1. THE ST. REGIS DOWNTOWN, DUBAI
Solidifying its ever-growing portfolio in the Middle East, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts is set to unveil its fourth UAE hotel this month with the opening of The St. Regis Downtown, Dubai, a gleaming urban escape overlooking Dubai Water Canal and the towering peaks of Downtown.
Formerly Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai, the property has undergone a few soft changes since joining the St. Regis family, including the addition of St. Regis rituals such as daily Afternoon Tea in The Library and Champagne sabering at 7.00pm each evening, and the world-acclaimed St. Regis Butler Service, affording every guest personal attention around the clock.
The 298 guestrooms and suites retain their pared back, desert chic feel – with textured concrete walls and earthy tones in gold and beige with deep blue accents; two-metre desks carved from one solid piece of wood; and bronze panels engraved with Arabesque patterns framing floor-to-ceiling windows – created by Dubai-based WA Interiors when the hotel first opened in late 2017.
The St Regis Spa affirms the hotel’s role as a true urban retreat, with a traditional Arabian hammam and bespoke treatments including flotation pod therapy and a 24-karat gold anti-ageing facial. While popular restaurants BASTA!, with its bare-brick and hardwood interiors and a giant portrait of Italian actress Sophia Loren on the wall, and Bleu Blanc Oysters & Grill, continue to offer exceptional cuisine from Italy and France respectively, the new-look hotel introduces St. Regis Bar, an intimate space with a twinkling mural overhead, evoking the starry night in the Arabian desert: a celebration of place that captures the magic of this unmissable Downtown address.
2. CORA CORA MALDIVES
Raa Atoll, Maldives
Far from the ho-hum of the daily grind in the astonishingly blue waters of the Raa Atoll, Cora Cora Maldives opens this month, welcoming visitors to a tropical playground where nature and culture take centre stage. Situated on the teardrop shaped Maamigili Island, 45 minutes seaplane flight from Velana International Airport, the resort is home to 100 beachfront and overwater villas with bright, modern interiors bathed in white.
The Two-Bedroom Lagoon Pool Villa provides an abundance of extra space over two levels for families, with a private infinity pool and waterslide; while Beach and Lagoon Pool Villas offer an intimate escape for couples; and the spacious Beach Suite is a verdant hideaway in its own private garden that’s ideal for honeymooners. Dining options abound, with Asian, Italian, Japanese and all-day options spread around the resort, as well as two bars, and the soothing spa features seven beachfront and overwater treatment rooms for the ultimate relaxation. Cora Cora’s dive school and water sports centre offer an enormous range of excursions to the house reef and beyond, and guests can embark on PADI-certified dive training courses and excursions to discover the abundant marine life of the Indian Ocean.
The thing that sets this bright, playful resort apart from the competition is its cultural connotations. Cora Cora houses a collection of artefacts found on Maamigili island and other parts of the Maldives that date back to pre-Islamic and colonial times, when the islands provided a safe haven for traders navigating the Indian Ocean. The resort’s outdoor museum is home to a 900-year-old bathing tank and a traditional Maldivian wooden house, while the lobby gallery features a collection of artefacts, giving visitors a rare and unique opportunity to learn about the heritage of this tropical archipelago.