Developed enough to offer opulent luxury stays, but still underdeveloped enough to remain affordable, Asia is one of the best places to travel right now. So we might all be salivating at the thought of holidays in St. Tropez or Capri, but right on our backdoor step are a host of luxury holidays to make you feel like the most pampered celebrity. Relatively cheap labor costs accompanied by the still-developing economies of our neighbors mean that opulence is accessible for the average Joe, and it won’t burn too big a hole in your bank account. Here’s some of the best luxe holiday accommodation on offer at less than $300 per person per night.
Star Most Likely to Check In: Tara Reid
What: Private house with infinity pool, bedrooms to house six couples and lots and lots of space.
Where: Koh Samui, Thailand.
Rock Star Factor: Find the right group of friends and this really becomes your own private little paradise. There’s a large communal area for watching TV, hanging out and meals but it’s likely you’ll never leave the 17 x seven meter infinity pool where there’s a full bar and barbeque area with magnificent views. In fact, there’s little reason to ever leave the completely self-contained house: There’s a projector screen so you can watch DVDs in the pool, the sound system extends throughout the entire grounds and all six of the rooms have spa baths overlooking the pool. You can basically hire them to do anything for you, from catering a degustation menu to hiring a private bartender and organizing masseuses who will visit the house as many times as you desire. Oh, and a private chef is all part of the package.
Other Bits: Samui Villas & Homes specializes in all sorts of private villas. Even their smaller offerings are still spectacular and come with a host of optional extras.
Why Tara Reid? This party girl likes to travel with a small posse of mates, lives the good life with late nights and good food, and would enjoy a place where she can expose her (new) assets safe from the media.
The Damage: US$700-1,600 per night ($89-203 per person for 12).
Let’s Go: For queries go to www.samuivillasandhomes.com.
Star Most Likely to Check In: Cameron Diaz
What: Boutique hotel whose environment evokes a sense of Ming dynasty royal retreat.
Where: Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Rock Star Factor: For a touch of zen, check out this boutique hotel whose design is inspired by one of Thailand’s oldest temples, Wat Phrathat Lampang. Chinese roots reflect in the quietly grand architecture which displays Burmese, Laotian and Thai features. The rooms are nothing particularly notable: What you’ve here for is the sense of escape and peace throughout the grounds. Entering the hotel is like stepping back into Ming times with Chinese antiques, temple-like ceilings and sun-dappled courtyards. Even the pool bar has an ancient teahouse quality. Expect century old jip trees and bougainvillea draped walls, and, with only 23 rooms in the hotel, lots of peace and quiet. But this doesn’t come at the expense of sightseeing: The resort is located right next to Wat Phra Singh in the middle of the city proper.
Why Cameron Diaz? Being a cool chick, she enjoys intrepid destinations yet would still appreciate the stylish ambience of this hotel.
The Damage: Rates start at THB4,500 per room per night ($105 per person for two).
Let’s Go: 6 Ranchamanka 9, T. Phra Singh, A. Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand, +66 5390-4111.
Hôtel de la Paix
Star Most Likely to Check In: Elizabeth Hurley
What: A ritzy glamour puss, this is a large boutique hotel with chic interiors that’s almost too cool for school. Part of the group that runs Bed Supperclub in Bangkok.
Where: Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Rock Star Factor: Think ultra funky and uber chic. This boutique hotel has a modern design (think long white walls and large open spaces) set off by those extra bits that give it that unique contemporary zen feel: Open flame cauldrons, banyan trees, lounges that look like beds and large swings to eat your dinner from. Its flashy art deco exterior belies the sophisticated calm of the inside where one can dine at the delicious Meric restaurant, sip cocktails at stylish The Arts Lounge or relax at the gorgeous Spa Indochine. If you’re in the area, it’s worth even dropping by for a drink or a meal just to check this out. There is no doubt that in Siem Reap, de la Paix is setting the bar for what one can expect in Cambodia in the coming years.
Why Elizabeth Hurley? Since she’s spending part of her honeymoon in Udaipur, India, we know she’s into exotic locales, but likes to do them in style. This chic retreat is perfect for this glamour girl.
The Damage: Rooms start at US$200 per night ($150 per person for two).
Let’s Go: Sivutha Blvd., Siem Reap, Cambodia,
Bali Villa 314
Star Most Likely to Check In: Brangelina
What: Private house perched overlooking Uluwatu with rooms for six couples with tropical gardens.
Where: Bali, Indonesia.
Rock Star Factor: This is luxury seclusion at its best.
A chef to cater to all culinary needs as well as private beach club including plunge pool (that’s in addition to the other six meter pool) for when you’ve eaten too much and just need to stretch out and chill. There’s lots of space here, 13,500 cubic meters to be exact, with stunning views over the Indian Ocean and greenery everywhere. And if you think you and your friends might get sick of each other, the guest house functions as a fully self-contained structure, with its own private driveway. But the big wow factor with this villa is the fully licensed helipad—yes, you heard us correctly. Transfers from the airport direct to the house can be organized through Air Bali via the estate agent (for an additional fee, of course).
Other Bits: For other options in private villas, Villa Getaways has a host of different options with good descriptions of exactly what you can expect.
Why Brangelina? This is private, and big enough for them to house their rainbow family, and they can chopper in and out to avoid the prying paparazzi.
The Damage: US$950 ($121 per person for 12).
Let’s Go: For bookings and queries go to www.villagetaways.com.
Star Most Likely to Check In: Oprah
What: Private two-bedroom house set in its own gardens in the midst of the vineyards and stunning countryside.
Where: Rutherglen wine region, Australia.
Rock Star Factor: Being in Australia, you can’t expect Avine to come with the services of some of the other places in the region. There’s no in-house chef or masseuse, but that’s part of the charm. A gorgeous living area with open plan kitchen and fireplace overlooking a quaint backyard complete with barbeque and large outdoor dining set, mean that after a long day of wine tasting, the house just invites you to sit back and relax over a glass of wine or a good book. One can while away the hours either sitting enjoying the surrounds or exploring the region. Despite being conveniently located two minutes from town, the huge backyard will make you feel hours away from civilization.
Other Bits: Unlike the bigger wine regions in Australia, Rutherglen really comprises of small boutique vineyards and tiny family-run cellar doors. Even if you don’t stay at Avine, the area is worth visiting to getaway from the mass marketing that is rapidly becoming the trend in new world wines.
Why Oprah? This two bedder would perfectly house Oprah and her two dogs, Steadman and Gayle—she could be a homebody and cook up a low-fat storm with local produce (or have her personal chef do it for her), plus we all know how Oprah loves that country manor interior deco look.
The Damage: AUD$800 for two couples for a minimum seven night stay ($238 per person for four).
Let’s Go: 81 Ready St., Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia,
Bon Ton Resort
Star Most Likely to Check In: Matthew McConaughey
What: Eclectic wooden kampong-style villas that are charming and rustic, but still house all modern conveniences. This is private enough to give you a sense of old school retreat without having to resort to hardcore camping.
Where: Langkawi, Malaysia.
Rock Star Factor: There are only seven private 100-year-old individually designed villas in the entire resort, all of which are facing the pool and lagoon. Expect interesting designer features such as an amazing Japanese style wooden bucket tub in the bathroom of Cahaya Villa. Over at White Frangipani villa the wooden bucket bath tub is outdoors on the deck for that additional bit of luxury. And if that’s all not enough to entertain you, you can hire their Kanangra antique motor yacht to cruise around the islands and soak up the gorgeous scenery.
Other Bits: Bon Ton also supports the local art community. They usually have an artist in residence so you can browse and get your cultural fill while on holiday.
Why Matthew McConaughey? He claims he likes to get back to nature and rough it in his spare time (the man doesn’t even wear deodorant) but let’s face it, with those toy boy looks and that Hollywood lifestyle, who is he kidding?
The Damage: Rooms start from RM490 per night (for villas that house two people) with the Cahaya villa starting at RM850 per night (the villa houses between four to six people) ($105 per person for four at Cahaya Villa).
Let’s Go: Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Malaysia, +60 4-955-1688.
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