Silver linings and horizon lines of hope—that’s what the bevy of new resorts in Asia opening this year promises a weary would-be traveller. To put it plainly, Asia is simply stacked with magnificent cities to explore, and any nomad worth her salt must be feeling a powerful urge to pack up and go wandering right about now.
At least for the moment, however, the sky remains a realm that most of us can only traverse in our dreams, and we’re left to curate our wish lists of fantasy hospitality experiences. Whether your tastes tend more towards modern boutiques or resplendent estates, luxe cabana or ancient oasis, we’ve had plenty of time to trawl the most opulent hotel listings of 2020 and take note of the ones that have most caught our fancy. Now it’s up to you to decide what order in which to visit them.
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The 15th Raffles hotel on the planet, the brand’s latest luxury venture features stunning views of the Indian Ocean. Catch more than a glimpse of a famous Jimbaran Bay sunset and slip into an otherworldly experience of unparalleled elegance. With only 32 private pool villas situated, the hotel emphasises privacy and tranquility. Sun-studded gardens carpet the property, surrounding stretches of white beach and a 25-metre infinity pool. Visit the iconic Writers’ Bar for a bespoke Raffles Bali Sling in the late afternoon, then be whisked away to enjoy a cultural feast for the senses by torchlight at The Secret Cave or dinner on the rocks Purnama Honeymoon Bale by the sea’s edge.
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One&Only Desaru Coast
A brief sojourn across the Causeway and you’ll find yourself immersed in the very heart of One&Only’s new 128-acre resort, nestled against the pristine south-eastern shoreline of Malaysia. A private coastline more than a kilometre long secludes the hotel’s guests, who can choose from a stay in a Junior Suite, a two-bedroom Grand Suite, or the lavishly appointed Villa One, a four-bedroom option with a private spa treatment room and a two-storey swimming pool. A tropical retreat offering each individual guest a variety of bespoke leisure activities diagnostically designed to promote emotional wellbeing, One&Only’s signature service—discrete and sincere—can now be experienced closer to home than ever before.
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Six Senses Fort Barwara
Embracing a gracious and regal ambience of a bygone era, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas might have to add “Palace” to the end of their company’s name after their latest undertaking: a 14th century fort once owned by the Rajasthani Royal Family, converted to a 48-suite boutique estate. Working in tandem with the descendants of the noble family of Barwara, Six Senses have made every effort to preserve and protect the original fort’s 700-year-old structure and reforest the surrounding land. The brand’s second heritage property reinterprets and conveys the rich history of the fort, including traditional architecture, gardens, and water features. In addition to superb amenities and activities (including a sprawling 30,000 square foot spa), the hotel group is also offering a daily safari drive. Only 30 minutes from the Ranthambore National Park, famously teeming with tigers, the drives offer guests an opportunity to safely spot a wealth of forest creatures, including leopards, nilgai, wild boars, sloth bears, and rhesus macaques.
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Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok Chao Phraya River
A true urban sanctuary in the heart of Bangkok’s creative district, the Four Seasons’ new hotel rests on the banks of the “River of Kings.” The hotel’s views are for morning birds and night owls alike; from their windows or the expanse of green courtyards, guests can watch the Chao Phraya slowly awaken and come to life at sunrise, or observe its glittering aspect at sunset. One of several hotly anticipated hotels opening in the Thai capital this year, this hotel boasts 299 rooms and suites, with several gorgeous River Terrace Suites that offer the most sweeping views of the city. Indulge in fine dining in Italian, Cantonese, or French styles, then enjoy a whimsical cocktail or after-dinner digestif at the BKK Social Club at the central courtyard—and, while you’re there, say hello to expert mixologist Philip Bischoff, lately of the Regent Hotel Singapore.
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Situated in the beachside village of Kerewe on the unmarred Sumba Island, Alamayah is a remote retreat that promises reconnection with the land, the culture, each other, and ourselves. Its name, a combination of “alam” (meaning nature) and “mayah” (meaning grandmother), beckons guests to be enfolded within the warm embrace of Mother Nature. Opportunities for private reflections abound, whether you’re taking tea on your peaceful terrace or practicing yoga on their rooftop pavilion. Alamayah’s dedicated and gracious staff specialise in crafting holistic experiences for each individual guest, whether it’s a healer’s daily body analysis or a health expert curating a customisable schedule of guided jungle treks and mountain biking. Fully committed to leaving no trace, the hotel features tableware created by local artists and furniture pieces carved out of fallen trees from the surrounding forests.
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Based in the country’s grandest heritage building, which dates back to the 1920s, Rosewood Hotels’ enterprising entrance into Myanmar is an architectural gem for the ages. Once a police headquarters, a parliament building, and Myanmar’s New Law Courts, the building’s award-winning reinvention celebrates the essence and splendor of its storied past, while looking ahead to the country’s bright future in luxury tourism. With lofty, vaulted ceilings and some of the finest dining establishments around, guests will be able to sit back, relax, and take in the sights of the city and the Yangon River from high overhead. A tea library, cigar chamber, and personal butler service complete the historic experience.
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A luxury boutique complex of authentic nha ruong (garden homes) lies waiting in the former royal capital of Vietnam, a treasure just waiting to be uncovered. A royal village of five houses in which high mandarins and members of the royal family once resided, the decor features feudal architecture and design in traditional folk colours. Built according to feng shui principles, these elements blend harmoniously with the lush surrounding greenery. Placed along the banks of the Perfume River, Ancient Hue’s in-house restaurant, Kim Long, offers up a modern-day version of the royal feasts enjoyed by Vietnamese nobles. Ancient Hue is owned by Trails of Indochina, a leading bespoke travel operator in Asia, and its founder John Tue Nguyen, who is from Hue and conceptualised the hotel as a passion project.