And so to beds
The best new hotels in Asia
ROSEWOOD LUANG PRABANG, LAOS: Nestled in forest just 10 minutes from the historic city of Luang Prabang but with not another building in sight, this “camp” will feature 17 private villas, six with pools, and five tents dotted along the river or beside streams. The tents are a first for up-market Rosewood, but don’t think for a moment guests will be roughing it. Each large, luxurious tented suite will feature a private dining area and wraparound deck. Designed by celebrated Bangkok-based resort architect Bill Bensley, the villas and tents combine Lao tradition and French colonial style. Likewise Laotian and French cuisines will be served in the bistro in the central manor house, which will also contain a day spa. The resort will follow UNESCO guidelines (Luang Prabang is a World Heritage site) and include the country’s first philanthropic hospitality school; rosewoodhotels.com.
JW MARRIOTT PHU QUOC EMERALD BAY RESORT AND SPA, VIETNAM: Bensley also has had a hand in this new resort built between the jungle and a private white sand beach on Vietnam’s largest island. Marriott is the first international luxury hotel brand to land on Phu Quoc but Bensley’s playful design is miles from the cookie-cutter approach of some chains; it’s based on an imaginary and very un-fusty academy of learning with each building modelled after a specific department (think a Department of Chemistry bar). Bright pastel hues and elegant detailing recalling the country’s French colonial history inform the 243 light-filled and spacious guestrooms, suites and villas, and there are three restaurants, a children’s club and day spa; marriott.com.au.
AMANYANGYUN, SHANGHAI: Opening in the northern autumn, Aman’s fourth resort in China is its most ambitious by far. Situated in a forest of ancient camphor trees just outside Shanghai, the resort village includes historic Ming and Qing dynasty villas that might have stood here for centuries. Instead they represent an extraordinary, decade-long project by Jiangxi-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Ma Dadong, who transported 10,000 trees (some more than 1000 years old) and 50 historic buildings 700km from his home province to save them from inundation following the construction of a reservoir. These incredible structures have been reassembled to create 26 dwellings, including 13 four-bedroom villas with private pools, augmented by 24-contemporary onebedroom suites designed by Aman’s go-to architectural firm headed by Australia’s Kerry Hill. Featuring restful interiors finished in wood, stone and bamboo, the villas are dotted about a magical landscape of ornamental lakes and those venerable trees, now thriving in the their new home. The resort will feature six dining venues and a large day spa; aman.com.
THE DUXTON CLUB, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL, SINGAPORE: Opening on September 10 near Chinatown, The Duxton incorporates two colonial-era shophouse buildings reimagined by designers Anouska Hempel and Jacques Garcia. Hempel, who gave us the groundbreaking Blakes in London in the late 70s, brings her style to the 19th-century Duxton House, with 50 guestrooms across eight linked three-storey buildings together with a “destination restaurant” and cigar room. Less than 200m away, The Duxton Terrace will offer 138 guestrooms across 14 adjoining shophouses. Here there’ll be five restaurants, a poolside bar and fitness centre. Guests will be able to access facilities across both buildings; starwoodhotels.com.
THE CHEDI MUMBAI: Best known for resorts in Oman and Andermatt Switzerland, the luxury Chedi brand ventures onto the subcontinent this year with a high-rise development in Mumbai’s rapidly emerging Powai precinct, in the city’s northeast near the airport. Powai is an up-market residential and business district and known as a start-up hub. With 316 large guestrooms decorated in rich gold, bronze and chocolate hues, a day spa and five restaurants intended to set the hotel “apart from the competition”, The Chedi is scheduled for a soft opening midyear; ghmhotels.com.
THE MURRAY, A NICCOLO HOTEL, HONG KONG: Fledgling luxury hotel brand Niccolo has engaged Foster + Partners to convert a landmark building in the Central district as its flagship. Scheduled to open on Cotton Tree Drive in October, The Murray occupies a building that was cutting edge in terms of energy-efficient design when it opened in 1969. In its new guise, the slender white edifice with signature multistorey arch-topped terraces offering city and park views will feature 336 guestrooms across 27 floors and five restaurants, including a rooftop bar; niccolohotels.com.
KERRY HOTEL, HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s first selfstyled “five-star urban resort” opens in April on Kowloon’s waterfront in Hung Hom Bay with about 60 per cent of the 546 Andre Fu-designed guestrooms offering harbour views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Guestrooms are a minimum of 42sq m, equipped with all the latest technology, and there’s a free minibar on arrival. Best pick would be an Executive Sea View Suite with indoor balcony overlooking Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbour. Dining outlets include a wine bar with great views and Food Village, featuring nine individual kitchens. The Tsim Sha Tsui East shopping precinct is nearby while a new MTR station provides easy connections to both sides of the harbour; shangri-la.com.
TAJ EXOTICA RESORT & SPA ANDAMAN ISLANDS: The newest resort from India’s Taj group will open in late 2017 on the remote Havelock Island in Ritchie’s Archipelago on the Bay of Bengal, on a pristine beach claimed to be one of the best in Asia. The Andamans is home to hundreds of islands with white-sand beaches and great diving, tipped to top travel lists in coming years. Getting in before the rush, Taj’s all-villa resort will draw on local traditions for inspiration, including 75 suites featuring the pitched roofs of traditional Jarawa huts; tajhotels.com.
CAPELLA UBUD, BALI: It’s going to be a busy year for Bill Bensley (see Rosewood Luang Prabang and Marriott Emerald Bay) whose designs pop up again in September at the highly anticipated Capella Ubud, a forest retreat set on the sacred Wos river. With more and more luxury hotel chains choosing to hang their shingle on a canvas tent flap, Capella plans 22 “ultra-luxury” tented suites with private plunge pools, together with a day spa and tented gymnasium. The group’s signature Capella “personal assistants” will make their way into the forest to take care of a guest’s every need, from rustling up sundowners to bespoke sightseeing. Capella properties will also open in Shanghai this year and Bangkok in 2018; capellahotels.com.