Last summer, I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Java & Bali. You can read my trip reports here:
Review:Â Singapore Airlines A380 new First Class suite from London to Singapore
Review:Â Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore
Review:Â Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Review:Â Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
Review:Â Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Ubud (Bali)
Review:Â Amanjiwo, Borobodur, Java
Review:Â Amandari, Ubud (Bali)
Review: Amankila, Bali
Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Uluwatu (today)
Review: Bulgari Bali Resort (Bali)
Review: Anantara Uluwatu (Bali)
Review:Â Singapore Airlines B787-10 Dreamliner Business Class from Bali to Singapore
Review:Â Singapore Airlines A380 (old) Business Class from Singapore to London
Today (December 26, 2018): Review of Banyan Tree Ungasan, Bali (Indonesia)
Location:Â Google maps
Hotel website:Â Banyan Tree Ungasan
Banyan Tree UngasanÂ sits 70 m (230 ft) above sea level on the southern tip of Bali, close to the famed Uluwatu Temple, overlooking a gold sand beach and the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Most of the resortâs 73 palatial villas enjoy a view of the sea and they all come with a plunge pool, outdoor hot tube, and plenty of retractable floor-to-ceiling glass, instantly turning bedrooms into open-air cabanas. Traditional Balinese accents and modern Asian decorations are fused throughout the interiors, and occasional carvings or statuettes tweak the well-honed Banyan Tree aesthetic. The property features several excellent dining venues (although the in-villa barbecue prepared by a personal chef is not te be missed) and a world-class spa.
Banyan Tree Ungasan features in my top 10 lists of theÂ best luxury hotels in BaliÂ and my favorite Banyan Tree hotels in the world.
In this review (more info and photos below myÂ Youtube clip & slideshow):
Pros & things I like
Cons & things to know
Tips for future guests &Â save money
Reviews of other hotels in Bali & Java
Best time to visit
How to get there
Click to view slideshow.
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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
Banyan Tree Ungasan enjoys a secluded location inUluwatu, aÂ place on the south-western tip of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula. This limestone cliff-fringed peninsula enjoys Bali’s most sunny weather and harbors one of the islandâs most famous temples, together with a spectacular coastline that serves as a world-class surfing playground. With its vast coastal length and exposure to the Indian Ocean, Bukit attracts wave riders from around the globe to its variety of surf spots. Uluwatu was “discovered” as a surfing destination in 1972, due to the making of ‘Morning of the Earth’, a 1971 classic surf film byÂ Alby FalzonÂ andÂ David Elfick. Today, the area is home to some of Bali’s most exclusive resorts, including Banyan Tree Ungasan.
The ultra-luxe resort, which opened in 2010, occupies an expansive site on top of a 70 m (230 ft) high cliff, offering panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and with direct access to a public beach below (more on that below). The beautifully maintained property and the low-rise hotel pavilions seamlessly merge with the surrounding natural environment. In keeping with Banyan Treeâs core principle of tranquility, the resort grounds feel close to nature and a world apart from the island’s overcrowded resort areas (e.g. Seminyak, Kuta).Â It is an absolute pleasure to stroll through the resortâs tropical gardens that bloom with frangipanis, bougainvillea, and take in not only the ocean views, but also the colors, fragrance and the sounds of nature.
Upon arrival at the hotel’s majestic lobby, all guestsÂ are treated to a warmÂ Balinese welcome and blessing ceremony, which includes putting aÂ flower behind your ear, sprinkling blessed water on your head, and sticking a little pinch of rice on your forehead. Afterwards, as you are escorted to your villa, you’ll get your first impression of the massive hotel site, which gently cascades down from the lobby towards the main facilities, the villas, and the cliff’s edge. The resort grounds are spread out and hilly, but efficient and fast buggy service is provided (available 24/7 upon request).
Designed by Peddle Thorp Architects with the interior decor by Wilson Associates Inc, Banyan Tree Ungasan’s timeless decor was envisioned as a symbiosis of old and new, antiquity and modern. Traditional principles and local considerations were used to maximize the space on the cliffside and to offer unparalleled ocean views while reflecting the arrangements of a Balinese village.Â Â To pay homage to the local tradition, the resort was designed along theÂ along the âkaja-kelodâ, the axis from North to South separating the mountain and sea.Â The mix of open and enclosed spaces and the use ofÂ a neutral grey and beige color palette further accentuates the dramatic vistas over the deep-blue ocean.
Banyan Tree Ungasan features two public pool areas, which are always quiet, since most guest prefer to lounge at their own private pool inside the villas. The main pool area is located in the center of the resort, and features several loungers overlooking a fabulous, Instagram-worthy, infinity-edged pool, which is flanked by stone columns and offers the resort’s most spectacular ocean view. Several facilities are located around this pool, such as the kidâs club (open daily from 9 am to 4 pm), a bar, Bambu restaurant, and the Banyan Tree boutique shop. There’s a second, smaller swimming poolÂ located at the spa area, which is accessible to all guests although it has a focus on relaxation and tranquility (so families with children may feel out of place here).
Banyan Tree Ungasan is one of the few cliffside resorts in the Uluwatu area which has direct beach access. The beach below the resort – called Melasti Beach – is one of the most scenic beaches on the island. For the comfort of its guests, the Banyan Tree resort even operates a private beach club on this wide stretch of golden sand (with sun loungers, umbrellas and towel service). The beach has only been open to the public for a decade (formerly it was only used by Balinese Hindus for prayer and religious events).Â The cerulean blue water and towering limestone cliffs make the beachÂ popular among in-the-know photographers and locals, although it is still largely ignored by tourists.Â It’s a great and majestic spot to relax in the sun or watch giant waves crash on the offshore reef.
Banyan Tree Ungasan offers a nice variation of terrific dining options:
Ju-Ma-Na restaurant, which means âsilver pearlâ in Arabic, is the resort’s signature restaurant, offering French cuisine with a Japanese twist in a spectacular cliff-edge setting. The open kitchen allows you to observe the chefs at work. The adjacent Ju-Ma-Na Bar offers sundowners along with Arabic finger food and Moroccan shishas (water pipes).
Tamarind, set in the tranquil surroundings of the spa, serves a variety of nouvelle Balinese cuisine, emphasizing on authentic Balinese herbs and spices cooked to perfection using modern techniques.
Bambu overlooks the main infinity pool and presents popular international and local specialties in a spacious garden setting, sometimes with live entertainment. Bambu also serves an extensive breakfast buffet,Â plus inclusive a-la-carte with loads of good choices and very good product quality.
I advise you to splurge on a in-villa barbecue, which blends the best of delicious food and sheer privacy inÂ the comfort of your own private villa. You can choose between different sets of barbecue menus.
As with all Banyan Tree resorts, the Balinese outpost of this ultraluxe hotel chain features a stunning, world-class spa. The spa facility is located next to the lobby and is spread over two levels, with an elegant reception upstairs and several palatial treatment rooms, a gym and a tranquility pool downstairs. The spa focuses on the âhigh-touch, low-techâ approach that celebrates human touch and the use of natural ingredients.Â Banyan Tree Spa’s signature range of Asian therapies are offered, including the Balinese massage, a deep tissue massage which stimulates blood circulation, improves energy flow and relieves tension.Â Spa treatments are specially concocted with fresh and natural ingredients to replenish your body with the best of natureâs gifts.
From housekeeping and management to gardeners and bell boys, the Banyan Tree Ungasan’s well-trained staff provides exquisite and flawless service. In fact, the resort provides the best service I have ever experienced at a Banyan Tree resort across the globe. Also, besides the human factor, a lot of effort goes into service details in which the hotel tries to discriminate themselves from their high-end competitors on the island. For example, a ”scent of the day” is daily put in the room’s oil burners and incense sticks lit; every morning you get a small turn-down gift and, every evening, sweets and a vacuum flask of green tea await when you return from a night out. Another example are theÂ Banyan Tree toiletries which are provided in the bathrooms in small bags you can take away as a memento (similar to amenity kits you get in Business or First Class on an airline).
TheÂ hotel isÂ managed by the Banyan TreeÂ hotel group, one of theÂ best global luxury hotel brands.Â The Banyan Tree hospitality company, which was established in 1994, has its roots in SingaporeÂ and provides naturally luxurious, ecologically sensitive, and culture-aware experiences for the discerning traveler. I have previously reviewed the equally superbÂ Banyan Tree properties in theÂ SeychellesÂ (my favorite!),Â Koh Samui,Â Phuket, theÂ Riviera Maya, Bangkok, andÂ Vietnam.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Banyan Tree Ungasan is a phenomenal hotel, offering a stunning cliffside location above a gorgeous beach, palatial villas in contemporary style, and excellent facilities. There are a few things you need to know when considering a stay here:
The resort enjoy a spectacular natural setting, but sometimes nature – and especially the wildlife – comes a little too close. Each morning, monkeys pass through the resort grounds and they will enter the villas to look for food when you leave the windows open. It can make for some fun moment, which can quickly turn into panic when you find yourself with these monkeys inside your room (as I experienced myself). Fortunately, there is security staff on hand to gently remove any mischievous wildlife. So, always follow the advise of hotel staff to keep the doors shut whenever you are leaving the room.
While the beach is good for relaxing, it is not very good for swimming, especiallyÂ at high tide due to the corals. During low tide, some small natural pools are formed in the exposed coral, which is great for small kids. In addition, the ocean here is often too rough for water sports, althoughÂ there are a few great point breaks for advanced surfers.
Given the tiered cliffside architecture and the gentle slope rate of the hotel site, views from certain villas are interrupted by the roofs of villas in front. For an unhindered view of the sea, you need to book one of the (more expensive) villas on the cliff’s edge.
Location is somewhat isolated, which can be a pro or con depending on your wishes. If you want to get away from it all, you’ll love this place. However, if you want to explore some of Bali’s famous sights, you’ll face some long day trips due to the bad traffic jams on the island. For example, it takes around 2-2,5Â hours each way to get to Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali.
Getting to the beach involves a 5 minute trip in one of the resort’s golf cart down the cliff, followed by a short walk on the resort’s private path to the beach, which features more than 100 stairs. So beach access may prove challenging for those that have difficulties walking.
Value for money: 9/10
Overall experience: very good 8,8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
Save money: read here myÂ tipsÂ for getting the best dealÂ at a luxury hotel like Banyan Tree Ungasan (and/or receive many free perks).
Room tip: for an unhindered view of the sea, you need to book one of the (more expensive) villas on the cliff’s edge.
Read myÂ tipsÂ for preparing your trip in time.
REVIEWS OF OTHER HOTELS IN BALI & INDONESIA
Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Bali (Indonesia)
Review of Amankila, Bali’s best luxury hotel
Review of Amandari (Ubud, Bali)
Review: Amanjiwo, Borobudur (Java, Indonesia)
Review of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (Bali, Indonesia)
Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (Ubud, Bali)
Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (Indonesia)
Hotel review: Villa Sungai, Bali (Indonesia)
Hotel review: the Viceroy Bali (Indonesia)
Review: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali’s most spectacular hotel
Hotel review: COMO Shambhala Bali (Indonesia)
Hotel review: Soori Bali (Indonesia)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Located close to the equator, temperatures in Bali hover at a balmy 30Â°CÂ (85Â°F) year-found. Temperatures in the Ubud area remain fairly constant throughout the year, although some cooler evenings can occur due to its location in the mountains. The frequency of precipitation is the only concern for travelers seeking to visit Ubud. The rainy season lasts from October to March, and the heavy humidity and torrential rainfalls make this period more unpredictable for adventures and exploration. The dry season lasts from April to September, and the weather during this time is warm and pleasant, so this is generally viewed as the optimal time to experience Bali at its finest.
HOW TO GET THERE
Banyan Tree Ungasan is a 40 minute drive from Baliâs Ngurah Rai International Airport. ClickÂ hereÂ for a continuouslyÂ updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bali.
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The post Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Bali (Indonesia) appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.
Monday newsletters always featureÂ top 10 travel listsÂ to inspire.
Today (December 24, 2018): Top 10 most luxurious resort spas in the world.
From time to time, discerning travelers need aÂ retreat to relax, a sanctuary to unwind, a place to escape from the busy humdrum of daily life. TheÂ worldâs most exclusive hotel brandsÂ are well aware of this, and offer a diverse range of luxury spa packages to pamper their high-end clients. Some ultra-luxurious hotel brands, such asÂ COMO hotelsÂ andÂ Six Senses,Â are even building their business models around health and wellbeing. So put on your spa robe and get ready to revitalize your body, mind, and soul at my selectionÂ of the top 10 best hotel spas in the world.
There is moreÂ information below the slide show.Â Think I missed one? Share your favorite spaÂ in theÂ comments section, or take myÂ pollÂ below!
Click to view slideshow.
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10. BOCA RATON RESORT & CLUB, A WALDORF ASTORIA RESORT, FLORIDA, USA
Boca Raton Resort & Club is essentially five boutique hotels in one luxury South Florida resort. Each accommodation has a unique essence and architectural style and gorgeous view of the resort, the marina, or the Atlantic Ocean. The resort’s deluxe Waldorf Astoria spa was built to resemble the Alhambra Palace in Spain and offers stunning architecture, grand arches, elaborate mosaics and luxuriant surroundings. With over 44 treatment rooms and a vast range of signature treatments, the spa comes with magnificent pools and luxuriant gardens, providing the perfect Florida retreat. You can choose from an impressive selection of facials, massages, baths, wraps and scrubs to improve overall health and well-being, or indulge in signature services, including the Ritual Bath, designed to take you on a journey of unparalleled tranquility.
Hotel website: Boca Raton Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort
Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking viaÂ VirtuosoÂ (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resortÂ credit).
9. BANYAN TREE MAYAKOBA, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
Nestled within the private gated integrated resort development of Mayakoba on the Riviera Maya, Banyan Tree Mayakoba is a five-star, all pool villa resort that blends Asian hospitality with the idyllic passion of Mexico. As a spa innovator, Banyan Tree Spa Mayakoba introduced âthe rainforestâ, a complete hydrothermal experience combining the best of European spa and hydrothermal therapy with the essence of Asian wellness philosophy to create a haven of serenity, warmth and comfort. Banyan Tree Spa therapists undergo formal training at Banyan Tree Spa Academies in Bintan in Indonesia, Phuket in Thailand and Lijiang in China, ensuring that each spa experience is of a high level of consistency and quality that Banyan Tree is renowned for across the globe.
Hotel website:Â Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Other accolades:Â Banyan Tree Mayakoba also features in myÂ top 10 lists of theÂ most amazing hotel lobbies in the world,Â theÂ worldâs best family hotels, theÂ best hotels & resorts in Mexico, andÂ my favorite Banyan Tree hotels & resorts.
Tip:Â get complimentary VIP perks when booking viaÂ VirtuosoÂ (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, $100 to $200 USD resort credit, preferential green fees at the El Camaleon golf course, early check in, and late check out).
Review: read myÂ review of the Banyan Tree MayakobaÂ here.
8. MANDARIN ORIENTAL BODRUM, TURKEY
With an idyllic location in Bodrumâs secluded Paradise Bay, two private beaches, a range of fabulous gourmet restaurants, and a choice of stylish rooms, suites and villas, thisÂ uber-luxurious resort will seduce even the most discerning traveler to lie back, relax and savor the moment. The first beach resort of the Mandarin Oriental hotel groupÂ is so phenomenal that itÂ makes the nicest 5 star resorts look like a cheap motel. Itâs my preferred luxury hotel in the area because of its beautiful minimalist esthetics and gorgeous beach.Â Spread over three levels, the resort’s world-class spa enjoys a wonderfully nurturing atmosphere, enhanced by excellent facilities and uplifting views over the Aegean Sea. The spa features eight treatment rooms, several outdoorÂ cabanas, luxurious hammams with private scrub rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and steam rooms.
Hotel website:Â Mandarin Oriental Bodrum
Other accolades: Mandarin Oriental Bodrum features in my top 10 lists of theÂ worldâs best family hotels, theÂ best luxury hotel in Turkey, and the best resorts in Bodrum.
Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking viaÂ VirtuosoÂ (e.g.Â roomÂ upgrade, daily breakfast,Â early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD hotel credit).
Review: readÂ my review of the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum hotelÂ here.
7. FOUR SEASONS RESORT SEYCHELLES
Set in the heart of a lost Eden, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles offers guests an unrivaled luxury hotel experience in a natural jungle setting along a pristine bay. The resortâsÂ villas, each with plunge pool and perched on a jungled hillside, will challenge your notion of paradise. The powder-sand beach is just a short stroll away, scented en-route by cinnamon trees and frangipani. As well as indulging in water sports, thereâs a lovely swimming pool to relax by with poolside dining and refreshments readily available.Â High above the bay, the hilltop spa epitomizes the resortâs sense of tranquility and seclusion. Here, you can sip on a delicious iced cinnamon and vanilla infusion as you take in the breathtaking view from the relaxation area, before you enjoy one of a range of facial, body or massage treatments in one of the seven individual and coupleâs treatment pavilions.
Hotel website:Â Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
Other accolades:Â Four Seasons Resort SeychellesÂ also features in my top 10 lists of the best resorts in the Seychelles andÂ worldâs best hotel rooms with private plunge pools.
Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking viaÂ VirtuosoÂ (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD resort credit).
Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).
5. THE DHARA DHEVI, CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, is one of Asiaâs most fabulous resorts, spread over 60 acres of picturesque rice paddies, tropical hardwoods and exotic plantations.Â The resortâs design draws heavily from the architecture of the historic Lanna Kingdom, that reigned over Northern Thailand for more than 500 years. Ancient palace-like structures, traditional Lanna-style villas and delightful colonial mansions house luxurious accommodations, fine-diningÂ restaurants and superb recreational facilities. The resort’s spa is a palatial sanctuary, embellished with ornate mouldings and sculptures depicting sacred animals or symbolic Buddhist motifs. The entire structure took over three and a half years to complete.Â There are 11 treatment rooms, and there is aÂ range of holistic treatments and spa treatments on offer.
Hotel website:Â The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai
Other accolades: Dhara Dhevi Chiang MaiÂ features in my top 10 list of theÂ best luxury hotels in Thailand.
Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
Review: read my review of The Dhara Dhevi here.
4. THE CHEDI ANDERMATT, SWITZERLAND
Surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the Swiss Alps, The Chedi Andermatt nestles elegantly inÂ the idyllic heart of Andermatt, a village of timeless charms in the Urseren Valley, about a two-hour train ride from Zurich. ForÂ GHMâs first European property, the Asian brand synonymous with style, service and serenity chose renowned architect Jean-Michael Gathy to design the 105 spacious guest rooms and suites. Traditional materials such as warm woods and natural stone create intimate yet visually striking accommodations while the extensive facilities include fine restaurants and cosy lounges, a ski-in living room with sports boutique, and a comprehensive spa and wellness centre with a tranquil retreat of hydrothermal baths and a duo of swimming pools.
Hotel website:Â The Chedi Andermatt
Other accolades:Â The Chedi Andermatt features in my top 10 lists ofÂ theÂ worldâs best indoor poolsÂ and the best ski resorts in Europe.
Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking viaÂ VirtuosoÂ (e.g.Â roomÂ upgrade, daily breakfast,Â early check-in, late check-out, $100 USD hotel credit, and a Swiss chocolate platter served with a bottle of Champagne).
Hotel website:Â The St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
Other accolades: The St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort alsoÂ features in myÂ lists ofÂ theÂ best overwater villas in the Maldives, the best hotels in the Maldives, and theÂ bestÂ new luxury hotels of 2016.
Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, welcome bottle of Champagne,Â one time Hydrotherapy Blue hole experience per villa, and $300 USD resort credit).
Review: read my review of the St Regis Maldives Vommuli ResortÂ here.
2. COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE, BALI, INDONESIA
Located in the breathtaking rainforest surrounding Ubud, COMO Shambhala Estate immerses its guests in a positive, holistic and healing experience from the moment of arrival. ItÂ isnât just a luxury resort. Nor is it just a top-notch health retreat. Itâs a sumptuous combination of the two, staggered up the steep slopes of the sacred Ayung river gorge. Five multi-suite residences are themed after natureâs elements, with a variety of private villas for a sense of oneness with the pristine setting. Each features butler service and an infinity swimming pool. Guests enjoy healthful and energizing COMO Shambhala cuisine and the aid of professional nutritionists; de-stress in the springs and the holistic spa; and renew with renowned healers, yoga masters and life coaches.
Hotel website:Â COMO Shambhala Estate
Other accolades: COMO Shambhala EstateÂ also features in myÂ top 10 lists of the best hotels in Ubud, theÂ worldâs most luxurious rainforest retreats,Â and theÂ most beautiful hotel pools in the world.
Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking viaÂ VirtuosoÂ (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD resortÂ credit).
Review: read myÂ review of COMO Shambhala EstateÂ here.
1. AMANOI, VIETNAM
Amanoi is a tranquil, ultraluxe retreat situated on a gorgeous golden sand beach in Nui Chua National Park, northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.Â The resortâs polished, slate pagodas peek outÂ from a lush green landscape, while its infinity edged pool overlooks the vast ocean. Amanoi offers total privacy in beautifully designed accommodations that are located in 31 Pavilions, a number with private swimming pools, andÂ five Aman Villas, all positioned on the hillside with impressive views.Â The property also features a superb wellness center, offering a journey of reawakening and relaxation via ancient healing modalities and modern spa treatments. Surrounded by the rolling hills of the national park, the wellness complex lies beside a lotus-filled lake. Facilities include five double treatment rooms, all with unique double bathtubs, private dressing areas and showers.
Hotel website:Â Amanoi
Other accolades: Amanoi also features in my lists of theÂ hottest luxuryÂ hotel openings of 2013, theÂ 10 best Aman hotels in the world, the best resorts in Vietnam, and theÂ 10 best beach retreats in Asia.
Tip:Â enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking viaÂ VirtuosoÂ (e.g. villa upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one complimentary lunchÂ for two).
Review: readÂ my review of Amanoi here.
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Today (December 21, 2018): How to book Emirates First Class using points & miles?
Emirates offers one of the best First Class products in the world, with complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers, impressive airport lounges, amazing onboard suites with sliding doors, gourmet dining in the sky, and world-class amenities & facilities (think moisturizing pajamas, virtual windows, and an onboard bar). You can read my trip reports here:
Review:Â Emirates A380 First Class from Dubai to Amsterdam
Review:Â Emirates B777Â First Class from Dubai to Brussels
While the cost of a First Class ticket with Emirates is somewhere between $5000 and 10,000 USD, you can also use miles and points to book an award seat (almost for free) in the airlineâs sought-after premium cabin. The good news is that Emirates makes a lot of award space available in its First Class cabin. On the other hand, EmiratesÂ isnât part of an airline alliance, so it doesnât have as many partners as other carriers. Taken together, your options for booking a First Class award seat in Emirates are limited to:
Using miles via the frequent flyer programs of Japan Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Qantas, Korean Air, and Emirates.
Converting Marriott Rewards hotel points into frequent flyer miles with one of the loyalty programs mentioned above.
Converting credit card points (American Express, Chase Ultimate Rewards) into frequent flyer miles with one of the loyalty programs mentioned above.
I hereby give you an overview of the best strategies and the best loyalty programs to book a First Class award seat on Emirates. Share you own strategies & tips in the comments below.
JAPAN AIRLINES MILEAGE BANK
Japan Airlinesâ frequent flyer program â called Mileage Bank â will likely cost you the fewest miles when you want to book an Emirates First Class award seat. Although JAL is a One World carrier, it also collaborates with non-One World airline partners for earning and redeem miles, such as Air France, Alaska Airlines, Korean Air and Emirates. The number of miles you need for an award ticket depends on the distance flown, and although that may sound complicated at first, itâs not so with the help of a mileage calculator.
Total trip distance (mile)
Pros: Mileage BankâsÂ award chart requires the least amount of miles to book a First Class award ticket on Emirates. For example, a First Class flight on Emirates between Europe and the Middle East will cost you only 65,000 miles, which is far less than what is charged by most other frequent flyer programs (in comparison, Emiratesâ own frequent flyer program charges 85,000 miles for the same journey). Another example is a one-way First Class ticket on Emirates from the USA East Coast to Dubai, which costs 120,000 miles when booked via Mileage Bank compared to 136,250 miles via Emiratesâ own frequent flyer program. Mileage Bank also allows you to book a stopover on your way so you can visit Dubai before heading home.
Cons: In 2017, Mileage Bank introduced high carrier-imposed surcharges on most Emirates First Class tickets. For trips departing from the USA in Emirates First Class, these can be more than $1,716 USD! However, when your travel originates in Japan, Sri Lanka or Australia, you can still avoid these extra costs.
ALASKA AIRLINES MILEAGE PLAN
Mileage PlanÂ is the frequent-flyer program of Seattle based airlineÂ Alaska Airlines (which recently merged with Virgin America). It ranks among my favorite loyalty programs since you earn flight miles according to the distance flown, rather than according to the price of their tickets (which is now the new standard in the USA, Europe and Asia). For the average traveler, this means more free flights and faster elite status. Mileage Plan miles can be redeemed for award flights on Alaska Airlines and a dozen airlines, including Emirates. Hereâs the number of miles you need for a First Class award redemption on Emirates.
One-Way Award Cost
U.S. to Middle East/India
150,000 Alaska miles
U.S.Â to Europe
180,000 Alaska miles
U.S.Â to Asia
180,000 Alaska miles
U.S. to Africa
200,000 Alaska miles
U.S.Â to Oceania
225,000 Alaska miles
Pros: The single best reason to book an Emirates First Class award ticket via Mileage Plan is that Mileage Plan does not charge carrier-imposed fuel surcharges (keeping extra costs to an absolute minimum). Mileage Plan alsoÂ allows one stopover on one-way awards (and two on roundtrip awards), so you can visit two destinations for the price of one First Class redemption. For example, when flying from the USA to Asia with Emirates, you can make a stop-over in Dubai for a few days.
Cons: First Class award redemption on Emirates with a departure from Europe are only possible with the USA or Canada as end destination. For example, itâs not possible to book a First Class Emirates ticket from Europe to the Middle East or Asia via Mileage Plan, making the Mileage Plan value of Emirates redemptions less attractive for Europe- based travelers. Also, Mileage Plan drastically increased the number of miles required for an Emirates First Class flight in 2016.
Read my review of Alakasa Airlines Mileage Plan here.
Qantas is another one-world airline that partners with Emirates. Both airlines code-share on the Kangaroo route between Australia and Europe, and have extensive partnerships in their respective frequent flyer programs (called Qantas Points for Qantas). As such, you can redeem your Qantas Points miles for Emirates First Class tickets on any flight operated by Emirates when an award seat is available. That said, Qantas isnât the most economical way to book Emirates redemptions for the reasons outlined below.
Pros: in case you donât have enough miles in your account for an Emirates First Class ticket, Qantas Points allows you to book First Class awards seats using a combination of points and cash.
Cons: Qantas charges high fuel surcharges and also requires an above average amount of miles for First Class redemptions (e.g. 75,000 miles for a one-way ticket from Europe to Dubai; and 126,000 Skywards miles for a one-way trip from the east coast of the USA to Dubai).
KOREAN AIR SKYPASS
Korean Air, a SkyTeam airline, also partners with Emirates, allowing members of its frequent flyer program SkyPass to earn and redeem miles on Emirates. For example, a round trip journey from the East coast of the USA to Dubai will cost you 210,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles. However, booking these types of tickets via SkyPass isnât the best way to spend your miles and hereâs why:
Cons: First, SkyPass requires you to book round-trip award tickets for awards on partner airlines. Second, when you book via SkyPass, you will have to pay heavy carrier-imposed surcharges (in excess of $1700 USD). Third, booking a First Class redemption on Emirates via SkyPass is very complicated as award tickets can only be issued only at Korean Air ticketing office.
Emiratesâ own frequent flyer program is called Skywards. It may seem the most logical option for booking Emirates First Class redemptions, although remarkably, Skywards is by far the worst option, because of the high fuel surcharges and the high number of miles required.
Pros: bookings can be made online and all Emirates flights can be booked when an award seat is available (regardless of origin and departure). In addition, Emirates allows a stop-over on round-trip tickets, so you can combine any trip with a few days of relaxation in Dubai. Also, only First Class award tickets booked via Skywards are eligible for chauffeur-driven transfers to/from the airport.
Cons: as mentioned above, Skywards charges high fuel surcharges for award seats in addition to an insane amount of miles on certain routes (e.g. 85,000 miles for a one-way ticket from Europe to Dubai; and 136,250 Skywards miles for a one-way trip from the east coast of the USA to Dubai). In addition, one-way awards require more than half of the round-trip mileage cost. Finally, although Skywards offers saver rewards during lower-demand periods (which require less miles compared to regular awards ), saver awards are not offered for First Class tickets.
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The post Travel tip: how to book Emirates First Class using points & miles appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.
Review: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER new First Class Dubai to Brussels (today)
Today (December 19, 2018): Emirates Boeing 777-300ER new First Class Dubai to Brussels.
On October 10th 2018, I flew in an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER featuring the carrier’s newest and game-changing First Class product from Dubai (DXB) to Brussels (BRU). With floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, virtual windows, beds with zero-gravity position, and a sleek design inspired by Mercedes-Benz, Emirates’ new B777 First Class suites take luxury and privacy to the next level. As of now Emirates’ new First Class is only available on newly delivered B777-300ER aircraft which operate flights between Dubai and Brussels, Geneva, Vienna, Munich and London Stansed. It’s unclear if Emirates plans to retrofit its existing B777 and A380 fleet with the new First Class suites due to exorbitant costs (upwards of $30 million USD per aircraft). Also, it’s currently impossible to book the new Emirates B777 First Class suite with award miles and it’s not clear when that option will become available.
One of the great perks about flying First (or Business) Class with Emirates is the complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. The carrier whisks you to and from the airport at both ends of your journey. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 48 hours prior to your flight. Within the United Arab Emirates (home base of Emirates), the complimentary chauffeur-drive service is available for all destinations within the the country, and is provided in a fleet of BMW and Mercedes cars with free in-car Wi-Fi, so you can catch up on emails, browse your social feeds or send a message on route to your final destination.
2. EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI AIRPORT
All Emirates flights arrive and depart from Emirates Terminal 3 at Dubai International airport, currently the world’s largest airport terminal, with over 1,713,000 m2 (18,440,000 sq ft) of space. This terminal comprises two concourses: Concourse A (the world’s first A380 purpose-built facility, accommodating 20 air bridge gates) and Concourse B. Both concourses feature Business and First Class lounges. My flight departed from Concourse A, so this is a review of the Concourse A First Class lounge only.
The Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai is one of the most spacious, unique and innovative lounges in the world. In fact’s, it’s more of an ultra-luxe concourse floating above the terminal’s groundfloor rather than a defined space like you find in other First Class lounges around the world. The lounge is enormous as it spreads the entire length of the terminal, offering direct access to most gates with multi-level boarding. Immediately after you enter the lounge via the elegant reception area, you find yourself in a gallery lined by high-end, duty-free boutique shops, including brands such as Tiffany&Co and Bvlgari. From there, two walkways run along both sides of the lounge, offering a nice view of the terminal’s groundfloor below, and with plenty of seating areas along the way, most of them centered around the gates. At the opposite side of the lounge, the two walkways converge into the main seating area, which features a gorgeous chandelier. It’s pretty insane that this ridiculously overwhelming space and the large number of seats accommodate only a few First Class passengers, but I guess that is what Emirates aims to reach: impress their First Class passengers and make them feel very privileged.
Every seating area in the First Class lounge comes with its own food station, with food varying from light snacks, sandwiches and sushi, to desserts and cheese spreads. The main restaurant with its semi-open kitchen is located halfway the lounge, and offers both a la carte dining and an extensive buffet. The restaurant ambience does not feel very cozy nor intimate, due to the terminal’s incredibly high ceilings with gigantic pillars seeming to reach for the skies. During my visit, I had a light lunch (Italian burrata with heirloom tomatoes) at the restaurant, and it tasted excellent.
As an Emirates First Class passenger, you can also enjoy complimentary spa treatments at the Timeless Spa, which is located next to the First Class lounge entrance. The lounge also features a business center, a stylish decorated cigar room, a wine cellar, and two sleeping rooms (each featuring a dozen day beds).
As already mentioned, the lounge has direct gate access. When it was time to board, a staff member scanned my boarding pass, after which I took the elevator down to the Boeing 777’s jet bridge.
3. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT EMIRATES’ LONGHAUL FLEET
Emirates is by far the largest Boeing 777 & Airbus A380 operator on the planet.
With a current 105-strong Airbus A380 fleet and an order backlog for 57 additional aircraft combined, Emirates’ commitment to the A380 program is worth over $ 60 billion USD. All Emirates A380s are being fitted at the Airbus factory in Hamburg including significant cabin interior work and final livery, and are being delivered from Hamburg. The Emirates A380 program creates and supports manufacturing jobs across the global aircraft manufacturing supply chain. Airbus estimates that Emirates’ A380 orders alone support 41,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Europe, including some 14,500 in Germany alone. Emirates currently operates the A380 to 48 global destinations.
Emirates has 165 Boeing 777s in its fleet, one of the most popular and advanced wide-bodied aircraft in commercial operation today. The airline welcomed the first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft into its fleet in March 2005 and over the last 13 years, the 777-300ER has become the backbone of Emirates’ fleet operating currently to over 119 destinations across the airline’s global network. Emirates has operated one out of every five Boeing 777-300ER aircraft produced to date and the average age of a Boeing 777-3000ER in Emirates’ fleet is a mere 6.5 years. From 2020, the airline will start taking delivery of 35 Boeing 777-8s and 115 Boeing 777-9s. These next generation aircraft will have a more fuel efficient design and will feature larger windows, increased cabin pressure and humidity, higher ceilings, wider cabin and an advanced inflight entertainment system contributing to a superior customer experience.
4. FIRST CLASS CABIN
Emirates’ newly delivered B777-300ER planes feature only 6 First Class suites arranged in 1-1-1 layout: 2 window suites on each side and 2 suites in the middle aisle. That’s a 20% downscale compared to Emirates’ B777s with the old layout, which feature 8 First Class suites (4 along the windows and 4 arranged in the center).
The cabin itself feels a little claustrophobic and the aisle is very narrow, but that’s because the 6 suites – each one offering up to 40 sq ft (3,7sq ft) of personal space – take most of the cabin’s space. The suites are so large that they have ample space to change in the privacy of your suite even after the bed has been made.
The most remarkable cabin feature outside the suites is a magnificent artistic motif printed on the front wall of the first middle suite, which represents the Ghaf (prosopis cineraria) tree, a figure that is used as a design highlight throughout the aircraft. An indigenous evergreen plant, the Ghaf is a considered the national tree of the United Arab Emirates, and has deep cultural and ecological significance.
5. FIRST CLASS SUITE (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
I had selected suite 1K for the 7 hour flight from Dubai to Brussels.
Each suite is fully enclosed with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, a first in the airline industry. This creates a level of privacy otherwise experienced only on a private jet. Contrary to Emirates’ older B777 and A380 First Class suites – which have a lot of walnut veneer and gold trim in their design – the new B777 First Class suite features a sleek interior with a soothing color palette of soft greys, cream and champagne, conveying a contemporary, open and airy feel. Above the three windows (which feature stylish curtains instead of traditional blends) as well as on the suite’s front wall, there’s another motif of the Ghaf tree.
The suite’s layout is very similar to Emirates’ old First Class product (which I reviewed here). It has an ergonomic soft leather seat at its center, which can be adjusted by a control panel in the arm rest into dozens of custom positions for optimal comfort, including the fully flat-bed position (a bed of 86 inches or 218 cm long with retractable armrest). The suite’s side (towards the aisle) features a personal wardrobe, which is large enough to hang a jacket or coat. The wardrobe’s external wall has another control panel, which allows you to adjust the suite’s temperature and lighting. On the other side of the seat (towards the windows), you find a tablet and another control panel, which can be used to command the inflight entertainment system or even to video call ‘room service’ (more on that below).
In front of the seat is a 32-inch Full HD LCD TV screen (the largest in the airline industry). There’s a non-cooled minibar on one side of the TV (containing non-alcoholic drinks) and a small cabinet on the other (with a glass and a bottle of Evian water). Below the TV screen is a large desk, which has a vanity unit on the inside (with mirror, writing kit, and an “inspiration kit’ with Breydo skincare products). The suite’s large tray table is hidden under that desk and you need to pull on a robe-like bar in front of you to release the tray table and slide it towards you. Underneath the desk is a lot of open space and another cupboard to store your belongings and hand luggage during the flight.
There are subtle differences with Emirates’ old First Class suite, such as the location of the private minibar on both sides of the TV screen instead of in the arm rest, but overall, the new B777 First Class suite’s layout feels very similar. That said, the new First Class suite does feature some new spectacular design elements:
The soft leather seat reclines into a fully flat-bed that can be placed in a ‘zero-gravity‘ position inspired by NASA technology, giving a feeling of relaxation and weightlessness, similar to what astronauts experience onboard spacecraft.
To ensure all First Class passengers have a view, Emirates introduced the industry’s first virtual windows for the two suites located in the middle aisle. These virtual windows project the view from outside the aircraft using real-time technology with fibre-optic cameras. Wow! This is probably the first plane where I would prefer an aisle seat over a window seat.
Passengers can easily communicate with the cabin crew or request ‘room service’ using a video call function on the suite’s tablet (similar to a 5-star hotel).
The suite comes with a service window where you can be served drinks and canapes undisturbed after closing the floor-to-ceiling sliding doors.
The suite features impressive temperature & LED lighting controls. There are different lighting themes available (with adjustment of the brightness within each theme), ranging from red, orange and yellow to green, blue and purple. Your chosen colour will appear throughout your suite, such as on the floor-level mood lighting, behind and around the curtains, and in the wall pattern.
What are the best First Class seats on Emirates’ new B777?
As you can imagine, all 6 suites are equally excellent (especially since the middle seats feature virtual windows, allowing a view for all First Class passengers).
What are the worst First Class seats on Emirates’ Airbus A380?
There are no bad seats in Emirates’ new B777 First Class cabin. That said, couples or travel companions may want to choose the pair of suites 1A&1E or 2K&2F since these suites have their entrances located in front of each other (so you can still communicate with each other when you leave the doors of these suites open).
Emirates First Class passengers receive the following amenities:
The First Class amenity kit bags, made from fine leather, come in eight designs in charcoal grey for men and pale grey for women. The kit contains Bvlgari’s woody floral fragrance – Eau Parfumée au thé noir – in addition to the usual necessities – albeit in luxe edition – such as toothbrush, toothpaste, handkerchiefs, and deodorants. The men’s amenity kit also provides Gilette shaving foam and a razor, as well as moisturizers and aftershaves by Bvlgari. The First Class amenity kit’s content is not different from what you get as an Emirates Business Class passenger.
In addition to an amenity kit, Emirates also offers an ‘inspiration kit‘ with Breydo skincare products to its First Class passengers. The kit, which is hidden in the desk’s vanity unit, includes a cleansing face towelette, facial toner, eye cream, chamomile roll-on sleep oil and chamomile pillow mist spray.
Emirates’ First Class pyjamas are the world’s first moisturising sleepwear range to ever be developed for an airline. Designed to prevent skin dehydration, the pyjama’s fabric is crafted with the use of natural ingredients – Shea Buter and Argan Oil – which are released with every motion, keeping your skin moisturised and protected. The patented Microcapsule Technology locks in the natural benefits, allowing you to wash the pyjamas and use them again them again. Catering to female and male sizes – the pyjamas come in four sizes and in a jersey travel pack. The dark grey men’s pyjamas come with wide leg pant and ribbed collar, while the female’s pyjamas come in a light grey tapered pant and reverse darker colour collar. Slippers are provided as well.
The inflight entertainment experience is enhanced with brand new Bowers & Wilkins Active Noise Cancelling E1 headphones. These headphones were designed exclusively for Emirates to ensure the sound was optimised for the First Class cabin. The headphones are lightweight and made of aluminium and sheepskin leather for a comfortable fit. You cannot take the headphones with you after the flight since they can only be powered within a plane.
In the suites located along the real windows, binoculars are provided in case you want to explore the sky outside their windows.
When you want to sleep, the crew provides turn down service and will make up your bed with excellent bedding and plush pillows. This includes a cream coloured, furry blanket, which – when opened – has armholes and pockets to keep hands and feet warm. The blanket can also be converted into a travel pillow, providing comfort and support for the neck.
7. FOOD & BEVERAGES
After boarding, I was offered Arabic coffee, dates, and a hot towel. The crew also put a basket with several snacks (e.g. dried mango, chocolates, etc …) on the desk, which was removed during the takeoff and landing phase of the flight.
Lunch was served shortly after takeoff (although you could have your meal at any time during the flight). I choose the following selection from the impressive menu:
Canapés: grilled venison with cranberries, smoked Scottish salmon with chives and avocado cream, and Bleu d’Auvergne on gingerbread with spiced apricot chutney
Appetiser: caviar presented with a traditional selection of finely chopped onion, grated egg, sour cream and lemon, served with melba toast and blinis
Mushroom soup served with chives
Seasonal salad with toppings including veal rashers, shredded carrot, cherry tomatoes and bocconcini, dressed with creamy French vinaigrette or olive oil with balsamic vinegar
Main course: poached cod served with moghrabieh, saffron tomato salsa, grilled asparagus and vegetable julienne
Dessert: chocolate truffle cake served with raspberry jellies
The food tasted excellent and was nicely presented. The caviar was an absolute highlight! During the entire flight, a walk-up bar was installed in the galley, which offered small bites and snacks (e.g. chips, sandwiches, etc …) . Shortly before landing, I ordered some more items from the menu for dinner:
Appetizer: traditional Arabic mezze: a spread of local savoury dishes including herbed feta, sautéed spinach with chickpeas, aubergine salad, mujaddara, houmous, bamieh bil zeit, stuffed vine leaves, seafood kibbeh and harhoura Salmon gravadlax
Main course: pan-fried salmon with lemongrass fumet Served with coriander pesto, shiitake mushrooms and pak choi
Dessert: an assortment of fresh-cut fruit
Emirates entertainment system, called ICE (information, communications, entertainment) is the best in the industry, albeit a bit overwhelming when you are using it for the first time. You have three options on how to control the system: touching the screen (problematic given the seat pitch), using a small wired remote, or using a touch-screen monitor that is about the size of a small tablet.
ICE has an extensive range of new-release and classic films, television shows, box sets and audio options to choose from. You can choose from up to 1,800 channels of the latest and greatest movies and must-see TV shows, on demand and in multiple languages. You can also relax to music from around the world or play a range of fun games.
My favorite ICE feature is the outside camera that you can access on your screen. Emirates’ B777s are equipped with two cameras: one facing forward and once facing straight down (no tail camera like on the A380). When not in a window seat, it can be handy watching the aircraft take off via the cameras.
9. ONBOARD INTERNET
Emirates offers 20MB of free WiFi within the first two hours of log in across all your devices on board most of its flights. That’s enough data to browse your favourite social networks and send messages. If you like to use onboard WiFi for longer or you need more data, you can choose from one of Emirates’ data plans, with a pricing dependent on the fact whether you are a member of Emirates’ loyalty program ‘Skywards’ or not.
If you’re an Emirates Skywards Silver or Blue member, make sure you log in as a member and not as a guest so you can enjoy both the 20MB for free and then buy a discounted plan:
Emirates Skywards tier
First Class, Business Class
Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum
Unlimited free Wi-Fi throughout the flight
Unlimited free Wi-Fi throughout the flight
Up to 150MB of data, for USD 4.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 7.99
Up to 150MB of data, for USD 6.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 10.99
The following applies to non-Emirates Skywards members:
First Class, Business Class and Economy Class
Up to 150MB of data, for USD 9.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 15.99
10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: the crew during this flight was excellent (as is always the case with Emirates). There were two crew members that took care of the only two passengers in the First Class cabin. They almost made me forget I was flying (although I am a nervous flyer), and genuinely talked about how they loved working for Emirates.
# LAVATORY: there are two decently sized lavatories for First Class passengers in the galley behind the cockpit. Both lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.
# VIEWS: we enjoyed clear weather for most of the journey, resulting in some great views (especially above eastern Iraq).
MondayÂ newslettersÂ always featureÂ top 10 travel listsÂ to inspire.
Today (December 17,2018): Top 10 reasons why flying First Class with Emirates is an amazing experience.
Emirates is a mammoth airline: it has more than 240 widebody planes in its fleet, carrying more than 40 million passengers to more than 100 destinations in the world per year. According to Wikipedia, Emirates is currently the fourth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried, the worldâs third largestÂ airlinesÂ by scheduled passenger-kilometres flown,Â the seventh largest airline in the world in terms of revenue, and the largest airline in the Middle East in terms of revenue, fleet size, and passengers carried. The Dubai based airliner is also famous around the world for its outrageous offerings to First Class passengers. I recently flew First Class onboard Emirates’ new game changing B777 First Class suites and will publish a trip report this Wednesday (you can already watch my Youtube clip with impression of that flight below). I thought it was a good time to share with you ten reasons why flyingÂ First Class with Emirates is a phenomenal experience.
Have you ever flown First Class with Emirates? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.
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10. FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI AIRPORT
The Emirates First Class lounge at Dubai Airport is one of the most spacious, unique and innovative lounges in the world. In factâs, itâs more of an ultra-luxe concourse floating above the terminalâs ground floor rather than a defined space like you find in other First Class lounges around the world. The lounge is enormousÂ as it spreads the entire length of the terminal, offering direct access to most gates with multi-level boarding. The First Class lounge features several seating areas (each one with its own food station), aÂ spa facility (with complimentary treatments), a restaurant a business center, a stylish decorated cigar room, a wine cellar, and two sleeping rooms (each featuring a dozens of day beds).
9. MOISTURISING PYJAMAS
Emirates’ First Class passengers can relax in the worldâs first moisturising sleepwear range to ever be developed for an airline. Designed to prevent skin dehydration, the pyjama’s fabric is crafted with the use of natural ingredients â Shea Buter and Argan Oil â which are released with every motion, keeping your skin moisturised and protected. The patented Microcapsule Technology locks in the natural benefits, allowing you to wash the pyjamas and use them again them again. Catering to female and male sizes â the pyjamas come in four sizes and in a jersey travel pack. The dark grey menâs pyjamas come with wide leg pant and ribbed collar, while the femaleâs pyjamas come in a light grey tapered pant and reverse darker colour collar.
One of the great perks about flying First Class with Emirates isÂ theÂ complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. The carrier whisks you to and from the airport at both ends of your journey. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 48 hours prior to your flight.Â Within the United Arab Emirates (home base of Emirates), theÂ chauffeur-drive services are provided in a fleet of BMW and Mercedes cars with free in-car Wi-Fi, so you can catch up on emails, browse your social feeds or send a message on route to your final destination.Â Complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers are also offered by Emirates to its Business Class passengers.
7. FULLY ENCLOSED FIRST CLASS SUITEÂ (B777 AIRCRAFT ONLY)
Emiratesâ new First Class private suites onboard its B777 planes are the first in the airline industry to be fully-enclosed with sliding doors that extend from the cathedral-like cabin ceiling to the floor. This creates a level of privacy otherwise experienced only on a private jet. There’s no need to panic though as you can still easily communicate with the cabin crew once the doors as closed without leaving the comfort of your suite. Using the video call function on the suite’s tablet, you can requestÂ room service (similar to a five-star hotel), and eachÂ suite also comes with aÂ service window so youÂ can be served drinks and canapes undisturbed.
6. ONBOARD LOUNGE & BARÂ (A380 AIRCRAFT ONLY)
The onboard lounge on the upper deck of Emirates’ A380 aircraft is hugely popular with its First and Business Class passengers, and has become an iconic feature of the airline’s A380 offering.Â Particularly on long-haul flights, it’s great to stretch your legs and mingle in the relaxed, yet classy lounge area. The lounge features aÂ horseshoe-shaped bar with seating arrangement along the windows on both sides of the bar. Inspired by private yacht cabins, each seating area has a table and window view, accented by a glossy dark wood trim. The lounge also features a large TV screen where you can view the latest flight information, or enjoy live TV broadcasts of the latest news or sports updates.
One of the Emirates A380 most talked about features is the onboard shower in its First Class cabin.Â There are two showers (with heated floors!) at the front of the A380 upper deck,Â each one of them located in one of the two spaciousÂ First Class lavatories. Â Itâs quite surreal indeed to indulge in a refreshing and rejuvenating shower at 40,000 ft, using Bulgari toiletries and Timeless Spa products. As a First Class passenger, you can shower once per flight,Â getting five minutes of water (although you can turn the shower on and off as often as you want). The First Class cabins in Emirates’ Boeing 777 aircraft do not have a shower.
2. BEDS WITH ZERO-GRAVITY POSITION (B777 AIRCRAFT ONLY)
The soft leather seat onboard Emirates’ newest First Class suites can be adjusted into dozens of custom positions for optimal comfort. When reclined into a fully flat-bed, the seat can be placed in a âzero-gravityâ position inspired by NASA technology, giving a feeling of relaxation and weightlessness.Â Â In June 2016,Â NASA entered into an agreement with the UAEÂ towards the peaceful exploration of space and the agreement included working together on aerodynamic technology. So, it is no surprise that NASA was involved in inspiring the re-design of the Boeing 777 suite allowing the introduction of awesome features for First Class travelers, such as the zero gravity bed, which aims to simulate the feeling of weightlessness that astronauts experience onboard spacecraft.
1. VIRTUAL WINDOWSÂ (B777 AIRCRAFT ONLY)
Emirates new B777 First Class cabin features 6 suites, two on each side of the windows and two on the middle.Â To ensure all First Class customers have a view, Emirates introduced the industryâs firstÂ virtual windowsÂ for suites located in the middle aisle. These virtual windows project the view from outside the aircraft using real-time technology with fibre-optic cameras.Â In the other suites,Â binocularsÂ are available for customers who want to explore the sky outside their windows. Some speculate that with the introduction of virtual windows,Â Emirates may move towards windowless aircraft, since removing windows from planes makes them lighter and thus reduces fuel costs; in addition, there are also large cost savings on construction. You can have a look at the virtual windows in my clip below (starting at 21’27”).
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The post Top 10 reasons why flying First Class with Emirates is an amazing experience appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.
TodayÂ (December 14, 2018): Travel news: The hottest hotel openings of 2018.
Be the first to explore my selection of the best new luxury hotels, 82 in total, that openedÂ their doors in 2018. Some of these hotel are managed by theÂ worldâs most exclusive hotel brands.
Best new hotels in Africa
Best new hotels in Europe
Best new hotels in Asia
Best new hotels in Oceania
Best new hotels in the Americas
Best new hotels in the Middle East
There is more informationÂ and direct link to the hotel websites below the slide show!Â Think I missed one? Leave aÂ comment!
Click to view slideshow.
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1. ONE&ONLY NYUNGWE HOUSE, RWANDA
Alongside ancient rainforest,Â withinÂ theÂ lush green expanseÂ of aÂ working tea plantation,Â Nyungwe House offersÂ anÂ exciting windowÂ toÂ Africaâs fascinating wildlifeÂ andÂ culture. Situated on a working tea plantation on the edge of Nyungwe National Park,Â One&Only Nyungwe HouseÂ is the first of two new One&Only resorts to open in Rwanda. Exploratory treks and hikes through the forest give guests access to the parkâs nearly 250,000 acres, where they can discover black-and-white colobus monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, and more than 275 bird species. After full days out in the park, guests can retire to the resortâs modern suites and villas, each featuring decor accented with traditional African touches and vast private decks equipped with fireplaces.
Hotel website:Â One&Only Nyungwe House
2. SUNDY PRAIA, SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE
Hidden away 130 miles off the coast of West Africa, Sundy Praia is a tented luxury hotel at the wild northwest tip of the island of Principe.Â Principeâs forests shelter an abundance of endemic birds and plants, rep and amphibians â little wonder the island is sometimes referred to as Africaâs Galapagos. Merging seamlessly with their forest surrounds, the resort’s 15 tented villas lie hidden among a scattering of tropical almond and banana trees, each gazing down to the sea. With weathered wood panelling and timber decks, the villas echo the style of the fishermenâs huts that once stood this spot. The resort’s international chefs refine the best of the islandâs produce and traditions, creating seasonal menus bursting with original flavours and fresh, organic ingredients.
Hotel website:Â Sundy Praia
3. MOMBO & LITTLE MOMBO, BOTSWANA
Wilderness Safaris opened its newly-rebuilt flagship camps, Mombo and Little Mombo, situated in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Long known as âthe Place of Plenty,â Mombo and Little Mombo boast enormous concentrations of plains game and predators and is considered to be one of the best areas for game viewing in Africa. Mombo’sÂ nine spacious tents afford sweeping views over a floodplain teeming with wildlife. The sitting room, separate bedroom and bathroom, indoor and outdoor showers and bathtub with copper and brass fittings all contribute to the Wilderness Safaris’ ideal of responsible luxury.Â With just three tents tucked away on the other side of the same island, Little Mombo is a smaller, more intimate version of its sister camp.
Hotel website: Mombo & Little Mombo
4. HOANIB VALLEY CAMP, NAMIBIA
In a country jam-packed with vast, spectacularly beautiful landscapes, Kaokoland may just be the most incredible of them all. Deep in north-western Namibia, the area is a melee of towering mountains, sand dunes, and huge expanses of desert, scattered with unique wildlife and nomadic Himba settlements. This area is home to the new Hoanib Valley Camp, an elegant, intimate affair that immerses you into the wilds of the desert. The six rooms blend seamlessly with the environment, offering a simple aesthetic that matches the rugged landscape down to a tee. Days are spent tracking endangered rhino, desert-adapted elephant, and desert-adapted giraffe, before retiring to your private veranda to marvel at the magnitude of your surroundings (G&T in hand).
Hotel website:Â Hoanib Valley Camp
5. SHIPWRECK LODGE, NAMIBIA
Located in the famous Skeleton Coast concession between the Hoarusib and Hoanib rivers in theÂ Skeleton Coast National Park, Shipwreck Lodge is a short drive fromÂ MÃ¶we Bay. The shipwreck-shaped chalets are nestled between the dunes with a view of the Atlantic Ocean where the cold Benguela current provides guests with a refreshing breeze. Guests hereÂ can look forward to appreciate the harshness of the desert and the beauty of these solitary landscapes filled with geological history, and to learn about the fauna and flora adapted to survive in these harsh conditions â all from the comfort of the restaurant deck. There are 8 twin/double chalets and 2 family chalets.
Hotel website: Shipwreck Lodge
6. &BEYOND TENGILE RIVER LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA
Meaning âtranquilâ in the local Tsonga language, &Beyond Tengile River Lodge is situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, next to South Africaâs Kruger National Park and renowned for its high density of wildlife and Big Five sightings. Built with an extremely light footprint, Tengile features nine suites that are raised above ground level to give the impression that they are floating over the riverbed, providing exceptional views from the dappled shade of a cool riverine forest. The spacious suites offer sunken lounges, elegant bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms (with indoor and al fresco showers) that open out into the forest, creating private spaces in the open air.Â A magnificent spa area offers a haven of tranquility whereÂ guests can relax in between game drives.
Hotel website:Â &Beyond Tengile River Lodge
7. FOUR SEASONS RESORT SEYCHELLES AT DESROCHES ISLAND, SEYCHELLES
Adventure and rejuvenation await at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island â the only resort on this captivating coral island. The castaway sanctuary is located on a pristine tropical island that measures 6 km (4 mi) in length and is edged by 14 km (9 mi) of soft white beaches. Being one hour by plane from the main island Mahe, the destination enjoys unrivalled privacy and absolute freedom. The property is one of the most intimate Four Seasons resorts with just 71 accommodations, including pavilions, villas, suites and residences â all with private pool and beach access. Here, guests discover eclectic cuisine at two restaurants, and fill their days with island activities ranging from world-class diving, fishing and nature walks to luxurious indulgence at the spa.
Hotel website:Â Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island
8. JABALI RIDGE, TANZANIA
Set high on a rocky kopje overlooking a landscape dotted with spiky palms and bulbous baobabs, Jabali Ridge is a sophisticated base from which to explore Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park. The remarkable beauty of Ruaha is not only in the landscape and its diversity of flora and fauna, or the impressive big game, but in the feeling of having the wilderness all to yourself. With only a handful of visitors at any one time in an area the size of New Jersey, this is an exceptional safari experience. Jabali Ridgeâs 8 suites are hidden amongst the rocky boulders that cocoon the property. An infinity pool, spa and plenty of places to laze ensure that time off is as memorable as time out in the bush. Expert guides lead walking safaris, game drives and night drives.
As the first Design Hotel member on the Tanzanian archipelago, Zuri Zanzibar’s stretch of private, sunset-facing beach embraces the sea-foam green and sky-blue colors of the Indian Ocean, while the hotelâs spice garden immerses guests in the aroma of the islandâs exotic flora, providing an olfactory glimpse into Zanzibarâs spice trading history. The property’s west-facing location on the northern coast also promises brilliant sunsets that cast an orange-pink glimmer over the sea; a spectacle that turns the private terraces of the Jestico + Whiles-designed bungalows and villas into theater loges, complete with hammocks, luxury furnishings, and thatched or shingled roofs that epitomize the modern-meets-traditional African design running throughout the hotel.
Hotel website: Zuri Zanzibar
11. THE RETREAT HOTEL AT BLUE LAGOON, ICELAND
In 2018, Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon completed a significant expansion, opening the Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland. Encompassing a subterranean spa, a geothermal lagoon, a restaurant that reimagines Icelandâs culinary traditions, and a 62-suite hotel encircled by the Blue Lagoonâs mineral-rich waters, the Retreat is a place where guestsÂ can leave the world behind. Modern matte black pendant chandeliers and sleek concrete walls are juxtaposed against warm wood paneling and leather seating in the public areas.Â This same aesthetic carries over to the rooms, where those on the ground level with a direct view of the lagoon are decorated with blue accents while those on the 2nd floor that showcase the olive-hued moss are adorned with bits of green.
Hotel website:Â The Retreat at Blue Lagoon
12. CANAVES OIA EPITOME, SANTORINI, GREECE
Santorini is one of Greeceâs most popular islands. Yet at Canaves Oia Epitome, you may feel you have this enchanting isle almost entirely to yourself. This all-villa luxury resort is located above the picturesque fishing town of Ammoudi (near Oia) and privacy, style and an almost zen-like calm are the order of the day. Then, as evening unfolds, the hotel reveals its greatest treasure: the best sunset views in Oia. When youâre not gazing at the sky, youâll find a lot to love about Canaves Oia Epitome. From the villa interiors to the innovative rooftop terraces, the contemporary design captures the dusky hues of the surrounding volcanic landscape. Pick out your perfect lounge area and spend the day by the pool â and you donât even have to leave your villa for this.
Hotel website:Â Canaves Oia Epitome
13. BRANCO MYKONOS, GREECE
Branco Mykonos, located at PlatÎ¹s Gialos beach, is a sparkling new Mykonos hotel, shifting the islandâs hospitality experience to a new level. Stunning luxurious rooms and suites with view, inspiring design, high quality hotel equipment and professional yet friendly service, create the best Mykonos hotel experience. Brancoâs Restaurant is an impeccable choice for lunch and dinner in Mykonos. Fine culinary creations, reinventing the traditional recipes of Greek Cuisine, offer a unique gastronomic journey. Branco Beach is an excellent scenery to enjoy the sun and the crystal clear sea of the Aegean. Luxurious sunbeds, exceptional service, vibrant music and refreshing cocktails compose the extraordinary experience of Branco Mykonos.
Hotel website: Branco Mykonos
14. KATIKIES MYKONOS, GREECE
Nuzzled in a gorgeous setting, above the sun kissed beach of Agios Ioannis in Mykonos, Katikies Mykonos, member of the Leading Hotels of the World, captures the essence of chic seaside living only a breath away from the shimmering sea. Built amphitheatrically with direct sea view, this exceptional boutique hotel, member of the Katikies Group of hotels evokes the islandâs Cycladic spirit and cosmopolitan charm in its elegant environs while ensuring a holiday beyond comparison. Here, guests surrender to the temptations of refinement at one of the most enchanting Mykonos luxury hotels and take in the splendid panoramic vistas to the emerald Aegean.
Hotel website:Â Katikies Mykonos
15. THE GRAND HYATT ATHENS, GREECE
TheÂ Grand Hyatt Athens combines dramatic architecture with innovative design, easily accessible to historic sites and best-in-class restaurants.Â Celebrating iconic Greek culture, the 309-room hotel incorporates curated art reminiscent of ancient Athens. Alongside original pieces from the Museum of Cycladic Art, the hotel also showcases a glamorous lobby with an extraordinary art installation called The Coin, which is made from replicated, ancient Athenian coins representing the Greek economic supremacy in the fifth century BC. The propertyâs rooftop also offers the spectacular Penthouse Restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool with impressive views of the Acropolis.
Hotel website:Â TheÂ Grand Hyatt Athens
16. HOTEL PACAI,Â VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
Set in the heart of Vilniusâ Old Townâhome to a university, a presidential palace, and an abundance of museums, embassies, churches, bookshops, and the cityâs coolest spots for dining and drinking – Hotel Pacai perfectly echoes this quarterâs 17th century Baroque grandeur, yet augments it with a contemporary twist. Famous for being the most magnificent mansion in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the stately building has been reborn thanks to the inspired efforts of a passionate team of local architects and designers. The 104 rooms and suites, the inviting restaurants and bar, and the four meeting rooms all celebrate Lithuaniaâs rich past and Baltic culture, while also pointing it forward in a direction that is young and vibrant in spirit.
Hotel website:Â Hotel Pacai
17. RAFFLES EUROPEJSKI WARSAW, POLAND
In the historic district of Warsaw, next to the Presidential Palace, Raffles Europejski is a significant restoration of a landmark building.Â The restoration team has worked closely with the local conservation body and with the utmost respect to ensure the hotelâs heritage and character are preserved. Raffles Europejski, Warsaw offers its guests 103 elegant guestrooms and suites; a restaurant with an outdoor terrace with seasonal menus showcasing Polandâs rich produce and cuisine; a bar and cigar lounge; and a pÃ¢tisserie that evokes Hotel Europejskiâs fascinating story, tempting guests and locals with chocolates, cakes, ice-cream and other sweet delicacies. The hotel also house a luxurious spa featuring six treatment rooms.
Hotel website:Â Raffles Europejski
18. THE EDITION BARCELONA, SPAIN
TheÂ Barcelona EDITIONÂ boasts an enviable locale in El Born, the cityâs creative hub in the centre of the famed Ciutat Vella district. Under the creative direction of Ian Schrager, alongside the famed Spanish interior designer LÃ¡zaro Rosa-ViolÃ¡n the hotel brings together, in a subtle synergy, the integrity and character of a historic environment with a simple, sophisticated design sensibility, creating a seamless blend of charisma and ease. With 100 rooms and suites, three restaurants, two bars, a roof terrace with plunge pool and a buzzing lobby, the hotel offers a dynamic social hub where guests and visitors can work, relax, socialise and dine all under one roof.
Hotel website:Â The EDITION Barcelona
19. THE CHEDI LUSTICA BAY, MONTENEGRO
Located on the coast Montenegro at LuÅ¡tica Bay with stunning views over the Adriatic Sea,Â The Chedi LuÅ¡tica BayÂ is the largest 5-star hotel in the Boka Bay, offering 110 guestrooms, two restaurants and a bar, conference rooms and a business centre, along with an outdoor pool, spa and fitness centre, anÂ indoor heated pool, gymnasium and ancillary facilities.Â The resort also benefits from its position within the resort town of LuÅ¡tica Bay near Tivat. Designed to blend seamlessly into the style, ambience and community of the town, it is part of a unique whole. Authenticity is key to every guest experience, from the refined grandeur of the architecture to the respectful intimacy of addressing our guests by name.
Hotel website:Â The Chedi LuÅ¡tica Bay
20.Â SANDERS COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
Billed as Copenhagen’s first luxury boutique hotel, Sanders captures the essence of the past adopting a theatrical prose mixed with the flair of Paris, eccentricity of England and Danish design cool. The hotel Sanders of is all about modern townhouse vibe, luxury without the fuss and a clever design narrative.Â Already flagged as the new mingling hub of Copenhagenâs cultural scene, expect plush boutique salons, bespoke furnishings, and commissioned artworks by the talented Lydia Cowpertwait ofÂ Dais ContemporaryÂ create the scene of visual eye candy.Â The classic and historical hotel consists of 5 floors and 52 rooms with everything from smaller train-like coupe rooms to the Sanders Apartments with reminiscence of big Copenhagen apartments.
Hotel website: Sanders Copenhagen
21. HOTEL TWENTYSEVEN AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
Hotel TwentySeven is an extraordinary and sensational all-suite boutique hotel located in the beating heart ofÂ Amsterdamâs city centre, Dam Square.Â Defying logic and re-defining luxury in Amsterdam, no detail has gone unnoticed in the hotelâs 16 sumptuous suites, including a signature scent that infuses the air and the sense of peace that comes from meticulous soundproofing. Service at the hotel is top-notch: as soon as you want something â a glass of champagne, a dinner reservation â your butler is there to take care of it. At Restaurant Bougainville, the culinary masterpiece of Hotel TwentySeven, innovative tastes wait to be discovered, both at breakfast and dinner.
Hotel website:Â Hotel TwentySeven
22. L’OSCAR HOTEL LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
The L’oscar London hotel has been created from a Baroque-style, former church in Holborn, a grand literary hub, and the centre of a thriving mix of bars, shops and restaurants that forms part of the cityâs coolest high-end district. Imagination and attention to detail is woven into the fabric of Lâoscar, from the sumptuously-decorated bedrooms, velvet and leather interiors, exquisitely-unique champagne coupes, crystal butterfly wing taps and seven-storey chandelier. Lâoscar is conceived with the belief that a hotel is a theatre: a stage where performances of the utmost quality are played out. One of the hotel’s highlights isÂ the Baptist Grill restaurant, where opulence and temptation combine in the domed chapel under the guidance of Executive Chef, Tony Fleming.
Hotel website: L’oscar London
23. SIX SENSES DUXTON & MAXWELL, SINGAPORE
Six Sensesâ new Singapore property is split across two buildings that are an easy wander apart: Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell. The Six Senses Duxton site features a row of trading houses that have been sustainably restored under the gifted hand of acclaimed British designer Anouska Hempel.Â In harmony with a rich Asian history, each of the 49 guestrooms and suites feature a unique individuality so that no two are exactly the same. The Six Senses Maxwell site was originally a nutmeg plantation before 14 colonial-style buildings were constructed and later joined together as a single entity. This property features 120 guestrooms and suites, a spa, outdoor lap pool, Champagne bar and lounge, whiskey bar, boardroom and club lounge.
Hotel website:Â Six Senses DuxtonÂ & Six Senses Maxwell
24. TAJ EXOTICA RESORT & SPA, ANDAMANS
Fringed by strip of mangroves and a river overlooking the beach, the resort is a homage to the secluded Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, which stretches for 700 km (435 mi) from Burma towards Sumatra. Designed to showcase and nurture the islandâs natural resources, the resort is dotted with 50 modern luxury villas on stilts under a canopy of coconut and palmyra trees; a Â contemporary haven builtÂ without cutting off a single tree. Guests can rest over the massive buttresses of an Andaman Padauk tree, ruminate by the water lily pond after a lavish massage or hit the treadmill at the fitness centre built around a majestic Mahua tree that soars up one level to the Olympic-sized infinity swimming pool.
Hotel website: Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Andamans
26. ITC GRAND GOA, A LUXURY COLLECTION RESORT & SPA, INDIA
Nestled in serene south Goa, amidst lush 45 acres of landscaped gardens, swaying coconut palms and shimmering lagoons – the ITC Grand Goa Resort & Spa (erstwhile Park Hyatt Resort & Spa Goa), with direct access to the pristine Arossim beach, provides all the ingredients for an invigorating or intimate relaxed getaway. This beach-side, village-styled resort’s architecture draws inspiration from the Indo-Portuguese vintage and blends classical elegance with a distinctive regional allure that’s infused in its service, cuisine, rituals and more – promising a truly immersive experience. The resort offers 6 signature food and beverage outlets along with multiple outdoor & indoor venues for bespoke banqueting, special events and weddings.
Hotel website: ITC Grand Goa Resort & Spa
27. FAIRMONT MALDIVES, SIRRU FEN FUSHI, MALDIVES
Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen FushiÂ is a 120 luxury all-villa resort that offers exactly as its name translates â Secret Water Island. The resort includes a 200 m (656 ft) long swimming pool which traverses the length of the island, a reinvigorating destination spa and an intricate open air bamboo bar created by Balinese artisans who did not use any man-made materials in the structure. The architecture and design are typical of this exotic paradise, with the tastefully designed private water villas taking full advantage of the stunning location. Thatched roofs sit atop whitewashed walls, and the villas are erected on posts that let them hover over the crystal blue waters of the Indian Ocean, with private jetties offering panoramic views out over the sea.
Hotel website: Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi
28. JOALI MALDIVES
Located in one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world, Joali Maldives is teeming with life, surrounded by tranquil lagoons, pristine white-sand beaches and a lush landscape of coconut palms. Accommodations include 73 private beach and water villas and residences ranging from one- to four-bedrooms, influenced by individual stories and designed to take guests on a sensory journey.Â As one of the first immersive art resorts in the Maldives, Joali is surrounded by interactive and experiential artistic pieces that incorporate surrounding nature and celebrate young designers, including Misha Khan, Nacho Carbonell, Porky Hefer, London-based Studio Glithero, Zemer Peled, Chris Wolston, Doug Johnston, Ardmore and more.
Hotel website: Joali Maldives
29. ANANTARA QUY NHON VILLAS, VIETNAM
Set on a serene beach, Anantara Quy Nhon Villas welcomes guests to a luxurious hideaway comprising 25 private pool villas inspired by the indigenous beauty of southern Vietnam. Here, guests can spend their days relaxing in elegance, working up a sweat at the onsite gym, refreshing in the resort swimming pool or getting out into the picturesque countryside to discover even more of the real Vietnam. Quy Nhon is a historic city with a diverse surrounding landscape ideal for exploration. From adventurous hikes to secluded temples, discerning travellers can immerse themselves in the culture of this fascinating country. Phu Cat airport is a 50-minute drive away, offering domestic flights to Ho Chi Minh and Ha Noi.
Hotel website:Â Anantara Quy Nhon
30. WA ALE ISLAND RESORT, MYANMAR
Just off the southern tip of Myanmar, thereâs a scattering of over 800 islands making up the Mergui Archipelago (also called the Myeik Archipelago). Rainforest-draped shards of limestone and granite bulge through the crystalline Andaman Sea, the effect of which is nothing short of heavenly.Â Â The island of Wa Ale, located in the archipelagoâs Lampi Marine National Park, is now host to the areaâs first high-end accommodation,Â Wa Ale Island Resort.Â Made up of eleven tented villas and three treetop hideouts, this unique resort sit alongside a long stretch of fine white sand.Â The accommodations were built with local materials (like river stones and reclaimed wood) to minimize impact on the surrounding environment.
Hotel website:Â Wa Ale Island Resort
31. ALILA KOH RUSSEY, CAMBODIA
Alila Villas Koh Russey in Cambodia is Alilaâs first âVillasâ resort outside Bali. Located amid the Koh Rong archipelago, the hotel is a 15-minute boat ride from the Cambodian coast, offering pristine bays, dramatic peninsulas, white-sand beaches and tropical forests. The resort features one and two-bedroom villas, each with its own terrace, private pool and garden. For the ultimate in luxury, the resortâs four-bedroom pool villa features a large living area, kitchen, master bedroom, three guest bedrooms and an expansive outdoor terrace and pool area. The resort offers a wealth of in-house facilities including a beachfront Spa Alila, kids club, beachside grill restaurant, sunset bar, and a restaurant with five-star international and local cuisine.
Hotel website: Alila Koh Russey
32. ROSEWOOD PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
Rosewood Phnom Penh occupies the top 14 floors of Vattanac Capital Tower One in the heart of the Central Business District, providing an ultra-luxury hospitality experience in the exotic capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia. A panoramic view of the city and the fabled Mekong River are seen from its position in the structure â whose shape is inspired by the silhouette of a rising dragon â and the Royal Palace, National Museum and Central market are within easy reach. The hotel features 175 rooms and suites, which rank amongst the largest hotel guestrooms in Phnom Penh. Dining options include a 120-seat bistro, a 60-seat lobby lounge, two specialty restaurants and a sky bar on a cantilevered terrace.
Hotel website:Â Rosewood Phnom Penh
33. SIX SENSES ULUWATU, BALI, INDONESIA
The newly opened Six Senses Uluwatu Resort is set in Pecatu in the southernmost tip of Bali which is the home of âPura Uluwatuâ, the sacred temple considered one of the islandâs core spiritual pillars.Â The beautiful cliff-top Balinese-inspired Uluwatu resort offers uninterrupted ocean views from every angle. The resort comprises 103 suites and villas, inspired by local design, embracing nature and offering every creature comfort. The Six Senses Spa features locally inspired specialty treatments, multi-day integrated wellness programs and complimentary morning yoga sessions. The resort features multiple swimming pools, an open air event venue, function space, three restaurants including a chefâs table, a cooking school and an extensive organic garden and farm.
Hotel website:Â Six Senses Uluwatu
34. CAPELLA UBUD, BALI, INDONESIA
Nestled between Ubudâs rainforest, rice paddy fields and the sacred Wos River,Â Capella UbudÂ brings the wonders and myths of Baliâs exotic past to life. Inspired by the early European settlers from the 1800s, celebrated architect Bill Bensley conceptualized this ultra-luxurious tented camp as a tribute to their spirit of adventure.Â Each one of the 22 unique tents as well as an extravagant two-bedroom lodge are crafted with an individual inspirational theme, allowing guests to enjoy the essence of Baliâs untouched natural surroundings in personalized comfort. All retreats boast a private salt water Jacuzzi pool lavish indoor and outdoor bathrooms, a spacious lounge and bedroom whilst two outdoor decks offer the perfect setting for an intimate candlelit dinner.
Hotel website:Â Capella Ubud
35. COMO UMA CANGGU, BALI, INDONESIA
COMO Uma Canggu is the newest addition to COMO Hotels and Resorts. Situated on Baliâs south coast, the beach front destination will offer panoramic views of the soft volcanic sand and rolling waves. The resortâs COMO Shambhala Retreat nurtures wellness through daily fitness classes, hands-on healing and holistic therapies. This is complemented by a peaceful nightâs sleep within the resortâs contemporary accommodation, featuring stylish rooms, suites and spectacular three-bedroom penthouses with private rooftop pools. COMO Beach Club, a distinctly modern take on the traditional âsurf sceneâ, is a place to gather with family and friends to enjoy an eclectic global menu and a soundtrack of live acoustic musicians and DJ sets.
Hotel website:Â COMO Uma Canggu
36. ALILA SCBD JAKARTA, INDONESIA
A haven of hip and contemporary luxury, Alila SCBD Jakarta takes upscale lifestyle living in the Indonesian capital to the next level with unparalleled design architecture, chic pads, world-class restaurants, creative meeting and entertainment spaces in the heart of the cityâs most dynamic retail and business district. Stunning picture windows, designer mod cons, trademark Alila amenities, dedicated club lounge and generously indulgent bathrooms are just some of the distinguishing features that are found in the 227 accommodations. The hotel also feature internationally renowned dining and entertainment, an outdoor pool, and a spa.
Hotel website: Alila SCBD Jakarta
37. ALILA BANGSAR, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Elevated above the bustle of Bangsar, one of Kuala Lumpurâs most vibrant and cosmopolitan districts, Alila Bangsar is modern urban retreat that fuses a haven of relaxation with a lively city vibe. Here, comfort and personalised service meet contemporary style and a variety of dining and lifestyle facilities, ideal for young urbanites, leisure travellers and sophisticated executives. Alila Bangsar occupies the topmost floors of a mixed-use development known as The Establishment. The hotelâs sky-level lobby is on the 41st floor while its 143 guestrooms are located on floors 35 to 40, all offering uninterrupted views of the Kuala Lumpur skyline.Â The hotel also features a stunning three-storey atrium overlooking a pool and some of the hottest new F&B concepts in Kuala Lumpur.
Official hotel website: Alila Bangsar
38. FOUR SEASONS HOTEL KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Rising 65 storeys above the busy streets of the capital, the new Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur hotel houses 209 guest rooms and suites, as well as serviced apartments for those guests looking for an extended stay, and Four Seasons Private Residences. The hotel features several restaurants and loungesÂ including the high-style Yun House for Cantonese specialities by Executive ChefÂ Jimmy Wong, the chef showcase CurATE with its show kitchen, and Bar Trigona, a temple of modern cocktail culture. Leisure facilities are highlighted by an outdoor pool oasis with private cabanas and adjacent bar and grill, and an eight treatment roomÂ spaÂ offering a carefully designed menu inspired by Malaysian healing traditions and the latest global therapies.
Hotel website:Â Four SeasonsÂ Hotel Kuala Lumpur
39. W KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
W Kuala Lumpur is ideally located in the heart of the Golden Triangle, surrounded by the main tourist spots in town, and within walking distance to Petronas Twin Towers. The property combines the bold, vibrant design and dynamic lifestyle programming that W is known for globally, but with a unique Kuala Lumpur twist. W Kuala Lumpur comprises 150 guest rooms distributed across 9 floors, overlooking the stellar expanse of the Petronas Twin Towers and city skyline. All rooms showcase the cutting-edge, contemporary design aesthetics of the city. The new hotel also has destination restaurants, bars, a gym, spa and WET pool.
Official hotel website:Â W Kuala Lumpur
40. BANYAN TREE KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Another newcomer to the capital of Malaysia is this new hotel from the well-known Asian luxury hotel chain. The property occupies the top seven floors of the Banyan Tree Signatures Pavilion Kuala Lumpur building. Offering only 55 rooms and suites, ranging from 51 to 200 square metres in size, in keeping with its positioning as an exclusive “urban resort”, each is furnished with aromatherapy amenities, a chromotherapy shower and, in the suites, a private relaxation pool. The hotel is topped by the Vertigo rooftop bar on its 59th rooptop floor. An open-air pool with stunning views, a state-of-the-art gym, and a Banyan Tree Spa with an extensive offering mean guests need never leave this urban sanctuary.
Official hotel website: Banyan Tree Kualu Lumpur
41. ROSEWOOD LUANG PRABANG, LAOS
Rosewood Luang PrabangÂ enjoys an idyllic hilltop forest in north central Laos, where guests are able to immerse themselves in the rich cultural history, spiritual heritage and diverse tropical landscape of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famous designer Bill Bensley modelled the property on the concept of a Laotian hill station from the turn of the 20thÂ century. The 23 accommodations are situated adjacent to a river or waterfall or float above the ground amongst the treetop foliage. They include their own private swimming pools, oversized balconies, and outdoor wooden bathtubs.Â Dining at Rosewood Luang Prabang delves deep into the rich Laotian food culture and chefs place utmost importance on locally sourced and seasonal foods.
The Bulgari Hotel in Shanghai presides in the uppermost 8 floors of a 40-story building located in the extraordinary riverside complex of the historic Jingâan district. The hotel juxtaposes ancient and modern architectural themes in a fascinating reflection of the prestigious Suhe Creek surroundings, called âGold Strand of Shanghaiâ, home to a flourishing art scene. The Bulgari Hotel, with its 82 rooms and suites â including one extraordinary Bulgari suite â offers some of the largest hotel rooms in Shanghai. Its Italian rooftop restaurant and bar are destined to become one of the most desirable venues in Shanghai. Besides the highest standard of service for which Bulgari is famous, the hotel also feature remarkable amenities, including a magnificent spa.
Hotel website:Â The Bulgari Hotel Shanghai
44. THE MIDDLE HOUSE SHANGHAI, CHINA
Designed by renowned Italian architect Piero Lissoni, the hotel and residences offer intimate luxury that radiate urban sophistication, providing an elegant and calm oasis amidst the dynamic backdrop of one of Asiaâs most sophisticated cities.Â The spirit of modern-day Shanghai is palpable through The Middle Houseâs 111 modern studios, varying from 50 sqm to 100 sqm. The Middle House also features a 660 sqm top-floor Penthouse overlooking fashionable Nanjing West Road. The immaculately designed two-bedroom suite offers private terraces, a lounge and an exclusive event space with a private kitchen. The Middle House is the sixth hotel in Asia from Swire Hotels and the fourth House under Swire Hotelsâ award-winning â The House Collective.
Hotel website: The Middle House Shanghai
45. THE SHANGHAI EDITION, CHINA
The Shanghai EDITION, located at the northeast corner of Nanjing Road East and Henan Road in Puxi, West of Huangpu River and just a 5 minute walk from The Bund, is a unique combination of two separate towers featuring 145 guest rooms. The hotelâs design includes 10 levels of public space including 5 meeting studios and 2 forums, totaling to over 265 square meters. Food and beverage outlets include a signature Japanese restaurant on the 27thÂ floor, a Cantonese dining venue featuring 5 private dining rooms, an all-day dining venue, 3 lounge bars, an indoor nightlife venue and 2 rooftop bars.
Overlooking the Wanzai shoreline and just a short ferry ride from bustling Macau,Â The St. Regis ZhuhaiÂ occupies floors 41 to 72 of theÂ ZhuhaiÂ Tower, the cityâs newest landmark in the business district. Palm tree-lined coastlines and easy access to alluring islands have madeÂ ZhuhaiÂ a popular travel destination, while its location on the west bank of the Pearl River Delta has made it a key economic city in Southern China. All 251 guest rooms have panoramic views of the waterways of the Greater Bay area, as well as the historical landscapes and bridge structures of Macau andÂ Zhuhai.Â The hotel offers anÂ epicurean journey in its five distinctive restaurants and bars. Thereâs also an Iridium Spa on the 68th floor.
Hotel website:Â The St Regis Zhuhai
48. W XI’AN, CHINA
With its neon coating shining each night,Â W Xi-anÂ is quickly becoming an iconic feature on theÂ Xi’anÂ city skyline.Â The hotel’s design fuses the past and future ofÂ Xi’an, showcasing the vibrant history of the region with dynamic visual displays taking guests through five ancient dynasties that once calledÂ Xi’anÂ home. The hotel features five intricate labyrinths inspired by the Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui and Tang dynasties. The 385 guest rooms and suites bring W guests a bold representation ofÂ Xi’anÂ culture. Large-scale artworks show off the renowned make up style of the Tang dynasty with a colourful modern twist from ATG Beyond,Â China’sÂ renowned premiere applied design expert.
As one of eight historic landmarks under the Conserving Central initiative introduced by the Hong Kong government in 2013, The Murray is an inspiring piece of architecture holding almost 50 years of history, and a landmark building located in the heart of the city in Central, Hong Kong. A high-profile preservation project converted into a luxury hotel, The Murray includes 336 sophisticated suites and guestrooms spanning 25 floors, offering some of the cityâs most spacious accommodation. Interiors are embellished with natural fabrics and stones, leathers and plush textiles creating a contemporary chic sanctuary and an ambience of understated sophistication.
Hotel website: The Murray Hong Kong
51. SIX SENSES FIJI
Known for its idyllic crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, thick tropical forests and excellent climate, Six Senses Fiji is located in a magnificent secluded bay on Fijiâs Malolo Island. The private golden sand beach frontage stretches over 2,100 feet (650 meters) in length.Â Six Senses Fiji offers 24 spacious poolÂ buresÂ (villas), all with private plunge pools, plus an additional inventory of residences, offering from two to five bedrooms. With several food and beverage outlets serving delicious, locally inspired dishes, watersports including sailing and surfing, Six Senses Spa with a yoga pavilion and Alchemy Bar and a weekly activity schedule taking you on out-of-the-ordinary experiences, there is something for everyone at Six Senses Fiji.
Hotel website:Â Six Senses Fiji
52. W BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
W Brisbane is a stylish addition to the up and coming riverside area in Brisbane, appealing to the new generation of domestic and international visitors to the city. The mixed-use developmentÂ comprises three separate towers â W Brisbane occupies one tower, while the other two towers are used for premium office, commercial space and high-end residences. The hotel offers 305 stylish guestrooms, including 25 suites and an Extreme Wow Suite, the W brandâs reinterpretation of the traditional Presidential Suite. It also features more than 960 square metres of ultra-modern meeting and event space, as well as a 24-hour business centre, aÂ state-of-the-art workout facility, and anÂ indoor heated swimming pool.
54. MANDARIN ORIENTAL, CANOUAN, ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Located in St. Vincent and The Grenadines, the Mandarin Oriental, Canouan sits on an immaculate stretch of Godahl Beach that is protected by the Caribbeanâs largest natural living coral reef.Â The resort elegantly blends colonial and chic contemporary styles among its lavish suites and stylishly sophisticated villas. The resort features a selection of restaurants that serve a variety of international culinary delights in beautifully appointed settings. The spa indulges guests with stunning sea-views in en suite, hillside treatment palapas and therapists meticulously trained to relax, sooth and decompress. Canouan Islandâs immaculate beaches, championship 18-hole, Fazio-designed golf course and luxury super-yacht marina provide a wide range of activities to be enjoyed.
Set on the silver-white sands of Grand Anse Beach on the islandâs southwestern tip,Â Silversands GrenadaÂ is a sleek and contemporary boutique property comprising 43 suites and nine villas. The hotel’s aesthetic is cool and pared-down, with lots of pale marble, blond wood and a palette of greyish neutrals. Anchored by a 100 m (328 ft) pool – the longest in the Caribbean – the hotel is defined by its offering of an unpretentious luxury experience radiating with the warmth, originality and energy of the âSpice Islandâ of Grenada. Guests and the eventual buyers of the nine residential villas share a spa retreat, a beach club and two globally inspired restaurants.
The NoMad Hotel Los Angeles continues in the spirit of the original NoMad in New York by taking residence in the historic building, Giannini Place. Originally built in the 1920s as the headquarters for The Bank of Italy, the buildingâs gold and blue Italianate lobby ceiling has been fully restored and serves as inspiration throughout. Honoring its rich history, The NoMad Downtown LA Hotel naturally balancesÂ the integrity and character of the Neoclassical landmark with a contemporary California design. Each of the 241 rooms and suites is appointed with custom-designed furnishings,Â original artwork curated by Paris-based design studio be-poles, and Bellino linens. Many rooms also feature freestanding pedestal bathtubs and separate water closets.
Hotel website: NoMad Los Angeles
60. VENTANA BIG SUR, AN ALILA RESORT, BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA
Tucked among the California forests in one of the most dramatic landscapes on earth,Â the former Ventana Inn reopened asÂ Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, managed now by Singapore-based Alila Hotels and Resorts, after an eight months multi-million dollar refurbishment.Â The resortâs 59 guest rooms, suites and villas emerged as refreshed sanctuaries tucked away among
the resortâs meadows and redwoods, many featuring a private balcony or patio with mountain or ocean views. The opening of Ventana Big Sur also marks the North American debut of Alila Hotels & Resorts, the celebrated luxury boutique hotel brand recently recognized as one of the top hospitality brands in the world.
Hotel website:Â Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort
61. THE HOXTON WILLIAMSBURG, NEW YORK, USA
The Hoxton, Williamsburg – the fifth hotel in The Hoxton portfolio and the first American outpost of the brand – is located in New York’s most eclectic and vibrant neighbourhood, full of interesting characters, with a fascinating industrial past and a creative present. Located on the site of the Rosenwach factory that crafted the iconic wooden water towers that today can be seen across the skyline of Manhattan, The Hoxton, Williamsburg is a new-build property, with 175 rooms and several restaurants and bars, including a rooftop bar with views of Manhattan.Â All the Hoxtonâs rooms come with king-sized beds and views of either the Manhattan or Brooklyn skyline, while the larger âroomyâ (recommended for longer stays) get a bathtub to boot.
Hotel website: The Hoxton Williamsburg
62. UNDER CANVAS MOUNT RUSHMORE, SOUTH DAKOTA, USA
Tucked away on the outskirts of an original gold mining settlement, Under Canvas provides an incredible glamping experience in a majestic location with monumental views of “The Shrine of Democracy”, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Here, you discover a touch of luxury in the Old West while glamping under the stars, and experience unique Black Hills lodging youâll remember for a lifetime. The camp seamlessly blends into the dramatic surroundings of the Black Hills and the safari-inspired canvas tents provide all the luxuries of home.Â A stay at Under Canvas also means endless adventure with opportunities to explore all that the Black Hills of South Dakota has to offer. Take a Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour or discover the Old West on horseback!
Hotel website: Under Canvas Mount Rushmore
63. PERRY LANE HOTEL, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, USA
Stationed amid the city just steps away from the iconic Forsyth Park, Perry Lane Hotel invites guests to come and immerse themselves in all that is Savannah. Perry Lane Hotel offers you the perfect place to stay in style as you explore the vibrant city. This newly minted member of the esteemed Luxury Collection boasts 167 refreshingly elegant guest rooms, including 12 luxurious suites. Three lively food and beverage venues create a thriving social atmosphere, while the expansive art collection, 9,125 sq. ft. of event space and ever-changing calendar of local on- and off-property programming add up to a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Hotel website:Â Perry Lane Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel
64. FAIRMONT AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA
A towering icon within a vibrant Central Business District, Fairmont Austin is uniquely located amid the lush greenery of Palm Park and Waller Creek and directly connected to the Austin Convention Center. The newly opened 37-story luxury hotel features 1,048 richly appointed guest rooms and suites with picturesque vistas of Lady Bird Lake, a dramatic cityscape and the State Capitol. Guests indulge in exquisite dining, a pampering spa and state-of-the-art meeting facilities. Fairmont Austin engages guests with the cityâs famed music scene, as well as the areaâs celebrated cuisine and diverse artistic lifestyle.
Hotel website:Â Fairmont Austin
65. ST REGIS TORONTO, CANADA
TheÂ St Regis TorontoÂ is a beacon on the Toronto skyline, offering visitors a remcentral location between the entertainment and financial districts. Within close walking distance from preeminent shopping, live theatre, sports and entertainment venues, the hotel places guests just moments from the cityâs most distinguished landmarks including the CN Tower, Union Station, and Toronto International Film Festival. Boasting 258 spacious guest rooms, including 124 luxury suites â the most suites of any luxury hotel in Canada â modern elegance and bespoke service come together at The St. Regis Toronto.
Hotel website: St Regis Toronto
66. THE SANTA MARIA, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL & GOLF RESORT, PANAMA
The Santa Maria, A Luxury Collection Hotel & Golf Resort, is a five-star urban resort catering to discerning travelers seeking an authentic connection to the destination. The hotel features 182 guest rooms and suites with authentic Panamanian design elements. Surrounded by views of the Championship Nicklaus Design golf course, the resort has three restaurants, a state-of-the-art spa, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool overlooking the golf course. Designed for the current generation of global explorers who seek authentic cultural experiences, the resort offers guests access to some of the destinationâs unique cultural attractions, including the iconic and historic landmark of Panama Viejo, the world-famous Panama Canal and the countryâs islands and rainforest.
Hotel website:Â The Santa Maria, A Luxury Collection Hotel & Golf Resort
67. W PANAMA, REPUBLIC OF PANAMA
W Panama is part of the 50-floor Evolution Tower, a mixed-use building in Panama Cityâs financial district. It offers a fully integrated, contemporary lifestyle experience, including 203 stylish guest rooms, with 24 suites, three Wow suites, and one Extreme Wow suite (the W brandâs take on the Presidential Suite), two signature restaurants, the W Living Room experience (reinterpretation of the traditional hotel lobby), destination nightclub, the pool deck, spa and 8,400 square foot fitness facility. It is theÂ first W hotel in the country and has already become the new social hotspot in the city a few months after its opening.
Hotel website:Â W Panama
68. W COSTA RICA – RESERVA CONCHAL, COSTA RICA
Plugged into and buffered from it all, standing tall between beautiful beaches and the mangroves, W Costa Rica brings a fresh spin to a Costa Rica adventure. Nature gets boldly reinterpreted upon arrival, with a Living Room inspired by the local Guanacaste tree. The 150 locally influenced rooms and suites come with a surf culture inspired MIX Bar, with a keg of Imperial Ale ready to be tapped upon your arrival. Each room has a headboard inspired by local artwork, and a fully glass enclosed shower providing incredible views. Natural elements harmonize with a modern sensibility throughout our resort in Costa Rica. Guests van lounge on the pool deck or at the W Beach Club, be pampered in the spa, work out at the gym, and swing away at Reserva Conchal Golf Course.
Hotel website: W Costa Rica
69. AWASI IGUAZU, ARGENTINA
Located just 15 minutes from the worldâs largest waterfalls, Awasiâs new 12-room lodge is situated on the banks of the River IguazÃº. Built on stilts for minimal environmental impact, the 12 villas are spread throughout the jungle, each positioned for utmost privacy but within easy distance of the main lodge. Each villa is assigned with a private guide and 4WD, allowing guests to explore at their own pace, visiting where they want, when they want, and for however long they want. After days spent exploring the impressive natural scenery in and around the IguazÃº Falls, guests return to Awasi for a swim in their plunge pool, a drink at the bar in the main lodge and long evening meals in the restaurant.
Hotel website:Â Awasi Iguazu
70. FOUR SEASONS SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
The Four Seasons Sao Paulo on Avenida NaÃ§Ãµes Unidas (Avenue United Nations) places guests just steps from corporate offices, plus shopping, entertainment and South Americaâs best medical facilities.Â The domestic Congonhas-SÃ£o Paulo Airport is just 20 minutes away, and SÃ£o Paulo International Airport is about one hour by car.Â Located amid the leafy green spaces along the Pinheiros river in southern Sao Paulo, the all-new 29-storey tower include the 258-room hotel as well as 84Â Four Seasons private residencesÂ designed by Studio Arthur Casas, along with restaurants, spa, meeting rooms and other facilities.
Hotel website:Â Four Seasons Sao Paulo
71. SIX SENSES KAPLANKAYA, TURKEY
Six Senses Kaplankaya is set on the diverse Aegean coastline, blending world-class contemporary design with natural beauty and history. Nestled in the breathtaking natural beauty of this ancient land, the resort lies directly on the waterfront in Turgutreis, approximately 20 km (12 mi) from the centre of Bodrum. Undulating hills clad in evergreens, wild olives and cypresses amplify the invitation extended by warm breezes and the turquoise seaâs gently lapping waves. Presenting a robust mosaic of architecture, history and art, the resort is within easy reach of many archeological sites including two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.Â The resort features 141 guestrooms and suites, all boasting stunning views to the Aegean Sea, plus 150 residential villas.
Hotel website:Â Six Senses Kaplankaya
72. W AMMAN HOTEL, AMMAN, JORDAN
Nestled in the heart of new modern Amman, Abdali, the past meets the future at the new W Amman Hotel where local tradition and history of Jordan are instilled with an unmistakably bold design. Guests begin their discovery by entering through an intriguing canyon walk, a breathtaking recreation inspired by the ancient city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The first ever W Hotel in Amman features 280 guest rooms & suites,Â a number of signature beverage and food outlets, in addition to a multitude of extraordinary W amenities.Â The hotel is also the only building in the area with a helipad.Â The W Amman is under the umbrella of Eagle Hills, an Abu Dhabi-based private real estate investment and development company.
Hotel website:Â W Amman
73. AL MANARA, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL, JORDAN
Reminiscent of a majestic palace, Al Manara, A Luxury Collection Hotel, guards the mouth of Jordanâs Saraya Lagoon, embracing more than 6,000 years of the regionâs enigmatic history. Located on the shores of the Red Sea and set against the rugged backdrop of the expansive granite mountain range, the hotel has private sandy beaches where guests can relax and enjoy the year-round temperate climate. As The Luxury Collectionâs debut hotel in Jordan, Al Manara is an intimate retreat that combines design and history, reflecting the ancient city of Aqaba, giving it an authentic and enriching Jordanian character. The 208 guestrooms, including 38 suites and 2 villas comprising of 4 exquisite suites each have been styled with indigenous accents and distinctive hallmarks.
Hotel website:Â Al Manara
74. THE JAFFA, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL, ISRAEL
The Jaffa hotel resides within Tel Aviv-Jaffa, a lifestyle destination renowned for its historical port, local flea market and culinary scene. The hotel pays homage to its historical surroundings, seamlessly blending a section of the 13th century Crusaders Wall from the courtyard into the contemporary lobby. Signature chef restaurant, Don Camillo, infuses international dishes with indigenous flavors and serves a daily Israeli Italian breakfast. The Jaffa houses an outdoor pool, state-of-the-art fitness center and a world class spa. World renowned designer John Pawsonâs signature minimalist style, custom furniture, sumptuous beds, lavish bathrooms and luxurious amenities characterize the 120 rooms & suites.
Hotel website:Â The Jaffa, a Luxury Collection Hotel
75. THE SETAI TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
Housed within a historic Ottoman building, once used as a jailhouse, The Setai Tel Aviv offers an enviable entryway to the wonders of the Jaffa Port, Tel Avivâs full beach coastline and steps away from the cityâs bustling boulevards and urban hub. The 120-room luxury property comprises five buildings of the former and historical Ottoman prison and police station, imaginatively transformed with contemporary touches and classic refurbishments. The Setai Tel Avivâs marble and stone corridors connect the buildings and converge within a central courtyard. Original design details and stonework harmoniously compliment modern accents, converging with the restored Turkish Hamam SpaÂ and infinity rooftop pool overlooking the entire Tel Aviv skyline.
Hotel website: The Setai Tel Aviv
76. JUMEIRAH ROYAL SARAY, BAHREIN
On a private beach in Manamaâs new Seef district, sits the majestic Jumeirah Royal Saray. Beautifully enclosed by the Arabian sea, the serene setting of the hotel brings forth a new wave of understated luxury, making Bahrain a highly desirable leisure destination. Jumeirah Royal Saray is a work of art in its own right. The inspired decor of the resort comprises the best materials and unparalleled statement pieces curated from places around the globe. The resort is like a regal Bahraini summer house replete with a coastal feel. The 174 guestrooms, 10 luxurious summer houses and 4 Royal Residences are decked in lush tones of nacre, silver shimmer and ocean blue; tones that are emblematic of the renowned Bahraini pearls.
Hotel website: Jumeirah Royal Saray
77. KEMPINSKI HOTEL MUSCAT, OMAN
Nestled within the community of Al Mouj Muscat encompassing over six kilometers (3,7 miles) of stunning coastline, the Kempinski Hotel Muscat is a new luxury destination in the capital of Oman.Â The hotel features 310 comfortableÂ rooms and suites, state-of-the-artÂ meetings and eventsÂ facilities, a business centre and an executive lounge. Ten world-classÂ restaurants and barsÂ provide a remarkable dining experience. TwoÂ swimming poolsÂ and a kids pool, aÂ kids clubÂ and aÂ tennis court, along with various outdoor and water sport activities will ensure to spend an exciting and adventurous time. The hotel leisure facilities also feature aÂ luxurious spaÂ and a fully equippedÂ health club.
Hotel website:Â Kempinski Hotel Muscat
78. EMERALD PALACE KEMPINSKI DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Inspired by palaces of Continental Europe, Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai is a five-star luxury beach resort dedicated to the finest elements of life. Guests are welcome to immerse in an elegantly curated stay, dining and leisure experiences at this landmark destination on Palm Jumeirah, and discover Dubaiâs iconic palace by the sea. Each of the spaciousÂ rooms and suitesÂ is embellished with hand-crafted Italian touches and offset by carefully selected amenities to complete the atmosphere of elegance.Â The refinement is complemented by exceptional leisure facilities, such as a private beach and lagoon pool, eight culinary experiences includingÂ MIXÂ by Alain Ducasse as well as one of the largest wellness centres byÂ Cinq Mondes spa, with 23 treatment rooms.
Hotel website:Â Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai
79. AL BAIT SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
A jewel of the Emirates, Sharjah is GHMâs newest destination for a luxury escape beyond compare. Meaning âThe Homeâ, the 53-room Al Bait hotel in Sharjah is nestled within the fulcrum of the UAEâs vibrant landscape, with convenient access to all the wonders this glittering Emirate has to offer. This ambitious restoration and conversion project of these historic manor houses was undertaken with the vision of embodying the cultural renaissance that has swept the Emirate. The property offers first-class gastronomy with traditional and international cuisine, indulgent spas to rejuvenate and more, all in an atmosphere that will take your breath away.
Hotel website:Â Al Bait Sharjah
80. JUMEIRAH SAâADIYAT ISLAND RESORT, ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Set in a prime location on the north-eastern coast of Saâadiyat Island, the property is the most luxurious five-star resort in Abu Dhabi. Resembling aÂ summer house,Â its sophisticated interiors offer a backdrop of refined island life andÂ quiet understated luxury. Our seven exciting and indulging dining destinations, an ultraluxe spa with 15 treatment rooms and three outdoor pools, offer thoughtfully personalized service to elevate every moment. The 294 rooms feature expansive sea views and the panoramic suites offer floor-to-ceiling glass walls that open up to the sea breeze. All the villasÂ offer private pools, for a truly exclusive experience.
Hotel website: Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
81. GRAND HYATT ABU DHABI HOTEL, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
A short 35 minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the hotel is located along the charming Corniche, offering generous beachfront promenades and stunning landmark city views that feature famed UAE landmarks, including Emirates Palace, the Presidential Palace and The Founderâs Memorial.Â Meticulously designed with bold and vibrant features, the property houses 332 guestrooms, 36 lavish suites, including the Presidential and Palatial Royal Suites, and 60 full-service one and two-bedroom residences, each thoughtfully conceptualized with key locally inspired details.Â The hotel is home to a variety of signature bars and restaurants,Â offers a stunning 50 m (164 ft) outdoor infinity pool, and world-class spa.
Hotel website: Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel
82. THE ABU DHABI EDITION, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The Abu Dhabi EDITION is situated in the downtown district on the waterfront of Al Bateen in the Abu Dhabi Marina. The hotel’s 198 guest rooms are designed using a sophisticated neutral palette. The grey oak timber flooring’s herringbone pattern, drawing inspiration from local basket weaving techniques, contrasts the off-white marble in the bathrooms. The property’s unique food and beverage outlets include 2 signature restaurants, a gourmet market, lobby bar, tea lounge, pool bar and 3-story nightclub.Â A pool, state-of-the-art fitness center and spa with 7 treatment rooms are also available for hotel guests. The hotel also has over 107k sq. ft. of meeting and event space including several meeting studios, ballrooms and boardrooms.
Hotel website:Â The Abu Dhabi EDITION
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Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities with Virtuoso
Six Senses Zighy Bay is an ultra-luxurious “hidden gem”, located on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, only a scenic two-hour car journey (but a world apart) from Dubai. The setting of this beautiful indigenous village-style resort with its private marina is spectacular, with dramatic mountains on one side, and a 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) sandy beach on the other. The resort gives the feeling of exotic remoteness, yet offers every comfort, easy accessibility and barefoot luxury beyond imagination. The accommodations are inspired by traditional Omani houses and feature high indigenous-style ceilings, colorfully cushioned living area and cloudlike beds. All villas have a private pool, where guests can refresh within the privacy of high cobblestone walls. The property also features a terrific spa and several word-class restaurants.
*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Oman with my online Oman travel guide ***
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
Six Senses Zighy Bay enjoys a remote but easily accessible location in the Musandam Peninsula, an exclave of Oman on the Strait of Hormuz that is entirely surrounded by the United Arab Emirates. The Musandam Peninsula features spectacular scenery, with barren mountains rising up to 2000 m (6500 ft) above sea level and jutting out like fingers into the sea, hereby creating countless fjord-like inlets and yielding phenomenal views. The mountains have housed extremely isolated Bedouin communities for centuries, some of them still being closed for non-Omanis. The nearest airport to the resort is Dubai, an easy 120 km (or 75 miles) drive via the highway through the desert, which usually takes around two hours.
Six Senses Zighy Bay enjoys an otherworldly setting so dramatic that you’ll be completely blown away by the breathtaking natural beauty that awaits you once you reach the property, even if you have seen already tons of photos of the resort before arrival. The five-star resort is located on a small strip of land in a majestic bay, which is sandwiched between the craggy Hajar Mountains, a 1,6 km (1 mi) long arc of powdery soft sandy, and the turquoise, warm waters of the Gulf of Oman. The location is super-private as there’s nothing else in the immediate vicinity of the resort, except for a small authentic fishing village. The setting gives the feeling of exciting remoteness, yet offers every comfort and easy accessibility.
An amazing 4×4 drive over a steep mountain pass is the usual arrival method. You’ll never forget your first glimpse of Zighy Bay and the resort as you drive over the top of the dusty, cinnamon-coloured mountains and begin your dramatic descent towards the beach-front hotel (no worries: if you drive to the hotel with your own rental car, you can leave it at the hotel parking located at the valley below the mountain ridge). The resort also offers two options to ‘upgrade’ the arrival experience (albeit at an extra cost): you can either paraglide down the mountain top with a Six Senses professional, or make your entrance by speedboat from a neighbouring bay port.
In keeping with Six Senses’ core principles and identity, the resort perfectly blends into its rugged, spectacular surroundings. Set in an oasis of more than 1500 date palm, fig and pomegranate trees, the resort is modeled after a traditional Omani village, with low-rise indigenous-style pavilions, beautiful stone-walled villas, open-sided barasti shelters, and narrow sandy passages where you may encounter the odd wandering goat. In fact, the resort looks almost exactly like the fishing village next door, with which it shares the dramatic bay. The tranquil village theme of Six Senses’ outpost in Oman is a welcome respite from the opulent 1001 Arabian Nights ambience that most other hotels in the area (Middle East) offer.
The authentic Omani village vibe is complemented by the resort’s rustic interiors, which are designed and furnished to reflect local Omani culture. The stone walls are painted in tones of cream to resonate with earthy brown hues, while antique lanterns cast soft light onto the flagstone floors and dark wooden furniture. The decor throughout the property is created using natural materials like bamboo, wood carvings, unbleached fabrics, ropes and other organic, locally sourced and natural fabrics and materials. Six Senses’ signature Buddhist orange, royal purple, citrus yellow and bright green colors are used in cushions and soft furnishings, adding a playful, subtle touch to the decor’s otherwise neutral and soothing color palette.
The resort’s layout is quite convenient, with a shaded walkway leading from the low-key lobby to the resort’s central area, a plaza which features a water pond, a picturesque bridge, and a watch-tower (with an exclusive dining room and a spiraling staircase inside). Most hotel facilities are located around the plaza: the library, a lounge, a bar, 2 of the 4 restaurants, and one of the two pools (more on that below). The 84 villas are located in 3 rows that spread out on both sides of the central plaza and run perpendicular to the beach. The resort grounds are expansive but guests get bikes with padded pedals for the duration of their stay (efficient buggy service is provided as well).
Six Senses Zighy Bay offers 82 magnificent stand-alone villas, reminiscent of stone-walled Omani dwellings. All villas are built of natural stone and warm woods, and offer utmost privacy and tranquility. During my visit, I staid in a spacious ‘Spa Pool Villa’, which featured a colorfully cushioned living area with writing desk giving way to a bedroom with a heavenly soft kingsize bed decked out in unbleached cotton sheets. The open-plan bathroom came with two sinks, an indoor- and outdoor shower, a deep soaking bathtub, and a toilet. The villa’s highlight was the sandy garden surrounded by high cobblestone walls, where one could relax on the sun loungers, chill in the shaded dining & lounge areas, or take a dip in the private pool.
In addition to the private pools of the 82 villas, the resort also features two public beach-front pool areas. The main freeform pool is located below the resort’s central plaza, while the second, even larger and lagoon-style pool is found at the southern end of the property, near the water sports center. The latter pool is massive in size as it’s more than 100 ft (35 m) long and about 80 ft (25 m) at its widest, and it’s also the only saltwater pool in the Gulf. The saltwater pool was created by the resort to deal with the salt produced by the desalination process it uses to purify water. Both pool areas come with their own beach club (with plenty of loungers) and poolside service offering meals, beverages and complimentary homemade ice creams.
One of Six Senses Zighy Bay’s highlights (and one of the main reasons why discerning travelers flock to this resort destination) is its magnificent beach, by far the nicest one in the Gulf. The dramatic beauty of the beach’s mountainous backdrop will knock you off your feet. In addition, the quality of the powdery white, sugar soft sand is great, and the sea is calm and warm, making it perfect for swimming. Since the beach is so long (1,6 km or 1 mi) and the facilities are spread over two clubs, the beach always feel quiet and never gets crowded, even when the resort operates at full capacity. In addition, there’s no public access to the resort’s beach, so you won’t have to share this piece of paradise with non-hotel guests.
Dining options at Six Senses Zighy Bay offer a highly enjoyable culinary journey, with much of the produce originating from the local fishing village next door and the resort’s own organic garden and farm. There are 4 restaurants to choose from:
Senses On The Edge is the resort’s signature restaurant and the perfect place to enjoy a very memorable evening with a jaw-dropping view situated almost 300 m (1000 ft above sea level). The fine-dining venue is located a short drive from the main resort (complimentary transfers are offered by hotel car) and serves a five or seven-course set menu accompanied with degustation wines, to be enjoyed indoor or alfresco style.
Spice Market is located on the central plaza and offers a lavish breakfast, superb dinners and themed buffets in a relaxed Arabic environment highlighted by bold colors and a traditional mud kitchen.
Summer House is located across Spice Market and is a great spot for a crisp lunch or a fulfilling dinner. Menus focus on Arabian and international cuisine. During the cooler months lunch and dinner is best enjoyed outdoors with views of the pool and wadi.
Shua shack is a Bedouin-style restaurant set on the beach in front of the saltwater pool. It serves family-style dinners, beginning with local organic salads and oriental mezza, followed by slow-cooked local lamb prepared in the authentic Shua underground oven.
Wellness is not taken lightly at Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort. The excellent spa – which is located at the base of the Hajar Mountains on the resort’s outskirts – is a retreat from the busy humdrum of daily life. Committed to delivering integrated wellness experiences along with tranquillity, fitness and health, the spa offers innovative and ancient holistic treatments from expert in-house and visiting wellness consultants. Besides traditional therapies such as Thai massages, stretching and acupressure techniques, the resort also offers locally inspired treatments inspired by age-old Omani traditions, hereby using plants, herbs and ingredients indigenous to the local area.
As you may expect from a resort of this caliber, Six Senses Zighy Bay provides impeccable, world-class service. This is particularly the case on the beach where the staff continuously provides iced water and runs over to help with adjusting sunloungers/parasols under the hot Omani sun. As with every Six Senses resort, everyone is also introduced to a Guest Experience Maker (GEM) at check-in, which is Six Senses’ smart terminology for a butler. The GEM looks after you during your holiday and coordinates your needs and requirements with other departments within the resort, to ensure all your queries are handled to maximum satisfaction and that your experience is memorable.
Sustainability is on top of the resort’s agenda with numerous practices to minimize negative and embrace positive impacts. The eco-friendly policy focuses on energy efficiency, water and waste management, protecting natural surroundings, air quality and noise control. For example, the resort has its own organic garden that grows herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers, for use in the incense-fragranced spa as well as the restaurants. In addition, the resort is also an active participant in programs to improve the well-being of the local Omani community; social commitment includes activities such as giving support to the local Dibba Girl’s School, Sharjah Charity International and Sukarina bin Al Husain School.
The resort is operated by Six Senses, one of my favorite luxury hotel brands in the world. After its launch in 1995 by Soneva CEO Sonu Shivdasani, Six Senses quickly became recognized as the hospitality industry’s pioneer of sustainable practices, demonstrating that responsibility can be successfully wedded to uncompromised high-end facilities. Six Senses Resorts & Spas are always located in some of the world’s most unique and beautiful places. Whether it be a Six Senses resort on a remote private island or a Six Senses Spa in an exciting urban setting, the touch-points are always decidedly the same. I have previously reviewed the following Six Senses properties:
The remote location, dramatic setting, unique design, and world-class facilities make Six Senses Zighy Bay one of my all time favorite resorts in the world! The property doesn’t have any real cons, but you may want to know the following nonetheless:
The resort is tucked away in what seems like the middle of nowhere, but, in a way, that is what makes it so unique – secluded, private, quiet and serene with its own amazing beach, great dining options, and exclusive facilities. Although the isolated location is part of the appeal for most guests, it’s important to emphasize that the resort is removed from almost everything, so you won’t find any restaurants, shops or night life within a half hour drive of the hotel.
The resort faces the east and is backed to the west by a high mountain range. Consequently, most of the property is in the shade around 90 minutes before sunset. On a positive note, if you are an early riser, you’ll be treated to fabulous sunrises over the Gulf of Oman.
Accommodations are built in 3 rows perpendicular to the beach, so only the villas in the first row enjoy unhindered sea views and have direct beach access (click here for the resort map).
Because of the resort’s secluded location, your dining options are limited to the resort’s four restaurants, which is not a bad thing since they all offer terrific food. However, not all restaurants are permanently open (e.g. Shua Shack and Summer House are not open for dinner in the humid summer months).
Value for money: 10/10
Overall experience: exceptional: 9,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
Save money: read my tips for getting the best hotel deal at a luxury resort like Six Senses Zighy Bay (and receive many free perks).
Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when you booking Six Senses Zighy Bay via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and a 50 minute massage for two people).
Save money: book a half board package to avoid extra costs (since you will have all your dinners at the hotel anyway).
Room tip: villas are located in 3 rows perpendicular to the sea, so only the villas in the first row enjoy unhindered sea views and have direct beach access (click here for the resort map).
When booking a table at Sense on the Edge, start dinner before sunset to enjoy the spectacular views.
The hotel is located in Oman, but is most easily reached from Dubai.
High season, November to April, offers balmy temperatures and mostly sunny days. This is the best time to spend a holiday at the resort and exercise outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or simply relax at the beach club. May to September can be uncomfortably hot, but if you can tolerate the heat and humidity, you can save hundreds of dollars as this is low season.
HOW TO GET THERE
Zighy Bay is 75 miles (120 kilometers), or around a 120-minute drive from Dubai International Airport (DXB). Check the Wikipedia page of Dubai International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Dubai.
All visitors are required to send the passport copy/passport details minimum of three working days prior to the arrival date to obtain a border pass to cross the UAE-Oman check point; as for the UAE Resident, a passport and UAE Resident Visa copies are needed as stated in the new regulation of UAE-Oman border.