These hotels may have opened in 2020, but deserve just as much love as those that will open this year
We’ve covered hotels that we’d like to visit when they open this year, but what about those that opened last year – in the face of the pandemic? Chances are, these properties may not have received the limelight and recognition they deserve, slipping under the radar, waiting to be found by those with insider knowledge. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. With the vaccine, these charming Asia-Pacific properties will be waiting to welcome travellers.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto
Ambitiously positioning itself as ‘the ultimate emblem of Japan’s beauty’, Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto boasts interiors and aesthetics that are second to none. Architectural and design luminaries such as Akira Kuryu, André Fu, Shunsaku Miyagi, and Yohei Akao have all made individual contributions to the property’s interiors and landscaping, collectively creating a thoughtful and immaculately refined space.
Each of the hotel’s 161 rooms (from US$914/S$1,215) is a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Japanese tea room.
For more privacy – and space – opt for either of the two Onsen Suites, which feature an outdoor hot spring bath as well as garden quarters surrounded by stonework walls. Guests can also avail themselves of the hotel’s natural spring water source – a rarity for a luxury property in Kyoto’s city centre – at the 1,000sqm spa.
On-site gastronomic offerings include French-Japanese restaurant Toki and the Italian eatery Forni, along with The Garden Bar, which looks out onto the meticulously landscaped grounds.
Sequoia Lodge, Australia
Want to discover untouched pockets of South Australian nature and wildlife without having to camp in the outback? The 12-hectare Mount Lofty House estate in Adelaide has always provided that experience for its guests, but recently crafted an even more private offering in the form of Sequoia Lodge. Each of its 14 contemporary open-plan suites (from A$1,000/S$1,025) offers an uninterrupted 180-degree panorama across Piccadilly Valley.
To describe it as breathtaking is something of an understatement, especially when guests are taking in the sparkling night sky from their sunken lounge room, warmed by the gas fireplace and a bottle of wine from the region’s Adelaide Hills. Sequoia Lodge also grants access to the estate’s shared sundeck lounge and plunge pool, along with a garden that’s only open to Lodge guests. A dedicated guest relations team can assist with making reservations at Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant on the estate, which holds the Australian equivalent of three Michelin stars.
Pipinui Point, New Zealand
For those who crave convenience and isolation all the same, you’ll find it at the southernmost point of New Zealand’s North Island. Just 25 minutes away from Wellington sits a gorgeous clifftop retreat perched atop Cook Straight. This two-bedroom property (from NZ$775/S$735) is set amongst nearly 650 hectares of coastal farmland, with spectacular west-facing views of the Tasman Sea that can be enjoyed from both the generous deck and outdoor bathtub.
But staying in such a remote location doesn’t mean that guests have to go it alone. A Pipinui Point host ensures guests are well fed with chef-prepared meals from the nearby Boomrock Estate. There’s also the option of taking a leisurely drive to check out Wellington’s exciting culinary scene. Where exploration is concerned, your host will be more than happy to schedule an itinerary of on- and off-site activities, ranging from a coastal safari farm tour and clay bird shooting, to a private wine tour around Marlborough via helicopter.
VALA Hua Hin, Thailand
Hua Hin’s long history as Thailand’s royal town means that it’s no stranger to welcoming guests who appreciate the finer things in life. From Vala’s contemporary perspective, that includes space, privacy, natural surroundings and a pristine beachfront. The resort’s sleek, understated aesthetics blend in seamlessly with the environment around it, helping guests to better appreciate the seascape and leafy trees.
The resort does an excellent job of coaxing its guests outside the confines of the bedroom. Each of its 13 pool villas (from 28,800 baht/S$1,274) has private gardens that are great for barefoot walks. It’s also easy to while away the day at the outdoor massage pavilion and the swim-up bar within the Olympic-sized oceanfront pool. An organic farm that supplies the resort’s Woods Kitchen & Bar with over 30 varieties of fruits, herbs and vegetables sits a five-minute drive away. Vacation dining doesn’t get any more wholesome than here.
Azerai Ke Ga Bay, Vietnam
You’d be hard-pressed to find reasons to leave Azerai Ke Ga Bay resort. Located on the Vietnamese coastal province of Binh Thuan, the property delights with lovingly tended gardens – teeming with ginger plants and tropical flowers – that frame the suites and villas. The resort’s interiors are easy on the eye and have been done up in a way that beckon you to stay longer.
Each of the 21 villas (from US$567/S$754) comes with a bathtub and private pool. Three communal pools are scattered throughout the 46-key property. Guests are also pampered with an assortment of treatments at the spa, and will enjoy a rotating dining menu that showcases the finest local produce.
For those who are keen to explore, take a stroll along the five-kilometre secluded shoreline and venture out over the white sand beach to peek at Ke Ga island’s famous attraction: Vietnam’s first lighthouse, which was built by the French in 1899.
The Hari Hong Kong
Hong Kong-Indian business magnate and philanthropist Hari Harilela made such a profound impact across the region that it’s only fitting The Hari – which first took root in London – should return home to Hong Kong. Created by the family-owned Harilela Group, the hotel brings its heritage of detail-oriented service to the Causeway Bay and Wan Chai districts, standing as ‘a global beacon of modern luxury’.
In The Hari Hong Kong’s 210 guestrooms, of which three are signature rooftop suites (from HK$5,250/S$900), the panoramic views of the city are complemented by Arabescato marble bathrooms and interiors by British designer Tara Bernerd. And as far as dining goes, Japanese restaurant Zoku – helmed by chef Phillip Pak who worked alongside world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
This story first appeared in the December 2020 issue, which you may purchase as a hard or digital copy