all because it demonstrates that luxury can be about more than standards or excess—it can also tell a story. The JW Marriott has all the amenities one would expect from a resort of its caliber, as well as direct access to what is arguably Phu Quoc’s finest stretch of beach. But what really impresses is the way designer Bill Bensley’s distinctive vision, which imagines it as the former campus of a long-lost university with a focus on the evolutionary sciences, is brought to life. Every facility and design element, from the lavish, fungus-themed fantasy land of the Chantarelle Spa, to the biological illustrations decorating the beautifully appointed rooms, right down to the beakers used as glasses in airy beachside bar Mixology, is another facet of a meticulously constructed narrative. The attention to quality and detail prevents the fable from feeling too contrived, and creates an accommodation experience like no other. — 84-297/377- 9999; marriott.com; doubles from US$400
A view from the lobby at Roseate House.
Poolside at Hotel Indigo Bali.
A shophouselined street at Phu Quoc’s JW Marriott.