From clifftop villas to secluded island compounds, these luxury resorts promise both adventure and respite in the region’s most idyllic corners
by LEBAWIT LILY GIRMA
AFTER a tumultuous couple of years, South-East Asia’s popular city and seaside destinations are set for a big tourism comeback in 2023.
Thailand expects as many as 10 million visitors from China alone this year. The Philippines, at one point named the worst place to be stuck during Covid, has seen its travel industry grow at a rate that’s faster than the global tourism average of 5.8%, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Vietnam is equally poised for a boom, and Indonesia is seeing Kimpton, Hilton’s LXR Hotels & Resorts and other luxury brands make their first entry into the country.
Aside from Asian residents getting back to their favourite hot spots, more international tourists are planning a return to long-haul vacations lounging on the white-sand beaches and splashing in the turquoise waters of South-East Asia.
Here’s a look at some of the most promising beachside resorts set to open in the region in 2023.
Andaz Pattaya Jomtien Beach
Located a two-hour drive south of Bangkok, Andaz Pattaya Jomtien Beach marks Thailand’s first Hyatt Andaz brand opening. Parts of the structure and materials of Thai teakwood houses that originally stood on the property were incorporated into the complex, which now includes 200 rooms, suites and villas facing Tawanron Beach in the popular tourist hub Jomtien. Six restaurants, three outdoor pools, a spa and a fitness centre are among the amenities. Opening soon will be two additional houses to accommodate large families and groups, including a six-bedroom “Presidential Heritage House” with private courtyards, pools and butler service. Open now; rooms start at 8,756 Thai bahts (RM1,152) per night.
Anam Mui Ne
The Asian windsurfing hotspot Mui Ne, also known for its fishing village, is poised for growth, with a new expressway soon cutting the travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to just 2.5 hours. That’s good news for Anam Mui Ne, a beachfront resort designed to evoke the Indochine era with detailed local woodwork, statues, mosaic tiles and lanterns, as wells as paintings commissioned from Vietnamese artists. This is the second property from an independent Vietnamese luxury brand; the first is located in Vietnam’s south-central coastal city of Cam Rahn. Open now; rooms starting at 6,652,800 Vietnamese dong (RM1,207) per night for a premium ocean-view room.
An hour’s flight east of Bali lands you on Sumba Island, where Cap Karoso’s 47-room and 20-villa escape promises an eco-conscious beach vacation. Founded by French couple Fabrice and Evguenia Ivar, who first visited Sumba in 2017, the hotel says half of its energy comes from solar panels. There’s an onsite farm to source much of the produce served at its beach club restaurant. A school for local residents will be part of the resort’s way of giving back, providing training in farming and landscaping — skills locals can then use on their own land or in hospitality. The modern, locally designed suites and villas, which go up to three bedrooms, sit steps from a sparkling beach and breathtaking blue waters. Experiences listed include biking, climbing waterfalls and community-led experiences like the island’s famous sandalwood ponies. Opening in April 2023; rooms are expected to start at US$300 (RM1,280) a night for a studio and US$600 per night for a two-bedroom villa.
The Pavilions Anambas
The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts count luxury boutique hotels in Rome, Amsterdam and other major European cities, as well as multiple locations in Asia, including Bali and Mongolia. This 12-villa and 10-luxury-residence hotel will open in the Anambas archipelago, which is part of Indonesia’s northernmost island chain and can be reached only by private boat or floatplane. There’s a promised 100%-no-plastic-use policy, and the villas all enjoy private saltwater infinity pools facing the beach and ocean, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows. The property says it will offer diving and snorkelling excursions, a sandbank beach bar and a spa. Opening in the fourth quarter of 2023.
LXR Hotels & Resorts
LXR Hotels & Resorts, Hilton’s luxury collection, is opening its first location in South-East Asia. Perched on cliffs 230ft above the sea in the Uluwatu area of Bali, 72 villas overlook the clear waters and white sand at tranquil Melasti Beach below. The infinite ocean views, from the villas’ pools and bedrooms, will likely be the highlight here. Opening Summer 2023; rates starting at US$600 and US$900 for the one- and two-bedroom villas.
Indonesia is getting its first Kimpton property with the Kimpton Naranta, offering a “barefoot luxury” experience. A range of 50 villas are located on a hillside on the southern tip of Bali, surrounded by lush vegetation and outfitted with outdoor rain showers and saltwater plunge pools. While you won’t be directly on the sand, it’s just a 10-minute drive to Nusa Dua Beach. Five restaurants, a holistic spa, a yoga pavilion, electric scooters and a 24/7 gym will be among the many amenities at this resort. Opening in December 2023; rooms are expected to start at US$600 a night. — Bloomberg
- This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition