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Southeast Asian Gems

Wondrous Southeast Asia is as diverse as the amazing experiences and inspiring luxury getaways this region can offer, whatever the age and or preference. Here is a selection of offerings in some of this region’s most spectacular and memorable settings.

Bangkok

Wondrous Southeast Asia is as diverse as the amazing experiences and inspiring luxury getaways this region can offer, whatever the age and or preference. Here is a selection of offerings in some of this region’s most spectacular and memorable settings.

Thailand

East of the Thai mainland, south of Koh Chang Island, Koh Kood is Thailand’s fourth largest island yet its fishing villages are home to around 2,000 inhabitants. With lush tropical rainforest, dazzling white beaches and coconut plantations, Koh Kood’s sheer remoteness – an hour’s flight from Bangkok then ferry boat from Trat – makes this natural paradise worth the journey. A back-to-nature, sustainable yet luxurious hideaway concept, Soneva Kiri surely best epitomizes the island’s castaway life.

Immersed deep in jungle, this spectacular but low-impact resort dictates a ‘no news, no shoes’ experience. Rustic-chic buildings crafted from recycled woods blend with jungly backdrop, including 35 monster-sized one to six-bedroom villas and private residences – with butlers and infinity pools. On free-spirited Koh Kood, children of all ages can go wild on coconut palm-fringed beaches, ancient rainforests and aquamarine seas revealing pristine coral gardens. Kiri’s Tree Pod Dining, suspended in a treetop canopy, takes fine-dining to new heights. Rooms from USD 905. Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood District, Trat, Thailand, Tel: +66 (0) 82 208 8888; www.soneva.com/ soneva-kiri attractions.

A Small Luxury Hotels of the World member and latest chic offering from Thailand’s prestigious Cape Hotel Collection, this ultra-classy boutique hotel offers impeccable service and oversized suites, elegantly appointed with balcony pool and sumptuous bathrooms. The beachside saltwater infinity pool and rooftop On the Rocks Bar, one of Hua Hin’s coolest nightspots, reveal awesome Gulf of Thailand views. Rooms from USD 350. Cape Nidhra Hotel, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand, Tel: +66 (0) 3251 6600; www.capenidhra.com

Cambodia

Nestled amongst three rivers, Phnom Penh has been Cambodia’s capital since French colonial times, defined as one of Indochina’s prettiest French-built cities. Although this ancient city carries Cambodia’s tragic and momentous history – revealed in sobering sights – Phnom Penh is increasingly popular for historic French and Khmer architecture, culture and bustling wide boulevards with hip offerings. Downtown, one of South-east Asia’s grandest colonial hotels, city landmark Raffles Hotel Le Royal evocatively

Immersed deep in jungle, this spectacular but low impact resort dictates a ‘no new, no shoes’ experience

Two hour’s drive south of Bangkok, in Thailand’s northern Malay Peninsula, Hua Hin bears royal appointment as Siam’s oldest beach resort. Previously reserved exclusively for upper-class Thai society and Royal Family members – who still frequent their official palace residence here – nowadays bustling Hua Hin is a cosmopolitan, relatively unspoilt seaside city, where both foreigners and Thais flock. Golf, with Thailand’s highest density of world-class golf courses, kite-boarding and elephant trekking are popular pursuits. Set smack bang on Hua Hin’s six-kilometre beach, Cape Nidhra Hotel provides luxurious beachfront accommodation, yet is close enough to all the city’s main recreates bygone times. Distinctive for its Khmer, Art Deco and French-colonial architecture, interiors, 175 rooms and suites are elegance personified showcasing Cambodian objets d’ art. In 1920s-era Heritage Building, Personality Suites pay homage to former illustrious guests, including U.S. First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. The capital’s most prestigious hotel offers utter refinement with butler service, iconic Elephant Bar and atmospheric French Salon-style dining rooms. With shaded tropical gardens and two pools, Le Royal also makes a welcome oasis after city sightseeing. Rooms from USD 350. Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tel: +85 (0) 5 23 981 888 ; www.raffles.com/phnompenh

Indonesia

On one of the world’s favourite holiday island destinations, jetsetters and party people hole-up in Seminyak, Bali’s hippest, most cosmopolitan enclave. Centre-stage on Bali’s touristed south-west coastline, Seminyak – now blurring into up-coming Petitenget – is jam-packed with trendy boutiques, beach bars (for sunset cocktails) and world-class restaurants. One of Bali’s most glamorous, ultra-contemporary and fun hotels, W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak dominates alongside Seminyak’s pounding surf yet is nearby to the neighbourhood’s hotspots.

Starwood’s flagship W Retreat offers 158 high-energy design retreats and suites facing a three-tiered infinity pool inspired by Balinese paddies. For ultimate privacy but with all resort facilities on-hand, 79 lavish Villa Retreats come secluded in a private Balinese-style compound. All guests are indulged by W’s signature ‘Whatever/Whenever’ service, while acclaimed destination venues include AWAY Spa, open 24-hours with bar and sophisticated WOOBar, with international DJ events hosted on its beachfront terrace. Rooms from USD 375; Villas from USD 500. W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia, Tel: + 62 (0) 361 4738106; www.wretreatbali.com

Where timelines come dictated by sunrise, sunsets and stargazing, sublimely beautiful Moyo Island is an off-the-radar nature lovers and adventure-seekers idyll, deep in the Indonesian archipelago. Thanks to Nature Reserve and Marine Park status, this naturally wild island preserves its rainforested hills, crunchy coral coves and transparent azure water. Fellow residents include villagers, Rusa Deer and Macaque monkeys – the latter, encountered frequently. Surrounding Moyo are some of Indonesia’s – and Asia’s – premium diving sites an beyond, the Flores Sea, one of the world’s richest marine environments, with iridescent coral varieties. Part of exclusive Aman group portfolio, luxurious Amanwana – Moyo’s sole resort – respects its natural habitat with strong eco-commitment and wilderness camp concept with twenty tent-pavilions strung along Amanwana Bay. Arrive by boat from nearby Sumbawa Island, the more adventurous (and wealthier) fly-in on chartered seaplane, dramatically landing on the bay in front of the accomodations. Rooms from USD 917. Amanwana, Moyo Island, West Sumbawa Regency, Indonesia, Tel: + 62 (0) 371 22233; www.amanresorts.com/amanwana

For a well-deserved seaside getaway, Indonesia’s tropical Bintan Island has long been a convenient favourite for nearby city dwellers, especially Singaporeans – a 45-minute ferry ride away. The first luxury property to launch in more than a decade, The Sanchaya elevates Bintan to new levels; a private beachfront resort estate, discreetly situated on the prime northern coast with arguably, the finest white sand beach.

This ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World’ member offers discerning guests bespoke luxury, highly personalized service and attention to detail. Promising the intimacy of a private home, with world-class hotel refinements, rates include dedicated VIP Lounge for express immigration and British institute-trained butlers. Each opulent, unique 21 Villas and 9 Suites come inspired by the Orient’s colonial elegance and diverse South-east Asian culture, combined with hi-tech appliances and customized amenities. For sunset cruises, charter the Estate’s private yacht. Rooms from USD 430 (valid to 31 March 2015); thereon USD 620. The Sanchaya, Bintan, Indonesia. Tel: +65 (0) 62210806; www.thesanchaya.com

Sri Lanka

Synonymous with Sri Lankan culture, the island’s tea planters’ life has little changed since British Empire rule. Sri Lanka’s main tea-cultivating region is up in the cooler central highlands – the Ceylon Tea Country. Here, colonial hill stations still charm and in this verdant ‘Hill Country’ manicured tea plantations across rolling hills produce celebrated Ceylon teas. In pretty Bogawantalawa Valley, Ceylon Tea Trails invites guests to relive the Raj-era and tea plantation life – albeit in luxury.

Originally home for British plantation managers, four colonial-style tea planters’ bungalows have been sumptuously converted as uniquely different heritage bungalows. All come with personal staff, (including chefs) and Englishstyle gardens with mountain spring-fed swimming pools. Dotted around Castlereagh Lake, bungalows are connected by walking trails revealing working tea estates. Guests are encouraged to sample other bungalows, booking one room or the entire property. Fully-inclusive rates include tea-inspired organic cuisine highlighting Sri Lankan specialities and Norwood Tea Factory tours. Rooms from USD 437. Ceylon Tea Trails (Resplendent Ceylon Ltd), Colombo 2, Sri Lanka, Tel: +94 (0) 11 7745700; www.teatrails.com

Vietnam

Beside the Red River in Vietnam’s North, thousand-year old Hanoi is one of Asia’s loveliest, well-preserved cities. Known as the ‘Paris of the Orient’ the capital’s French colonial legacy is still evident with lakes, tree-lined boulevards and history-drenched architecture – especially in the atmospheric French Quarter. Hanoi, Vietnam, Tel: +84 (0) 4 3826 6919; www.sofitellegend.com

Malaysia

Malaysia’s seas are studded with idyllic tropical islands, some world-class and well-trodden. Located off the east coast mainland in the southern South China Sea, miniscule Tioman Island has maintained a low profile, despite a mere forty-minute flight from Singapore and so naturally stunning inspiration for the South Pacific movie. Islets off Tioman reveal exceptional marine life and corals, while jungle trails through tropical rainforest offers wonderland hikes. For an authentic up-close-to-nature experience, Tioman’s west coast is more isolated and here, dotted amongst jungleclad peaks tumbling down to white sands, eco-luxe Japamala Resort offers Malay ’Kampung’-style villas and chalets with five-star comforts – treetop, hillside, cliff-hugging or beachfront. Keeping the untamed environment intact, wooden dwellings come naturally designed around trees and boulders, accessed by canopy-skimming wooden walkways and bridges. On Japamala’s jetty, Mandi-Mandi provides romantic overwater dining on stilts, while magnificent sunsets are

Beside the Red River in Vietnam’s North, thousand-year old Hanoi is one of Asia’s loveliest, wellpreserved cities. Known as the ‘’Paris of the Orient’’

Asia’s most historic hotels, century-old Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi.

Once the elegant epicentre for colonial society and host to royalty, ambassadors and Heads of State, the former Grand Hotel Metropole Palace is steeped in Hanoi’s rich history. Despite renovations and 1990’s-built Opera Wing, interiors in the 364 rooms and suites ooze colonial grandeur; for pure Indochina charm, book the time-warp Metropole Wing. Here, Legendary Suites honour VIP residents to the likes of Graham Greene and Charlie Chaplin. Tootle around town in the Metropole’s vintage Citroen Traction and have afternoon tea in the refined Le Club Bar. Rooms from USD 270. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi enjoyed on cushioned salas on their exclusive beach. Rooms from USD 185. Japamala Resort, Pulau Tioman, Pahang Darul Makmur, Malaysia, Tel: +609 (0) 419 7777; www.japamalaresorts.com

Laos

Serene for centuries between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers in north central Laos, spellbinding Luang Prabang ranks as one of Asia’s most exquisite cities. The former royal capital of Laos Kingdom is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, charming travellers with an infectious chilled ambiance and countless cultural treasures, including ancient Buddhist wats (temples) topped with golden spires and monasteries, home to saffron-robed monks.

Magically elevated above this dreamy scene, upon Phou Vao Hill, boutique Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao is one of the city’s loveliest and refined hotels, yet a relaxing, family-friendly hideaway. Interiors and all 34 rooms and suites gorgeously combine Lao heritage with French colonial elegance, richly furnished with crafted teaks and fine silks. Post-sightseeing, opt for the cliff-edge infinity pool suspended above jungle valleys, Luang Prabang’s most luxurious spa, indulging with indigenous herbal remedies and book the ‘Five Hundred Candle Dinner’ amidst romantic heritage gardens. Rooms from USD 365. Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang, Laos, Tel: +856 (0) 71 212530; www.belmond.com/la-residence-phou-vao-luang-prabang.

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