STYLISHLY MEM­O­RABLE

EV­ERY HO­TEL IN THE MGALLERY BY SOF­I­TEL COL­LEC­TION TELLS ITS OWN STORY. AND EACH IS IN­SPIRED BY ITS DES­TI­NA­TION. UNIQUE AND BOU­TIQUE, TH­ESE HO­TELS IN­VITE GUESTS TO EN­TER A TALE OF AD­VEN­TURE, RO­MANCE, HIS­TORY, CUL­TURE, AND NA­TURE FROM THE MOUN­TAINS OF CHIAN

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia - - WANDER - Avista Grande Phuket Karon

Perched above the An­daman Sea, Avista Grande Phuket Karon is the per­fect blend of Euro­pean and Sino-Por­tuguese styles just a two-minute walk from the beach. With modern de­signs ac­cented by strik­ing ref­er­ences to Phuket’s tin-min­ing boom, ex­tralarge rooms and suites are bright and wel­com­ing with bal­conies of­fer­ing sea or moun­tain views. An oa­sis of re­lax­ation, the re­sort’s salt­wa­ter in­fin­ity pool fea­tures am­ple loungers, a wa­ter­fall, and a fullser­vice bar. Ho­tel Muse Bangkok im­merses guests in the glitz and glam­our of the golden age of travel. Its play­ful el­e­gance is seen in op­u­lent rooms with claw-foot bath­tubs, hand-painted basins, and Vene­tian mir­rors. 1920s Chicago come alive at Ba­bette’s, where premium steaks and fine wine meet Art Deco el­e­gance and live jazz. At The Speakeasy, a va­ri­ety of unique venues in­clude a rooftop bar, cigar lounge, and pri­vate rooms with spec­tac­u­lar views for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. Tucked away in North­ern Thai­land’s lush green hills, Veranda Chi­ang Mai - The High Re­sort blends the re­gion’s unique cul­tural her­itage with the con­tem­po­rary Veranda style. The re­sult is a bou­tique re­treat with a Zen­like feel that em­pha­sises quiet re­lax­ation. On the roof ter­race over­look­ing the val­ley, the in­fin­ity pool of­fers a swim with the ul­ti­mate view, while guests can get hands-on learn­ing Thai arts and crafts daily in the cul­tural pavil­ion. V Vil­las Hua Hin is for dis­cern­ing guests in search of in­ti­mate mo­ments. In­spired by ro­man­tic Ital­ian hol­i­day homes, each pool villa is a haven of se­cluded lux­ury with world-class touches like Her­mes ameni­ties and round-the­clock but­ler ser­vice. In the pri­vate gar­den sur­round­ing the pool, guests can breathe fresh ocean air as they en­joy a de­li­cious break­fast al fresco or a bar­be­cue din­ner pre­pared by a ded­i­cated chef.

paths even have two lanes—a sort of pro­to­high­way. On our hike, how­ever, the only other traf­fic we en­coun­tered was vil­lagers on their way to tend their ter­raced gar­dens. As the sun started fad­ing, I couldn’t help glanc­ing at the pe­dome­ter on my smart­phone: 14,000 steps and count­ing. By the time we re­trieved our rental car and drove off in the di­rec­tion of our next ho­tel, I was ready for din­ner.

Onar Vil­las is sit­u­ated on an iso­lated cove that is tricky to get to. You need a 4 x 4 to nav­i­gate the 40-minute drive along a dirt track pep­pered with hair-rais­ing bends. But as we crested a hill and caught sight of the turquoise horse­shoe bay be­low, it was hard not to ac­cel­er­ate. The ho­tel, set back from this sweep of de­serted sandy beach, con­sists of a group of sim­ple yet lux­u­ri­ously ap­pointed stone cot­tages. The rustling leaves on the plane trees lead­ing down to the shore were on the verge of fall­ing. Din­ner was a can­dlelit af­fair in a rus­tic, al­fresco din­ing area, with good Cre­tan wine, vegeta­bles from the kitchen gar­den, and fresh lo­cal fish.

We took a break from hik­ing the next day, bask­ing on the beach in gen­tle sun­shine and swim­ming in the warm, clear wa­ter. It was per­fect prepa­ra­tion for the ex­er­tions of our fi­nal day: the 10-kilo­me­ter walk from the misty hills of Vourkoti back down to Achla Beach. Halfway through the hike, we stopped for an­other re­viv­ing dip in a nat­u­ral pool at the foot of a small wa­ter­fall, and later called in at the monastery of Agios Niko­laos, the largest on the is­land. There we met a portly, bearded monk swing­ing a huge bronze key, which he used to un­lock a door to the dark, icon-filled chapel—the monastery’s in­ner sanc­tum.

Karayian­nis had ar­ranged for us to have a late lunch on a work­ing farm on the last stretch of the walk. There, tended to by the fe­male owner, who seemed quite at ease host­ing English-speak­ing hik­ers in her tiny, open-air kitchen, we feasted hun­grily on slow-cooked goat with home­made cheese and bread. This was fol­lowed by “spoon sweets,” a fruity pre­serve served on tea­spoons—just the calorific in­jec­tion needed for the last hour or so of hik­ing. When we got back to Achla, it was time to catch the evening ferry to Athens—but not be­fore a good stretch on the sun-warmed white peb­bles and a last dip in the glassy sea.

A guest cot­tage built from the lo­cal stone at Onar Vil­las, a re­sort in north­ern An­dros.

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