Sun, sea and personalized pampering
Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali
Jl Belimbing Sari, Banjar Tambiyak, Desa Pecatu, (62) 361 848-2166, www.alilahotels.com/uluwatu.
So young, so many awards. This delightful venue recently scooped the World’s Best Holiday Building at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) and won the Best Hotel Design—Resort award at the prestigious Gold Key Awards in New York last November, to name just a couple. Perched above some of the world’s best surf breaks on the southernmost tip of the Bukit Peninsula, the resort’s architecture adroitly combines Zen elements, contemporary designs and traditional Balinese features that will absolutely floor you. Choose from the one,-two-and three-bedroom villas, which all come with private pools. The villas are minimal yet elegant; the dark timber trims and décor perfectly contrast the white floors and walls. There are both Indonesian and Western dining options and a visit to the spa (think Decleor products and Shirodara massages) is a must.
Amenities/facilities: Free WiFi, gym, library with DVDs, PCs and books. Rooms come with iPod docks, DVD players, espresso machine and TWG Tea.
You’ll remember it for: The views of the Indian Ocean from the infinity pool are great, but more than anything it’ll live in your memory for being the closest you’ve ever come to paradise.
Rates start at: US$560 ($725) for a one-bedroom villa per night.
Elsewhere in Bali: For something completely different, head for the verdant hills of Ubud in the geographical heart of Bali. The Como Shambhala Estate (Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod Payangan, Gianyar, (62) 361 978-888, www.cse.como.bz) has 30 exquisite suites nestled up among branches and trees.
Abaca Boutique Resort, Cebu
Punta Engano Rd., Lapu-Lapu City, (63) 32 495-3461, www.abacaresort.com.
This wonderful resort ups Cebu’s ante as a genuine tropical paradise even further. Intimate and suitably luxe, you’ll find just six suites and three villas here—getting away from it all is a cinch. Comparatively, it’s modestly priced. But that doesn’t dilute the sophisticated vibe. Soak in its designer fixtures and fittings, gorgeous paneling and breathtaking views through floor-to-ceiling windows, and laze in its infinity pool.
Amenities/facilities: Spa, gym, book and DVD library. Rooms come stocked with iPod docks and standard mod cons, and if you want an iPad they can loan you one, too.
You’ll remember it for: Being a luxurious seafront hideaway with lots of privacy which also offers high haute cuisine and a great bar.
Rates start at: US$320 ($415) per night.
Elsewhere in the Philippines: We’ve heard good things about the Hotel Celeste (02 San Lorenzo Drive corner A. Arnaiz Ave., Makati, (63) 2 887-8080, www.hotelceleste.ph). So if you’re ever in Manila on business and want the boutique experience, this centrally located hotel ticks most boxes, including a chef boasting a destinguished career in numerous Michellin-starred establishments.
Angsana Ihuru, The Maldives
North Male Atoll, (960) 664-3502, www.angsana.com.
Perfect for honeymooners, this. Sensual, idyllic and secluded, stroll out of your beachside villa onto powder white sand and sparkling azure waters. The thatched-roof villas are sleekly designed with minimalist trimmings and dark accents. The timber patio is a star here, as are the private jet pools and outdoor swings. Absolute paradise!
Amenities/facilities: Private beachside dining and cooking classes are available. And, of course, the Angsana Resorts are known for their spas and the one here more than lives up to the billing. Villas come with outdoor showers, private gardens and air-conditioning.
You’ll remember it for: Making all future holidays a major disappointment.
Rates start at: US$850 ($1,100) per night.
Elsewhere in the Maldives: For yet another luxuriant barefoot experience in this part of the world, check into the Soneva Gili Resort & Spa (Male Atoll, (960) 664-0304, www.sixsenses.com), which is just a 15-minute boat trip from Male.
The Beach House, Sri Lanka
18 Upper Dickson Rd., Tangalle, (94) 91 438-0275, www.thesunhouse.com/Beachhouse/beachhouse.html
Not quite a boutique hotel, but as far as luxe hideaways go this one is hard to beat. Comprising just five en-suite bedrooms, Tatler once described this outpost on Sri Lanka’s southernmost tip as “a shining example of barefoot luxury.” So secluded is this former retreat of American artist Douglas Johnson, that even the locals will struggle to give your cabbie directions. Replete with antique furniture (we love the four poster beds) and artistic fixtures and fittings, verandas, outdoor baths, seductive gardens and a sleek coconut tree-lined infinity pool, this is an unforgettable, magical pocket of the planet. And if things get too quiet and lazy, there are daytrips out to temples, turtle hatcheries, bird sanctuaries and vibrant local markets.
Amenities/facilities: No air-conditioning in the rooms, but that’s a non-issue, what with the sea breeze and ceiling fans. Stroll from your room to the sea, or arrange for snorkeling and scuba diving trips. The cooks will also whip up whatever you fancy.
You’ll remember it for: A quiet, luxurious beach getaway (rated by those in the know as Sri Lanka’s “finest private swimming beach”), spent frolicking and gamboling with your partner on the soft Indian Ocean shoreline, and for the sumptuous Sri Lankan spicy fare on offer.
Rates start at: US$1,000 ($1,295) per night.
Elsewhere in Sri Lanka: If you’re transiting in Colombo then stay at The Park Street Hotel (20 Park St, Colombo, (94) 11 576-9500, www.anilana.com/park_street_hotel). This superb 12-room hotel in the center of the capital takes up the premises of a 250-year-old colonial bungalow and is fast becoming the hippest address in town.
Away Koh Kood, Koh Kood
43/8 Moo 2 Baan Klongchao, (66) 81 835-4517,
Located on the west coast of Koh Kood, some 80 kilometers off the coast of Trat province, this jungly, intimate resort has only 20 bungalows and 13 tented accommodations. Run by the Centara Boutique Collection (a brand under Thailand’s largest hotel chain, Centara), this boutique destination was named Outstanding Secluded Boutique Hotel at the Hotel Club 2010 awards. The views from the rooms (and tents) are stunning and there is ample exploring to do at the beaches and the rainforest waterfalls nearby. Modestly priced, this makes for a breathtaking, idyllic getaway.
Amenities/facilities: Private boats for hire, spa, water sport activities. Rooms come with free WiFi, satellite TV and coffee maker.
You’ll remember it for: A sense of what Thailand used to be (quiet, clean, naturally beautiful) 30 years ago before tourism took hold.
Rates start at: B4,500 ($200) per night for a deluxe ocean-facing bungalow.
Elsewhere in Thailand: Billing itself as a “radical reimagining of what a city center hotel can be” the LIT Bangkok (6/1 Soi Kasemsan 1, Rama 1 Rd., Bangkok, (66) 2 612-3456, www.litbangkok.com) was designed by trippy architectural firm Vaslab. With its deconstructivist look, it’s a fitting addition to an already arty part of town. It opens in March.
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