1. ZANNIER HOTELS BÃI SAN HÔ
Phú Yên Province, Vietnam
With lush rainforest spilling down mountainsides to the crystal-clear waters of the East Sea and sugary beaches flanked by swaying palms, Vietnam’s Phu Yen province is the stuff tropical dreams are made of. Set in 98 hectares of pristine landscape, Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô will give guests front row seats to one of the most fascinating parts of Vietnam, with a bounty of natural and man-made wonders on the doorstep.
The resort’s 71 villas are nestled among the one-kilometre beachfront, the sprawling hillside and the emerald-coloured paddy fields, showcasing different architectural styles for each locale. Paddy Field Villas are inspired by stilted fishermen’s houses of the region; Hill Pool Villas are designed in the style of the longhouses of the indigenous Rade people; and Beach Pool Villas mirror the rows of houses typical of the Cham people who live along the coast. During their stay at this eco and culture-conscious resort, guests can visit local communities and nearby fish farms or explore local markets with a chef. The waters of Coral Bay teem with marine life, while the pristine beaches of Phu Yen province are peppered with hidden coves speared by columns of solidified lava. Inland, the region’s natural landscapes are a wonderland for hikers and photographers.
2. ULTIMA COURCHEVEL
Each winter, the slopes of Courchevel are colonised by an army of well-heeled skiers, drawn to the alpine resort by the promise of pristine slopes, world-class hospitality and perhaps the best après-ski in Les Trois Vallées. Adding a dash more glam for the 2020/21 season, Ultima Courchevel opens this month with 13 slope-side chalets overlooking the pine-covered flanks of the Dent du Villard and the Tarentaise Valley below, each offering four or five en-suite bedrooms that provide an elegant base from which to explore the wonders of the French Alps.
Those staying in these exclusive pine chalets – each of which features a fully-fitted kitchen, balconies, bronze fireplace and signature artwork – can make use of the 24-hour concierge, private chef, butler and housekeeper, so they can focus on maximising their slope time. Ultima Courchevel also boasts an indoor/outdoor pool and a separate indoor pool in its wellness, beauty and fitness area, as well as a hamman and Jacuzzi for post-ski thawing. The resort’s ski concierge team will organise outings to suit all, from ski lessons or an excursion to Cime Caron Glacier, to alpine discovery tours for beginners.
3. BANYAN TREE KRABI
From the waters of the Andaman Sea, the jungle-covered mountains of Krabi resemble the undulating form of the Great Naga, a mythical sea serpent believed to inhabit the hinterland of Thailand’s western coast. The legend lives on at Banyan Tree Krabi, where in-house design team Architrave has drawn upon the mythical beast to inform the design throughout this beachfront hideaway. A spectacular open-sided lobby created by Bangkok-based PIA Interior Company Limited looks out across turquoise waters of the Andaman and the mighty limestone karsts that stand vigil offshore, before descending via an elaborate, Naga-themed staircase though a circular pool that cascades into a cavernous grotto below.
The 72 rooms and suite boast private saltwater pools and westward-facing sunset views, with bright, modern interiors inspired by the natural landscape. The crown jewel is the seven-bedroom Presidential Villa, made up of three adjoining beachfront abodes that form a princely retreat for multi-gen groups or wedding parties. True to Banyan Tree form, the resort is home to a rainforest-inspired spa offering Thai massage and treatments using local ingredients such as coconut potions and pearl powder, while the Kids’ Club will entice younger visitors with its mini-waterpark and saltwater pools. At the very peak of the resort, signature restaurant Saffron promises jaw-dropping views across the ocean from dramatic bird’s nest style tables, while The Naga Kitchen promises all day-dining and southern Thai flavours.
4. WHITE ELEPHANT PALM BEACH
The former Bradley Park Hotel in Palm Beach Florida has reopened as White Elephant Palm Beach, a stylish urban escape where local heritage meets contemporary culture. Following a complete interior rebuild courtesy of Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects, the boutique hotel boasts 13 rooms and 19 suites positioned around a U-shaped courtyard, with tropical landscaped gardens and a poolside patio and ice cream cart.
Like the original White Elephant Nantucket, guests are welcomed into the hotel by a seven-foot white elephant statue by Santa-Fe artist Frederick Prescott. Neutral colours dominate, with hardwood floors and Carrara marble creating a calming natural effect throughout, but bright splashes of colour in the custom-designed furniture and upholstered headboards complement the vibrant artwork for a modern feel. Outside, the original Mediterranean-revival style façade retains its period characteristics, with black and white awnings adding a dash of contemporary style. An outpost of Lola 41, the original restaurant in Nantucket, spills out onto the poolside for seafood lunches and al fresco dinners; and for exploring further afield, guests can use complimentary Priority Bicycles or arrange a downtown drop-off in the hotel’s fleet of BMWs.