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Southeast asia

it

list 2018

march 2018

A trio of design hotels Sailing the Spice Route

Singapore S$7.90 / Hong Kong HK$43 Thailand THB175 / Indonesia IDR50,000 Malaysia MYR18 / Vietnam VND85,000 Macau MOP44 / Philippines PHP240 Burma MMK35 / Cambodia KHR22,000 Brunei BND7.90 / Laos LAK52,000

PLUS Japan Milan Bangkok


Chillax by Platinum welcomes Capital and Zouk. Planning a big night out? The Chillax programme by American Express Platinum entitles you to exclusive privileges at some of Singapore's best clubs and bars. Starting 26 January 2018, that includes two of the city’s most iconic venues, Capital and Zouk. Present your American Express® Card to enjoy year-long benefits such as complimentary entry, and drinks discounts all night. Chillax Privileges Complimentary Entry2

Complimentary entry to Capital (including access to Zouk and Phuture) on Fridays and Saturdays before 12am

Drink Promotions3

10% off Moët & Chandon Impérial 750ml, Zouk Signatures and Premium By The Glass drinks all night

Table Promotion4

S$100 off minimum spending for table bookings at Capital and Zouk

Find out more at amex.co/zouk Terms and Conditions apply.

Terms and Conditions 1. The above offers are valid from now to 31 December 2018, and are applicable only for Card Members who hold The Centurion® Card, The American Express® Platinum Card, The American Express® Platinum Reserve Credit Card or The American Express®Platinum Credit Card issued by American Express International Inc., in Singapore. 2. Complimentary entry is valid only for the first 100 Card Members before 12am on Fridays and Saturdays, except special event nights like guest DJ, Halloween, eve of Public Holidays and Public Holidays. 3. The 10% discount is applicable for Moët & Chandon Impérial 750ml, selection of Zouk Signatures (including Blue Spin, Graveyard, Long Island Tea, Lychee Martini, Velvet Ropes), and Premium By The Glass (with a minimum purchase of two (2) premium pour drinks). Drinks list are subject to availability and changes. Please check with the staff for more details. 4. The S$100 off minimum spend for table bookings is only valid for bookings made by the first eligible Card Member at Capital, and the first two eligible Card Members at Zouk per night, on a first-come, first-served basis. 5. Other Terms and Conditions apply. For more details, please visit amex.co/zouk. American Express International Inc., (UEN S68FC1878J) 20 (West) Pasir Panjang Road #08-00, Mapletree Business City, Singapore 117439. americanexpress.com.sg Incorporated with Limited Liability in the State of Delaware, U.S.A. ® Registered Trademark of American Express Company. © Copyright 2018 American Express Company.


March

ON THE COVER Reflections of Jackalope, a rustic Australian resort on this year’s It List. Photographed by Sharyn Carins.

features 43

The It List 2018 Over the past year, we’ve crisscrossed the globe in our search for standout properties. Here, we offer our annual selection of the best new (and reborn) hotels in the world.

c l o c k w i s e F R O M t o p LE F T: f e d e r i c o c i a m e i ; c o u r t e s y o f A l i l a F o r t B i s h a n g a r h ; k i t y e n g c h a n ; l e i g h g r i ff i t h s

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98 43 90 80

Infinite Tropics Tracing naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace’s long way home from Indonesia, Marco Ferrarese sails aboard a luxury phinisi. Photographed by Kit Yeng Chan.

90

Design Stars Three new hotels where form meets function in an effort to make your stay more enjoyable, whether you’re in Hong Kong, Singapore or Tokyo.

98

La Milan Moderna It may not have the romance of Florence, Naples or Rome, but today, Milan has a pace and intensity no other Italian city can match. By Tim Parks. Photographed by Federico Ciamei.

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In Every Issue 

T+L Digital 6 Editor’s Note 8 Contributors 10 The Conversation 14 Deals 74 Wish You Were Here 106

contents

Moving Endeavor Restored Abrick by brick from a centuries-

old Chinese village, the carefully preserved Amanyangyun resort has found its home an hour outside of Shanghai.

are becoming the coolest places

20 Meet You at the Bar Hotel bars to pull up a stool.

compact quarters in the great

40 Taipei’s New Old Town In

Bangkok’s oft-overlooked

The Guide

25 Downsizing Across Australia, outdoors are now the trendiest way to spend a cozy weekend. Plus Other micro-hotels we love in the region.

28 Creative Quarters In some of neighborhoods, a group of innovative minds is turning aged buildings and former junkyards into inspiring creative zones.

artist community on the outskirts

22 Arts by the River A grassroots of Kota Kinabalu keeps a North Borneo legacy alive.

charming villages and unspoiled

23 Sanctuary Cities Why Japan’s

district, innovative new drinking holes and eateries breathe new life into historical godowns.

65 Down to Business Today’s

business hotels are redefining the genre adapting to the digital nomad lifestyle, while traditional hotels and serviced apartments find new perks to woo working guests. We’ve put together an accommodation guide for the modern road warrior.

generation of creative and

36 The Future is Female A new

nature have been drawing local travelers for centuries.

15

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Dadaocheng, Taipei’s oldest

march 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

entrepreneurial women in Singapore is carving a path for homegrown brands.

28

36

25

F R O M LE F T: A l e j a n d r o S c o t t; C e d r i c Ar n o l d ; c o u r t e s y o f b a e l f d e s i g n ; c o u r t e s y o f CA B N

15


+

t+l digital

Lookout

How to throw the Perfect Destination Wedding If you’re planning to tie the knot somewhere extraspecial, this in-depth guide is going to be a lifesaver.

6 Pro Travel Photographers Share Their Secrets Learn how to shoot like the best in the business with these next-level insider tips and tricks.

Rediscovering Koh Samui This popular Thai island keeps evolving and a slew of new resorts is making a solid case for a revisit. Here’s where to stay now.

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march 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

tleditor@ mediatransasia.com

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fr o m l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f s h a n g r i - l a’ s b o r a c ay r e s o r t & s pa ; l a u r y n i s h a k ; t h a n e t k a e w d u a n g d e e

this month on tr avel andleisureasia.com

After the dust of the winter Olympics settles, more incentives to visit Pyeongchang; the sophisticated side of Kuta, Lombok; Phuket’s new place to party; the modern wine-tasting complex in South Australia; the latest travel deals and more.


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NOW OPEN Be the first to stay at Samui’s happening new hangout. Special introductory rate only THB Live free. Live the COSI life.

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1,720/night.


|

march 2018

ne sure sign that we’re staying one step ahead of the evergrowing list of new hotels and resorts in Asia has to be the fact that I visited several of those that appear on this year’s It List before they opened. If that alone doesn’t indicate the number of not-to-miss getaways debuting around Asia, add in the fact that this, our annual hotels issue, also brims with properties that stand a great chance of making next year’s cut even though we’re only a few months into 2018. It’s easy to see the wealth of riches Asia boasts when it comes to new escapes. Fortunately, we’ve also visited most of the new Asian resorts on the It List 2018 (page 43) after they opened. Vietnam and Sri Lanka, Rajasthan and Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore; all figure in the list, and each is worth a look. Whether you want to revisit a rich part of Singapore’s past, trek off to a remote corner of Sri Lanka or chill on Phu Quoc Island, let the It List be your guide. Of course, every corner of the globe is represented, but the Asian influence also comes through loud and clear even in far-flung locales like Malibu where you could find yourself in a ryokan-style hotel. Elsewhere in this month’s issue, we take a look at tiny hideaways in Australia (“Downsizing,” page 25) where minimalism and remoteness cross paths—have you ever seen a bubble tent? We also venture beyond the obvious in Japan to some out-of-the-way villages that are worth penciling in on your travel calendar (“Sanctuary Cities,” page 23). Bangkok is reinventing itself, particularly in neighborhoods along its riverfront, as locally based photographer Cedric Arnold knows well. In “Creative Quarters” (page 28), Arnold visually reveals some new twists to parts of the Thai metropolis that have been known for their storied pasts but are now shining as present trendsetters. A bit like Asia itself.

@CKucway chrisk@mediatransasia.com

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From my travels Anyone who knows Hong Kong is familiar with the fact that its skyline and streetscape are forever changing. That’s what I found when visiting The Murray, one of three new hotels we spotlight this month for their innovative style (“Design Stars,” page 90). The odd thing about the new Niccolo property is that, while the building itself is well known, dating back almost a halfcentury, its latest role is not. It’s now an inviting hotel, as opposed to a government office block, that for the first time reveals to the public views of the forest of bank towers and the surrounding neighborhoods that few have ever seen before.

f r o m l e f t: I r fa n S a m a r t d e e ; c h r is t o p h e r k u c way

editor’s note


contributors

2

Kit Yeng Chan

Charlene Fang

“Infinite Tropics” Page 80 — “What a joy to sail the eastern Indonesian islands, Raja Ampat to the Moluccas, as Alfred Russel Wallace did 200 years ago. Christianity and modernity have changed things, but the region is so undiscovered that its history still haunts its present,” says the photographer, who loved meeting manta rays and spotting pilot whales and dolphins from the Tiger Blue phinisi. Favorite crew member? “The engineer Rizal. He only snorkels and can’t dive, but he carries a knife on his left leg because he said a grouper bit him once. Plus, he can sing like a real rocker!” Instagram: @kitchan_travelphotos.

“The Future is Female” Page 36 — “The Singapore fashion scene has grown a lot. It’s finally possible to dress head-to-toe in local labels. I fell in love with Baelf Design’s Beeing Human collection. I love the whole inspiration behind it. The 3D printing lends each piece a futuristic edge and elevates it to a garment that’s one-of-a-kind,” says the writer. “I’d love to see more eco-friendly options on the market.” Emerging trend? “The return of the eighties and power dressing. This time, it’s more glam than kitsch: exaggerated shoulder details, overtly sexy evening wear, longer pencil skirts, and eye-catching pastel combos.” Instagram: @charlenefang.

3

4

Marco Ferrarese

Julian Ryall

“Infinite Tropics” Page 80 — “When I got on Tiger Blue the first time, I felt the warmth of its wood, and imagined all the incredible places it could take us,” says the writer, who retraced Alfred Russel Wallace’s last Indonesian journey. “I’d read Wallace’s passages on Waigeo, Ternate, and birds-of-paradise. His writing style isn’t scientific; it’s like reading a novel.” In the under-discovered, partly uncharted region, the ship’s co-owner was a perfect guide: “Rebecca Duckett-Wilkinson made such an effort to share her passion for Wallace’s history and her love for the Spice Islands. I was learning new things every day.” Twitter: @monkeyrockworld.

“Design Stars: Tree of Life”

W r i t er

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W r i t er

W r i t er

Page 90

— The writer visited the new One@Tokyo, a design hotel with notable “quirkiness. Other hotels want to impress with their luxury. This one wanted to entertain me with constant surprises.” Dinner was a memorable: “impressive food, excellent beers on tap and so much to visually take in.” There’s plenty to see in Oshiage beyond the forested hotel gate, too. “The big attraction is Tokyo SkyTree, which can occupy you for hours with its views, shops, restaurants, museums. But I am always a sucker for the backstreets, with hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants, and the places where locals shop.”

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f k i t y e n g c h a n ; c o u r t e s y o f c h a r l e n e fa n g ; k i t y e n g c h a n ; c o u r t e s y o f j u l i a n r ya l l

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P h o to gr a p h er

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ICONIC

Soon PHNOM PENH

LUANG PRABANG

BAHAMAS

ro se w o o dho t e l s. c o m

MONTECITO

HONG KONG


editor-in-chief art director Deput y editor Features editor senior DEsigner

Christopher Kucway Wannapha Nawayon Jeninne Lee-St. John Eloise Basuki Chotika Sopitarchasak

Regul ar contributors / photogr aphers Cedric Arnold, Kit Yeng Chan, Marco Ferrarese, Duncan Forgan, Lauryn Ishak, Mark Lean, Grace Ma, Ian Lloyd Neubauer, Morgan Ommer, Aaron Joel Santos, Stephanie Zubiri chairman president publishing director publishER digital media manager TRAFFIC MANAGER / deputy DIGITAL media manager sales director business de velopment managers chief financial officer production manager circul ation assistant

J.S. Uberoi Egasith Chotpakditrakul Rasina Uberoi-Bajaj Robert Fernhout Pichayanee Kitsanayothin Varin Kongmeng Joey Kukielka Leigha Proctor Tim Rasenberger Gaurav Kumar Kanda Thanakornwongskul Yupadee Saebea

TR AVEL+LEISURE (USA) Editor-in-Chief Senior Vice President, News, Luxury, st yle

Nathan Lump Meredith Long

meredith partnerships, LICENSING & syndication (syndication@meredith.com) Business affairs director director, licensing oper ations editorial director e xecutive director, content management

Tom Rowland Richard Schexnider Jack Livings Paul Ordonez

meredith Chairman and ceo president and coo chief content officer editorial director, lifest yle group e xecutive vice presidents

Steve Lacy Tom Harty Alan Murray Nathan Lump Leslie Dukker Doty, Brad Elders, Lauren Ezrol Klein

tr avel+leisure southeast asia Vol. 12, Issue 3 Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia is published monthly by Media Transasia Limited, 1603, 16/F, Island Place Tower, 510 King’s Road, North Point, Hong Kong. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Produced and distributed by Media Transasia Thailand Ltd., 14th Floor, Ocean Tower II, 75/8 Soi Sukhumvit 19, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoeynue, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand. Tel: 66-2/204-2370. Printed by Comform Co., Ltd. (66-2/368-2942–7). Color separation by Classic Scan Co., Ltd. (66-2/291-7575). While the editors do their utmost to verify information published, they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy. This edition is published by permission of Meredith 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 Tel. 1-212/522-1212 Online: www.meredith.com Reproduction in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner is prohibited. subscriptions Enquiries: www.travelandleisuresea.com/subscribe ADVERTISING offices General enquiries: advertising@mediatransasia.com Singapore: 65/9029 0749; joey@mediatransasia.com Japan: Shinano Co., Ltd. 81-3/3584-6420; kazujt@bunkoh.com Korea: YJP & Valued Media Co., Ltd. 82-2/3789-6888; hi@yjpvm.kr


Aesop Park Hyatt Sydney Select suites here offer generous 200 milliliter bottles of this all-natural Australian skincare brand, including their geranium leaf, mandarin and bergamot body cleanser. Guests can also request 50 milliliter sizes for their carry-on. hyatt. com.

Christophe Laudimie Andaz Singapore Even the toiletries at this new hotel (see page 90) are a product of their locale. The French perfumer sifted Singapore’s laneways for his bespoke range, which blends orchid, jasmine, clove, ginger lily, orange blossom and Chinese cedarwood. andaz.hyatt. com.

Le Labo Fairmont New York fragrance label Le Labo is worshipped for their signature scents in apothecary-style packaging, and the set of their Rose 31 shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion and bar soap that come in all Fairmont hotels are a definite perk. fairmont. com.

Bliss W Hotels Find the coveted Bliss Lemon + Sage Sinkside Six pack in all W hotels. We love the vitamin-enriched shower gel (which doubles as bubble bath foam), tangle-taming shampoo and massaging body bar. whotels. com.

Days by the pool on Palawan. By @wanderingdanni.

The view from Keemala’s bath in Phuket. By @our.kind.life.

Feeling like a VIP in Bali. By @departmentofwandering.

Taking in Kuala Lumpur’s city skyline. By @shannondidwhat. Share an Instagram photo by using the #TLAsia hashtag, and it may be featured in an upcoming issue. Follow @travelandleisureasia.

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i l lu st r at i o n by c h ot i k a S o p i ta r c h asa k

Diptyque Mandarin Oriental, Taipei This is the only Mandarin Oriental hotel in Asia where you’ll find legendary Parisian perfumer Diptyque’s botanical-focused set, free from parabens, petrochemicals, silicones and sulfates. Take home the non-greasy Fresh Lotion—the mix of almond and macadamia oils, orange blossom and petitgrain is a hero in humid weather. mandarinoriental.com.

A good view from your hotel can make your stay. here are some of our readers’ favorite places to check in.

Hotels are upping their game when it comes to stocking guest bathrooms; natural ingredients and cult boutique beauty labels are standing in for the mass-produced no-name products of yesteryear. Whether it’s palm oil-free hand soap, organic body wash or shampoo fragranced with local aromatics, here are our favorite hotel toiletries to slip in your suitcase.

#TLASIA

the conversation


Welcome to ZĂźrich, Switzerland.

zuerich.com

#visitzurich


Zurich is the gateway to Switzerland. It is the departure point for fabulous excursions into the mountains and the breathtaking Swiss nature. Zürich Card

Rapperswil – Just a short distance from Zurich, the Town of Roses with its picturesque medieval castle overlooking Lake Zurich can be reached by train, rental car or – the romantic option – by boat. Rapperswil has earned its name owing to the over 16,000 roses that flower between May and October in the gardens of the Capuchin monastery and on the “Schanz”.

So much Zurich for so little expense: with the Zürich Card, you can explore the city and save money too. This city travel pass offers unlimited 2nd class travel by tram, bus, train, boat and cableway. In addition, cardholders benefit from free or reduced admission to most of Zurich’s museums. There are many other discounts to be had in select stores and restaurants, as well on the city’s most popular guided tour, the Zurich Old Town Walking Tour. Further information can be found at: ➡ zuerich.com/zurichcard

Event Highlights 2018 Stoos – The small village lies in the heart of Switzerland and is definitely worth visiting – already the journey there on the steepest funicular railway in the world is truly spectacular. Once at the top, a chairlift transports visitors up to the Fronalpstock, where the magnificent Alpine scenery simply takes their breath away.

Rhine Falls – Europe’s largest waterfall offers a magnificent spectacle: 160,000gal of water per second cascade down the rocks from a height of 75ft. A trail leads from Laufen Castle to various viewing platforms, providing access to this natural phenomenon. It is well worth taking a boat trip in the river basin, to feel the spray from the waterfall.

Mar Apr

Mar 8 – 11

Man’s World

Apr 14 – 16

Sechseläuten (Spring Festival) Zurich Marathon

Apr 22

May May 24 – Jun 3 1 – 24 Jun Jun Jun 10

FOOD ZURICH

Jun 14 – 17

Zurich Festival Zurich E-Prix blues’n’jazz Rapperswil

Jul Aug

Jul 29

Ironman Zurich

Aug 11 Aug 16 – Sep 2 Aug 30

Street Parade Zurich Theater Festival Weltklasse Zürich

Sep Oct Dec

Sep 1

Late Night at Zurich’s Museums

Sep 27 – Oct 7

Zurich Film Festival

Nov 22 – Dec 24 Advent in Zurich Dec 31 New Year’s Eve celebrations around the basin of Lake Zurich


T r av el + l eisu r e

March 2018

The Amanyangyun is an authentic time capsule.

backstory

A Moving Endeavor Restored brick by brick from centuries-old Chinese houses, the carefully preserved Amanyangyun resort has found its home just outside of Shanghai. Jeninne Lee-St. John checks in, and contemplates its reverence. Photogr aphs by Alejandro Scott

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /  m a r c h 2 0 1 8

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/ backstory / mountains to fulfill their dreams. Ma Dedong moved something far greater in the journey to create the newest Aman Resort. Practically speaking, it was a superhero feat to transport an entire thousand-yearold forest and 50 Ming and Qing dynasty–era villas 700 kilometers from Jianxi Province to the outskirts of Shanghai. But culturally and environmentally, this was also an epic operation, a preservation passion project the scale of which is unrivaled in the hospitality sphere and feels like a flat-out miracle in new development–happy China. The story starts in 2002, when then-29-year-old Ma went home to visit his parents in Fuzhou and was devastated to see ancient camphor trees, revered for their spiritual healing powers, being felled. The Liao Fang reservoir was under construction, and villages were already under water. The area had been a cradle of the scholarly class, who lived up to 500 years ago in aristocratic villas made of elaborately carved stone and wood. Having survived the Cultural Revolution, now their homes were threatened by something as mundane as modern utilities? Ma, newly minted after selling his advertising agency, decided to save as many of them as he could. Contracting a team of hundreds of botanists and experts in historic Chinese architecture, he undertook to uproot 10,502 camphor and 1,070 other trees, disassemble 50 antique houses, and whisk them all to safety over the course of a decade. “Some believe trees have a soul,” Cecilia Yang, director of marketing communications of Amanyangyun, tells me as we stroll the grounds of this resort that opened in January, “that they’re a witness to history, and it’s immoral to cut them down.” The preservation crew built roads over mountains, and bridges over rivers, carting the forest out on trucks, which at times overturned or

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march 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

got washed out by floods. The King Tree, a camphor at least 2,000 years old that sits in a place of honor in the center of Amanyangyun (the 8,000 others that have survived have been replanted in a nearby forest), was too wide for a highway tollbooth so the structure was demolished and the government compensated. Guests are invited to show their respect and, hopefully, glean some of its positive energy by watering its roots. The water, incidentally, bubbles up from an ancient well that was excavated and also brought from Jianxi. You’ll find others scattered throughout the resort and within the showcase guest villas—those ancient houses that had been taken apart brick by brick, beam by beam, each piece marked sequentially so they could be put back together in order. The 26 reconstructed houses on site—13 are in the hotel, 12 are

c e n t e r : c o u rt esy o f a m a n

They say visionaries will move


being sold as residences, and the last is the cultural center Nan shufang— each took three years to complete. Knowing all of this in no way lessens the surprise at being shown to your own antique villa for the first time. Every one is its own compound, encircled within a stone wall, with a zigzag walkway leading over a greenery-filled fish pond from which fog rises (hidden mist machines were installed to recreate the houses’ original woodlands habitat) to a majestic solid-façade old manse. “This is so lovely,” says my mom, who I’ve brought along to commune with her Chinese heritage. “Where is our house, though?” Told this is it, she gasps. “Oh, I thought this was a museum.”

But, of course, it is that, also. Behind our larger-than-life front door are two courtyards with water features under open skylights, a full kitchen for the 24/7 butler staff, an expansive living and dining area with a remote-controlled gas fireplace, and two vast bedrooms— the master including a tub carved from a continuous piece of rock. While the houses were mostly faithfully reassembled, floor-toceiling windows were added, secondfloor lofts were removed and simple, modern furniture was selected by Kerry Hill Architects, giving the main room an airy, midcentury feel that meets the needs of today’s resort guest. A Modernist-interpretation annex across the courtyard contains two more bedrooms, and there’s a heated 20-meter lap pool to round out your US$10,000-a-night palace. What’s fascinating is that across the property—all of which is a study in patience, dedication and serenity—a minimal Modern aesthetic of clean lines, right angles, unadorned high walls is overlaid on authentic ancient architecture defined by traditional carvings and symbolism and feng shui… and it totally works. It feels fluid, natural, at once past and present—which imbues the whole experience with

from top: The King Tree is said to be two centuries old; midcentury stylings in an antique villa; a tea ceremony. opposite from top: Even the new buildings have old design; keeping traditional crafts alive; the Nan shufang cultural center.

such an overwhelming sense of tranquility that thinking back on it now is akin to meditation. Mom and I spent an inordinate amount of time at Amanyangyun marveling aloud, Where are we? What kind of timetraveling magician dreams this up? “Growing up, all I knew was that I had to work hard to change the destiny of my family. I didn’t expect to enter into a project like this,” says Ma, a polymath entrepreneur whose wildly successful ventures include a furniture business with reclaimed nanmu—the revered “golden-silk wood” that was used to make the Forbidden City and is now endangered—recovered from another damming site, and major investment management and real estate firms. “Instead, it became my life’s work. It changed my life.” I’d like to be less cheesy about this, but staying at Amanyangyun in November, only the second journalist to do so, and before it opened to the public, also changed mine. It changed the way I, who stays in hotels for a living, think about hotels. Most, no matter how kitted-out, service-oriented, all-

‘Some believe trees have a soul, that they’re a witness to history, and it’s immoral to cut them down’


inclusive, or off in the middle of nowhere, are still a way station to a destination. But Amanyangyun has no choice but to be the destination. It is a genuine cultural immersion in an authentic place brought from somewhere else, and there’s nothing anywhere around it worth seeing besides Shanghai proper, which is nearly an hour away. So it is wonderfully liberating. It leaves you emotionally freed to track the shifting of the light across the pond and the wall moldings of your inner courtyard as the sun moves west, or to examine the joints, contemplating how many generations they’ve held this particular house together, what genius puzzle-masters their builders were so long ago. One of the houses was built around 400 pieces of wood that interlocked in such a way that it could not be taken apart until the lone key piece was identified and removed. The mind boggles. Ma is still transported by the place, he tells me after my visit. “I love the minimalism of the antique villa. I love the ceiling height. You can smell the wood and know it is aged. You can see the little cracks on the wooden beams and pillars, and you know they are very ancient and have histories. Sitting inside one of these villas, it makes me picture how those ancient Chinese people lived. My imagination feels boundless.”

As the most ambitious Aman to date, and one expecting to draw la crème of the local market, adjustments had to be made to the brand’s typical “your friend’s awesome vacation house” feel. It’s the first in the chain to have a ballroom, for example, in anticipation of top-shelf weddings. There are three restaurants— Japanese (romantic window seats offer great views across the lake), Italian (the veal Milanese and lobster tagliolini are standouts) and Chinese (Jianxi cuisine is a bit spicy, and often cooked in tea oil)—a cigar lounge and a bar, all around a large lawn that’s often shrouded in mist

from top: Restoration work continues at Ma’s warehouse; Amanyangyun hired famed spirits collective Proof & Co. to set up its bar; at Lazhu, the Jianxi restaurant. Opposite, from top: A walk though the lobby; practicing stroke order; antique villas have lap pools.

and accessed by covered walkways. The spa, including a Russian banya and two pools, is the largest in any Aman in the world, and is dedicated to integrated holistic healing, with treatments divided into grounding, nourishing and purifying categories, to be selected based on your physical and emotional goals. And, speaking of metaphysical therapy, there’s the coup de grâce, the Nan shufang. A center for the study of ancient Chinese arts, culture and reflection, filled with the trappings of the old-world literati, named after the royal reading room in the Forbidden City, it is the Nan shufang that made this entire resort happen. The lore goes that Adrian Zecha, the founder of Aman Resorts, visited the first one Ma built and was awed by the space, the peace, the attention to detail. When they met, Ma still had almost all of his old villas warehoused, having not yet decided what to do with them; Zecha was looking for a wow new hotel site. It was a match made in, if not heaven, a nourishing cloud—the literal translation of yangyun. At the grand Nan shufang at the resort, guests can participate in tea

‘Contemplating what genius puzzlemasters their builders were so long ago, the mind boggles’

to p : c o u rt esy o f a m a n

/ backstory /


and incense ceremonies, and take music, brush-painting and sealcarving lessons. Ma’s favorite activity is calligraphy: “I practice it every week, every day if I have time. As a self-cultivation practice, it helps relax my body and ease my soul.” And my mother and I find our own calligraphy class with Jon Wolfberg, the American-born expert in Chinese culture who is the director of the Nan shufang, so engrossing that we keep him overtime, repeating our stroke orders on bamboo parchment as he explains the history, economy and mindset of the ancient scholarly lifestyle. “The imperial system test was the oldest meritocracy in civilization. Going back 2,000 years, young men would study core sciences, social sciences and arts like watercolors and poetry,” he says. Once they passed, life was less about competition than contemplation. They held incense ceremonies “to sit around with their friends and discuss the scent. Or, in solitary, they’d relax and find inner

peace.” With my normally loquacious mom silenced by this brushwork, taken back, she later tells me, to her favorite part of her girlhood Chinese lessons, things are pretty peaceful indeed. Later that day, Jon and Cecilia take us on a secret visit to Ma’s own antique-filled lakeside house nearby, and then on an off-the-menu tour of the vast warehouse where all the pieces of 24 more antique houses remain lining the rafters and stacked in the yard. Jon points out the thick layers of mud and moss partially obscuring carvings on some façade stones. “During the Cultural Revolution, the villagers covered up any signs of the ancient elite so the authorities wouldn’t destroy their homes,” he explains. We meet masons at work restoring carvings and copying new ones to replace missing pieces. In a country clamoring for the new, these artisans are facing extinction as much as the nanmu trees. It occurs to me that in saving the camphor forests and the old houses, Ma has also saved their way of life, at least for now. His impact on the conservation of traditional culture is staggering, yet when confronted with that fact he, like the mandate of the Confucian scholars he reveres, only offers humility.    “I don’t see myself as having a significant role in the continuum of Chinese culture; I just have been doing something I personally cared about,” Ma says. “My purpose wasn’t to have my projects as models. I undertook them to delight my soul. I found myself in this endeavor.” To have friends come from afar— is this not a delight? Confucius could as easily have been talking about 10,000 wise old camphor trees as the legion of Aman-junkies and history buffs itching to get a peek at this purposeful, practically unbelievable new resort they now oversee. aman.com; Ming Courtyard suites from RMB6,000 per night; Antique Villas from RMB60,000 per night. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /  m a r c h 2 0 1 8

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/ after hours /

Meet You at the Bar

PDT Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong from top: Inside

the darkened PDT; enter the bar through a phone booth; local tipple, The Umbrella.

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Call it Hong Kong’s worst-kept secret, but New York cocktail bar PDT, or Please Don’t Tell, now has a second home in Central. The first international outpost of New York’s hidden spot of the same name, this 25-seat bar is accessible through a phone-booth entrance tucked away in the top corner of the MO Bar. Playful elements from the original PDT incorporated here include the copper bar top, a herringbone-pattern wood ceiling and the odd bit of taxidermy staring down from the walls. Of

course, differences abound from the New York address: Cantonese is as prominent as English, and the drink menu reflects the Asian setting—Milky Tea Punch is a concoction of rum, cognac, rickshaw tea, condensed milk and bitters. Darker and more mysterious than the always bustling MO Bar, PDT has set itself up as a spot for a hidden rendezvous. Our order: The Umbrella: a blend of Madeira wine, sherry and bittersweet spirits. mandarinoriental.com; open from 5 p.m; cocktails from HK$158 — Christopher Kucway

c o u rt esy o f l a n d m a r k m a n da r i n o r i e n ta l h o n g ko n g ( 3 )

No longer just convenient drinking holes, hotel bars are becoming the coolest place to pull up a stool, with new venues offering intimate settings, niche menus and hipster smarts. Here are three new bars worth a night out.


fr o m to p : c o u rt esy o f st. r eg i s ( 2 ) ; c h r i sto p h e r ku cway

St. Regis Bar The St. Regis Shanghai Jingan

Homemade fig vodka, yellow tomato juice, osmanthus honey and lemon—you’d think the house-infusion craze hit an all-time insanity high if you didn’t know that this is the brand that invented the Bloody Mary, and it is a job requirement of St. Regis mixologists to concoct ever-more interesting, local versions. This new, den-like St. Regis Bar is pure class, filled with supple, primary-colored, leather chesterfields— spots for intimate chats amid the stylings of a jazz band. Let your eyes drift up the gorgeous, doubleheight bar to admire the

sinful number of bottles (whiskey is a high priority), or take the spiral staircase up to the champagne room. Our order: The Mary Jing. It’s airy and balanced, tart with a feminine touch, kind of like a tomatoey pisco sour. stregis.com; open from 4 p.m.; cocktails from RMB98. —jeninne Lee-St. John

above from left:

A local concoction, the Mary Jing at the St. Regis Bar; the secondfloor champagne room. BELOW: The Whisky Room in Park Hyatt Bangkok.

Whisky Room Park Hyatt Bangkok

With 150 different labels, this tucked-away corner atop the Park Hyatt Bangkok might just be single-malt heaven. But it’s more than that. The two Thai bartenders say their main purpose is to teach others how to appreciate

the amber liquor. By nightfall, the room with deep leather chairs and the occasional live pianist comes into its own—the main light reflected through a soaring librarylike wall of bottles. Here be a 30-year-old Balvenie at Bt3,800 a glass, and ample options for more moderately priced tipples. Of course, Japanese whiskies are in demand— three now-rare bottles of 18-year-old Yamazaki evaporated during the first month of the year. Along with labels from Islay, Highlands and Speyside, find great bourbons and cognacs, and heady views of Bangkok far below. Our order: At these heights, a glass of 21-year-old Suntory Hibiki. hyatt.com; open from 5:30 p.m; drinks from Bt320.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / m a r c h 2 0 1 8

— c.K.

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/ culture /

Arts by the River A grassroots artist community on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu is keeping a North Borneo legacy alive. By Marco Ferr arese . Photogr aphed by Kit Yeng Chan “I love the peace and

from top:

At Magic Borneo Beads; jewelrymaker Eleanor Goroh; Herman Duang paints a Harley Davidson; bright pieces from the Living Arts Centre gallery.

quiet here,” says Herman Duang as he takes a cigarette break from etching the outline of a flaming skull on a Harley Davidson gas tank, an art piece commissioned for the inaugural Kota Kinabalu International Bike Week. The 41-year-old airbrush artist learned his craft in the mid-90s from the masters of Kuala Lumpur’s historic Central Market, and made a name for himself in Sabah painting everything from bikes to jackets to walls across Labuan Island and Kota Kinabalu. He juggles his freelance painting with the management of the Tamparuli Living Arts Centre

(fb.com/tamparulilivingarts​ centre), a community art space in the riverside village of Tamparuli. Wedged between a powerful river and the looming hills, the village is just one hour from capital Kota Kinabalu, but feels a world away. Duang was called in by the founder of the project, anthropologist Patricia Regis, to replace the center’s first resident artist, Jerome Manjat of Ranau’s woodcut collective Pangrok Sulap. “At first, it was hard to adapt to the slower pace of life. But now I can’t imagine going back to Kota Kinabalu’s traffic,” Duang says. The creative space is housed within the former property of British artist Tina Rimmer, who died last May, two months short of her 100th birthday. Rimmer came to former British North Borneo in 1949 to work as a teacher in Jesselton—Kota Kinabalu’s original name—Sandakan and Lahad Datu. She settled in Tamparuli in 1974, attracted by

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the fresher climate, and dedicated herself to painting. A book of her beautiful sketches of the tamu—the town’s colorful tribal market—was published in 1999 with the help of Regis and the Sabah Society. It was then that Regis and Rimmer decided the Tamparuli property should be used to benefit the local community, which finally happened almost 20 years later. The center is now a magnet for local artists, with gallery space and workshops offering basic art and music education as well as traditional Sabahan bead-workshops by Eleanor Goroh of Magic Borneo Beads (fb.com/magicborneobeads), which also has a permanent boutique on the ground floor. While Rimmer’s charming wooden house stands abandoned and waiting for renovations at the top of a slope, overlooking the center like a benevolent, inspiring presence, plans are afoot to turn it into a mini library and gallery, and potentially a working space for local and visiting artists. But for the moment, the Tamparuli Living Arts Centre is just a delightful detour from the hustle of the city, and a valid reason to explore a part of northern Sabah that few would venture to otherwise. “I was born in the next village, moved to Labuan as a young man, and have now somehow managed to return to my roots,” Duang says. “I want visitors to soak in the quiet atmosphere of this incredible place, learn about Sabah’s thriving arts scene, and share their enthusiasm and inspiration with us.”


c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: © JNTO ; c o u r t e s y o f b a i r d br e w e r y; © DAICI ANO / HI R OSHI SENJU M USEU M KA R UI Z AWA ; k a r u i z awa m a rr i o t t h o t e l ; © JNTO ; c o u r t e s y o f N u m a z u f i s h m a r k e t

/ out of town / Canals weave through Omihachiman.

Baird Beer’s Heritage Helles Lager.

Karuizawa’s Hiroshi Senju Museum.

Fresh from Numazu Fish Market.

The historic Shuzenji Temple.

The onsen at Karuizawa Marriott.

Sanctuary Cities

While most tourists flock to Japan’s big cities and temple towns, the country’s charming villages and unspoiled nature have been drawing locals for centuries. Veronica Inveen strays off the beaten path to three lovely towns just a short ride from Tokyo and Kyoto. Shuzenji, Shizuoka Prefecture

Bordered by persimmon orchards and bamboo forests, the town of Shuzenji, on the Izu Peninsula, is a three-hour drive from Tokyo and a scenic weekend getaway. The iconic Mount Fuji is visible from nearly every corner of Shuzenji, and the ocean is only a stone’s throw away, meaning fresh seafood is plentiful—visit Numazu Fish Market for a taste of the best. The town’s quaint downtown area houses the 1,200-year-old Shuzenji Temple encircled by a secret garden fit for fairy tales. Shizuoka is said to

grow the best wasabi in the country, and the town is filled with shops serving ice cream flavored with the zesty root, a tasty combination of hot and cold. Visit Wahu Nagiya (shuzenji-wahu-nagiya.business.site) for home-sewn linen bags with eye-popping patterns; they’re souvenirs to suit everyone back home. The family-run Baird Brewery (bairdbeer.com) brews a range of Shuzenji-made beers, and, for a room with a view, stay at the new Izu Marriott Hotel Shuzenji (marriott.com; doubles from ¥12,000) that sits on a hill overlooking the city and Mount Fuji. The t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / m a r c h 2 0 1 8

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/ out of town /

Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture

A 30-minute train ride from Kyoto Station will whisk you to the historic town of Omihachiman, right off of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake. Dissected by its famed canals, the small castle-studded town was built in 1585 on the ancient Nakasendo highway—the former hub of canal transportation from Tokyo to Kyoto. Old merchant homes now house cozy cafés and boutiques; look out for regional delicacies like marbled Omi beef (Shiga’s specialty), and fresh fish from Lake Biwa. Stop by Club Harie (clubharie. jp) for a sugar fix; the bakery offers both European- and Japanese-style treats like bouncy cheesecakes, and boasts an aroma of fresh bread so enticing that you’ll be seduced in from the Himure Hachimangu shrine across the street. The shrine, which sits at the bottom of Mount Hachiman, offers a glimpse of the Edo period with its thousand-yearold wooden walls and stone statues. Get an authentic feel of the ancient city by staying at the Machiya Inn (omi-machiyainn.com; doubles from ¥21,000), a restored

The alpine town has lured in members of the imperial family as well as poets, painters and writers

Japanese guest room at Karuizawa Marriott.

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Handmade bags at Wahu Nagiya.

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home from the 18th century that was originally part of a sake brewery. And speaking of the drink, Shiga is known for its pure water—an essential ingredient in excellent sake. End an evening with a tour of Fujii Honke ( fujiihonke. jp), a sake brewery established in 1831 that provided the liquor to the Japanese Imperial Court and important shrines all over the country. Run by fourth-generation brewer Mr Fujii Tetsuya, the sake is as crisp and clear as the waters of Lake Biwa. Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture

Hop on the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station, and in little more than an hour you’ll be nestled at the foot of Nagano Prefecture’s Mount Asama in the resort town of Karuizawa. Since the 18th century, the alpine town has lured in members of the imperial family as well as poets, painters and writers as a holiday destination for its restorative waters and guesthouse culture. Today it’s clear the presence of the creatives rubbed off: stylish restaurants and cafés dot the city’s streets, while modernist art museums like Hiroshi Senju Museum Karuizawa (senju-museum.jp) and Karuizawa New Art Museum (knam.jp) draw a global audience for their cutting-edge design and displays. A tradition of fine dining from the visiting imperial family carries on with local boutique farms and Villa d’Est Winery (villadest.com) nourishing the burned-out urbanites visiting on breaks from the Tokyo bustle. In winter, ski nearby Mount Yagasaki; in summer, hike Mount Asama; and onsen-hop all year round. The new Karuizawa Marriott Hotel (marriott.com; doubles from ¥28,000) offers ryokan-style rooms with futons and shoji paper blinds, and the open-air bathhouse, with views of the lush surrounding landscape, is just one more reason to get out of town.

A private onsen room at Izu Marriott Hotel Shuzenji.

fr o m l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f K a r u i z awa m a rr i o t t h o t e l ; c o u r t e s y o f Iz u t o u r i s m o r g a n i z at i o n s ; c o u r t e s y o f i z u m a rr i o t t h o t e l s h u z e n j i

major draws here are the comfortable rooms, each equipped with a personal onsen, which pays homage to the town’s claim to fame, the Shuzenji Onsen (shuzenji.info), one of the oldest and most famous in Japan.


/ trending / Disconnect from the world in Cabn’s snug Adelaide Hills space.

Downsizing Across Australia, compact quarters among the great outdoors are sometimes the coziest way to spend a weekend. Eloise Basuki uncovers a few tiny hotels offering big experiences.

fr o m to p : c o u rt esy o f Ca b n ; c o u rt esy o f u n yo k e d

Austr alia may have a lot of empt y space,

but that doesn’t mean it all needs to be occupied. In a movement that has crossed the globe and become the latest travel trend Down Under, holiday-makers are bypassing the draw of sprawling, fancy digs for more minimalist rooms set upon remote landscapes—in a bid to both escape the world and take in more of it. Filling the accommodation void for this kind of travel, twin brothers Cameron and Chris Grant launched Unyoked (unyoked.co; doubles from A$199) last March—a series of wilderness-set cabins never more than two hours from Sydney or Melbourne. Designed by Bondi construction firm Fresh Prince, the cabins are simple but adorable: sustainable wooden walls, a comfy queen bed and a solarpowered kitchen—with backdrops ranging from 400-year-old rainforest to lush valleys. “[These spaces] encourage you to pare back what you’d usually consider necessary, and to

Unyoked’s cabins are in secret locations to ensure total privacy.

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/ trending / take pleasure in the daily rituals, like making a coffee the old-fashioned way, or building a fire,” says Cameron Grant. While Unyoked’s lodgings are only in the eastern states, South Australia has its own little hideaway, too. Cabn (cabn.life; doubles from A$190) is a 2½-by-six-meter timber box in a secret location in the Adelaide Hills—completely off-grid. That includes no access to Wi-Fi, freeing up all your attention to commune with your neighbors, namely kangaroos, kookaburras and koalas. But to truly blend into your surroundings, Bubble Tent Australia (bubbletentaustralia.com; doubles from A$310) is the transparent ticket. See the stars here without leaving your bed, in an orb overlooking the little-known Capertree Valley, which has bragging rights as the widest canyon in the world (a kilometer wider than the Grand Canyon). The inflatable tent has cozy bedding, an eco-bathroom, a telescope, and iPad loaded with a stargazing app and bird-watching information. “People are looking for something real,” says co-owner Sonny Vrebac. “I think a place like ours, that allows them to stop, disconnect, breathe, think, hug and recharge, is very much needed.” With this kind of breathing space at your door, who says size matters?

The enviable view of Capertree Valley from a Bubble Tent.

PurePods

Multiple locations, New Zealand If seclusion is what you seek, a night in one of these luxury glass eco-cabins ensures no sign of human life. The five separate cabins are set to backdrops of snow-capped mountains, rolling vineyards, native bush and river vistas. Each cabin has a bathroom, kitchenette, queen bed, heating system, barbecue, telescope and star map to study the night sky through the glass roof. With no Wi-Fi, phone signal or power plugs, there’s no choice but to enjoy the view. purepods.com; doubles from NZ$590.

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The Birder’s Lodge

Khao Yai, Thailand Tucked away on the edge of Khao Yai National Park, The Birder’s Lodge makes a stylish retreat after a day traversing some of Thailand’s wildest forests. Each of the five minimalist wooden cottages has a unique design—go for the ones that offer glass sunrooms looking out onto uninterrupted mountain views. The cottages squeeze in a kitchenette and a loft bedroom, and come with bicycles to roam nearby trails. fb.com/ thebirderslodge; doubles from Bt3,000.

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Time Capsule Retreat

Sungai Lembing, Malaysia Nestled within the Kuantan hinterlands, this family-run sanctuary provides simple but sleek concrete cylinders for guests to spend a snug night among nature. The two-meter by three-meter rooms are fitted with skylights, air-conditioning and comfortable queen-size bedding, just enough for a restful sleep before exploring the lush surrounds. Hike to Panorama Hill or visit Rainbow Waterfall, where a blaze of color arches over the water every morning. timecapsuleretreat.com; doubles from RM139.

To p : c o u rt esy o f b u bb l e t e n t au st r a l i a . b e low fr o m fa r l e f t : c o u rt esy o f p u r e p o d s ; p u t to g r a p h y ; c o u rt esy o f t i m e ca p s u l e r e t r e at

More Tiny Hideaways


/ on the rise /

Creative Quarters Despite their rich cultural heritage and thriving local scenes, Bangkok’s older neighborhoods are often overlooked. But things are changing, writes Ron Gluckman, who finds the city’s innovative minds are turning aged buildings or former junkyards into inspiring creative zones. Photogr aphs by Cedric Arnold

Models strike a pose by a mural at Lhong1919.

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Bangkok’s entertainment scene, in recent years, has largely centered in and around its lavish shopping malls. Designer-driven emporia off the central SkyTrain stops draw thousands with international labels, luxury facilities and, yes, air-conditioning. But Bangkok has shifted gears. Suddenly, the buzz has become about shared spaces, creative courtyards and historic renovations, with artistic districts emerging in more local areas. Here, the city has jumped on the retro bandwagon, as old shophouses and warehouses have been refitted into a new breed of trendy pubs and restaurants. The old General Post Office in Bang Rak, near the Saphan Taksin pier, was renovated, and reopened last year as the Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC), a five-story resource center that hosts exhibitions and performances. Repurposing public space has proven popular. Just a few months ago, the Bank of Thailand’s austere currency-printing building was reborn as the lively Learning Center, featuring a vast library, co-working space and currency museum. Entrepreneurs have become more inventive with their “creative spaces,” although exactly what those are is hard to define. “You really can’t describe it,” concedes Duangrit Bunnag, the architect behind The Jam Factory, a formerly derelict series of warehouses along the river that he revamped as a compound of restaurants, a gallery and a café. “It’s like the color red,” he offers. “Everybody knows what red is, but you cannot describe it. There’s just a feeling about it. It’s a place that is different, that inspires people.” Another perspective comes from Somchai Songwattana, the force behind new artistic district ChangChui (direct translation: “sloppy artisan”) that was largely built from recycled material, who says, “Creativity can be imperfect.” Here’s a rundown of a few of Bangkok’s newest creative neighborhoods. >>

from top: Inside TCDC; a

mural by local artist Alex Face at ChangChui; 80/20 restaurant, lauded for its sustainable, creative Thai cuisine; a night view of the Chao Phraya River.


/ on the rise /

from top:

Insects in the Backyard’s nachos with a cherry tomato and silkworm salsa; drinks at the aptly named Runway Bar, under the plane; ChangChui’s retro-style food court; FlyNow’s eccentric mannequins.

B A NG P hL AT

ChangChui

Bangkok’s most outlandish creative space got rolling last year, but the real liftoff didn’t happen until this January, when signature restaurant Na-Oh opened in ChangChui’s eyepopping centerpiece: an actual airplane. Fashion mogul and the district’s curator Somchai Songwattana prides himself upon unearthing gems from rubbish: this 1.7-hectare plot of land in Thonburi, briefly the Thai capital before King Rama I moved it across the

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river to Rattanakosin Island, was filled with junk, so he hauled out the debris in 2,000 truckloads and created an artistic playground, all from recycled material. The Lockheed TriStar, which he found abandoned at Don Mueang airport, is filled with taxidermy animals from his collection; underneath at Runway Bar visitors can sip inventive cocktails at tables fashioned from gigantic aircraft tires. Somchai, the CEO and art director of local fashion brand FlyNow, wanted to create a large outdoor space that offered an alternative to Bangkok’s malls. The aim is a collection of oddball offerings, says project director Parkin Vatanajyankur. There are carved-wood sculptures, antique toys from Chui Charoen, and handmade stationery from Happening, which has a flagship shop in the Bangkok Art & Cultural Center. Like-minded areas are assembled together, like the Music Hall with its vintage vinyl and performance stage. As well as higher-end dining at Na-Oh, ChangChui offers its own collection of Thai street food, served in a retro-hip hall filled with knock-off wood furniture, giant fans and chandeliers of recycled junk. Craft beers abound, or you can order drinks in the prisonthemed Ho-ey Bar. Progressive restaurant Insects in the Backyard offers high-end delicacies that draw on the traditional Thai appetite for crickets and other creepy crawlies. The grounds are littered with enormous sculptures and giant skulls, a favorite of Somchai, and collections of frolicking pink squid. There are playgrounds, and a shop offering arts and crafts lessons for children. Several stages feature rotating art exhibitions are sites for competitions, concerts and talks, forming an ever-changing terminal for creatives to help their visions take flight. en.changchuibangkok.com; 460/8 Sirindhorn Rd., Bang Phlat. >>


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/ on the rise / K h l o ng S an

Lhong1919

This riverside site was blessed with great fortune for more than a century. Immigrants, including the forebears of many famous Thai families, arrived at the steamboat port, and trade flourished, all under the watchful eyes of a statue of Mazu, Chinese goddess of the seas. But commerce, like the nation’s capital before, eventually shifted across the river to Bangkok and other ports sprung up, supplanting this early hub. The warehouses decayed and even Mazu, revered by the South Chinese seafarers who dominated Thailand’s immigration and trade, fell into disrepair. It was the Wanglee clan, whose ancestors arrived in this port and launched businesses in

clockwise from left: Seafood spot

Rong Si; Lhong1919’s weathered walls are popular selfie spots; inside Plearnwan Panich café; praying at the Mazu shrine.

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the surrounding warehouses, who breathed new life into the area. The family had bought the land from the original owners in 1919 (the term lhong means “pier”), but left it mostly as was for nearly a century until they began mounting a meticulous restoration. The site was reopened late last year as the most historic of Bangkok’s creative districts. The elegant Wanglee ancestral home, among the finest surviving old Chinese estates in Thailand, is next door, and can be seen best from the neighboring eight-story pagoda at adjacent Chee Chin Khor Chinese temple. Overseeing the project was Rujiraporn “Pia” Wanglee, who has spearheaded various projects with her Pia interior design firm in Thailand, but nothing of this significance or scale. “When we started, we knew this was a special place, and important not only to us, but the community,” she says. Many discoveries were made during the long restoration, most notably, old hand-painted decorations sporting Chinese characters that detail generations at the site. These were carefully restored by hand, and now highlight the unique historic character of the 2.6-hectare riverside plot. The 19th-century warehouses are now mixed-use, with shops for jewelry, boutique clothing and Lhong1919 souvenirs. There are several restaurants on the riverfront, including Rong Si, a contemporary Thai seafood spot, and meeting rooms upstairs. Weekend markets and events are also held on the open lawn. The 167-year-old Mazu goddess has been moved to a new red shrine and once again has swarms of visitors who come to light joss sticks in respect. Pia plans to add more Chinese crafts and historical displays. “We want this to be a cultural space,” she says, “with arts and crafts of unique character.” lhong1919.com; 248 Chiang Mai Rd., Khlong San. >>


PREFERRED HOTELS & RESORTS WARMLY WELCOMES

SM

Travel means dreaming of what comes next. Milestones are set beside the road not to commemorate how far you’ve come, but to mark the distance to the destination ahead. At Preferred Hotels & Resorts, we are proud to celebrate five decades of travel and hospitality. It’s a landmark that comes amid great change in how, where, and why we travel. Thank you for taking this journey with us.

THE SI A M

Bangkok, T hailand

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K ATA M A M A Bali, Indonesia

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P R E F E R R E D H O T E L S . C O M


/ on the rise /

from left:

Duangrit Bunnag in Warehouse 30’s co-working space; the etched mural at the Portuguese Embassy; Duangrit’s fashion brand, Lonely Two Legged Creature, has a flagship shop in the district.

B ang R ak

Warehouse 30

The latest project by architect Duangrit Bunnag, Warehouse 30 is much larger than his older development, The Jam Factory, located almost directly across the river. Sitting behind the Portuguese Embassy and its engraved wall mural by Portuguese artist Vhils, and close to the TCDC on Charoen Krung Road, Warehouse 30 shares an area booming with art galleries, bars and restaurants on the edge of Chinatown. Late last year, Duangrit unveiled the new creative district, composed of eight warehouses that date back to World War II, which he has filled with a collection of shops offering a range of collectables (think vintage camera gear and unusual pottery), handmade crafts, off beat clothing, an organic food and farmers’ market shop, and motorcycle accessories (Duangrit is a big Harley fan). There’s a big co-working space tucked behind an open café, while another warehouse hosts revolving design exhibits. But this is much more than Jam Factory 2.0; Duangrit is still experimenting with offerings and says the site won’t really be complete until mid-2018, if ever. “Nothing is finished. It never is. It needs to change so people will come back and contribute. It’s about possibility,” he says.

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Duangrit wants to reassess life along the Chao Phraya River. Long in decline, there is now a definite buzz charging through the riverside, which boasts trendy galleries and clubs, and acclaimed restaurants—like Soy Sauce Factory, Tep Bar and 80/20—and businesses promoting the neighborhood as a creative district. “Bangkok needs more authenticity,” Duangrit says. “We had this age of the ‘wow factor,’ when everything was being built bigger—higher towers and projects with more flash. But now people are more interested in the ‘real deal.’ They want authenticity in everything. They want projects that touch them in their heart.” fb.com/thewarehouse30; 52-61 Soi Charoen Krung 30, Bang Rak.


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For wearable art

While Baelf Design’s co-founder and creative director Jamela Law looks to nature and science for inspiration for her avant-garde apparel, the assembly methods she and product designer Lionel Wong use are less organic. The label’s debut collection, titled “Beeing Human,” is sculptural designs using a honeycomb-like fabric made from a biodegradable bioFila silk filament, and manufactured using 3D printing and scanning techniques. Her jewelry also mixes environmental and technological design: hand-dyed dried baby’s breath flowers are encased in resin across 3D designs, while the metallic Mors de Stella earrings are generated with the help of mathematical formulas. Next, Law says she’s looking to produce more “commercial-oriented  designs with increased focus on wearability and comfort, and one of a kind, customizable pieces for the bridal-wear market.” baelfdesign.com.

Baelf Design’s 3D-printed Beeing Human collection.

The Future is Female

Pushing against the luxury malls and international brands that still dominate the shopping scene in the Lion City, a new generation of creative and entrepreneurial women is carving a path for homegrownbrands and slow fashion. Charlene Fang rounds up the female visionaries you need to know.

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c o u rt esy o f ba e l f d es i g n . i l lu st r at i o n s by Wa n n a p h a N awayo n

Jamela Law (Baelf Design)


For contemporary womenswear

Ling Wu’s Siu Jie series honors the Singaporean woman.

Gin Lee (GINLEE Studio) Making waves for her elegant, minimalist aesthetic (think column dresses and kimono-style frocks), designer Gin Lee was named Emerging Designer of the Year at the 2016 Singapore Fashion Awards. Her latest collection is influenced by daily life in Tel Aviv (she shuttles between the Israeli city and Singapore) and inspired by “beauty in imperfection”—her “Unity” jacket makes creases a design element with its pin-tucked sleeves. The pastelhued collection focuses on pleats with “Aviv” as its hero piece, a pleated dress made to dance and move with the body. “You go back and forth between sewing, pleating and sewing,” Lee says. “It’s akin to dancing with a technique, which in turn breathes life into the material.” www.ginleestudio.com. Gin Lee’s feminine take on a classic bomber jacket.

For exotic handmade bags

fr o m l e f t : c o u rt esy o f g i n l e e st u d i o ; c o u rt esy o f l i n g w u

Goh Ling Ling (Ling Wu) While the global fashion tide has veered towards nano-style bags, designer Goh Ling Ling has bucked the trend. As a mother of three, Ling believes in both style and practicality, and her buttery-soft leather and exotic-skin bags are purposely designed to be spacious and functional. From python-skin totes to sleek calf-leather satchels, Ling Wu’s animal skins are sustainably sourced and hand-rolled with glass bottles by Indonesian artisans, a technique that gives a soft, glossy finish. Ling has also collaborated with designer Mike Tay on Siu Jie, a series of clutches inspired by Singaporean women. lingwu.sg. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /  m a r c h 2 0 1 8

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/ style / Our Second Nature’s Lily of the Valley maxi dress.

Uni earrings from Khoo’s latest Deep Sea series.

For fine jewelry

Lauren Khoo (Lauren X Khoo) New York-based Singaporean designer Lauren Khoo started her jewelry line in 2014, and it’s quickly caught global attention—Dover Street Market in London and New York’s luxury shopping site Moda Operandi stock the line—for their whimsical, handcrafted details. When in Singapore, Khoo hosts occasional trunk shows for a more intimate look at her creations, including her recent Deep Sea series, a bold take on marine life inspired by travels to the Maldives and Mauritius. The series turns ocean creatures into earrings: sea urchins and starfish get fancy finishes studded with diamonds, rubies and chalcedony. laurenxkhoo.com.

More Boutiques to Browse

For wearable art

Velda Tan (Our Second Nature) How to stand out in a crowd? Have a killer print. Working with a London-based designer, Our Second Nature’s prints are its star. Sister brand to Velda Tan’s Collate The Label, Our Second Nature is effortlessly arty in style: the imaginative prints feature charming interpretations of everything from birthstones to wild poppies to paint strokes. Sophisticated yet highly wearable, the affordable range including skirts, shorts, camisoles, kaftans and dresses (dresses start at S$89) have timeless, streamlined silhouettes. The brand has opened its first bricks-andmortar shop in Chip Bee Gardens, and every purchase online comes with a little something extra—limited-edition-print wrapping paper or coasters, anyone? oursecondnature.com.

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Starting as a series of pop-up events by jewelry designer Carolyn Kan to showcase the work of local creatives, this multi-genre boutique now has a permanent home at the National Design Center. Stock is refreshed every two months from new and established local names including leather accessories Kultskins, fashion label The Missing Piece, Ling Wu handbags and children’s bicycle brand Happy Bike. Keepers has also collaborated on exclusive pieces with Singapore designer Thomas Wee and scarf brand Binary Style. National Design Centre, 111 Middle Rd.; keepers.com.sg.

Kapok

This Hong Kongbased boutique opened their first Singapore branch in 2013 in Tangs Orchard, and stocks homegrown brands like GINLEE Studio, Amado Gudek’s ecofriendly bio-resin jewelry, and menswear label Faculty. Kapok’s focus isn’t just hyper local; this year they’ll also be stocking brands such as Johnny Romance from France and Scandinavian sportswear line Wood Wood, as well as the new collection of raincoats from its in-house label, Future Classics— ideal for battling Asia’s rainy season. 3F, 310 Orchard Rd.; ka-pok.com.

Le Salon

Enter a more intimate retail experience at Le Salon, an apartment boutique curated by Goh Ling Ling. Ling Wu’s handbags sit alongside a collection of décor and lifestyle products: handpoured candles by Singapore fragrance company A Dose of Something Good, which blend scents like jasmine, rose and lychee; jewelry by London-based Singaporean Alexandra Alberta; retro accessories from Dark Horse Vintage; and ethical cashmere scarves by Trebene from Kashmir. 43 Jln. Merah Saga; lingwu.sg.

fr o m l e f t : c o u rt esy o f o u r s ec o n d n at u r e ; c o u rt esy o f l au r e n x k h o o

Keepers


WYNDHAM HOTEL SURFERS PARADISE

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Taipei’s New Old Town In Dadaocheng, Taipei’s oldest district, innovative new drinking holes and eateries are breathing fresh life into historical godowns. Story and photogr aphs by Chris Schalk x

Heritage houses line Dadaocheng.

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1 Peacock Bistro

A long-standing foodie haunt, Peacock Bistro’s East-meetsWest menu—think pomelo and tangerine salad with deep-fried shrimp rolls (pictured left)—is a top choice for residents. On board with the “going local” trend, 90 percent of their ingredients are from Taiwanese farms. fb.com/thepeacockbistro; mains from NT$300.

2 Lab Man Mano

taipei

7 OrigInn Space

After studying cheese-making in Japan and Italy, Isabella Chen returned to her hometown to open Lab Man Mano, an artisanal fromagerie with Italian specialties. On the menu in some of Taipei’s top restaurants, the fresh ricotta, mozzarella and burrata can be sampled here on tasting platters or in a range of salads. fb.com/lab.manmano; cheeses from NT$150.

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Parts concept store, café and boutique hotel, OrigInn Space is everything that makes Dadaocheng so intriguing: it is youthful, innovative and proud of its rich heritage. Stop for a coffee, browse the curated collection of homewares, or spend the night in one of the four retro themed rooms upstairs. fb/originnspace; doubles from NT$3,000.

4 LIANGZHOU STreet

3 Lok Hue Hng

5 1 dadaocheng park

section 1, dihua

MINSHENG WEST Road

g nort h road

6 Mikkeller

Another reason to stick around the district after sundown, this Danish craft brewery is housed in a historical three-story building and has 24 beers on rotation, including a few local brews. The spacious bar mixes Scandinavian design with Taiwanese touches like coldbrew tea on tap and night market nibbles as bar snacks. fb.com/mikkeller ​taiwan; drinks from NT$200.

This 70-year-old pastry shop’s modern new spot on Dihua Street branches out from their original, more traditional shop in Nanmen Market. Their delicate steamed rice cakes are made to old family recipes, but tweaked in size and sweetness to appeal to modern tastes. Stop by the tearoom in the back for an afternoon cake break. 223, Section 1, Dihua St.; 8862/2557-8060; from NT$45.

section 2, yanpin

street

5 Hoshing 1947

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nanjing WEST Road

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This part of town isn’t known for its vibrant nightlife, but Dave Chen, founder of Taipei’s Nuit Blanche and Taipei Picnic Club, aims to change that with his latest project Lok Hue Hng. This cozy, neon-lit bar stays true to its roots with a list of local beers and Taiwanese tea–infused cocktails. Try the Oriental Lover, made with tea-infused rum and osmanthus syrup. fb.com/ lokhuehng; drinks from NT$150.

chang'an west road

200 m

4 Yehjinfa

This family-run rice mill has been a local favorite since it opened in 1923, but a makeover has transformed the heritage building into an award-winning retail space. Shop for locally farmed rice and browse the quality range of Taiwan-made condiments that are packaged beautifully and make great souvenirs. fb.com/sunrice1923.

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LIVE THE LIFE 12–15 APRIL 2018 ONE°15 MARINA SENTOSA COVE

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THE IT LIST 2018 A lobby with charm at The Myst Dong Khoi, Saigon.

THE

It List

C o u rt esy of JW m a rri ot t ph u qu oc e m e ra ld bay r es ort & s pa

Turquoise Suites, JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, Vietnam.

Travel + Leisure’s Annual selection of

The Best New (and Reborn) Hotels in the World Over the past year, we crisscrossed the globe in our search for standout properties that, through innovative design, incredible food, and intuitive service, truly transport their guests. We checked in to historic manors, sleek city hangouts, private island resorts and more to bring you 56 hotels worthy of a place on your bucket list. Here, 27 of our favorites—find the full collection at tandl.me/itlist.


the it list 2018

Walking into this grand, heritage-listed building feels a bit like stepping onto the set of a wildly over-budget Baz Luhrmann film. The soaring, 1,800-​squaremeter lobby—home to no less than eight restaurants—is a riot of African verdite columns, parlor palms, and cherry paneling. A tuxedo-clad cabaret singer crooning from a raised dais completes the picture. This isn’t the place for a practical stay. It’s a ballroom for the Instagram age, and a new center of gravity for London’s Square Mile. thened.com; doubles from $343.  Flora Stubbs — 

Hot Spot Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Surfside, Florida Noël Coward and Liz Taylor used to play at the Surf Club, a society and celebrity haunt in this quiet enclave north of Miami Beach. The 1930 Mediterranean Revival masterpiece is back as a hotel, one that evokes its mid20th-century heyday. Richard Meier’s three glass towers form the backdrop. Close to the beach are five Cabana suites. Dinner at Le Sirenuse is pageantry, from $300 truffletasting menus to a restored mural of Bacchus. four​seasons. com; doubles from $595.  — Tom Austin

Fairy-tale stay Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland One of Ireland’s most beloved properties, this 19th-century manor turned hotel shines again following a nearly two-year-long renovation. The 340-hectare estate, set in the heart of County Limerick, now has a Tom Fazio– designed golf course, a La Mer spa, and an additional 42-bedroom wing. In keeping with the original style, the rooms and public spaces feature oil paintings and heraldry to satisfy all those time-travel fantasies. adare​manor.com; doubles from $439.  — Shivani Vora

Wine Break

Jackalope, Mornington Peninsula, Australia Set on a vineyard an hour south of Melbourne, Jackalope skips the rustic farmhouse wine-country look in favor of a design that trades in moody hues, clean lines, and whimsical details (see the 8-meter sculpture of a jackalope, a mythical rabbit with antlers, at the entrance). After settling into your artfully subdued room, take a seat at the restaurant to sample chef Guy Stanaway’s modern Australian tasting menu. Then start dreaming of the Jackalope Flinders Lane, coming to a historic building in the Melbourne CBD in 2020—its annoucement has the whole country abuzz. jackalope​hotels. com; doubles from $509.  — Carrie Hutchinson

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c o u rt esy o f Jac k a lo p e h ot e ls

Scene-Maker The Ned, London


Remote Hideaway Kokomo Private Island, Fiji Fiji’s latest private island resort is that elusive retreat that allows you to connect with the location while disconnecting from everything else. Once the barefoot pilot drops you off after a 45-minute seaplane flight from Nadi, you could spend the entire trip hiding out in one of the 26 oceanfront villas or hilltop residences, which have sun-soaked living areas, alfresco showers carved from rock, and heavenly infinity pools. But it’s equally rewarding to get to know the 56-hectare isle more intimately, by strolling its hibiscus-lined footpaths and trying the kitchen’s inventive Pacific Rim cuisine (don’t miss chef Caroline Oakley’s kokoda, Fiji’s coconut-inflected version of poke). Off Kokomo, even more adventures await: the staff can boat you to the unspoiled Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the world’s top dive sites, and to villages on neighboring islands to participate in a kava tea ceremony. kokomoislandfiji.com; villas from $2,500, all-inclusive. —  Chaney Kwak

C o u rt esy of Ko kom o Pr ivat e I sl a n d, f ij i

“I loved walking to the top of Kokomo’s 70-meter hill, which has sweeping views of the Kadavu archipelago.”  — C.K.

*Prices throughout are listed in U.S. dollars for ease of comparison.

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“My internal clock slowed down a notch, and it felt like there was nothing separating me from the scenery.”  — M.G.

Cempedak, Riau Islands, Indonesia The new era of the private-island resort isn’t simply about providing that highest luxury seclusion, but also creating eco-friendly, communityconscious Xanadus. Among the newest, and greenest, is Cempedak, just 91 kilometers from Singapore but polar opposite in development. Twenty bamboo and alang-alang pool villas—with nary a TV or air-con, and very few walls to be found—blend into the 17-hectare isle’s natural surrounds, which the owners are trying to repopulate with eponymous cempedak trees. Among their other do-gooder initiatives is funding local schools. But they could teach resorts everywhere a thing or two about going green. cempedak.com; doubles from $450 a night, two-night minimum. — Merritt Gurley

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L au ry n i s h a k

Green Land


Mountain Aerie Bürgenstock Hotel, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

c lo c k w i s e f r o m l e f t : c o u rt esy o f J W M a r r i ot t p h u q u o c ; c h r i sto p h e r ku cway ; c o u rt esy o f Casa C o o k

After nine years and $564 million, the Bürgenstock Resort—a mini-village of four hotels, restaurants, and bars set high on a forested ridge above the lake—is making a comeback. The centerpiece: this striking hotel, with 102 guest rooms outfitted in Italian marble and Greek quartz. The bucolic setting is perfect for refreshing walks, the massive Alpine Spa has a lake-view infinity pool, and the service is to exacting Swiss standards. burgenstock.ch; doubles from $665.  — Sandra Ramani

Boho Beauty Casa Cook, Kos, Greece

Beachfront Flight of Fancy

JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, Vietnam Known for its white sands and pristine seas, Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s largest island, is now home to an ambitious five-star property by an international brand. This resort’s 244 rooms—many with balconies and views of the private beach—are spacious by any standards. Three pools provide ample opportunity to relax or take an aquatic fitness class, and the Chanterelle spa will pamper you from top to toe. There’s even a promenade lined with boutiques selling local art, Vietnamese coffee and souvenirs. “Entering the lobby, Most intriguing is the aesthetic. Designer Bill with its gauzy curtains Bensley fashioned the place as an imaginary and shelves of worn, French-colonial campus, right down to T-shirts emblazoned with the fictional school’s name; leather-bound vintage luggage, books, and other books, I felt like I was memorabilia decorate the lobby and public stepping into an earlyspaces. The resulting vibe is Beaux-Arts 20th-century meets Wes Anderson, a welcome departure French novel.”  from the typical resort stay. marriott.com; — L.I. doubles from $390. — Laura Itzkowitz

Tour operator Thomas Cook’s new effort, on the Greek island of Kos, delivers the same drowsily relaxed vibe as its sister property on Rhodes. Snuggled in a remote spot on the northwestern coast, the beachfront resort resembles a traditional village, but the 100 rooms are on trend with midcentury furnishings. Days are made for lounging by the pool or inside the thatchedroof beach club, where ambient music plays and yoga classes are held on an oceanfacing terrace. casacook.com; doubles from $173.  — Julia Brookes


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stylish haven Palácio Tangará, São Paulo

Creative Force Sanders, Copenhagen A welcome arrival in a city light on luxe hotels, the Sanders is ballet dancer Alexander Kølpin’s third property in Denmark, and it overlooks the theater where he used to perform. The hygge vibe begins in the lobby, where even in summer a fire is ablaze. All 52 rooms have beds with rattan headboards, eclectic prints, and spacious bathrooms. The candlelit breakfast is another highlight, as are drinks at the jewel box of a bar (try the Sherry Fizz). hotel​sanders.com; doubles from $437.  — Kate Maxwell

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A Fort of One’s Own Alila Fort Bishangarh, Jaipur, India

In the great expanse that is Rajasthan, can there be a better vantage point than from atop a granite hilltop? Alila Fort Bishangarh appears almost as an extension of the stark, rustic earth below it, towering over the landscape. Within the 230-year-old fort is a marble and sandstone heritage hotel that connects this region’s rich past with the best modern conveniences expected today. That means breeze-filled spaces, and generously appointed rooms with massive daybeds with unbeatable views and expansive bathrooms with footed tubs. Fresh, artisinal menus use traditional “While the stunning methods of slow-cooking food on an open location—don’t forego a fire or in hot sand. Alila has also set up an night-time view—has a organic garden and greenhouse to grow its desert-roughened side own produce. An old dungeon, carved into to it, indoors the design the granite, has been transformed into a spa, is clean and beyond while anyone indulging in cigars or Cognac will be pleasantly surprised by the turret set comfortable.” aside just for that. alilahotels.com; doubles from $282. —  Christopher Kucway — C.K.

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c lo c k w i s e fr o m to p l e f t : c o u rt esy o f Pa l ác i o Ta n ga r á ; c o u rt esy o f a l i l a fo rt b i s h a n ga r h ; c o u rt esy o f Sa n d e r s

Travelers looking for respite from São Paulo’s busy streets will find it at this palatial resort set in Burle Marx Park, an 11-hectare oasis. Wrapped around a showpiece swimming pool, the five-story hotel has the air of a Neoclassical mansion, with 141 rooms featuring balconies and French doors. Also notable: Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant, where his signature French cuisine incorporates local ingredients like rare Amazonian fruits. oetker​collection.com; doubles from $380.  — Nora Walsh


“Don’t miss out on lounging in Hoshinoya’s skyhigh gazebos and sipping a neon-pink dragon-fruit smoothie.”­ — K.O.

Jungle Showstopper c o u rt esy o f h o s h i n oya Ba l i

Hoshinoya Bali, Ubud, Indonesia

The moss-covered ruins of Bali’s centuries-old canals served as inspiration for this 30-villa resort from Japanese operator Hoshino Resorts, a longtime creator of ryokan-style hotels. The shared Balinese and Japanese values of balance and

harmony are realized in the Zen aesthetic: earth-hued structures with traditional thatched roofs that blend into the lush landscape. Uncluttered, television-free rooms decorated in miles of wood provide a comfortable yet minimalist feel but no shortage of amenities, from heated Toto toilets to sandals made with Indonesian fabric. Water—a sacred part of many Balinese Hindu rituals—is the centerpiece of the resort, with three long swimming pools modeled after

the island’s ancient waterways connecting bi-level villas that offer salvation from the tropical sun. Executive chef Makoto Miyamaguchi orchestrates Balinese-Japanese fusion at the restaurant: dinner service combines a multicourse kaiseki-style meal with Indonesian flavors—think small dishes of steamed coconut chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard, and beef rendang rice. hoshinoya.com; doubles from $670. — Kat Odell

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Heritage Houses Not all of China is bulldozer central. In Shanghai’s leafy former French Concession, an entire neighborhood of historic shikumen (brick and stone laneway townhouses) has been lovingly restored into a fashionable, FrenchChinese layer cake of an all-villa hotel. Along 22 stone mews are 55 four-story suites, each encased behind a gated garden. The spa boasts a salt room and float tanks; Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire is equally divine for a fancy champagne high tea or a casual-chic bistro dinner (order the frogs poulette). Built in the 1930s for wealthy expats, the shikumen became a bustling Shanghainese community after the French left. Its revival by Capella, which opens some areas to public events, continues that feeling of home—with a strong infusion of haute. capellahotels.com; villas from $605. — Jeninne Lee-St. John >>

“Running up and down the stairs of my own micro-mansion was the best kind of luxe, ‘worth it’ inconvenience.”  — J.L.S.J.

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C o u rt esy of Ca pe ll a S ha n g ha i

Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li, China


the it list 2018

Rolling down a verdant hillside into a private bay, this brandnew resort adds fresh luxury to the super-green island. Pool villas dot the oceanfront, and suites are nestled in the rainforest—monkeys abound, so just keep the doors shut. Learn to make soap with local flora, then indulge with spa treatments in the overwater pods, or just lingering at one of the two photogenic pools; the adults-only one is the perfect perch from which to catch the magenta sunset. ritzcarlton. com; doubles from $485.  — J.L.S.J.

Jet-Setter’s Oasis

a Storied past Warehouse Hotel, Singapore

Marrakesh’s hottest new hotel isn’t even in the city proper, but rather 22 kilometers south near the village of Oumnas. There, French-Swiss expat Romain Michel-Ménière, the city’s “it” interior designer, has built a minimalist, contemporary version of a Berber village, with low-slung adobe structures and a beautiful 15-meter pool set amid olive groves. For the nine rustic-chic rooms, Michel-Ménière combined the traditional (baked-tile floors, Berber antiques) with the up-to-date (custom wicker and Midcentury Modern furniture) in a way that feels effortlessly sophisticated. Since it “Marrakesh is famous for opened last spring, the lodge has become a its lavish resorts heavy magnet for a fashion-forward crowd—even on Orientalist fantasy. though the Wi-Fi is spotty at best, making it nearly impossible to post photos to The Berber Lodge feels Instagram. Eventually, the glitterati stop much more authentic and taking pictures and just enjoy connecting welcoming.” to the countryside. berberlodge.net; — G.W. doubles from $205. — Gisela Williams

At one point a spice warehouse, then an illegal distillery and even a rave joint, the Warehouse Hotel draws on and spruces up its storied past to welcome guests in a style not seen on Singapore’s river for decades. Exposed brick; and modern, industrial chic lighting have turned this into a fashionable address. Opt for a second-floor room, don’t miss the rooftop see-through pool and be sure to stop in at the Lobby Bar for a hint of days gone by. thewarehousehotel. com; doubles from $220.  — C.K. >>

Berber Lodge, Oumnas, Morocco

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c lo c k w i s e f r o m l e f t : c o u rt esy o f b e r b e r lo d g e ; c o u rt esy o f t h e R i t z - Ca r lto n l a n g k aw i ; c o u rt esy o f wa r e h o u s e h ot e l

lush and luxe The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi, Malaysia


CITY LIGHTS COME TO LIFE Pulsing with creativity. Alive with history and culture. Let Four Seasons reveal the secrets of these 9 exciting cities. Choose from our exclusive offers to make your next urban getaway even more satisfying.

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“Off in a far corner of Sri Lanka, squeezed between tropical forest and seemingly endless ocean, the ‘real world’ never felt further away.” — C.K.

Situated in southeast Sri Lanka, where green forest meets the deep blue Indian Ocean, and adjacent to Yala National Park and its famed leopards, sloth bears and elephants, the Wild Coast Tented Lodge is nothing if not a far-flung getaway. Twentyeight tents take the form and color of rock formations, blending into the landscape. This is where colonial chic meets contemporary design, with the glories of nature on all sides. resplendentceylon.com; doubles from $700, all-inclusive. — C.K. >>

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C o u rt esy of W il d c oast t e n t e d lo d g e

On the Prowl Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala, Sri Lanka


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“I found Bisate especially striking at night, with the lights from each villa blinking out of the darkness like alien eyes.” 

Safari Trailblazer

Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda Rwanda’s postwar transformation into Africa’s destination du jour is truly remarkable, and Bisate, the country’s first luxury safari lodge, continues this rebirth. Its six villas feature 90 square meters of space, dramatic conjoined domes inspired by the 19th-century King’s Palace of Nyanza, and balconies that offer grand views of the Virunga Mountains. But the marquee attraction is gorilla spotting. Guests hike into the park's higher elevations to glimpse the endangered apes, before returning for dinners around a communal table to swap stories. wilderness-safaris.com; from $1,155 per person, allinclusive. — Sarah Hepola

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Cool Kid Broadview Hotel, Toronto Housed in a landmark Romanesque Revival building, this boutique hotel in the ascendant East End is a cheeky mash-up of old and new. Neon art, rotary phones, and brass poles wink to the building’s past as a gentleman’s club; the boudoir aesthetic extends to the 58 rooms, with their red velvet drapes and floral wallpaper. Despite the throwback references, it all feels fresh and youthful—as does the local crowd that comes to knock back craft beers on the rooftop. thebroadview​hotel.ca; doubles from $233.  — Siobhan Reid

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Indie Darling Trunk (Hotel), Tokyo

Zen Retreat Nobu Ryokan, Malibu

Tokyo got a jolt of energy last May when Trunk opened its doors on a small lane between the neon blare of Shibuya and the loud costumes of Harajuku. With its frequent retail pop-ups and a convenience store selling local treats, the 15-room property brings the action of the street indoors; a rooftop wedding chapel adds to the charm. Meanwhile, the rooms are like chic private residences with bespoke furniture, retro tiled bathrooms, and balconies with herb gardens. trunk-hotel. com; doubles from $433. — Danielle Demetriou

The California sun shines a bit brighter where famed restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa chose to build his fourth hotel, the first in the style of a traditional Japanese ryokan. The serene, earth-toned rooms have ikebana arrangements, as well as freshly brewed green tea and senbei rice crackers to greet travelers upon arrival. Soaking in your teak tub while listening to the waves, you’ll begin to see why the West Coast really is the best coast. nobu​r yokan​ malibu.com; doubles from $2,000.  — Krista Simmons >>

Dav id Cro ok es

— S.H.


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Silo Hotel, Cape Town For this dramatic repurposing of a waterfront grain silo, superstar architect Thomas Heatherwick added pillowed-glass panels to the exterior, bringing Cape Town’s scenery (Table Mountain and the city on one side, the harbor on the other) into all 28 rooms. The interiors by owner Liz Biden are just as dazzling, and her choice of colorful, contemporary African art befits the hotel’s location above the new Zeitz mocaa. Don’t miss the rooftop pool, which overlooks Lion’s Head. theroyalportfolio. com; doubles from $1,648. — Lila Battis >>

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the it list 2018

Colombo is one of those lesser-visited Asian capitals that has contentedly lingered under the radar, drawing upscale travelers with winning boutique hotels. But with the opening of this glittering new international five-star, the city seems poised for an influx. The Galle Face Green address is unbeatable in prestige, the lovely pool deck overlooks the iconic lawn promenade and the Indian Ocean, and the skyhigh Horizon Club rooms and lounge inspire wanderlust dreams. shangri-la.com; doubles from $180.  — J.L.S.J.

Reborn Classic Hotel Eden, Rome If Fellini could see his former haunt now, no doubt he’d approve. Dorchester Collection spared no expense during a 17-month renovation of this icon, opened in 1889 near the Villa Borghese. The rooms are bigger (the count was reduced) and the revamped lobby still exudes old-world glamour, with polished marble and gold coffered ceilings. Chef Fabio Ciervo is back at La Terrazza, and proves he's still got it with Il Giardino, a casual, health-conscious new spot. dorchester​collection.com; doubles from $833.  — L.I.

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Seaside Crowd-Pleaser The Loren, Bermuda

Bermuda’s first newly built hotel in nearly a decade is a game changer, beginning with its aesthetic: instead of the traditional British-colonial style still so prevalent on the island, it favors clean lines and a contemporary look. The intimate lobby, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, vases of fresh lilies, and well-stocked library, feels less like, well, a lobby, and more like the living room of a stylish friend. The dramatic views of the Atlantic and secluded Pink Beach continue into the 45 guest rooms, which are spacious (more than 55 square meters) and feature a sophisticated palette of earth tones mixed with hits of silver and blue. Outside, it’s all about the infinity pool, carved into a cliff and so close to the ocean that swimmers get splashed by spray. Don’t be surprised to see Bermudans dining on butterpoached lobster at Marée, the formal restaurant; it’s now the place for special-occasion dinners. The locals know a good thing when they see it. thelorenhotel.com; doubles from $900. — Jacqueline Gifford >>

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c lo c k w i s e f r o m to p l e f t : c o u rt esy o f S h a n g r i - L a H ot e l C o lo m b o ; c o u rt esy o f T h e Lo r e n h ot e l ; c o u rt esy o f h ot e l e d e n

new grande dame Shangri-La Hotel Colombo, Sri Lanka


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Urban Fantasy

The Whitby, New York City A riot of colors breathing new life into midtown Manhattan, the Whitby is the second New York project from Tim and Kit Kemp, the husband-and-wife team known for London hotels like Covent Garden and Ham Yard. As at its sister hotel, the Crosby Street, Kit has infused every space with her eclectic design sensibility, from the seats in yellow, red and green leather that line the 9-meter pewter bar to the 86 individually decorated suites, with their scalloped headboards and decorative dress forms covered in bright fabrics. The art makes just as bold a statement: Carla Kranendonk’s portrait of an African woman hangs near reception, while 40 porcelain sculptures etched with New York landmarks line the Orangery, an elegant space for tea—served on Kit’s custom Wedgwood china, of course. firmdalehotels.com; doubles from $695.  — J.G.

“The Whitby invites you to look up and around— and not down at your phone. Because you never know what colorful treasure might be hidden in plain sight.”  — J.G.

But that’s not all! There are 29 more world-class properties on our 2018 It List. Head to tandl.me/itlist for our full gallery of the year’s top hotels, including:

Asilia Jabali Ridge

Ruaha National Park, Tanzania asilia​africa.com Bulgari Resort Dubai bulgari​hotels.com

One&Only Le Saint Gerán Pointe de Flacq,

Mauritius oneandonlyresorts.com

Singita Sweni Lodge

Kruger National Park, South Africa singita.com

Time + Tide’s King Lewanika Lodge Liuwa

ASIA

Narendra Bhawan Bikaner, India narendrabhawan.com

SOUTH PACIFIC

Conrad Bora Bora Nui French Polynesia conradhotels.hilton.com

U.S. + CANADA Adelphi Hotel Saratoga Springs, New York theadelphi​hotel.com

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa

Plain National Park, Zambia timeand​tide​africa.com

Arizona andaz.hyatt.com

Nosy Ankao, Madagascar timeand​tide​africa.com

detroitfoundationhotel.com

Time + Tide’s Miavana

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Detroit Foundation Hotel

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Hotel Californian

Santa Barbara, California thehotel​californian.com

Sagamore Pendry Hotel Baltimore pendryhotels.com

Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort

California alila​hotels.com

Waldorf Astoria

Beverly Hills, California waldorfastoria.com

CARIBBEAN

Park Hyatt

St. Kitts park.hyatt.com

SLS Baha Mar

Nassau, Bahamas slshotels.com

EUROPE

Henrietta Hotel London henrietta​hotel.com

Hotel Casa Telmo

Menorca, Spain casatelmo.com

Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel

Terminal Neige– Refuge du Montenvers Chamonix, France terminal-neige.com

MEXICO

Habitas Tulum

habitastulum.com

Paris rosewoodhotels.com Hotel Viu Milan hotelviumilan.com

Rosewood Puebla

Exmouth, England lympstone​manor.co.uk

Orania.Berlin

Alvear Icon Hotel & Residences Buenos

Santa Clara 1728

Mahogany Bay Village

Lympstone Manor

orania.berlin

Lisbon santaclara1728.com

rosewoodhotels.com

CENTRAL + SOUTH AMERICA

Aires alvearicon.com

San Pedro, Belize mahogany​bay​village.com

© S i m o n B r ow n / c o u rt esy o f f i rm da l e h ot e ls

AFRICA + MIDDLE EAST


LET’S CONNECT W W W.TR AVEL ANDLEISUREASIA.COM

TR AVELLEISUREASIA

@TR AVLEISUREASIA

@TR AVELANDLEISUREASIA


Down to Business

No longer just soulless spaces targeting men in suits, today’s business hotels are redefining the genre. These addresses are adapting to the informal digital nomad lifestyle as traditional business hotels and serviced apartments find new perks to woo the working guest.

i l l u s t r at i o n b y c h o t i k a s o p i ta r c h a s a k

By Ashley Niedringhaus

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Co-Working Hotels

With designer digs and creative spaces, a new crop of hotels is making it easier than ever to ditch the nine-to-five and embrace the digital nomad lifestyle.

Who will love it: Hot-desking urban millennials. Where: Hong Kong’s up-and-coming Aberdeen neighborhood. What you get: Hong Kong-based Ovolo Hotels Group manages Mojo Nomad, so expect private rooms to feel more like a modest hotel room than a hostel (or “homstel” as the brand calls themselves) and 24/7 “coaches” play the roles of concierges. Shared rooms with three to eight beds dominate the offerings, though there’s a 14-bed team-centric group room. Female-only dorms—dubbed “Wonderwomen”—are available, too. Glean inspiration from nature and book a harbor-view room. Get to work: High-speed Wi-Fi and an on-site café will fuel work sessions at a hot desk, or book the “Cone of Silence” booth to hash out business details on a private video call. + www.mojonomad.com; beds from $26.

The Millennials

Who will love it: The no shoes, no shirt, no problem traveler. Where: Koh Lanta, Thailand, a lush island between Krabi and Phuket in the Andaman Sea. What you get: One-, two- and four-bedroom apartments are simple yet clean with a kitchenette, and standard amenities like air-conditioning and hot-water showers. The apartments are a 15-minute walk from KoHub, and the helpful staff can assist with scooter rentals. Get to work: KoHub boasts robust Internet speed tests and backup generators to deal with the island’s semi-regular power cuts. Basic office needs are included, like printing and scanning, and HD monitors are available to rent, which is a benefit to graphic designers and start-ups writing code for their new apps. There are air-conditioned rooms, if the tropical heat is too much; otherwise, the “office” is an open-air bungalow steps from the beach. + kohub.org; apartments from $663 per month (includes two meals per day).

Who will love it: Design mavens looking for a hotel-like experience. Where: Steps from the Kamo River in central Kyoto with easy access to the city’s extensive train system. What you get: Traditional hostel bunkbeds are replaced with state-ofthe-art smart pod capsules where single beds convert into couches via an iPod Touch, and partitions include an 80-inch projection screen to stream movies. Rain-head showers, slippers, pajamas and feather pillows complete the experience. Get to work: The trendy co-working space features tufted leather sofas, Edison light fixtures, phone booths, meeting rooms and traditional desks. Complimentary coffee fuels the work day and free beer for an hour each evening kicks off the night. + the-millennials-kyoto-jp.book.direct; pods from $50.

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*Prices throughout are listed in U.S. dollars for ease of comparison.

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f m o j o n o m a d ; c o u r t e s y o f k o h u b t h a i l a n d ; c o u r t e s y o f t h e m i l l e n n i a l s

KoHub Thailand

Mojo Nomad


Outpost

Who will love it: Writers and coding geeks wanting a tropical setting. Where: Their hub is in the heart of Ubud, Bali, with a Canggu space coming soon. A penthouse pop-up in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is open until July. What you get: Private rooms and bathrooms ooze jungle charm with four-poster beds, wooden accents, working desks and décor sourced from local artisans. Most rooms have private balconies and views overlooking the pool or nearby mountains. Get to work: A strong community vibe is at the core of Outpost’s mission, so expect happy hours, guest speakers and meet-and-greets with local entrepreneurs and NGOs. In Bali, a robust selection of air-conditioned meeting rooms, standing desks, large tables for group work, Skype rooms, and a jungle terrace are available. Order lunch from the personal chef or a massage from the on-site masseuse. + outpost-asia.com; rooms in Bali from $989 per month.

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Oneday Bangkok

Who will love it: Instagram addicts and coffee lovers. Where: In Bangkok’s upmarket Phrom Phong neighborhood and a short walk to the BTS, the city’s primary form of public transportation. What you get: Bedding down in the Oneday Pause hostel is a chic affair thanks to bespoke wood furnishings made by local craftsmen. The experience of sharing an eight-bed dorm is elevated with considered details like individual reading lights, power outlets, curtains and bedside storage. Upgrade to a private room for added perks like a TV and a safety deposit box. Get to work: Adjoining Casa Lapin is hipster heaven with AeroPress coffee and single-origin beans, and the light-filled co-working space, Forward, is stylishly designed with exposed brick walls and banana leaf plants. There’s speedy Internet, a 24/7 co-working space and high-tech meeting rooms, and membership packages are a boon to long-term visitors. + onedaybkk.com; beds from $19.

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lyf by Ascott

Counting millennials as a quarter of their customers, Ascott Hotels last year launched a pilot program at Singapore Management University to test features—like social spaces that can convert into hackathon or workshop zones— of Lyf (pronounced life), their new coliving line of hotels. All Lyf properties will be run by millennials who are dubbed “community managers”—a mix of tour guide, concierge and bartender. China will get the first look: a 112-unit Lyf Wu Tong Island Shenzhen will open this year followed by a 120unit lyf DDA Dalian at the end of 2018. Lyf Farrer Park Singapore is slated for 2021. lyfbyascott.com.

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Who will love it: Eat, Pray, Love wannabes who can’t live without Wi-Fi. Where: A flat fee gives access to Roam’s global communal living properties. Bali and Tokyo are their Asian locations, but the membership includes spaces in Miami and London, and, soon, San Francisco. What you get: Each co-living space is stylishly crafted by award-winning artists and architects, which means you’ll stay in a contemporary boutique hotel in Ubud, or a minimalist yet spacious room with a balcony in central Tokyo. There are hotel-style niceties, too, like laundry services and yoga. Get to work: Battle-tested Internet is the big draw here, especially in Bali, where Wi-Fi is often spotty. + roam.co; doubles from $500 per week.

Livit Spaces

Stylish co-working spaces When a coffee shop doesn’t cut it, these co-working spaces help to amp up the productivity and give off major #designgoals.

Ministry of New, Mumbai

Learning Center, Bangkok

WeWork Weihai Lu, Shanghai

The Great Room, Singapore

Decompress from the cacophony of India’s largest city and focus on the task at hand at this coworking hub in a renovated publishing house in Mumbai’s Fort district. Working rooms are finished with rich jewel tones, patterned textiles and functional-yet-stylish desks. ministryofnew.in; from $15 per hour.

In the 75-year-old Bank of Thailand, this new library, coworking space and museum joins the list of creative hubs along the Chao Phraya River. With design help from the team behind the new Thailand Creative & Design Center, the public space offers rentable meeting rooms and access to multimedia resources. bot.or.th; free entry.

Converted from a 1930s opium factory, the Weihai Lu branch of this au courant co-working chain is now a Midcentury Modern dream, complete with Fritz Hansen- and Eames-inspired seating, brass lamps and spiral staircase. There are 59 WeWorks worldwide, including Singapore, Seoul and Toyko. wework.com; from $220 per month.

Decorated with leather sofas and marble-topped tables, one could imagine enjoying a Scotch in this über-chic space; The Great Room feels like a sleek hotel lobby for the design-conscious worker. This year will see more Singapore locations, as well as outposts in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Jakarta. thegreatroomoffices.com; from $70 per day.

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fr o m l e f t: C h r i s W i s e ; c o u r t e s y o f l i v i t s pa c e s

Who will love it: Start-up groups looking for Series A funding. Where: Currently in Bali’s Gianyar neighborhood, with a new hub in central Sanur set to open in spring this year. Other locations in Denmark and Switzerland. What you get: Livit is ideal for team retreats and working holidays, and they offer villa accommodations with access to a pool, common areas and co-working spaces. To optimize productivity, three daily meals and housekeeping are included. Get to work: Start-ups rave about the modern working amenities and the fledgling business community that calls this incubator home. Mentor programs and networking events are part of the package, making it ideal for those looking for seed funding or investor pitching advice. The new, multifunctional Sanur space will host a range of events, workshops and getaways, and have a full-service café on-site. + liv.it/spaces; rooms from $50.


Business Hotels

Mix business with pleasure (and fast Wi-Fi) at these innovative hotels that prove the life of a road warrior is more than all work and no play.

r alf tooten

W Shanghai The Bund

In 2017, luxury hotels opened in Shanghai at a breakneck pace and chief among the anticipated openings was the Shanghai’s first W Hotel, which was part of a citywide redevelopment of the North Bund that includes a spacious urban park and lifestyle complex. Business travelers will be wooed by the hotel’s uninterrupted views of downtown Shanghai, dining options suitable for a working breakfast, and curated recommendations from the W Insider—the brand’s version of the concierge—on where to impress a client at, for instance, a local dumpling shop. Get to work: The W Hotel boasts 6,000 square meters of meeting space—the largest in tech-centric Shanghai—and hosts can create custom mood music and a signature scent to diffuse during group meetings. When it is time for a break, let the hotel’s Insider craft a “Recess” for your crew with yoga, express spa services, icebreakers or signature cocktails at the splashy Woo Bar. + whotels.com; doubles from $295.

The W hotel on new technology For hotel conglomerate Marriott, the W Hotel group is the “luxe rebel” of the family, says Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels. That means they’re often a petri dish for experimenting with a new technology. As for their customers, well, these millennials are happy to be the guinea pigs. At the W in Austin, Texas, in-room Amazon Alexa devices were installed so guests could ask for city recommendations from the W Insiders for top live music spots, the best barbecue joints or local rooftop bars. While Alexa devices might not make it further than Texas, the idea, Ingham says, is about doing test runs of cutting-edge ideas in the hospitality sphere. Once new ideas get the seal of approval from the W, it’s a trickle-down model to more conservative brands in the portfolio, like St. Regis Hotels. Case in point: The W was one of the first Starwood Preferred Group brands to rollout keyless entry for guest rooms, and now that technology is being adopted across the Marriott organization. But keyless entry isn’t a hard sell for most customers; for the real innovation, Ingham is looking forward. “We’re designing hotels now that will open in three to four years that we will be able to reconfigure the arrival space completely,” he says. “We’re fast approaching a time where we don’t need traditional check-in spaces or welcome areas.” This year, expect to see W Dubai and W Brisbane, among others, while the brand’s first hotel in Japan will open in Osaka in 2021. whotels.com.


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Targeting self-reliant professionals who blur the lines between business travelers and digital nomads, Hyatt Place, which launched in 2005, has more than 300 locations globally. The brand-new Bangkok property is close to Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre. The stylish rooftop bar is great for drinks with clients or networking, and online check-in and express checkout make getting right to work or catching a jet-lag busting nap a little easier. Get to work: Returning customers come for 24/7 business centers with meeting rooms, spacious suites with separate working areas and concierge services to craft unique meetings. Complimentary breakfast and grab-and-go options help shrink expenses. + bangkoksukhumvit.place.hyatt.com; doubles from $101.

The Palace Hotel, Tokyo

If you didn’t master the art of meishi koukan, the Japanese practice for presenting and receiving business cards, before landing in Tokyo, book a two- or four-hour session with the hotel’s private etiquette guide. Learn the craft of Japanese gift giving; proper eating techniques, like never to dip your nigiri sushi rice into soy sauce; and when and how to remove your shoes before entering a home. Two-hour lessons start from $171. Get to work: The hotel’s Cultivating Tokyo package includes business etiquette lessons with a guide; private check-in and checkout; dedicated concierge service; daily breakfast; afternoon tea, cocktails and canapés; plus the use of the club’s private meeting room for two hours each day. + palacehoteltokyo.com; two nights in a double room from $1,515.

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KHOS by Rosewood

The Rosewood Hotel Group is known for luxurious hotels around the world, including standout properties in Phuket and Beijing, and later this year they’re hoping to capitalize on the growing demand for business hotels that prioritize modern amenities without sacrificing style. So far, they’re tight-lipped about where they’ll debut their new line of hotels, dubbed KHOS, but all signs point to Asia. The name KHOS is a derivative of the Mongolian word for pair, and representatives for the hotel chain say they hope to “blend work and play, people and ideas, East with West and business with lifestyle.” The first KHOS property is set to open later this year, while Rosewood hotels in Phnom Penh, Hong Kong and Luang Prabang are coming in the next few months, too. rosewood hotels.com.

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f h yat t p l a c e b a n g k o k s u k h u m v i t; c o u r t e s y o f t h e pa l a c e h o t e l

Hyatt Place Bangkok Sukhumvit


Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront

Looking out to waterfront views, this brand-new Dubai hotel is located within Dubai Water Canal, the latest business district linking Business Bay to the Arabian Gulf. The 432-room hotel offers more than 1,000 square meters of conference space, and has a smaller, also new, sister property, Dubai Canal View, nearby. With more than 260 locations worldwide, including two more corporate-focused hotels in Dubai’s media district slated for 2019, Radisson Blu gives working travelers all the basics and then some. Radisson Blu’s Bangkok hotel, for example, is conveniently located between two BTS stations and features Wi-Fi, flatscreen TVs, city views and a lush, rooftop craft-beer bar when you need to unwind. Get to work: Use the hotel’s free One Touch meetings app to manage events, set agendas and coordinate with speakers and attendees. Bonus: The hotel will offset the carbon footprint of your meeting for free. + radissonblu.com; doubles in Dubai from $231 and Bangkok from $126.

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f s h a n g r i - l a ; c o u r t e s y o f r a d i s s o n b l u d u b a i wat e rfr o n t

The Kerry Hong Kong

The five-star hotel brand from Shangri-La opened up their waterfront Hong Kong outpost last year, and the 16-story hotel designed by local architect André Fu has already become known as an urban resort for working travelers. Book business events and conferences in meeting space that boasts extensive harbor views and can seat more than 1,000 guests. There are also Kerry hotels in Shanghai and Beijing. Get to work: Guest rooms feature a comfortable desk, ample lighting and plenty of power outlets, and the hotel is connected to a MTR station for quick access to the rest of the city. + shangri-la.com/kerry; doubles from $267.

Hotel tech gets a reboot free-to-use smartphones are taking over hotel rooms in a trend that both boosts hotels’ positive reviews, and has guests raving about ditching expensive roaming plans. Here are some to look out for when you next check in.

Handy With thousands of hotels around the globe offering Handy, it’s easy to see why this early adapter of the guest-facing technology took off quickly. The phones work like any other smartphone and allow for international calling, websurfing and checking e-mail on the go. The brand’s city guide recommendations cast a wide net to appeal to budget and luxury travelers. handy.travel.

Portier Technologies

Porter & Sail

Targeting five-star hotels and resorts, this technology start-up is making waves in Thailand with their proprietary operating system and Samsung phones. With free international calling, unlimited 4G data and Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, guests can connect anytime, anywhere. Open the chat function from a Bangkok tuk-tuk and quickly get directions, lunch ideas and more from your hotel’s concierge or butler. goportier.com.

Rather than offering a standalone smartphone, Porter & Sail is hedging their bets that travelers have space on their phone for another app. Guests staying at a partner hotel, including The Warehouse in Singapore or COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali, will receive access to the brand’s curated list of lifestyle recommendations along with where to eat, shop, drink and hang out in the city. Available on iTunes and Google Play.

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SERVICED APARTMENTS Looking for a home away from home? Serviced apartments draw sway with business travelers. Here, some reliable stand-outs.

Last year saw the first expansion of the esteemed 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai to the bustling Thai capital. Once you check in, be warned: it will be hard to leave the luxe thread count sheets, deep soak tubs, private balconies, in-room kitchens and washers and dryers. Larger residences include a dining space for up to five people. Zip up to the hotel’s panoramic rooftop pool or order a cocktail at the posh Jack Bain’s Bar. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wondering if this is vacation or work. Where in Asia: The Bangkok residence is near Thonglor, in the heart of the city’s fashionable and commercial Sukhumvit district. + 137pillarsbangkok.com; studios from $167.

Frasers Hospitality

Far East Residence

Road warriors on extended assignments will welcome the creature comforts of the brand’s one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Defined living rooms, fully equipped kitchens and comfortable bedrooms are standard and benefits include continental breakfast, speedy Wi-Fi, gyms, pools and concierge services. Some locations have in-room laundries, wine chillers or private cellars. Many include outdoor play areas for children, and Staycation Guides offer things to do on your time off. Where in Asia: More than 20 properties in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. + stayfareast.com; apartments in Singapore from $190.

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Seven distinct hotel brands sit under the Frasers Hospitality umbrella, including three award-winning serviced apartments: Fraser Suites, Fraser Place and Fraser Residence. The designfocused residence Capri by Fraser is aimed at the young guns, and their millennialminded facilities include iPad check-ins, e-concierge services and a modern décor scheme that mixes in pops of color. Fraser Residence woos a more traditional (read: mid-40s) client base that values human contact over fast check-ins and high-tech rooms. Modena by Fraser lands in the middle, and focuses on balancing work and play—the laundries even have their own Nintendo Wii. Where in Asia: There are properties in Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and China. + frasershospitality,com; doubles in Kuala Lumpur from $104.

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f 1 3 7 p i l l a r s b a n g k o k ; c o u r t e s y o f fr a s e r s h o s p i ta l i t y; c o u r t e s y o f fa r e a s t r e s i d e n c e

137 Pillars Suites and Residences


fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f s e d o n a h o t e l s a n d s u i t e s ; c o u r t e s y o f t h e a s c o t t; c o u r t e s y o f pa n pa c i f i c

Sedona Hotels & Suites

As well as a five-star hotel in Rangoon, Sedona offers deluxe serviced suites in Saigon for working travelers looking for a more high-end stay. At the Saigon property, conveniently located in upmarket District 1, a new 195-room Grand Tower offers studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites. All rooms have reliable Wi-Fi and a back-up power supply, if needed. Where in Asia: Sedona’s hotel in Rangoon overlooks Inya Lake; the Saigon serviced suites are a short walk from Pasteur Street. + sedonahotels.com.sg; doubles in Rangoon from $113; apartments in Saigon from $140.

Pan Pacific Serviced Suites

Twenty hotels, resorts and serviced suites dot Asia—with a few North American postal codes in the mix—and guests of the serviced suites will enjoy extras like residents’ lounges, gourmet breakfasts, rooftop infinity pools and top-of-the-line fitness centers. Where in Asia: From Melbourne to Hanoi, the brand is well-represented in the region, with flagship property Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard on Beach Road in the heart of Singapore. The 180 suites at this Singaporean standout include contemporary décor and access to 24-hour personal assistants who can book dinner reservations, assist with networking or make an appointment to meet with a top tailor. + panpacific.com; doubles in Singapore from $190.

The Ascott

The Ascott’s spacious kitchenettes and floorplans put some Hong Kong apartments to shame. The brand doesn’t shy away from luxury hotel perks, and most properties include top-notch health clubs with personal trainers, pools and a kids’ club. Where in Asia: The Ascott is in 14 countries across the continent, but they’re making a big push in China—with 20,000 rooms, it is their biggest market—and Chinese expansion plans for 2018 include Shanghai and Hangzhou. Outside of the People’s Republic, there are properties in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and new apartments will open this year in Vietnam and Cambodia. + the-ascott.com; doubles in Kuala Lumpur from $100.

Work while traveling the world From a month to a full year, here are two programs that offer digital nomads a professional work abroad experience that shines on a resume.

We Roam

Remote Year

Looking for a catalyst for creativity but can’t put a career on hold? We Roam provides coliving spaces in Europe, South America and Asia, along with immersive experiences like language classes and speaker series, for participants to enjoy on a month-long stop in each location. we-roam.com; rooms from $500 per week.

Seventy-five professionals with a sense of wanderlust follow Remote Year’s planned itineraries that bounce across several continents, from the Far East to Latin America, working from co-working hubs along the way. The team coordinates housing, travel plans and community events. remoteyear.com; $5,000 deposit then $2,000 per month.

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/ deals /

t+l reader specials

Get more out of your stay with these special deals around the region that offer rejuvenating spa treatments, candle-lit dinners or luxe room upgrades. Let go of life’s stresses at Sri Panwa’s spa.

WELLNESS THAILAND

Sri Panwa If, by now, you’ve strayed already from your New Year’s resolutions, recalibrate and get back on track with this special package from Sri Panwa, a resort perched atop Cape Panwa in Phuket. Book three nights in an exclusive private suite or Pool Villa and be welcomed with fresh coconut on arrival; daily breakfast and fruit baskets; and round-trip luxury airport transfers. To cleanse your mind, body and soul, take part in a complimentary private yoga class, Thai boxing session or Pilates class. You’ll also be treated to one 90-minute Blood Type Therapy massage and scrub, which is devised according to the different energies found in each blood group. The Deal The New Year, New You package: three nights in a Pool Suite West, from Bt34,620, through December 23. sripanwa.com.

SUPERSAVER Wyndham Dreamland Bali, Indonesia

Don’t miss this special rate plus breakfast for stays at this new Bali resort. The 177-room haven is just a minute’s walk to the hidden, white-sand shores of Dreamland Beach. Deluxe rooms offer garden views, while two swimming pools, a luxurious spa, and nearby award-winning New Kuta Golf Course will please everyone. The Deal Soft Opening Rate: a night in a Deluxe room, from US$66.77, through May 31. wyndhamdreamlandbali.com.

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fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f s r i pa n wa ; c o u r t e s y o f w y n d h a m d r e a m l a n d b a l i

HONG KONG

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong If it’s time for a digital detox, this revitalizing deal from Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, is the perfect escape. Stay two nights and you’ll get a 90-minute Digital Wellness treatment that includes a negative energy–absorbing foot steam, an organic face mask using all-natural ingredients, and a head-toback massage to alleviate stress. Mobile phones are encouraged to be left behind and guests can relax with puzzles, mindfulness coloring books and meditation before and after the treatment in the spa lounge. Daily breakfast is also included, served at Clipper Lounge or Café Causette. The Deal The Digital Wellness Escape: a night in a City View room, singles from HK$4,675 or doubles from HK$5,550, through July 31. mandarinoriental.com. >>


/ deals / CITY MACAU

Sheraton Grand Macao Spend a weekend exploring the bright lights of Macau with this package from the Sheraton Grand Macao. Situated right among the action of the exciting Cotai Strip, book at least two nights in the hotel’s Deluxe room and you’ll have access to your own Handy mobile, which provides free local and international calls and a Wi-Fi hotspot throughout your stay. You’ll be refreshed after a big night out with your choice of a free 90-minute, two-person Shine Spa signature massage or sports therapeutic massage. The Deal Stay & Shine: a night in a Deluxe room, from HK$1,498, through June 30. sheratongrandmacao.com. MALAYSIA

BEACH THAILAND

Sala Phuket Book a long weekend at Sala’s striking Sino-Portuguese property and experience

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The charming, leafy exterior of Anantara Hoi An Resort.

tropical luxury with this special package. Guests who book at least three nights at this secluded Mai Khao beach resort will receive daily à la carte breakfast; round-trip airport transfers; your choice of a half-day island tour or 60-minute massage at Sala Spa; and a Thai dinner for two at the resort’s award-winning restaurant. The Deal Sala Beach Break Package: a night in a deluxe balcony room, from Bt6,700, through December 31. salahospitality.com.

ROMANCE VIETNAM

Anantara Hoi An Resort Explore Hoi An’s colonial charms with this luxurious deal from Anantara. Wake up to picturesque river scenes before starting the day with complimentary buffet breakfast. Enjoy a couple’s stress-release massage at the

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resort’s spa, then curate your own Dining by Design dinner experience at a poolside pavilion with your own private butler. Plus, you’ll arrive and depart in style with return airport transfers from Da Nang International Airport to the resort. The Deal Hoi An Romantic Getaway: a night in a Deluxe Balcony room, from US$227, through December 31. hoi-an.anantara.com. THAILAND

Away Chiang Mai Thapae Resort Experience the cultural beauty of this vegetarian, mountain resort at Away Chiang Mai Thapae Resort. This two-night package is perfect for healthy honeymooners: enjoy a complimentary room upgrade to a suite; in-room private breakfast; limousine airport transfers; a complimentary dining experience at Moreganic

Restaurant; and romantic amenities set up in the room. The Deal 3 Days 2 Nights Romantic Getaway package: two nights in a suite, from Bt8,000, through October 31. awayresorts.com. Santiburi Koh Samui Whisk your partner away to this secluded Koh Samui retreat tucked away on pristine Maenam Beach. Book a three-night stay in a Grand Deluxe Pool villa and you will receive daily breakfast; a bottle of sparkling wine; a candle-lit dinner on the beach; and a one-hour, in-villa couple’s spa treatment. Getting to your garden-filled oasis will be easy, too: airport transfers are included. The Deal The Romance Package: three nights in a Grand Deluxe Pool villa, from Bt75,260, through December 22. santiburisamui.com.

c o u r t e s y o f A n a n ta r a h o i a n r e s o r t

Dorsett Kuala Lumpur Celebrating its 20th anniversary and an elegant new renovation, Dorsett Kuala Lumpur is offering 10 percent off the best available rate as well as complimentary buffet breakfast for two guests with stays booked before June. Conveniently within Kuala Lumpur’s golden triangle district, Dorsett Kuala Lumpur is just a short walk to some of the capital’s best tourist attractions and shopping malls, including KLCC, Bukit Bintang Walk, Berjaya Times Square, Starhill, and Pavilion KL. Enjoy the stylish décor of the newly renovated rooms and suites, all equipped with 40-inch HD TVs with satellite channels and are Wi-Fi enabled. The Deal Dorsett Kuala Lumpur Introductory Offer: a night in a Dorsett King room, from RM347, through June 30. dorsett.com.


l e i g h g r i ff i t h s

Poolside at the new Andaz Singapore, page 90.

/ march 2018 / A phinisi sail on the Spice Route traces the last great

journey of Alfred Russel Wallace | Three great new Design Hotels turning heads across Asia right now | How Milan became the coolest city in Italy

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Like an old-world explorer, co-owner David Wilkinson scans the sunset horizon from Tiger Blue’s bow.

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Infinite Tropics Tr acing natur alist A lfr ed Russel Wallace’s long way home, M a rco Fer r a r ese sails aboa r d a lu xury phinisi from the shor es of W est Pa pua to the Norther n Moluccas, crossing the gr eat blue Halma her a Sea filled with natur al r esources and wonders th at h av e ch anged little in two centur ies.

photogr a phed by k it y eng ch a n


wo hard

knocks on my cabin’s door followed by one wondrous word—whales!— has me instantly out of dreamland and rushing on deck. Other passengers and the crew are lined up already along the boat’s railings, so I run past them, reach beyond the anchor post and crawl up the bow, where I lie down, clasping the rocking edge with both hands to avoid being bumped into the open blue all around us. It’s our fourth afternoon on board, and we have just left the beauty of Waigeo Island, better known as the Raja Ampat Marine Reserve, behind. So far, this trip through northeastern Indonesia has been nothing short of incredible: we’ve climbed deep into the forest near Bessir village to gape at the dawn dance of the elusive Red birds-ofparadise; we’ve chased manta rays and black tip reef sharks off the coast of

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Arborek village; and we’ve seen more unspoiled islands than most people glimpse in a lifetime. However, that doesn’t suppress my umpteenth adrenaline rush when I notice a pack of black, curved fins emerge from the waves ahead. This part of Indonesia has hardly changed in 200 years, since some of the world’s most daring explorers came to the Malay Archipelago, to then the farthest reaches of the world. One of them was Alfred Russel Wallace, who spent almost a decade documenting this equatorial flora and fauna. Wallace fueled his wanderlust by amassing a staggering collection of more than 120,000 specimens of endemic insects, birds and mammals, a great many of which are in the Natural History Museum in London, but are also dispersed around the world in esteemed museums and private collections. During a malarial fever that forced him into bed for days in his acquired home of Ternate—a gracious north Moluccan island that’s almost entirely volcano, and an ancient sultanate that was a focus of the colonial spice trade—Wallace speculated on his discoveries. Mustering his theory on evolution by adaptation, he jotted down in a letter to his friend Charles Darwin in England. Upon receiving it, Darwin rushed the publication of his own essays on the subject, starting with a public joint-reading of his and Wallace’s work, forever changing natural science as we know it and linking the two men as its great godfathers. “I know Alfred Russel Wallace thanks to my dad, who introduced me to his work,” says Penang-based Malaysian visual artist Rebecca Duckett-Wilkinson. In their spare time, she and her husband David Wilkinson have sailed to many of the eastern Indonesian islands, following Wallace’s routes aboard their own Tiger Blue—the 34-meter-long, luxury, oldworld-style phinisi cruiser, traditional of the seafaring Bugis people, which I am delighted to be aboard for 10 days. Custom-built completely out of wood in Bira and Makassar, South Sulawesi, and equipped with beautiful blood-red sails that, when flapping against the blue-ocean backdrop, give it a mean, cinematic look, Tiger Blue feels like it cruised directly out of the 19th century. “When Tiger Blue was ready,” Rebecca says, “it felt natural to grab Wallace’s The Malay Archipelago, and follow the sea routes he described.” The couple had contemplated building their own sailing boat since the early aughts, when they were living in Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia, which is famous for its fishing-boat manufacturing. But sailing in Malaysian


waters wouldn’t have been the same adventure; it was only after they moved to Jakarta in 2006 that they met Wouter Van den Houten, a Dutch-born, Indonesia-based sailor and avid diver who’d already explored eastern Indonesia on his own private yacht for years, and was willing to lend his expertise. The resulting vessel, which can accommodate 12 passengers and a crew of 11, was quickly established as one of the best private cruisers in Komodo Island, the Bandas and the popular West Papua diving destination of Raja Ampat. But this is the first time that Tiger Blue is venturing west of Waigeo and Gag in West Papua, following the route of the last sea voyage described by Wallace to Ternate and Tidore, spice islands in the northern Moluccas. To Rebecca and David, expanding Tiger Blue’s roster of routes with a trip that’s half amazing diving and life at sea and half land discovery in some of Indonesia’s least accessible isles is a tribute to the accomplishments of the British adventurer. “Wallace stopped in Bessir village, in today’s Raja Ampat, to study and collect specimens of the rare Red birds-of-paradise for two months, after which he wished to return to Ternate. Based on his book, this last trip was a nightmare. With favorable winds, it would have taken him about a fortnight;

instead, Wallace described almost two months of incredible hardships at sea with no favorable winds, as if the ocean wouldn’t want to let him go,” Rebecca says as we embark. “Luckily, these days we have engines.” hen we set anchor

and take a dinghy to Bessir’s jetty, a group of barefoot, cheery, shaggyhaired children in I Love You Yesus T-shirts greets us—this odd hint of Christian missionaries seeming to proffer the only example of change since Wallace trawled this remote corner of Southeast Asia. The kids lead us along an unpaved grid of lanes flanked by rows of tall coconut trees, a white wooden church and tiny homes whose occupants completely stop their daily errands, speechless, to observe us walk around. We soon bump into the metal plate that introduces us with much historical fanfare to what is believed to be Wallace’s former Bessir residence. But the tiny concrete home before us looks so different from the bamboo-and-thatch stilt hut reproduced in an illustration from The Malay Archipelago…. We wonder if it’s a tourist trap, but remain unconvinced that there could be that many

below: Crewmen

Escobar (left) and Anto present the fresh catch of the day. opposite: Charting the route based on maps in Wallace's The Malay Archipelago.


A dinghy to a dive site near Jorongga Island. opposite: The rich aquatic ecosystem of Raja Ampat Marine Reserve includes clownfish in their anemone homes.

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regulators clenched between our teeth, we sit in a single line at the bottom of the sea


above: Catching the trade winds to Ternate, a former spice sultanate. opposite: Kids in Bessir, on Waigeo in southern Raja Ampat, where Wallace lived for two months.

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Wallace trackers coming to this apparently-nolonger-godforsaken corner of West Papua to warrant such a thing. “It can’t be the same,” David gives his final verdict, as it dawns on us that concrete and bricks seem to have replaced all of the village’s bamboo huts. Things have changed a bit more than we’d wanted to believe. We depart amid children’s laughter only after dispensing a few tablets to a kind-eyed village elder, who had courteously asked if we could offer something to nurse his dry cough. “We are quite far from any well-stocked pharmacy here,” he’d said. After being ferried back to the boat by the affable dinghy drivers Anto and Alex, we are welcomed by the rest of the ever-attentive Tiger Blue crew who, contrary to Wallace’s perennially sick seamen, are always waiting with a smile, a fresh drink and hot towels to rinse off sea salt and sweat from our faces. There’s Captain Kasriwan, the wizard behind Tiger Blue’s vintage wooden wheel; engineers Russlan and Rizal—the latter of whom moonlights as “Escobar,” the talented Tiger Blue Big Band’s front man; chef Ryan, a veritable champion in a multitude of international cuisines; Rahmat and Helmi, the young Javanese waiters who, besides serving

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our food with hearty smiles, also mix up some mean cocktails; Dolvi and Megan, the dive master and dive instructor from, respectively, Sulawesi and Washington State; and last but not least, Austrian-Greek cruise director Nick, who always makes sure that our moods, like the vessel’s sails, are up and flying high. Before leaving the Dampier Strait behind and heading across the Halmahera Sea to the Moluccas, we take in the beauty of the surroundings—both above and below the waterline. The divers among us set out on the dinghy to plunge down at Manta Sandy, a famous dive site near the village of Arborek. With regulators clenched between our teeth, we sit in a single line on the bottom of the sea, waiting. Ostensibly it’s for this patch of sea’s eponymous creatures, who we were told favor two rocks above us as cleaning stations, but it seems like we are waiting for Godot, as time— and oxygen levels—keep ticking away. After half an hour, just about in time for our safety stop, something approaches swiftly out of the deep blue: it looks like a floating, dark and flat hat, sinuously bending at the seams. I’m so shocked upon seeing my first oceanic manta ray that I can barely believe there’s another flapping behind... and then a third, bigger one. They float next to each other in circles, giving


us a good look at their outlandish shapes. It feels like magic to be among them. But then: heartbreak. Dolvi shatters the spell by grabbing my right shoulder and signaling I’d better get up to the safety stop immediately, for I have forgotten there’s dangerously little air left in my tanks. Raving about our underwater encounter, we get back on board for another of Ryan’s excellent meals, which run the gamut from Indonesian to Italian, Tex-Mex to Chinese. Today, he has cooked some of the delicious fish we have caught fresh from the sea with the lines that always hang at the back of Tiger Blue. How would have Alfred Russel Wallace—who described pressing villagers into trading their musty rice and hard-to-chew local meats for European knives and handkerchiefs—felt about the richness of our daily feasts? After lunch we are on the dinghy again, cruising at high speed towards the mouth of the Kabui Strait. This is where Wallace got stranded and lost, and rescued by locals from the village of Muka, at the end of a trip that took him from Seram, in the southern Moluccas, to his hut in Bessir. “The narrow channel among the islands […] which leads to the villages on the south side of Waigeo,” as Wallace described it, is today flanked by more pristine forest that has rarely suffered human intervention. We cruise among dozens of tiny islets topped by viridian, untouched jungle; in this light and mood, it feels as if they are emerging from the depths all around us like the backs of giant and watchful sea turtles. Soon we must return to Tiger Blue, for ahead of us is a long night sailing to the channel southwest of Halmahera Island, from where we will slide up to the famed Moluccan spice sultanates of Tidore and Ternate. t’s a long haul on a rocky

sea, so the next day the crew drops anchor in a secluded bay, and we all rest next to the uninhabited islets around Salleh Kecil. We dive, kayak and snorkel around shallow coves whose corals, from the boat, seem like they have been sealed under sheets of transparent fiberglass. We close off the day with a delightful sunset cocktail session on a deserted beach. “Escobar,” as his front man role commands, lights up a bundle of firewood, and we soon have a bonfire glowing as orange as the sizzling sunset that rapidly dissipates into a mantle of blazing stars. Since the early 11th century, these two competing sultanates of Ternate and Tidore, together with the Banda Islands, were the only

sources for the cloves and nutmeg sold for exorbitant prices all over the Orient and Europe. But after the end of the Crusades in 1291, with the closures of land trade routes to the Far East, Europeans moved in on the action. Venturing uncharted seas and monsoons, the Portuguese arrived in Ternate and Tidore via India in 1521. When the Spanish, Dutch and British followed suit a few decades later, the spice monopolies became sources of war among Europeans, and were in constant flux until they were ultimately seized by the Dutch, who in 1602 formed the Dutch East India Company to profit from these farflung tropical resources. Sailing in these waters today, and especially in an old-world vessel like Tiger Blue, I still feel the weight of that history. Heading in the morning for Tidore, the Portuguese and Dutch colonial forts catch the eye first, soaring magnificently from the island’s best vantage points.

we soon have a bonfire glowing as orange as the sizzling sunset


m a p by was i n e e c h a n ta ko r n

All is orderly and clean here, though the sultan’s palace is closed, and we end up checking out the lively market, where stacks of cloves, nutmeg and many of the other spices that supported empires of old lie in carefully crafted displays. One night and a couple dives later, and we are bound for Ternate, just a short hop across the strait. Gamalama, an active volcano, makes up most of the island; puffy clouds float around its perfectly coneshaped summit as if they are the aftermath of a violent eruption. Tiger Blue’s red sails engorge in the wind, taking us in front of the main mosque, set along a seaside boulevard dotted with low-houses and lively markets, slung like a heavyweight belt of modernity around the flanks of that watchful, neverdormant fire mountain. Like Wallace, we have arrived safely at the end of our journey, but besides a few seashells and colorful rocks, we have no specimens left to document this mightiest of adventures. Presumably a lifetime of memories will suffice. From the top of Fort Tolukko, a beautifully preserved, ash-black Dutch fortress perched between the volcano and the bay below, we take in the majestic views of Ternate’s coast, stretching across the strait to Tidore, and to the cone of the Jailolo volcano in nearby northwestern Halmahera. Tiger Blue, a red dot in the bay below, rocks quietly over the waves, and though it’s easy to feel the homey sense of these three sibling shores, the phinisi seems to beckon for more adventures at sea.

It takes me back to my morning lying on the bow. There were maybe 20 pilot whales swimming between our vessel and the palmcovered coastline of Gag Island—the one last sizable spot of land we needed to pass before a 13-hour sail across the open sea, to the even more remote reefs in North Maluku province. But the whales didn’t have the last word here. I looked to my left, and I noticed a dark silhouette rising from the water. At first it was just another indistinguishable fin. Then in seconds, the majestic shape of a dolphin jutted out of the ocean and dove back in, and then two, five, 10 of them followed suit, approaching the boat in a tight pack. They’d come to check us out. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I gazed at the water below the tip of the bow and saw one dolphin forging ahead, swimming faster than our engines, as if it wanted to warn us that, yes, we had come far for mere humans… but even if we were riding this powerful ark, the animals in the blue wild will go on.

opposite, clockwise from top left: A dolphin

races ahead; Tiger Blue moored next to a bitty islet in the Salleh Kecil group; bring your own beach bar to forgotten sands off southwestern Halmahera.

The details Fly to Sorong via Makassar or Jakarta via Batik (batikair. com), Garuda Air (garuda-indonesia.com), Lion Air (lionair. co.id) or Sriwijaya (sriwijayaair.co.id). Tiger Blue staff pick up and transfer guests to and from Sorong and Ternate airports. tigerblue.info; from US$5,600 per day for full private charter for up to seven people (additional pricing available for up to 12), or from US$8,600 for seven days for two people in twin shared cabin on set dates; including accommodation in private en suite cabin, four meals daily, Raja Ampat Marine Park entry fees, sea and land activities, and airport transfers.

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Design Stars

Three new hotels where form meets function in an effort to make your stay more enjoyable, whether you’re in Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo.

A lucky room number glows in One@Tokyo. top: Brass light fixtures in Andaz Singapore recalls streetlights outside. opposite: Stone, wood and natural light in the lobby of The Murray, Hong Kong.

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c h r i sto p h e r ku cway. o p p o s i t e fr o m to p : l e i g h g r i ff i t h s ; s h i n s u k e m ats u k awa


i

n the forest of skyscrapers

that march up Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island forming that iconic city skyline, The Murray Building has been overshadowed across the decades. Think I.M Pei and his dagger-to-the-heart Bank of China pinnacle. Or Norman Foster’s inside-out HSBC and the “open book” Citibank, both feng shuiappeasing addresses. Hemmed in by such pillars of high finance and pinched as it is by Hong Kong’s serpentine roadways, the 25-story building waits in the shadows, appearing largely in the reflections of its neighbors. But with its reopening as a sleek hotel—The Murray, Hong Kong—it’s back on the city’s radar. “Most new hotels today are buried within mixed-use buildings,” says Armstrong Yakubu, a London-based partner at Foster + Partners, which led the redesign. “The Murray recalls the old tradition of the grand hotels and in doing so creates a distinctive presence on Hong Kong Island.” Everyone familiar with Central knows the 11.5-meter arches and the geometric tower of The Murray by sight, if not necessarily by name. Refer to it today as jau-deem, or “hotel,” and you’ll confuse the hell out of any taxi driver because, in its previous incarnation as a government office block, it was literally under lockdown, off limits to the public. After a fouryear overhaul, the design aim is just the opposite. It’s now a 336-room beauty accessible from every angle. This pioneer of environmentally friendly architecture went up in 1969, before practically anyone was concerned with such things. Noted for its angled, deeply recessed windows that allow sufficient but not direct subtropical light, and for its energy efficiency, the all-white address was groundbreaking in its day, garnering acclaim for its architect, Ron Philips. As a result of the building’s design relevance and location, it’s now listed as one of eight heritage sites under Hong Kong’s Conserving Central Initiative.

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Given that status, Foster + Partners were required to retain several integral elements, including the building’s exterior features and the Cassia, or OVT—that’s Old Valuable Tree, to you or me—at the heart of the property, which dictated the rest of the redesign. While most new city hotels are architecturally anonymous, here the square-punched-windows and tall arches have stood out for years among the surrounding mirrored towers. So, a primary goal was to strip the building back to its original form to reveal its clean lines and characteristics. Another was to breathe new life into it via better use of its public spaces, says Colin Ward, who oversaw the redesign from the Hong Kong office of Foster + Partners. “One of the central aims of the project was to reconnect the building with the city at ground level, creating a new street frontage on Garden Road, with open routes.” This new lease on life thrills its architect Philips, now 90 years old. “That my design should so readily respond to the needs of a hotel is quite amazing,” he says. Arriving at the hotel, the lobby appears barren aside from some artwork that takes a second or three to spot. Recessed reception areas have hotel staff circulate rather than stay put behind a more traditional counter. Tucked off one end of the lobby is the bar, Murray Lane. Up a level are two dining areas—The Tai Pan, with a Euro-healthy menu, and the Garden Lounge—that overflow outdoors into a garden sunk into the rising hillside. The biggest challenge for the redesign was back inside. From the hallways on the room levels, the layout is in an angular rather than perpendicular direction so that each room and suite matches up at right angles with the staggered exterior of the building. My 75-square-meter Explorer suite is typical. Its stepped layout moves from the shallowest part area of the room on the left to the deepest on the right. Entering, the living room is to the left. The middle section extends from the entry hall to a cube that is home to a working desk with two chairs. On the right-hand side of the suite, an oversized bathroom (check out the Japanese-style toilet and products from Australian organic skincare specialists Grown Alchemist) and, beyond it, the bedroom extend the furthest. Borrowing from a 1970s palette, the furnishings are modern, simple and comfortable, vivid orange cushions and a plush purple sofa offsetting the earth tones of the room itself. Behind the bedroom is a walk-in closet with motion-detector lighting, while a lounger abuts the window and its sightlines over the city— previously unseen by anyone save public servants. But they never had this good a view, as the windows have been enlarged, lowered by half to 30 centimeters from the floor, with electronic shades that can either dim or black out the soundproofed room. By next month, a spa with five treatment rooms will open, followed later by the André Fu–designed Cantonese restaurant, the 90-seat Guo Fu Lou, in a space separate from the main building and facing the lobby. Opening mid-year will be the real gem: Popinjays, a 200-seat restaurant split evenly between indoors and out, with views that few in Hong Kong have ever witnessed. To the right, the city’s iconic bank buildings; straight ahead to the west, its mix of historic government offices tucked into green space; around the corner, Hong Kong Park and, beyond it, that march of those buildings up the peak. Far below, those ubiquitous red taxis glide in every direction, their drivers slowly but surely learning that this address is no longer off limits. 22 Cotton Tree Dr.; niccolohotels.com; doubles from HK$4,000; Explorer suite, HK$7,000 a night.


D e sig n s on Central

While it isn’t new to the streetscape, Hong Kong’s latest hotel, The Murray, aims to bring some pedestrian-level design sense to the sky-scraping neighborhood. story and photos by christopher kucway

Bath and bed rooms in one of the suites. Clockwise from left: The Murray’s place on the map; Murray Lane, the hotel’s bar; the minimalist lobby; a living room with a view.


Going L o cal

At a multicultural crossroads, new Lion City stunner Andaz Singapore is a thoughtfully refined, wholly immersive heritage experience. by eloise basuki. photographs by leigh griffiths

f

or those who lament

Singapore’s fastidious sweeping away of its colorful culture, the newly launched Andaz hotel is a refreshing antidote. The property is as luxurious and refined as you’d expect from a world-class Hyatt-brand hotel in the 21stcentury Lion City, but here Singapore’s vivid heritage is celebrated, not hidden, the spirit of its multicultural neighborhoods seamlessly infused into every object, nook and cranny. This is the first Southeast Asian Andaz, a brand that takes pride in its astute sense of place: Andaz Tokyo sports partition walls and washi-paper lanterns; Andaz Delhi’s room doors are inscribed with a mango leaf, a symbol Hindus believe wards off evil. In the Singapore hotel, local character is magnified to neighborhood-level—focusing on the closest

three: Kampong Glam, Little India and Bras Basah Bugis. At the crossroads of these bustling districts, Andaz Singapore assumes the top 15 floors of one of the five-month-old Duo Towers—on a plot of land that, rare for the real estate-starved city-state, had never been developed. The eye-catching exteriors are by deconstructivist German architect Ole Scheeren, who also designed the angular, hollow-loop CCTV Headquarters in Beijing and the stacked-box, pixelated MahaNakhon Tower in Bangkok. Here, he has cloaked both towers in a scaling honeycomb-like façade, a striking pattern that sweeps across the dynamic curves of the sky-high structures. But it’s via Andaz’s interiors that guests can see the hotel’s soul. The creative vision is from Hong Kong–based interior architect André Fu, who paints a colorful experience inspired by eclectic laneways and shophouses. The action centers around its concierge floor, Alley on 25. Zeroing in on the alleyway concept, the barrierless check-in station is the starting point of a circular path of relaxed-yet-refined hospitality: afternoon tea and tipples are available at Sunroom, a timber-lined lounge Fu conceived as a modernist expression of a traditional Peranakan house. Next, five restaurants—Icehaus, The Green Oven, Salt & Pepper, Plancha’Lah, and Auntie’s Wok and Steam—are shophouse-inspired: ceilings have rafters; entrances feature folding timber doors. The final stop is Bar Square, a drinking salon with panoramic views, then it’s back to the concierge where the journey began. “The intricate play of intimate proportions within the alley evokes a sense of discovery,” Fu says. Individual character is prioritized in the staff, as well. The hotel partnered with local brand In Good Company to curate a wardrobe of outfits from which all the team members can select their own


Brass letterboxes make every guest room feel like its own bungalow. Clockwise from right: Andaz Singapore’s honeycomb tower; a stairway to the pool; views of Marina Bay and the CBD; dinner prep begins at 665°F, where décor takes a more mature turn; the main atrium, with its metal wall sculpture by André Mendes.

uniforms, thus displaying their own senses of style. Likewise, every facet of the décor is themed, yet nothing emerges cliché. Fu has designed every detail specifically for the hotel. Brass hall lamps with arched stems evoke street lights; cushion patterns emulate textiles from merchants in Kampong Glam; leather elevator walls are pressed to recreate a look of woven rattan. “It is not my intention to translate any elements in a literal way—after all, I, too, am observing a city as an outsider,” Fu says. “My design is a captive expression of how a city has been experienced.” The goal is for locals to feel a familiarity, and tourists to recognize elements they have seen exploring the area. Take one look at the seating in Smoke & Pepper and you’ll see a green sofa by the window. Take a second look, and you’ll notice the moss-hued fabric exactly matches the roof tiles of Sultan’s Mosque, which the sofa overlooks. Likewise, the terracotta roofs of Bugis’s shophouses are echoed in leather dining chairs, and spices of Little India tint cumin-colored doors and nutmeg wood finishes. The 342 guest rooms, including 26 suites and a 152-square-meter presidential suite, are also designed around the alleyway concept. Rooms lead around the central bed through to

the bathroom, walk-in wardrobe and back to the entrance. The design feels spacious, but each section can also be closed off for more intimate quarters. The bedroom doors are mango-yellow shophouse-style shutters, brass letterboxes look stylish as the doorbell and key entry, headboard fabric has a subtle batik pattern. Such care to avoid cliché in favor of creative interpretation is even evident at the bakery Pandan, which offers modern takes on the pandan chiffon cake, glazing them in a rainbow of local flavors, like black sesame or bandung rose syrup. The dining space at 665°F, the hotel’s premium grill-house, evokes a traditional tailor shop. In the open kitchen, Halal-certified steaks and sustainable seafood come at a sizzling, as its name suggests, 665 degrees. The window of 665°F affords a bird’s-eye-view of the hotel’s outdoor infinity pool 13 floors below. Above the restaurant, check out Andaz’s rooftop bar, Mr Stork. Among 10 nest-like teepee tents, the bronze pavilion bar offers 360-degree views of downtown Singapore, Marina Bay and even slivers of Indonesia in the distance. Guests will sense this layered identity throughout their stay, but it culminates rather surreally in an artwork within the largest of three atriums encircled by the guest rooms. Above a moss garden is a 26-meter metal piece by Brazilian sculptor André Mendes, commissioned by Fu to depict the journey of the Singapore traveler who learns the history of the city-state, shops its malls and tries the beloved local food. It’s an abstract translation of Fu’s cultural intentions for Andaz—yet another design tool to show Singapore’s heritage shouldn’t be overlooked. 5 Fraser St.; singapore.andaz.hyatt.com; from S$370. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / m a r c h 2 0 1 8

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Enter One@Tokyo via its forest entrance. Clockwise from above left: ‘One room, one table’ runs the length of the ground floor; the logo designed by Kengo Kuma; Tokyo SkyTree from the hotel; a guest room.

Tr e e of Life

Fronted by a forest and filled with greenery and wood in a sweet, lesser-touristed neighborhood, One@Tokyo manages to make industrial chic a cocooning home base. by julian ryall. photographs by shinsuke matsukawa


t

he Oshiage district, a bit

northeast of central Tokyo, is not a traditional haunt of tourists or business travelers. The 634-meter-high Tokyo Skytree may have put the area on the map in 2012, but the streets that spread from the base of this neo-futuristic behemoth have remained largely unchanged since they were rebuilt after World War II. Oshiage remains stubbornly low-rise, with modest homes cheek-by-jowl in its narrow backstreets. The main roads are dominated by unpretentious supermarkets and restaurants that have been in the same families for generations, and the occasional dimly lit bar catering to a decidedly local clientele. Amid all the hallmarks of a traditional shitamachi (the Japanese equivalent of a typical downtown) is a new hotel turning heads with its nontraditional design that manages to stay true to the neighborhood’s roots. One@Tokyo, which opened last April, is part forest, part warehouse, softening a bare-bones aesthetic with green warmth. “The Oshiage district has a history of manufacturing industrial products and we wanted to combine that heritage with wood and other more natural elements in the final structure,” says Hiroaki Akiyama, chief project manager for Kengo Kuma & Associates, the firm in charge of the project. Another reason for the combination of styles is that when Kengo Kuma—renowned for his environmentally focused often latticework designs, and who will be working on the national stadium for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics—took over, work had already begun on the property, which was first envisaged as a run-of- the-mill business hotel before the Hong Kong–based owners changed their minds. “We had to work largely with the previous plan but try to give the hotel a new feel,” Akiyama says. The hotel is just a few hundred meters from the subway station at the base of the Skytree, meaning that the latticed landmark throws its shadow over the property when the sun is in the perfect spot in the heavens. This provides a lovely layering of texture—especially over the first two floors of the extruded cement façade, which are obscured behind a latticework of hinoki cypress from Wakayama Prefecture that parts the main entrance. The branches

emerging from the pavement emphasize the verticality of the building, and the wood, Akiyama says, creates a “warm, inviting, gate-like structure as a ‘welcoming forest.’” It gives the sensation of escaping the relentless concrete and steel city. The floor-to-ceiling doors from the dining area can be drawn back to create a European-style sidewalk café amid a natural world of vertical wood, flowers and shrubs, including lavender, rosemary and a flowering myrtle tree. But the lobby and entry area have a very different feel. Walls are of cement panels or wood-grain board, window and door surrounds are fashioned from aluminum with an anodized finish, and door handles and handrails are of galvanized steel. The ceiling has exposed beams finished with sprayed rockwool. Piping and ducts have been left uncovered. The elevator has laminated plastic-sheet walls with a metallic wood pattern and a checkered-plate galvanized steel floor. Yet within all the brutalist references are nods to the wild. “We wanted to ensure that there was a natural flow from the street all the way into the interior,” Akiyama says. A counter runs the length of the ground-floor, uniting the reception, bar and dining areas. While a new arrival is checking in at the far left end of the counter, a group of guests are enjoying coffee at its mid-point, and staff are preparing for the evening meal at the far end. Made of reclaimed wood, it has been worked into a mosaic of shades and textures. Seats at the “one room, one table”—as dubbed by Kuma—are made of upholstered wooden boxes. Other cubes function as the bar. The industrial-look ceiling is partly obscured by bolts of suspended fabric, with cloth also taking the harshness out of the lighting. On the guest floors—the 142 rooms include two suites and 21 lofts each covering 28 square meters each, generous for a midrange Tokyo hotel—LED lights glow through silvery white curtains. Signage, including the One@Tokyo logo, scribbled by Kuma himself during the concept stages, is fashioned from construction reinforcing bars or wire. In the spacious but cozy rooms, stone-textured ceramic tiles, polycarbonate-board bathroom doors, and stainless steel fittings contrast with matte white wallpaper and larch-plywood panels. It feels as though the intentional design itself, the softening of the industrial elements through texture and lighting, aids relaxation. The roof bar is a verdant highlight, boasting a wood deck filled with well-tended shrubs and small trees. A fine metal mesh fence provides a sensation of space and openness, yet couches are cleverly angled and screened for privacy. During the crystal-clear days of winter, it offers uninterrupted views to the south of the city until the skyline rises to form the towers around Tokyo Station and Shinagawa. In the warm summer months, this green-and-brown oasis rises above the heat and humidity of street level. And all the while, the soaring Tokyo Skytree looms in the immediate distance. “Kengo Kuma is world-famous for his design work and we have a lot of special-interest tourists who want to stay in a hotel that he created,” says general manager Kazuhiko Saito. “First-time guests want rooms that look out over Skytree, but most of our repeat visitors actually request rooms on the other side of the building, looking out over the shitamachi district of homes and small-scale local businesses. They say they feel that they are experiencing the ‘real’ Tokyo. These are not people who want the neon lights of Roppongi or the skyscrapers of Shinjuku; they want to see an authentic district and meet the real people who live here.” 1-19-3 Oshiage, Sumida; onetokyo.com/en/; from ¥12,760. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / m a r c h 2 0 1 8

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La milano moderna It may not have the romance of Florence, Naples or Rome, but today, Milan has a pace and intensity no other Italian city can match. Longtime resident Tim Parks reflects on how the Milanese gift for mixing work and pleasure feels so perfectly of the moment. Photographed by federico ciamei


A visitor ascends a staircase at mudec, a former factory reimagined as a museum of art and culture in Milan’s Via Tortona district. Opposite: The view from the south terrace of the Duomo.

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hen a city has been changing around you for years, there comes a day when you want to understand what’s going on. I’ve been teaching at IULM University in Milan since 1991. For nearly two decades I commuted to the city from Verona, a couple of hours to the east. Picturesque perfect beside a meander of river below vine-terraced hills, Verona is the Italy people dream of. Milan, on the other hand, has always been the big bad city of popular imagination. My time there was typically a blur of duties and deadlines. I would arrive by train at the huge central station, with its Fascist-inspired friezes, and plunge straight into the gloomy subway. After that it was lessons, faculty meetings, exams and tutorials before the reverse trip home: hassles with tickets, timetables, strikes, delays. And the trains were always packed. More than half a million commuters flow into Italy’s financial capital every day, far more than any of its other cities. Milan is the motor that drives Italy, the place you go when you can’t find work in your hometown. And since most Italians would do

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almost anything to stay home, reluctant migrants often feel a certain resentment toward this frenetic place. Thousands of southerners are forever planning their return to Calabria, Puglia or Sicily. The weather is better at home, they say, the fruit, the pasta, the company. Yet in the end these people stay, and perhaps not just for the work. They stay because you feel free in Milan. You don’t have your family constantly on your back. And things can change here; buildings can rise and fall. In 1910 the artist Umberto Boccioni, himself born in Calabria, painted the view he spent hours watching in Milan: a futurist whirl of workmen and horses straining among scaffolding, cables and smoke. The City Rises, he called it, and the original now hangs in New York’s MoMA. In a country too often shackled by tradition and mired in its magnificent past, Milan has always been on the move. So it was to Milan that I came when my wife and I separated in 2009. At once I was surprised to find what an attractive place it was: the fine old trees shading dusty flagstones; the shriek of the quaint orange trams with their rattling wooden benches; the alternation of old Italy and new, Roman arch and reflective glass; people racing their SUVs about like there was no tomorrow, hitting their horns in rage, then lounging, entirely relaxed, at


Unico Milano’s chef Fabrizio Ferrari.

clockwise from far left: Alongside the

Naviglio Pavese, part of the recently redeveloped Darsena, or dock area; an exterior view of mudec; Unico Milano’s shrimp tartare and pane cunzatu.

canal-side tables, studying handwritten menus. You could think of the Milanese, I realized, as hedonists in a hurry. Because life is so frenetic here, your brief enjoyments must be exquisite. Morning coffee and early-evening aperitivi are key moments in the city’s schedule. There is nowhere that the cappuccinos or the Spritzes are better. Arriving shortly before the financial crisis brought Italy to a halt, I found an awful lot of building going on. Vast areas of the city were being redeveloped and gentrified. Dust rose over giant construction sites, bus routes were altered or suspended, subway stations temporarily closed. Infected by the general fever for il mattone—literally, “the brick”—I decided to look for a place to buy. The same architects who had put together Dolce & Gabbana’s supermodern offices near the center of town were renovating an old silk factory in my area, Chiesa Rossa​. The noble stone façade now led to a gleaming white courtyard, all spacious terrace balconies and sliding glass. It was three-quarters finished. When another factory conversion was completed nearby with the opening of a wryly named restaurant, Carlo e Camilla in Segheria (Charles & Camilla in the Sawmill), I told myself this was it: the area was moving upmarket. I put down a substantial deposit on an apartment in the old silk factory.

Months later, due to the knock-on effects of the great financial crash, the builders behind the development failed, and the site was mothballed. So began five years of uncertainty. Property values fell. Lawyers shook their heads. Anxious and angry, I barely noticed that the city around me had started preparing to stage the Milan Expo, a huge exhibition at which 145 countries would dream up adventurous solutions to the problem of feeding the planet. Down on the streets, all kinds of infrastructural improvements were under way. The newspapers spoke of nothing else. And I was condemned to phoning bank managers and wringing vague promises from my embarrassed property developer. But by a curious coincidence, when I did finally move in, it was on the very day the Milan Expo opened: May 1, 2015. Waking up alone the following morning, the first occupant in a block of 150 luxury apartments, looking out of a polished window at tram lines that led straight to the Duomo and the heart of the town, I felt as if an enormous weight had fallen from my shoulders. A lot of money had been lost, but I hadn’t gone under. Milan hadn’t gone under. On the contrary, it was the focus of international attention. Tourists were pouring in. And I was finally free to go out and see how the city had changed.


Crucifixion, by Michele da Verona, at the Brera Pinacoteca, where a new director is making plans to modernize. Opposite: The Duomo, as seen through an installation of tropical foliage in a nearby square.

A good place to savor the new Milan, with its blend of monied futurism and loyalty to tradition, is Unico Milano, a restaurant on the 20th floor of the WJC Tower. The building stands about six kilometers northwest of the Duomo, abutting an area with the threateningly sci-fi name of QT8, which stands for Quartiere Triennale Otto and simply means that it was built at the time of the Eighth Triennial, a major trade exhibition inaugurated in 1923. I went there to dine with a couple of friends, Andrea Cane and Letizia Rittatore, and as we ascended in the glass elevator, we had an impressive view of crisscrossing suburban highways and glittering new tower blocks. “I can’t wait for the sight of the city center,” Rittatore said. Which brings us to the defining characteristic of the Unico—one that must drive its chefs wild with frustration. However interesting the food (and it really is interesting), the view is always more so. The waiters offer you a glass of champagne—“Would you prefer the Charmat method, signore, or the classic version?”—but you can’t help hurrying outside to the narrow terrace that faces downtown. Later, you sit in front of elegant Zafferano glasses, no two alike, and plates of beautifully presented appetizers, yet your eye can’t help straying to the city gleaming and pulsing around you. The Duomo,

with its white Gothic pinnacles, is there in the middle. To the south is one of the oddest skyscrapers ever built, the 1950s Velasca Tower, a rectangular brick block that grows wider and boxier toward the top. But these earlier attempts to dominate the skyline are entirely dwarfed by the seductive curves of the magnificent Piazza Gae Aulenti towers to the north, their luminous gray façades turning faintly pink as the sun finally sets, sending rosy fingers across the peaks of the Alps far behind. “Burnt-wheat maccheroncelli with peas, green beans and spider crab,” the waiter announced, resigned to barely denting our attention. It’s almost a shame that the view is so arresting, because the food, when you finally manage to concentrate on it, is extraordinary. In Italy, one is so used to eating traditional dishes, all wonderfully prepared but essentially the same, that it comes as a delightful surprise when a skilled chef uses typical produce to create something unexpected. Take the decidedly regional mix of peas, beans and crab, which at Unico is made into an exquisite sauce that perfectly sets off the texture of macaroni made from toasted wheat—a recipe that goes back to times when peasants would hunt for the scorched grain left behind after a field had been harvested and the stubble burned. With the prices it asks,


the restaurant would hardly be playing a key role in the Expo’s mission to feed the planet, but as darkness fell on this part of the globe, all three of us were grateful to the chef for reminding us how exciting the simplest ingredients can be. Cane, who works in publishing, has lived in Milan more than 30 years. Rittatore, a former beauty editor turned freelance writer, has been in the city her whole life. Yet neither feels wholly Milanese, or talks about belonging to the city in the way a long-term resident of London or New York City would. Italians have an extraordinarily strong sense of belonging, which makes them reluctant to shift allegiances. “My parents were from Umbria and Piedmont,” Rittatore confessed. Cane is from Turin. “Only when you have at least three grandparents born in Milan,” he said, “are you a real meneghino, a Milanese.” At Unico you get to observe the city, but you can’t easily walk out into it—a reminder that the Italian experience of fine eating at its leisurely best is almost always attached to the passeggiata. It’s common practice to have your main meal in a restaurant, then gelato from a gelateria artigianale (“Pink-Himalayan-salt chocolate and mascarpone, per favore”) before winding up with espresso

at a table in some 17th-century piazza where Latin inscriptions sit beside risqué ads for skimpy swimwear. Fortunately, Milan’s other recent redevelopment projects make this wonderfully easy. At the heart of them is the Darsena, or Dock, which opened just in time for the Expo in 2015. We’re talking about an elbow of water about 500 meters by 50 that connects the Naviglio Grande, a canal flowing into the city from Lake Maggiore to the Naviglio Pavese, which flows southward to Pavia. For years this area was just mud and dereliction, marking the southern edge of downtown Milan. Then, just as the Expo tourists began to arrive, it was unveiled as a bright and breezy waterside experience with cafés, food markets, music, canal cruises, and even a giant cube with four TV screens showing major sporting events. The effect on the city has been startling. The canals, with their adjacent cafés and restaurants, were suddenly only a pleasant stroll from the Duomo. All at once everyone was walking and cycling. Everyone was in love with Milan. Another place they were walking around was Via Tortona, a second formerly industrial area that has been reclaimed by inviting Italy’s major fashion companies to turn decaying factories and warehouses into chic showrooms. Beside the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation and t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / m a r c h 2 0 1 8

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the so-called Armani Silos, we now have mudec, a futuristic museum of art and culture, and a cluster of smart new bars. “Does all this change bother you?” I asked Edoardo Zuccato in the Botanical Club, an upscale location serving cocktails with names like Smoky & Cloudy (white rum, mezcal, St.-Germain, cream of passion fruit, honey, lime, fresh sage). As a poet who writes in the obscure local dialect, Zuccato surely has the right to consider himself Milanese, and to feel vaguely affronted by a transformation that seems to require all new restaurants to have English names? “Not all,” he laughed. “Via Tortona was a dump twenty years ago. Noting valuable has been destroyed. And I’m not a true Milanese!” He’s from Cassano Magnago, he said, 40 kilometers to the northwest. So is all this successful renovation the results of brilliant planning? Perhaps the right person to answer this question, I thought, was Eddy Cosenza, the developer responsible for the block where we both now live. I invited him down from his penthouse flat for an espresso in my more modest abode, and then noted that, these days, most of his work is with a couple of multimillion-euro properties in the center of the city, one of which he recently acquired on behalf of a group of Chinese investors. Needless to say, Eddy is not Milanese. He’s from Naples. But he has never had any problem working with the locals, he claimed. “Unlike the families in other cities, the Milanese don’t block outsiders from a slice of the action. That’s why so much foreign money flows into Milan, and why so much of its tourism is business-generated.” “But did they actually plan this renaissance?” Eddy shook this head. “It just happened. The city was attracting private money. The development followed, then the Expo provided the drive for restyling the Darsena. It’s great for property values,” he said, smiling. “It will bring the center down to where we are in just a few years now.” Meaning, I suppose, Don’t worry, Tim. One day your apartment may actually be worth what you paid me for it before the crash. Where will I celebrate when that day comes? James Bradburne, a museologist who arrived in the city last year to take over and revamp the Brera Pinacoteca—the city’s most important art gallery—had a suggestion. By that time he will have a fully licensed bar up and running on the second floor of the palazzo that houses the museum (a radical move for a dusty old public institution in Italy). “We can soak up a little Mantegna and Raffaello, then have a couple of stiff negronis with a few friends,” he said. Then he asked me whether, to earn my drinks, I’d be willing to write a caption or two for the gallery’s paintings; he wants exciting, writerly responses, rather than the routine art history. It seems in just a year or so Bradburne has completely understood the Milanese genius for mixing work, art and pleasure. And of course a version of The City Rises, that iconic futurist portrait of the city, hangs right there in the Brera. I told him I would jump at the chance to write a caption for it. Few pieces better represent Milan’s extraordinary mix of art and industrial frenzy.

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WORTH A VISIT

Experience Park, once the grounds for the 2015 Milan Expo, is now a public space with an open-air theater and the popular Tree of Life, which offers hourly fountain and light shows. The details GETTING THERE Fly to Malpensa International Airport. Nonstop flights from Southeast Asia are offered by Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong; Singapore Airlines from Singapore; and Thai Airways from Bangkok. HOTELS Armani Hotel Milano Appropriately situated in the center of the city’s fashion district, this extension of the iconic Milanese brand is a great home base for shopping excursions on Via Montenapoleone. armanihotel milano.com; doubles from €567. Hotel Viu Milan One of several new developments in Milan’s historic Chinatown, this property has an imposing façade that is softened by walls covered with greenery. Interiors have custom furniture from Italian design group Molteni & C. hotelviumilan.com; doubles from €200. Mandarin Oriental Through a partnership with the Brera Pinacoteca, the hotel offers guests exclusive access to the museum during off-hours and even once-in-a-lifetime private tours from a conservator. mandarinoriental.com; doubles from €568. Sina the Gray This design hotel in a renovated palazzo incorporates off-the-wall touches, like beds hanging from colorful ropes, and unique furnishings in each of its 21 rooms and suites. sinahotels.com; doubles from €260. RESTAURANTS & BARS Botanical Club Italy’s first-ever craft-gin distillery has two culinary outposts: a restaurant on Via Pastrengo serving refined pasta and secondi, and a Via Tortona location with globally inspired small plates and raw-bar fare. Both highlight the proprietary gin on their cocktail menus. thebotanicalclub.com; small plates €10–€16.

Carlo e Camilla in Segheria Celebrity chef Carlo Cracco (veteran of Michelin-starred institutions like Florence’s Enoteca Pinchiorri) worked with designer Tanja Solci to renovate this 1920s sawmill building where the lofty, bare-bones dining room is adorned with chandeliers. carloecamillainsegheria.it; mains €22–€27. Ceresio 7 Restaurant Spend all day at this idyllic rooftop escape, lunching alfresco by the two openair pools before moving indoors for digestifs at the old-school American Bar. ceresio7.com; mains €32–€43. Unico Milano On the 20th floor of the WJC Tower, chef Fabrizio Ferrari reroutes traditional regional ingredients in new and wonderful directions, against panoramas of the Milanese skyline and the Italian Alps. unicorestaurant.it.com; mains €27–€35. MUSEUMS & GALLERIES Armani Silos Take a sartorial journey through Giorgio Armani’s prolific career at this fashion museum, which also maintains an extensive digitized collection of the designer’s sketches, ad campaigns, and other archival materials. armanisilos.com. Brera Pinacoteca Founded by Napoleon in 1809, this Milan institution is home to Renaissance masterpieces like Bellini’s Pietà, as well as modern works by the likes of Boccioni and Modigliani. pinacotecabrera.org. Fondazione Prada Current installations at this Rem Koolhaas–designed space include a site-specific project by the Gelitin art collective and a retrospective on the artists of postwar Chicago. fondazioneprada.org. MUDEC Explore multimedia ethnographic exhibitions at Milan’s museum of art and culture, housed in a soaring former industrial plant. mudec.it.


Lucy Jackson keeps the world moving “The demand in luxury travel out of the APAC region is driving our tailormade business at a fast pace. In order to fine tune our product portfolio, Lightfoot Travel’s presence at ILTM Asia Pacific is the cornerstone to our product proposition for the year, particularly being based in Asia.” Lucy Jackson Walsh, Co-founder & Director Lightfoot Travel (HK) Ltd #keeptheworldmoving www.iltm.com


wish you were here

The air is cool and freshly scented. Narrow roads twist through Sri Lanka’s mountains, taking you away from the respite that is Ella. But before you depart, pause to take in the morning mist that eventually gives way to a golden sky, the sun highlighting the contours of the cliffs and bathing the dense forests. This is a corner of the island where the pace of life remains as it has been for decades. Scenes like this are what will be etched in your mind long after you’ve moved on. —a aron joel santos

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March 2018  

Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia March 2018

March 2018  

Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia March 2018