1. THE RITZ-CARLTON, KOH SAMUI
Koh Samui, Thailand
Built on the site of a former coconut plantation overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui couldn’t have picked a better spot for its eastern Thailand debut. The resort’s 175 suites and pool villas do a fantastic job of capturing a sense of place, thanks to the extensive use of coconut; with shells and fibres used in furniture and decorations, and the flesh of the nut celebrated in the resort’s seven dining destinations. There’s fine dining southern Thai cuisine with reef views at Pak Thai, interactive eating with fine wine and Asian/Western flavours at Shook, and poolside cocktails and ceviche at Sea Salt, to name a few. Guests can further embrace the destination experience with a training session at the Muay Thai gym, or a trip to a local market to buy ingredients for a cooking lesson. If you’re overwhelmed by the beauty of it all, you can exchange vows at the Sala Thai, or just shrug your cares away with a day-long session at the Spa Village Koh Samui – a 3,800 sqm village with treatment suits, massage and yoga pavilions, health bar and lap pool.
2. THE BLOOMSBURY
London’s historic literary hotspot, Bloomsbury’s revival heats up with the unveiling of The Bloomsbury hotel’s major refurbishment, undertaken in collaboration with designer Martin Brudnizki. Beautifully imbued with the vibrant spirit that defined the early 19th century ‘Bloomsbury set’, the 1928 Sir Edwin Lutyens, Grade II-listed building’s revival is awash with rich colour and an opulent sense of fun, aimed at attracting the literati, glitterati and those in search of a hotel with a private club-like feel. The redesign encompasses the hotel’s public spaces, including the eye-catching Coral Room bar, featuring five bespoke Murano glass chandeliers, antique mirror and brass detailing and commissioned artworks. A new reception area and guest lounge round out the upgrade, starring heritage botanical wallpaper and a Lutyens-designed fireplace to make guests feel truly at home. It’s the final chapter in a far-reaching restoration that’s seen the hotel’s Dalloway Terrace and The Bloomsbury Club Bar breathe new life into the borough’s social scene.
3. FOUR SEASONS TUNIS
A palatial cascade of white buildings, arched walkways, pools, fountains and gardens welcomes guests to the brand new Four Seasons Hotel Tunis. The spirit of the Mediterranean locale is evident in the hotel’s beautiful modern Arabesque architecture and design, which also hints at its proximity to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Splurge on the 550 sqm Presidential Suite, featuring a huge private tiered terrace and pool; or one of the Mediterranean suites, with expansive living and dining, butler’s pantry, office, and master bedroom opening onto terrace with ocean views. Immerse yourself in the spa after a day’s sightseeing around the ancient attractions or traditional souks of the area, with a soothing hammam ritual at the top of the must-do list; children will easily be kept entertained by the Kids For All Seasons programme. Mediterranean coastal cuisine is the name of the dining game, with fresh local market produce at the fore.
Billed as Aman’s most ambitious project to date, the opening of Amanyangyun this month promises to be spectacular. Renowned for its obsessive dedication to perfection, Aman worked with entrepreneur Ma Dadong for over a decade to painstakingly relocate, recreate and preserve an ancient 10,000-tree forest and 50 antique stone houses dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties to create the village resort (a new reservoir threatened their destruction). The result? A serene, luxurious retreat just 27km southwest of Shanghai that seamlessly blends ancient materials and traditions (a reimagined scholar’s pavilion allows guests to partake in calligraphy, music and painting, or watch Kunqu Opera performances; alongside tea and incense ceremonies) with modern incarnations of Chinese luxury. The Aman Spa is one of the brand’s largest worldwide, while five restaurants and bars, scattered throughout the forest, offer reimagined Chinese classics, elegant Japanese and authentic Italian, all rooted firmly in the freshest local produce.