1. ANDAZ DUBAI THE PALM
Every now and again a new hotel comes along that breaks the mould and puts its own unique stamp on a destination. That’s certainly the case with Andaz Dubai The Palm, the first outpost of Hyatt’s funky lifestyle brand to open its doors in the Emirate. Situated on the trunk of Palm Jumeirah on a 300-metre stretch of beach, the hotel feels contemporary and fresh, but there’s a distinct sense of Emirati culture running through too.
The 217 guestrooms and 116 residences feature unique local design elements, such as textiles inspired by traditional Bedouin ‘Al Sadu’ embroidery and curving dark wood ceilings above the beds that create the impression of a modern Bedouin tent. Guestrooms pop in bright bursts of colour that reflect the hues of the Arabian Gulf beyond the windows, and the use of tan and beige leather in the suites’ seating areas provide a rustic contrast to the vibrant contemporary art produced by local Emirati artists, which adorns the walls throughout this refreshing new resort.
2. AMAN KYOTO
Aman’s quest for otherworldly locations has led it to Kyoto for
its newest retreat, nestled among 32 hectares of peaceful forest. Set in a valley blanketed in trees whose leaves change colour with the season, Aman Kyoto is a destination in its own right, just a 20 minutes scenic walk from the UNESCO World Heritage Kinkaku-ji Temple. Moss-covered pathways wind through sculpted gardens and the hotel’s six guest pavilions, where 26 guestrooms, designed by Kerry Hill, take Aman’s signature minimalist style to a whole new level.
Walking through the forest to the Aman Spa is the first step on a journey to inner wellbeing, which is completed with a dip in spring-fed onsen baths, and healing treatments infused with local ingredients. Those in pursuit of inner harmony can practise Zen meditation with a local monk, learn the traditional Japanese art of ikebana (flower arranging) or visit a traditional ochaya (teahouse) to spend time with a geiko (the local term for geisha) in Kamishichiken.
3. ROCCO FORTE HOUSE
The indefatigable Sir Rocco Forte has unveiled his most exclusive project yet with the opening of Rocco Forte House in Rome. Styled as a collection of five sumptuous private apartments set within an 18th-century palazzo, it offers guests the generous space and elegant setting of a private home, combined with the services of a five-star palace hotel. Ranging from a two-bedroom 126-sqm apartment to the 291-sqm Borghese Private Suite, each look out over Piazza di Spagna, and are stylishly appointed by Rome-based designer Tommaso Ziffer. A house manager can arrange for a private chef, sommelier or waiter to attend guests in their suite, or perhaps arrange a table at one of the two other Rocco Forte hotels in Rome: the neighbouring Hotel de Russie and the recently opened Hotel de la Ville.
4. FOUR SEASONS RESORT LOS CABOS AT COSTA PALMAS
Baja California, Mexico
The eastern coast of Baja California stretches more than 1,200 kilometres along the Sea of Cortez, the warm gulf separating the peninsula from the mainland that’s home to whale sharks and abundant marine life. Nestled along its own 3.2 kilometre stretch of beach, Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas is the latest addition to this gleaming coastline, with 141 guestrooms and suites bearing traditional Mexican motifs incorporated into gorgeous contemporary interiors. Junior jetsetters will be well looked after thanks to the Kids for All Seasons programme, while parents sneak off to the Oasis Spa and Wellness Centre or one of five dining options, including an outpost of acclaimed Greek seafood restaurant Estiatorio Milos.
The resort is the first phase of the Costa Palmas residential and luxury lifestyle community, which will eventually be home to a 250-berth marina and yacht club, an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II golf course, and 18 acres of organic farm and orchards on Baja’s East Cape. For those who can’t bear to leave, a collection of private villas and residences are available for ownership, inviting global citizens to purchase their very own slice of paradise.
5. ZADÚN, A RITZ-CARLTON RESERVE
Baja California, Mexico
Set at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula among rolling sand dunes, Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve promises something very special indeed. As the fourth member of the company’s ultra-exclusive Reserve collection, Zadún has big footsteps to follow. All of the 115 guestrooms and suites feature private pools and the services of a private attendant, but none compare to the Grand Reserve Villa, a 550-sqm hideaway with two bedrooms, five lounge areas, and a private pool and Jacuzzi.
Neutral toned, pared-back interiors feature dark woods and natural stone, with blue accents reflecting the colours of the Sea of Cortez and Los Cabos’ famously blue skies, framed by floor-to-ceiling windows that disappear into the wall to create a seamless indoor/outdoor space. At almost 3,000sqm, Spa Alkemia is one of the largest in Mexico, and the choice of four restaurants and bars includes a Latin American grill, Mexican street food, fresh ceviche and seafood, and an agave bar.