By Tiffany Ryes – firstname.lastname@example.org
Asia is the largest continent in the world, spanning almost half of the globe. It is the home of the sheiks of the Middle East, maharajas of India, sultans of Indonesia, emperors of Japan and sovereigns of China. Rich in history and abundant in its wide array of natural beauty, Asia boasts picturesque landscapes and dreamy destinations, such as Vietnam’s serene Ha Long Bay, Iran’s quietly imposing Mount Damavand, Mongolia’s breath-taking Flaming Cliffs, India’s strikingly beautiful Spiti Valley and Japan’s magnificent Mount Fuji. Asia is an interesting, eclectic mix of rising metropolitans, well-preserved history and pristine nature. It is quite difficult to describe this splendidly diverse continent—you have to experience it yourself.
Asia opens its arms to discerning travellers from the world over, with a vast offering of luxurious hotels and resorts that are surrounded by equally precious scenery, giving tourists that lavishly exotic experience like no other.
Maldives has long been a celebrated romantic retreat for the rich and famous. Maldives is a collection of more than 1,000 islands set in the crystal blue seas of Laccadive. One of the most famous is the Baros Maldives, a scuba-diver’s paradise island located in a blissful shallow lagoon. It boasts vibrant and diverse marine life, with private diving lessons for the bold and adventurous seeking to explore the reef. Equally vibrant is Baros’ selection of high-end suites and villas, superb restaurants and trendy bars. The signature spa experience called the Baros Ingenious Bliss is another treat for the senses.
Neighbouring Baros and a 20-minute boat ride from the Maldives capital Male lies the Jumeirah Vittaveli, a spectacular five-star island resort offering seamless service and hospitality. Informal yet highly elegant, Jumeirah is a magical recluse offering the highest in luxury, from well-appointed villas to over-the-water bungalows. Its facilities include a soothing spa, open-air bathrooms and marble bathtubs, and an exclusive gourmet dining experience. Beach villas beckon leisurely dips in private, L-shaped pools with the overlooking sunset.
On another exclusive island is the Adaaran Prestige Water Villas, located in the Raa Atoll Area. This resort features personalization at its finest. This island resort truly owns up to its name by providing sophisticated comforts with a close eye on details as seen in its intricate wooden interiors. It offers sun decks, outdoor pools, private Jacuzzis and award-winning personal-butler and chef services.
Another luxurious island destination is Sri Lanka. Rich in tropical scenery, the small country is big in history. Visit the impeccably restored 150-year-old landmark hotel Amangalla in the town of Galle. Amangalla’s Dutch imperial “Great Hall”, grandiose dining room, enormous chandeliers and elegant bedrooms are the best in Asia’s colonial splendour. Formerly known as The New Oriental, this hotel of 28 spectacular and spacious rooms resonates with history, from its antique furniture, wooden flooring and highbrow interiors. Every inch of this remarkably spacious hotel has become a national institution and a local historical heritage in itself. Indulge in eggs Benedict and partake of the traditional high tea that brings you back to earlier eras. A similar historical treat can be found in Hatton, at the Ceylon Tea Trails. This similarly colonial resort is set in the middle of tea plantations. Ceylon Tea Trails offer leisurely mountain bikes or hikes all over the lush tea fields.
For a taste of the contemporary, nearby Aditya in the Sri Lankan south coast is a boutique hotel designed for the opulent lifestyle. Aditya offers huge suites in chic, modern designs that bring together airy spaces and bold colours. The main atrium’s Conranesque wicker sofas and vibrant-hued cushions are reflected from polished concrete floors. Its rooms offer visual delights, from private gardens to breath-taking beachfront views of the horizon. The hotel is a leisurely 15-minute trip from Galle’s colonial-inspired boutique and restaurants, and five minutes from the popular surf spot Hikkaduwa.
On the southwest coast is romantic Reef Villa and Spa set on the tropical coastline at Wadduwa. Reef Villa showcases a juxtaposition of stylish, modern comforts and colonial-inspired architecture. Take the four-poster beds from the 1850s fitted with 400-thread-count sheets, or the intricately carved bathroom set with lavish granite tubs and modern ornaments. The restaurants offer the best of what the neighbouring sea has to offer. The Refresh Spa offers signature clay cocoon wraps and massages using essential oils that you can only find in the country. For sightseeing and shopping, a ride on the traditional tuk-tuk would take you to gourmet restaurants, shops and beautiful scenery surrounding Reef Villa.
Anyone who has been to Bali can say that the place is synonymous with heaven and utopia. Travellers looking for the best in luxury and beauty can enjoy what this Indonesian island has to offer. The Hanging Gardens in Payangan is a half-hour drive away from Bali’s culture centre, Ubud. This indulgent getaway defies gravity with its hotel and private-pool villas perched atop the Ayung River gorges. The Hanging Gardens also give a stunning view of the Penataran Dalem Segara Temple. The hotel sets the stage for stylish accommodations, while the infinity-edged pools give you a feeling of being suspended in the heart of Bali’s nature, overlooking treetops and getting a wide view of a lush green horizon.
A full 180 from the quiet of nature is The Elysian Boutique Villa Hotel in the hottest, chicest town in Bali, Seminyak. Seminyak is known for harbouring the all-day, all-night party destinations with the hippest clubs and nightspots. The Elysian Boutique Villa Hotel provides a stylish oasis after the seemingly nonstop beachfront parties. This hotel features sleek, clean and contemporary lines in its design, with linear cabanas alongside pools and modern villas. Whether lounging beside the private pool, getting aromatic spa treatments, or chilling at the bar, the hotel presents activities to soothe and excite you. In essence, The Elysian represents the vibe of the young and active crowd frequenting the area.
Meanwhile, the ultimate in high style and privacy awaits in the pavilions of The Bale in Nusa Dua, along Bali’s south coast. The Bale effectively combines minimalism and pure, kingly luxury as a modern palace. It features sweeping bleached limestone pathways leading to strikingly modern pavilions unexpected of Bali. Nevertheless, it provides the finest in comfort with a large daybed giving you a sense of easy comfort and privacy amid a personal tropical garden. A stay in The Bale provides exceptional service from a personal butler at your every beck and call. The hotel serves high-end, five-star dishes and cocktails for dining in equally stylish restaurants or for exclusive dinners in the pavilions.
The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands. Among its many travel must-sees is The Farm at San Benito. The Farm is rapidly gaining worldwide popularity due to its detox and spa, ideal for those not only looking for luxurious relaxation but also a place for cleansing both the body and the mind. Situated in the centre of what used to be a coconut and coffee plantation, The Farm is a hideaway nestled with gardens, ponds, waterfalls, rivers, lagoons and lush greenery. It is designed to provide the most private and most relaxing areas for meditation, walking or jogging, and simply connecting with nature. It’s ALIVE! Cuisine is a spread of farm-to-table goodness prepared by masterful gourmet chefs. The Farm provides a retreat for the body and treat for the senses with villas and suites each with its own personal garden, such as the Master Villa, with elegantly appointed rooms, fully equipped kitchen and an outdoor heated swimming pool.
Set on the clear aquamarine waters of the Sulu Sea in the province of Palawan, Amanpulo has been winning awards for its luxurious hospitality and accommodation features during the past two decades. The unspoiled waters and powdery white sand are perfectly balanced by the luxury hotel’s beach casitas. The accommodations are spacious and decorated in the understated yet elegant Aman style. The casitas and villas are placed amongst treetops or on hillsides, presenting a magnificent view of the Sulu Sea and, right across, of Manomoc Island. A number of restaurants serve the best and finest in Asian and Continental cuisine. A must-try is the Vietnamese fare specialized by the Lagoon Club.
Equally arresting is another island paradise encapsulating the beauty of the whole country—Misibis Bay. Located in Bicol Region, the five-hectare tropical getaway is geographically the perfect place to watch the sun set. The Spice Market restaurant in the middle of its landscaped garden offers a delectable and sumptuous fare of local and fusion cuisines reminiscent of spice-laden markets and fishing villages of the old days. The beachfront villas offer the best views of the sea from well-appointed rooms filled with thoughtful modern fittings set in a tropical interior.
India is one of the most densely populated countries in Asia with a diverse mix of religions and cultures. Hidden in the lush, verdant coffee plantations in the mountains Karnataka of western India is The Serai Chikmagalur. The Serai Chikmagalur is quietly nestled among historical ruins deemed as one of the wonders of the world, such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites Belur and Halebid. For the traveller, a stay in the Serais is laced with the smell of coffee wafting through the sprawling estate and enveloping the whole Coffee Country. The charming villas are expansive and exclusive, adorned with the best interiors. Coffee-picking is one of the novel activities this hotel offers, an education into the fine artisanal art of coffee-making and providing a taste of your own harvest right in your own room.
For a safari experience and a sight of India’s majestic tigers, The Oberoi Vanyavilas is the place to visit. Located on the edge of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, this luxury resort is a picturesque respite of dramatic watercourses, beautiful private decks and sun-kissed luxury tent suites. The accommodations and facilities stand out like a crown amid the ruggedness of the Indian wilderness. The resort works with the local wildlife-preservation department in protecting the tigers and their habitat. It can provide local guides to Oberoi guests for an unforgettable safari adventure. Oberoi Vanyavilas’ restaurants feature intricate, hand-painted frescoes by famous miniaturist Mohan Singh Kumawat. The dining selection offers personalized services that boast of the best in Western, Thai and Indian cuisines.