More ultra-luxe hotel brands are moving their sights from exotic resorts to urban escapes.
Following the path beaten by highend boutique names such as Como and Aman, a handful of ultra-luxe hospitality brands better known for their far-flung retreats are opening hotels in cities. Six Senses, for example, is set to open in Singapore this month. Says its president Bernhard Bohnenberger of the decision: “Our guests may be able to visit the resorts only once or twice a year. But in cities where they live or frequently visit, we can bring our wellness experience to them on a daily basis.”
Set in the Duxton area, in a series of restored shophouses sandwiched between nightlife spots, the orientalstyle hotel offers a wellness programme with a local twist. Here, guests can find a resident doctor practising traditional Chinese medicine, along with a medicinal herb dispensary. A more comprehensive programme with spa treatments adapted to Singapore’s weather, and healthier food menus, will be available in June, when a larger, tropical-themed Six Senses hotel opens in Maxwell.
Capella, meanwhile, opened its first urban resort in Asia last September. Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li is a restored townhouse complex that reflects the oriental and Parisian styles of 1930s Shanghai. Located on the edge of the city’s business district, the sprawling resort offers an anachronistic respite from the city’s glass and concrete structures, with its lush gardens and spas. For wellness, its 24-hour fitness centre is equipped with a sensory deprivation tank and a salt-wall lounge for detoxification.
In Cambodia, Rosewood goes vertical, with the first city hotel in its expansion into South-east Asia. Situated in the top 14 floors of the 39-storey Vattanac Capital Tower, the highest building in Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh, the urban resort is in stark contrast to the concrete jungle around the area. The hotel sees travertine walls, dark timber furnishings, ceramic sculptures and artefacts, and lots of natural light; think a modern Angkor temple with panoramic views of the city.
“We wanted to present a contemporary mansion concept,” says managing director Daniel Grau. “From the moment they arrive at the lobby, our guests will feel the warm atmosphere of our surroundings and panoramic views of the city.” The best of both worlds, then.
Where to find these resorts and what to do there, in a nutshell.
01 WELLNESS, INTERPRETED FOR THE CITY
SIX SENSES DUXTON, 83 DUXTON ROAD
Known for its exotic locales, Six Senses brings its health programmes and clean cuisine to a South-east Asian city. Traditional Chinese medicine, in the form of a resident doctor and dispensary, is available at its Duxton location and, when its sister hotel opens in Maxwell, guests can enjoy 24K gold facials along with the regular staples of massage.
02 YE SHANGHAI
CAPELLA SHANGHAI JIAN YE LI, 480 WEST JIANGUO ROAD
Capella recreates Shanghai’s heyday in the design of the resort, and raises the bar for wellness programmes by offering a sensory deprivation tank.
03 ANGKOR IN A HIGH-RISE
ROSEWOOD PHNOM PENH, VATTANAC CAPITAL TOWER
Traditional Cambodian design is given a sleek, modern interpretation, so guests can savour a sense of place that Rosewood is famous for, while indulging in posh amenities. These include an outdoor pool, drinks and views from the top floors of the city’s tallest building.
TRAVEL TO DO GOOD
There’s more than vast savannahs and wildlife in Africa, according to Andbeyond. Alongside trips to conservation reserves, the luxury safari experts are offering humanitarian programmes for travellers interested in philanthropic opportunities. They will get to visit and talk to beneficiaries of non-profit schools, clinics or farming projects supported by reputable organisations. The trips are 10 to 12 days, arguably too brief a time to make a discernible impact, but guests can continue to support a cause of their choice after the trip, through monetary means or otherwise. Additionally, a percentage of the tour package goes to beneficiaries. CEO of Andbeyond Joss Kent assures that communities benefit from these tourism-enabled programmes. “We provide direct employment, support of local businesses, and funding for education and health care infrastructure to these communities,” Kent shares. “They are also empowered, without further reliance on outside support.” www.andbeyond.com
A DOG’S RED CARPET
A handful of Belmond hotels are out to pamper pets as much as their well-heeled owners. Find gourmet dog food – vetapproved quinoa and lean meat – at the Miraflores Park in Lima; a wellness and revitalisation retreat at Reid’s Palace, Madeira; and our favourite, tailored Swedish massages from trained pet therapists, along with lessons for owners, at Hotel Splendido in Portofino. Check www.belmond.com
for the full menu of doggie services.
A POET’S JOURNEY
Walking tour specialist Walk Japan is following the footsteps of illustrious 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho in its latest self-guided route. The six-day Basho Wayfarer tour centres on the poet’s journey through north-east Japan as per his classic travelogue The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Detailed guides take trekkers to sites, forests and villages that inspired Basho’s haikus. Along with accommodation at traditional inns, travellers can be assured of a fuss-free trip with arranged transportation and 24/7 phone support. www.walkjapan.com