Above: Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape, set in the heart of the Balinese jungle.
Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape
This elegant, adults-only resort set in the heart of the Balinese jungle opened its doors in April 2022 and has quickly become one of the island’s most sought-after destinations. Offering sixteen villas enveloped in a sea of infinite green, a visit to Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape, is all about harmoniously connecting with nature.
The ‘no walls, no doors’ concept of the villas means that guests can soak up every iota of the surrounding landscape, which is punctuated with verdant flora, serene rice paddy fields and cascading mountainscapes. Conceived by a local Balinese designer, the aesthetic celebrates organic materials, especially bamboo and reclaimed wood, and has been created to mimic the setting of a local village. Muted natural tones, delicate textiles and abundant space make the suites idyllic sanctuaries for an off-the-beaten-track Bali adventure. Plus, each comes with its own private infinity pool and every luxury under the sun.
As is characteristic of the Banyan Tree Group, wellness and mindfulness also take centre stage at this resort. The open-air Toja Spa presents a menu of exclusive treatments inspired by Bali’s local healing techniques, and in the spirit of disconnecting from the stresses of daily life, guests can partake in a variety of activities at the resort that showcase local Buahan rituals and culture. Various yoga classes are offered onsite, too.
If there is one key message this hotel delivers, it’s to encourage symbiosis with nature, an idea that’s also put forward in its food and beverage offerings. Both the property’s Botanist Bar and Open Kitchen use products sourced from local, small-scale farmers to present creative, sustainable, vegetable-forward cuisine inspired by lost ancient recipes. The resort’s culinary also team offers cooking classes, and guests can even head out on a foraging expedition to learn about the local plants and their benefits and uses.
Above: Admiral Hotel Manila – MGallery. Images courtesy Accor.
Admiral Hotel Manila — MGallery
Manila, The Philippines
Admiral Hotel Manila — the first MGallery hotel to open in the Philippines — brings a dose of art-fuelled luxury to this historic, spirited city. Honouring the cultural significance of its locale, the hotel is home to six themed floors exhibiting all that makes Manila unique, including its festivals, local artworks, folk dances, traditional games, legendary history and more.
Conveniently located on the popular Roxas Boulevard, which stretches along the palm-lined shore of Manila Bay, the hotel provides easy access to the city’s plethora of bars, restaurants, shopping malls, and historical landmarks. Boasting a beautiful blend of classic and contemporary Filipino-Spanish architecture, the Admiral Hotel Manila — MGallery gives a stunning window into Manila’s Golden Age, complete with eye-catching decorative glass windows, lashings of gold and silver, dark wood finishes and marble floors.
The 123 guestrooms continue to tell the tale of Old Manila elegance and are havens of romance, adventure, history and culture, outfitted with all manner of modern luxuries. With king-sized beds, bespoke furnishings, ample workspace and city or bay views, they make for the perfect retreat after a day spent exploring the treasure-filled city. As an added drawcard, the hotel is pet friendly, with specific rooms catering for furry friends.
The food and beverage outlets also offer a world of entertainment, from live music at Ruby Wong’s Godown — set in the hotel’s basement — to afternoon tea delights at El Atrio and Manila-meets-Miami vibes at Coconut Grove. There’s even a high-tech interactive dining experience on offer at The Admiral Club. All in all, the Admiral Hotel Manila — MGallery ticks every box for a sumptuous stay in the Philippines.
Above: The ultra-luxurious Raffles Udaipur. Images courtesy Accor.
Marking the renowned hospitality group’s debut in India, Raffles Udaipur is a destination unto itself. Opulence characterises every aspect of this hotel, which sits on its own 21-acre private island in the centre of Udai Sagar Lake.
Hidden from the hustle and bustle of Rajasthan, the expansive property is reminiscent of a country estate, complete with pristine manicured gardens and all-encompassing views of the surrounding hills, the serene lake and a 400-year-old temple. The trip to the hotel is magical in its own right — after a twenty-minute drive from the airport, guests are whisked away on a fairytale-like boat ride replete with exquisite birdlife, including greater flamingoes, ibises, great egrets, painted storks and pied kingfishers. The magnificence of these birds continues to shine through at the hotel, where details in the interior design pay tribute to these majestic creatures.
The 101 rooms and suites gracefully weave Western cultural nuances with Rajasthan’s royal heritage and elements from Mughal architecture. Complete with uninterrupted lake vistas, private gardens, balconies, plunge pools and an East-meets-West design aesthetic featuring murals, handmade furniture and local handicrafts, the guestrooms are works of art made for moments of bliss. For that added touch of indulgence, there are butlers on hand for every guest, too.
As one would expect from a resort of this calibre, the culinary offerings here are stellar. At Sawai Kitchen, diners can savour Indian specialities inspired by forgotten recipes from the region’s royal households, reinterpreted with a modern palate. For farm-to-fork dining, guests can visit Harvest, which has a menu brimming with dishes made with ingredients grown on the estate’s farm. On the other hand, Raffles Patisserie is the go-to for those craving moreish baked goods, including bread, French desserts and signature Raffles pastries. Don’t miss out on the hotel’s signature Afternoon High Tea experience, which serves delicious sweet and savoury treats alongside a selection of teas from the Kangra hills in Himachal Pradesh and premium coffee from Southern India, all guided by tip-top advice from the in-house Tea Sommelier.
Above: Alila Kothaifaru Maldives sits on a 27-acre private island in the Raa Atoll. Images courtesy Hyatt Corporation.
Alila Kothaifaru Maldives
Raa Atoll, Maldives
Set within the scenic Raa Atoll, the new Alila Kothaifaru Maldives is a newly opened five-star retreat where guests can enjoy quintessential island living at its best. Enveloped by abundant marine life, azure waters and lush foliage, this 27-acre property centres its offerings around nature, inviting guests to experience a slice of pure paradise in one of the world’s most unique locations.
Only a 45-minute seaplane flight from Malé, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives is home to eighty villas — 44 are situated on the beach, and the other 36 are perched above the water with direct sea access. All the villas have a pool and an outside terrace — ideal for long, lazy days spent sunbathing and soaking up the sea views. The interiors also usher in a state of zen, with understated furnishings, open spaces and an ocean-inspired palette that beckon the outside in. Envisioned by Singapore-based Studiogoto, the architecture blends in with the natural landscape, so guests can feel at one with Mother Earth at every turn. The treetop spa is particularly striking, offering a cocoon of well-being nestled amidst a leafy canopy.
In terms of culinary offerings, the resort has pulled out all the stops to present guests with a variety of food and beverage options for every palate and occasion. Whether it’s Mediterranean cuisine by the seaside, authentic Japanese fare in a modern setting or spectacular destination dining you’re after, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives has the dish and destination for every desire. The salt-baked fish at Seasalt, plus the spice-route-inspired cocktails at Miral Bar, are particular standouts, both best savoured while watching the sun set over the expanse of ocean at your feet.
Above: Six Senses Fort Barwara is set in a beautifully restored fourteenth-century castle in rural Rajasthan. Images courtesy of Six Senses,
Six Senses Fort Barwara
Six Senses has always been a brand associated with out-of-this-world hospitality offerings, and its latest — and first — outpost in India is no exception. Located within a meticulously restored 700-year-old castle, Six Senses Fort Barwara is all about reinterpreting a bygone era in a modern and masterful way.
The fourteenth-century property, which is a true sight to behold, was originally owned by a Rajasthani Royal Family. Now part of the Six Senses Group, it’s home to 48 suites and comprises two original palaces and two temples within the historic walled fort. The deluxe suites, which span anywhere from 70 to 280 square metres, offer views of either the countryside or Barwara village and are each individually designed in a contemporary Rajasthani style. Along with state-of-the-art technology, the suites are equipped with revolutionary Sleep With Six Senses essentials that ensure the ultimate rest, including handmade mattresses, cotton bedding, and additional sleep amenities.
The expansive 2,800-square-metre Six Senses Spa is an unmissable destination, offering a menu of signature treatments that incorporate products made with indigenous ingredients grown in the resort’s garden. Whether it’s a massage, facial, Ayurvedic ritual, mindfulness practice or wellness programme you’re after, each offering is specially tailored, ensuring a highly personalised experience that addresses the specific needs of each guest.
Six Senses Fort Barwara’s flagship restaurant, Roohani, led by chef Matthew Cropp, also uses the garden’s bounty to create innovative and sustainable Rajasthani-inspired cuisine. For wine connoisseurs and mixology lovers, there are tipples a plenty to be relished in the chic, wood-clad Rajawat Room.
In addition to the spa and dining experiences, there is much more to enjoy at the hotel, including informative tours of the fort and its surrounding agriculture or a special Puja ceremony held in the Zenana Mahal, one of the two temples on the property. For those looking to take a walk on the wild side, the hotel also offers guided safaris at the nearby Ranthambore National Park — one of the best reserves to visit to get a glimpse of the Royal Bengal Tiger.