Over the last few years an aesthetic uprising has been taking place around Asia. With the region enjoying the fruits of a mushrooming economic climate, the environments of many leading Eastern urban metropolises have started to metamorphose and transform into something of a more attractive nature. Like a snake shedding off its old skin, these central capitals have slowly but surely become more visually appealing, with stunning new interiors cropping up alongside an ever-increasing stream of strikingly-planned urban areas. Whether it is Tokyo’s consistently futuristic cityscape, the clean well-organized and unrelentingly booming streets of Singapore, Dubai’s breath-taking skyscrapers, or the ever-changing landscape of China, where a new high-rise building is erected every five days, Asia has been undeniably and conspicuously restyled of late. Continue reading A Design Revolution
Luxury gets taken to new heights at Ritz Carlton’s stupendous new Hong Kong property.
Unless you’ve been reading censored news over the last year, you’ve probably heard about Ritz Carlton’s phenomenal return to Hong Kong, with their striking new property much more than adequately filling in what was approximately a three-year absence for the brand in the city. Having just passed its first anniversary things have only gotten better to the point of perfection, and over the last twelve months the sky-scraping hotel has come to be an iconic happening address, with luminaries, leading politicians and stars such as Lady Gaga having graced the towering heights of the property.
We’re just going to say this straight up; there will never be another Song Saa. Like a rare top-drawer gemstone, this boutique Cambodian luxury resort will never be replicated – it’s the kind of place that the phrase ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ was designed for. However, after experiencing the magic here, you’re going to want to visit twice or thrice in a lifetime. We say that because we’re already wishing we were back there (and continue to do so daily).
Shanghai ifc, 8 Century Avenue, Lujiazui, Pudong 200120 China
Although the impressively groundbreaking Ritz Carlton Hong Kong just opened barely a few months ago another equally impressive milestone from the group has been making a steady stream of waves over in Shanghai city for the past few months as well. Officially opened back at the end of last year, the Ritz Carlton Pudong is a marvel to behold and, like the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, the fresh new Shanghai property also boasts a large number of breathtaking feats, including Shanghai’s highest al fresco dining and wining venue, awe-inspiring design traces, plus unrivalled hotel-wide views over Shanghai. Developed by Hong Kong locals, Sun Hung Kai Properties, the hotel is a real stunner and it is unmistakably evident that no expenses were spared in the creation of this masterpiece. Set amidst the upper floors of the Cesar Pelli-designed Shanghai ifc, the hotel reaches for design and architectural heights, which it achieves with class. The cloud-touching property is an integral feature of Shanghai ifc and it enters in as the second Ritz Carlton in the city, and seventh in China. The interiors are just as perfect as the exterior, with designs from Singapore-based Richard Farnell and restaurants by Japan’s legendary Super Potato.
The 285 modern Art Deco rooms feature a lush array of textures, materials, furnishings and technology, with Blu-ray players appearing alongside coffee pod machines, beautifully-designed free-standing bathtubs, and more marble than you can shake a stick at. Richard Farnell’s touches also prettify the property throughout, with patches of real Stingray skin decorating some of the public areas, and meeting rooms which feature an Alice-in-Wonderland chic. For business and conferences one could not get much better, with the hotel’s 1,135 metre square ballroom supposedly being the second largest hotel ballroom in Shanghai. There is also over 2,250sqm of conference and meeting space, with plenty of natural light and outdoor spaces as well. The climax of the hotel is the 58th floor lounge and restaurant called Flair, which has a split-level outdoor terrace with views directly across to the big ball of the Pearl Tower – quite possibly the best rooftop bar in the world.
Originally published in South China Morning Post, July 2011
Experience a new level of hospitality at The St. Regis Shenzhen.
Continuing their foray into China and expanding their palatial presence further in Asia Pacific, the newest St. Regis property in Shenzhen is the latest and greatest from the luxury-centric group and it is a milestone in every sense. The resplendent hotel is housed in the upper fractions of the city’s highest building, the 441.8 meter-tall Kingkey 100 building, which also happens to be the ninth tallest building in the world and the tallest building ever designed by a British architect, who in this case was the highly-acclaimed Sir Terry Farrell. Continue reading Luxury on High – St. Regis Shenzhen
The ultra-hip global design firm, yoo, just recently launched their latest and one of their most audacious projects yet, Lodha Fiorenza, at Goregaon in Mumbai.
With India going from strength to strength every day and with many Indian luxury properties redefining luxury for the world, it was only a matter of time before yoo appeared in India. Founded by the world’s most celebrated designer, Philippe Starck, and one of the most influential property developers in Europe, international property entrepreneur John Hitchcox, the celebrity-aligned design company has names such as Kelly Hoppen, Marcel Wanders and Jade Jagger working for them.
Jagger has already designed homes in Morocco, properties in Turkey and apartments in New York, and her work is always respectful of the culture within which the project is located. This is undoubtedly the case with Lodha Fiorenza, which blends India’s rich and varied tradition with unique cultural elements from across the world and Jagger’s trademark style of relaxed luxury.
“I am absolutely delighted to be partnering with Lodha to design Lodha Fiorenza. I have always been inspired by the vivid colours and exotic textures of India; it’s been a wonderful experience to incorporate them in the design of Lodha Fiorenza – a perfect balance between luxury and comfort,” commented Jagger at the launch.
When completed in 2014 the primely-located position project will boast 452 apartments, across four buildings. Milano, the tallest of the four structures, is a 52-storey tower which will rise to a breathtaking height of 600 feet. The building will feature luxurious four bedroom residences and lavish duplex sky villas of just one per floor. Residents will get to enjoy such lavish facilities as a rooftop lounge, an observatory with stunning views of the Aarey colony and the Arabian Sea plus an infinity edge cantilevered swimming pool. The other three towers, Venizia, Sienna and Roma, offer stylish two, three, and four bedroom residences in the Jade Jagger for yoo style. All the homes will be fitted with the highest specifications and include lighting and sounds controls by iPad, German Poggenpohl kitchens, and Italian marble flooring.
China World Summit Wing / Regus Business Centre –
Many of these buildings are located in well-planned business complexes that are more like mini cities, with offices, accommodation, restaurants and shops for the many travellers and workers that the developments are aimed at.
A perfect case in point is the China World Summit Wing hotel, one of the capital’s newest luxury accommodation establishments. Managed by Shangri-La and situated in the heart of one of the city’s premier business districts, the property is unmatched in convenience, with plenty of transport links in the immediate vicinity and the Capital International Airport just 45 minutes away by car. Companies in the area span a broad variety of sectors including finance, insurance, trade, telecoms and IT.
The hotel itself is housed in the upper section of the 330-metre-tall China World Trade Centre Tower, which is the tallest building in Beijing and the 33rd tallest in the world. Inside you’ll find a whole host of facilities, many of which are geared towards corporate events. The more notable facilities on offer include one of city’s largest pillar-less ballrooms, a 95-seat auditorium, a rooftop garden and a number of exquisite dining venues, all offering spectacular city views.
Another prominent new opening in the city is the latest Regus Business Centre on the top floors of Parkview Green, a unique pyramid-like structure as accommodating as it is easy to spot.
The suites and offices in the business centre offer all the amenities expected from a modern office. Receptionist and secretarial services are also available, as are a number of plush meeting rooms. Both long- and short-term leasing arrangements are available.
Originally published in South China Morning Post, August 2012
With intentionally oxidised furnishings and features running throughout, this Bill Bensley-landscaped resort is guided by design and it would only make sense that their spa would follow suit. While there were already a whole bunch of quality treatments on offer, the design stakes of the spa increased two-fold this year, with the opening of the stunning Nest treatment suites which are, in essence, oversized Avatar-like nests suspended midair accessible only by a bridge. Branded as the Coqoon Spa, it is now one of the most distinctive spas in Thailand and the spa suites further secure this standing.
The surroundings for the treatments on offer include eight double rooms, six immaculately presented deluxe treatment rooms, plus a luxurious spa suite (complete with a private swimming pool, steam showers, a sauna, a Jacuzzi and a waterproof shower treatment table). There is also a beauty salon on hand for the more vainly inclined.
Drawing on timeless Asian herbal remedies, Coqoon Spa uses a perfect blend of specially selected ingredients and essential oils. Using Anne Sémonin branded products, the treatments and ingredients encourage harmony for all kinds of skin types.
Originally published in Kiosk Magazine, January 2012
These days it’s hard to keep track of all the new hotel openings in Asia, let alone around the rest of the world. Like mould growing in spring humidity, new launches are a dime a dozen and here we present you with a round-up of some of the best so far.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
Soaring 490 metres above Victoria Harbour, on the top floors of the fourth tallest building on the planet is the new Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong and the extraordinary hotel marks the beginning of a new era for Asian hospitality.
At a measly 333 metres, the Rose Rayhaan in Dubai was the previous world’s tallest, and – for now at least – The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong now can proudly claim the title of the highest hotel in the world instead. The sweeping 360-degree panoramas are beyond comparison, with every one of the sleek modern-oriental-styled guestrooms featuring either views of Hong Kong’s outlying islands, Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, or, in some privileged cases, all of the above.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is a hotel that turns people into ants and buildings into structures of cards – a place where the world looks differently and where one literally stands above it all. The lobby sits on the 103rd floor, and the hotel continues its vertical climb to the highest bar in the world – the Ozone Bar on the 118th floor (which, yes, does have an outdoor terrace). Other food and beverage highlights include an all-day Lounge and Bar, a cute pastry shop, a Chinese restaurant called Tin Lung Heen, a south Italian-focused outlet called Tosca, plus a lounge called the Chocolate Library. There is also an 860-square-metre spa by ESPA, which comes complete with a glass-enclosed infinity pool, an LED screen ceiling, plus nine deluxe treatment rooms and two couples’ suites.
Location: International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2263 2263
While the property does not offer as much as mega luxury resorts, the select offerings on hand are of the highest quality. These top-notch offerings include a spacious spa, 74 comfortable and airy guestrooms, an open-air waterfront bar, a beach-side saltwater infinity pool, plus a well-equipped gym and what could easily be considered Samui’s best restaurant – H Bistro.
Although slightly cosily-sized at 8,862 square-metres, it is exactly this cosiness which makes the property so successful, with intimate public areas and a simple design keeping everything at guest’s fingertips. Arranged in an orderly U-shaped layout, the warm brick-coloured structures of the property have been expediently arranged around the garden-edged infinity pool at the centre of the resort, which can be reached within 30 seconds from anywhere on the property. In addition, every single one of the rooms unobstructedly looks onto the sea, with each boasting massive flat-screen televisions, centrepiece terrazzo bathtubs, teak floors, restful king-size four-poster beds and oversized glass-walled rainshowers as well.
Other highlights of the property include the generously sized treatment rooms of the Luxsa Spa and possibly one of the finest and most well-equipped restaurants in Samui, H Bistro, where fresh foods and molecularly enhanced dishes tantalise and exert a pull on one’s senses. Although newcomers on the scene, Hansar is managed by hospitality veterans Ativa, and as a result the service is second-to-none, with every one of the staff making guests feel like family. This superior service is another element that contributes to the subtle sense of working luxury that makes this place the diamond in the rough that it is.
Location: 101/28 Moo 1, Bophut, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand 84320
Phone: +66 7724 5511
W Retreat Koh Samui, Thailand
The overuse of words beginning with the letter ‘W’ employed at W Hotels around the world gets kind of galling after a while, but this is one annoyance we are willing to forgo at the W Retreat Koh Samui, which really is, by definition and design, whimsical and wonderful (*shudder*).
At the entrance one is greeted by interactive digital floor projections and a large architectural recreation of a lily pond complete with glowing psychedelic floating globules and sunken seats that look like oversized lotus flowers. From here on in a whole world of chicness awaits where quirky design features abound and create a serious sense of place. In the 75 colourful glass-walled pool villas red marshmallow-resembling light fixtures, modish asymmetrical ceiling fans and other playful eye candy combine to make an impact on the senses, whilst around the resort a number of alluring food and beverage outlets beckon and entice.
These include the open kitchens, dramatic glass ceilings and vivid bright blue tones of The Kitchen Table; the raw wood, concrete, and glass elements of the beach-side Sip Bar and Namu Japanese restaurant; plus a healthful juice bar connected to the Away Spa (which boasts Asia’s first Thai/Mexican steam treatment facility). Being a W property, the exceptional design is matched by an exceptional location, which features two separate beaches that converge at a sandy tip. While villas scatter a hillside on one side off from the beachfront, there is a flat plain that stretches out on the other side, overlooked by the various levels of public areas that impressively cascade down the hillside. It is all just a day’s work for this hotel group of cool unconventionality.
Location: 4/1 Moo 1 Tambol Maenam, Surat Thani, Koh Samui, 84330 Thailand
Phone: +66 7791 5999
Kerry Hotel, Pudong, Shanghai
The Kerry Hotel, Pudong, Shanghai is the first of a new luxury hotel brand from the Shangri-La group and, being a debut, the property is of course a real stunner. With first-rate facilities, spacious guestrooms, professional meeting and conference solutions, and some of the best food and beverage outlets in Shanghai, the brand new 31-storey hotel is quite a force to be reckoned with.
The hotel houses 574 plush guestrooms and suites, which all come with specially designed bar counters and high stools, plus massive flat-screen televisions, iPod docks, complimentary Internet, and marble bathrooms with glass-enclosed baths and shower cubicles. However, although faultless and perfectly fine, these guestrooms take second place to the forward-thinking food and beverage concepts on offer at the hotel. These include an eye-catching à la carte restaurant (COOK) with 11 live show kitchens, and a refined steakhouse (MEET) where one can choose a slab of meat from the dedicated ‘Ageing Room’ and have it carved up tableside by the in-house butcher. The Kerry Hotel is also the first hotel with its own craft brewery (BREW) where their own signature beers are brewed in-house by the resident alcoholic (I mean ‘brew master’). Other highlights of the property include an opulent Chinese restaurant with private dining rooms galore (Blossoms) and a 6,000 square-metre recreation destination spanning over three floors.
Location: No.1388 Hua Mu Road, Pudong, Shanghai 201204, China
Phone: +86 21 6169 8888
Anantara Bangkok Sathorn, Thailand
Silently expanding at a swift pace, Anantara has grown to be a major player in the Asian hospitality industry. Now, after a decade of relaxing and pampering their guests, the comfort experts have opened their first true city hotel in Bangkok. Although most recognised for their resort-style accommodations – often with pool villas and verdant natural locations – their new Bangkok property refreshingly goes against the grain which they are normally used to.
However, this is not to say the property lacks the Anantara signature – it is in fact the opposite, with plenty of Thai-inspired ornaments running throughout and a massive outdoor pool and garden area set in between the two towering twin buildings that make up the property. Available for short- and long-term stays, their chic-looking accommodation offerings range from 40 square-metre rooms to 121 square-metre two-bedroom suites.
Some of the guestroom highlights include balconies with city or river views, plus oversized bathtubs and separate living and entertainment areas. The dining options on hand include Zin Bar, a refined and contemporary yet uniquely Anantara take on the lobby bar concept; Crust, a restaurant with its own wood-fire pizza oven serving up some of the best Italian pizzas in Bangkok; and 100°East, an outlet with indoor and outdoor seating with a refined interior marked by hardwood furniture and sensuous textiles.
Location: 36 Narathiwat-Ratchanakarin Road, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Phone: +66 2210 9000
Andara Resort & Villas, Phuket Thailand
Although not the newest property to have launched in Phuket, Andara is certainly one of the more luxurious and well-equipped resorts off the list of recent openings. Sited on a lush, gently-sloping hillside overlooking the picturesque waters of Kamala Bay on the pristine west coast of Phuket, the resort has an exclusive has-to-be-experienced feel about it.
There are 26 free-standing pool villas and 37 suites, each ranging in size from one to six bedrooms, spread across low-rise buildings layered up the hillside. Apart from the Thai-inspired ornamentation, the rooms feel more like well-equipped urban pads as opposed to accommodation in an island resort, with surround-sound Bose speakers in every room, exceptional kitchens outfitted with a shiny array of appliances, plus bathroom rainshowers and some of the most comfortable beds in Phuket. Other high points include Silk Restaurant and Bar (which fuses time-honoured techniques, fine local ingredients with a dash of contemporary flair), the large 40-metre infinity pool, the spacious spa, plus two of their own Italian-designed private motor yachts that are available for private charter.
Location: 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
Phone: +66 7633 8777
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has always had a strong footing in this part of Asia and so this Macau property opened to a fanfare when it launched. Taking over from the old Mandarin Oriental Macau (now branded as the Grand Lapa Hotel), the new property is located on a prime spot on the waterfront – coming in as part of the massive One Central Macau development (which also houses residences managed by the Mandarin Oriental).
Being the hospitality veterans that they are, the hotel features Mandarin Oriental’s trademark fineness, which comes in alongside a modish design scheme that merges subtle inspirations from the territory’s European heritage with sleek interior decor. The 213 spacious rooms (including 26 suites and 1 presidential suite) come complete with such comforts as hydro massage-equipped showers, television-side bathtubs, iPod docks, yoga mats, Nespresso coffee machines, large flat-screen televisions, surround sound systems and stunning panoramas over the adjacent lake or harbour. On site also are a state-of-the-art Fitness Centre and an outdoor swimming pool, with these both being connected to the award-winning Spa at Mandarin Oriental.
As the only non-gaming, five-star hotel on the Macau Peninsula, the Mandarin Oriental, Macau places its focus on areas other than gambling and, as well as the spa, there are also convenient and exclusive meeting and conference facilities, plus a wide range of food and beverage outlets. These dining options include the Lobby Lounge, the Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop and the signature Vida Rica Restaurant and Bar, which boasts soaring columns and a double-height ceiling.
Location: Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen, NAPE, Macau
Phone: +853 8805 8888
Originally published in Kiosk Magazine, April 2012