From family-focused wellness retreats in the Middle East to resorts in the desert, holiday inspiration is strong this season. These are our top picks.
Back to the island
Splash-down in Hyatt Regency Koh Samui's four swimming pools.
Thailand has welcomed Hyatt Regency Koh Samui, a family-friendly property set on eight acres of private coastline near Chaweng. This is the first time a Hilton property has opened on the sunshine island and general manager Adrian Pulido admitted it was a tough time to be opening a resort.
“The pandemic has been a challenging time for Koh Samui, as it has for the entire tourism industry in Thailand,” he said. “That’s why we’re so delighted to début such a special resort.”
The property is a collaboration between Hyatt, Office of Bangkok Architecture and August Design. It has 140 rooms and is just ten minute’s from the island’s international airport. It also boasts the longest lobby in Koh Samui.
Rooms have calming ocean views and amenities include a huge pool zone with a collection of pools cascading down the mountainside from a main pool on the upper deck. The various pools include a lap pool, plunge pool, family pool with a whirlpool and a kids’ pool with a slide.
Kids can enjoy Camp Hyatt, with supervised play, activities and movie nights. And parents will be able to relax at the five-treatment room spa with two couples’ suites with a private deck and outdoor tubs.
Accommodation runs from rooms to suites and villas; selected rooms include access to the Regency Club. There are also seven beachfront pool villas.
Thailand is now open to fully vaccinated visitors from both Hong Kong and Singapore without quarantine.
“This island has a central role to play in how Thailand fares following the pandemic and it’s an honour to be leading the way as we begin to look positively towards the future,” said Pulido.
A place in the sand - Six Senses Shaharut sits in the Negev Desert.
Surrounded by the arid landscape of the Arava Valley in Israel’s Negev Desert, Six Senses Shaharut has finally opened after a pandemic-induced delay.
The resort aims to offer guests traditional desert hospitality woven with the rich local Nabataean history in eco-conscious surroundings.
Sixty suites and villas are spread across the stunning, lunar-like landscape and the property is looking forward to welcoming international guests just as soon as border restrictions allow.
But as the saying goes, the best things in life are worth waiting for and the wide-ranging activities offered by the property - from immersive Kibbutz experiences and stargazing sessions to camel treks and floating in the Dead Sea - will no doubt go a long way to satisfying pent-up wanderlust.
But in these socially-distanced times, perhaps one of the resort’s biggest assets is its abundance of space and its solitary location.
“After months of anticipation… I am very excited about this new opening,” said general manager Thomas Fehlbier. “It brings the Six Senses ethos of sustainability, local sensitivity and wellness together with our unique desert culture and traditions. With a passionate team, we’ll work to create out-of-the-ordinary guest experiences in a setting of biblical proportions.”
On-site family-embracing activities include an Earth Lab showcasing the resort’s approach to sustainability; as well there are camel stables, gardens, an open-air amphitheatre and a spa offering a variety of wellness programmes and a schedule of visiting practitioners. Or soak up those desert views at the resort’s two freshwater pools.
Off-site, family groups can try camel trekking, overnight desert camping, e-mountain bike tours, hiking, jeep excursions, a Shabbat dinner in a local community and trips to the Dead Sea and Petra.
Beach vibes in Mauritius
Sit back and relax at Lux Grand Baie in Mauritius.
The highly anticipated Lux Grand Baie Resort opened its doors on November 1.
The boutique-style hotel is Lux hospitality group’s flagship property and is located on the north coast of Mauritius, close to the island’s lively beachside bars and cafés in the stunning Grand Baie lagoon. If you’re looking for sparkling waters lapping silky sands, this is where you’ll want to be.
Lux Grand Baie is the brainchild of The Lux Collective’s Paul Jones. “The mandate was simple,” he told Asia Family Traveller. “Create the finest luxury resort in the Indian Ocean. In the process it’s become the flagship for Lux Resorts & Hotels and our first greenfield project in Mauritius.”
Environmental solutions have included using renewable building materials, reducing and recycling waste, sourcing food locally and protecting the natural environment.
Mauritius-based architect Jean-Francois Adam spearheaded the resort’s nautical design, which is inspired by a childhood spent on the beach. And British designer Kelly Hoppen has created interiors that channel the beauty of the island and the ocean with voluminous spaces for “a breath of fresh air”.
Facilities include a kids’ club, which means three to 12 year olds will be able to enjoy a wide range of activities such as the Little Green Fingers gardening project, gelato-making at the Ice Cream Lab or Junior Yoga. Teens are catered for at Studio 17, with vintage arcade machines, a DJ deck and a Photofanatics station. Lessons in windsurfing, kayaking and paddle boarding are also available.
Dining spaces include Beach Rouge beach club, Ai KISU serving Asian cuisine from a warayaki straw fire, Maison Lux café and an expansive rooftop bar and restaurant.
Wellness for kids
Zulal Wellness Resort offers wellness experiences for both parents and children.
Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som has been unveiled in Qatar.
The resort is unusual in that it offers an immersive, wellness-based experience for both adults and children. Parents can enjoy the adults-only Zulal Serenity area while the Zulal Discovery section of the resort caters for family groups, including children under the age of 16 years.
This is the first time the renowned Thai-based Chiva-Som spa brand has ventured outside of Southeast Asia. The new resort will be located in the coastal area of Khasooma in the north of Qatar. It’s set to be the largest wellness destination in the state and the first to offer Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine.
TAIM is derived from the Canon of Medicine by physician and philosopher, Ibn Sina, in the eleventh century. Treatments at Zulal Wellness Resort will include traditional Qatari hamiz - a relaxing massage using circular strokes, Zulal’s signature medicinal herb-infused tadleek oil and hot stones to stimulate circulation and energy flow; as well as a range of Arabic spa rituals that target both physical and spiritual wellbeing.
When it comes to dining, the resort will emphasise locally sourced, healthy cuisines, with a ‘food as medicine’ mantra. Figs, dates, olives, camel milk and indigenous herbs, spices, minerals and marine flora will be used across the resort’s four restaurants.
“Zulal Wellness Resort continues Chiva-Som’s journey of pioneering, bringing a contemporary take on ancient healing practices and incorporating them into the more than 400 wellness treatments we offer at the resort,” said Chiva-Som chairman Krip Rojanstein.
Super-luxe in Dubai
Raffles the Palm Dubai is the first Raffles resort to open in the Middle East.
Raffles the Palm Dubai has snapped up the last position on the iconic Palm Jumeirah in the emirate of Dubai with a stunning new family-friendly property.
Not short on superlatives, the 25-acre property will be the first Raffles resort to open in the Middle East. The heritage brand, which has links back to the late 1800s when the first Raffles hotel opened in Singapore, will be doubling its portfolio over the next two years with the addition of no fewer than nine lavish new hotels. Locations along with Dubai include Bahrain, Udaipur, Macau, Jeddah, Doha, London, Boston and Moscow.
“With our pioneering spirit, we have sought out locations where we can really bring Raffles’ gracious welcome and tradition of excellence,” said Raffles & Orient Express’ recently appointed chief executive officer Stephen Alden. “Each new Raffles property is a destination in itself.”
Guests at Raffles the Palm Dubai will be able to soak up sea views as well as stunning cityscape vistas from the property’s 389 rooms, suites and villas. Each boasts a balcony and a terrace.
Eight food and beverage spaces will include a Raffles Patisserie, a Writer’s Lounge and a Library and there a Raffles’ butler service will also be offered.
The hotel’s private beach will host a brand new beach club concept serving Mediterranean-style dishes as well as lining up live entertainment.
Children can enjoy a dedicated children’s pool and kids’ club and there’s also a teens’ club for older children. Fun amenities cover a wealth of water sport options, including paddle boarding and introductory dive courses.
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