As travel resumes in this post-lockdown era, going on a holiday has taken on a new meaning. We spotlight the latest trends favoured by jetsetters that will shape the industry to come.
Post-lockdown, spending quality time with the extended family has emerged high on the globetrotter’s list. A painless way of planning an itinerary that suits all is to check into a villa with a few bedrooms and a range of facilities or on-site attractions.
With a collection of private resorts in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Anguilla and the Dominican Republic, ÀNI Private Resorts is gaining popularity with large families that want to holiday in privacy and also want to curate their own activities – which we heard can range from the ordinary to the outrageous.
At ÀNI Anguilla, a family can buy out both the North and South villas, which have a total of 10 rooms and suites. By the third quarter of 2024, ÀNI Private Resorts will have an additional 15 suites on the island. This new estate on Shoal Bay will have a tennis court, gym, spa and beach-fronted pavilion with a waterslide.
With four three-bedroom villas and a seven-bedroom residence, JW Marriott Phu Quoc is becoming a hit with families looking for a short and accessible escape to the Vietnamese island in the Gulf of Thailand. Designed by Bill Bensley, the resort is built on the narrative of a former (and fictional) colonial French university. Therefore, one should expect anything but staid and straight-laced. Eye-popping colours and quirky details in over 5,000 antiques and artefacts will keep both young and old enthralled. The resort also offers a host of activities for different ages, while the island itself is home to a national park in the north.
Increasingly, people are recognising their poor sleep patterns and seeking solutions actively. To meet this growing demand, more properties have introduced programmes that range from providing super-restful bedding to clinical packages that identify underlying health issues that interfere with sleep. Some empower guests by imparting good-sleep knowledge even after they check out.
Although its location is well-known for producing wine and port, Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal has established a sound reputation for its wellness programmes. This includes Sleep with Six Senses, introduced in 2016. It is designed to implement sustainable sleep routines and improve sleep patterns, which in turn restores energy, destresses and improves health in the long run. Guests on the doctor-designed sleep programme begin the experience before arrival by filling out a detailed questionnaire about their sleep issues, nocturnal habits and bedtime preferences.
The resort’s rooms are then outfitted accordingly with appropriate mattresses and pillows, moisture-wicking bedding, a bag of sleep-friendly items including bamboo pyjamas, and even a “worry journal”. A tracker and app are used to identify sleep patterns, and guests will also have to undergo a non-invasive scan that can track over 800 biometric markers in the body, from hydration levels to lymphatic circulation to spinal blockages. Post-analysis, an in-house sleep doctor will devise a tailored treatment schedule that may include activities like yoga, meditation, nutrition advice, spa treatments and walks. Guests can also count on post-stay support to maintain their improvement.
This January, Park Hyatt New York launched its Bryte Restorative Sleep Suite. Billed as an elevated sleep sanctuary, the one-bedroom suite is designed to promote a good night’s sleep with the aid of The Restorative Bryte Bed. This AI bed made with Bryte’s Restorative Sleep Technology supposedly fights jet lag, and helps one to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It even adjusts to relieve pressure points during bed rest. Guests can also store their sleep preferences into their profile for return stays.
Since last year, Mandarin Oriental Geneva has partnered with CENAS, Switzerland’s first private medical sleep clinic. Check Up with CENAS Sleep Clinic aims to help guests find regenerative sleep, which will ensure their optimum mental and physical wellbeing, as well as strengthen their immune system. The three-day package includes accommodation – of which one night will be in a VIP suite, where guests undergo an overnight polysomnographic test that records critical sleep parameters, such as body rhythms and movements, to identify possible sleep disorders. At the end of this stay, they will receive a detailed diagnosis report by a CENAS-accredited pneumologist to equip them with sleep-improvement knowledge.
Almost every resort worth its salt offers cookery or yoga classes, but the trend now is moving towards more unique, personalised experiences taught by experts – such as Four Seasons Resort Hualalai’s free diving course helmed by Kimi Werner, a champion free diver. Launched last December, the Kimi Werner Ocean Experience seeks to connect guests to the wonders of the ocean as part of the experience.
The activities in the two-day package (for up to four in a group) will be documented by Werner’s husband, acclaimed photographer Justin Turkowski. After learning the rudiments of free diving at the resort’s newly renovated King’s Pond, guests will hop on Maka`ala – the resort’s Ribcraft, and practise their new skill. After the marine adventure, guests will proceed to indulge in a locally sourced and wine-paired private dinner. With each booking, a donation will be made to a local non-profit dedicated to protecting the cultural and natural landscape of the local coastline. The availability of the course is subject to Werner’s schedule.
Hotel Eden, a Dorchester Collection property in Rome, has unveiled the Caravaggio – Rebel and Rome trail as one of a series of bespoke, private walking tours designed for guests to follow in the footsteps of legendary artists. Available until Dec 31, it is led by an experienced guide who will delve deep into the artist’s tumultuous and colourful life. Each itinerary can be customised, so both enthusiasts and novices will hopefully learn something new about the Old Master.
New hotel brand Explorar, which is opening two of its first properties in Thailand in the fourth quarter of 2022, will offer pottery classes at its Koh Phangan resort. Taught by a master potter, the classes are scheduled to start next January, and are some of the immersive experiences that Explorar has lined up in its peaceful, adults-only (16 years and above) environment across all properties.
St Regis Hotels & Resorts are well-known for their ritual of sabrage. The luxe hospitality brand has recently announced the launch of private champagne sabrage masterclasses led by a highly trained and experienced butler at all properties across North America. We expect many takers. After all, is there a more dramatic way to celebrate a happy occasion – like travelling again – than slicing open a champagne bottle with a sword?
Return of Train Travel
Slow travel has returned, thanks to travellers’ desire to dwell longer and delve deeper into a destination. Some want to see the landscapes of a destination roll by as they enjoy their luxurious accommodation – which in this case, is a well-appointed train – at a more leisurely pace. To address this demand, more train routes and new luxurious trains are set to launch in 2023 and 2024.
The ultra-exclusive Seven Stars in Kyushu, which was launched in 2013, made many jump for joy when it announced in April that it would upgrade Japan’s first luxury sleeper and resume service in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu this October. In the updated train, the number of guest rooms will be reduced from 14 to 10, lowering the maximum capacity from 28 to 20 passengers per itinerary. However, Seven Stars will get a new tea room and salon, and there is more space for guests on the train. The tough rules on getting a spot – travellers need to make an application and enter a lottery – remain though.
Come June 2023, eight new Grand Suites will be added to Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train, Europe. They will be housed in two original carriages that have been restored by expert French craftsmen and designers to evoke the golden age of travel. While the design of each suite will be inspired by the city it is named after, each will come under one of these four themes: La Campagne (the countryside in French), Les Montagnes (the mountains), Les Lacs (the lakes), and La Forêt (the forest). Each Grand Suite will have a beautiful marble en-suite bathroom and toilet, while guests will enjoy free-flowing champagne and the attention of their own steward 24 hours a day.
In 2021, Accor’s announcement of the legendary Orient Express’ comeback with the launch of the Orient Express La Dolce Vita in Italy in 2023 made headlines. It will deploy refurbished historic wagons that are newly designed by Dimorestudio, a global architectural and design studio. This June, the company also revealed that the Orient Express will be traversing France in 2024 – in original Orient Express wagons built in the 1920s and 1930s, to be restored and outfitted by famed architect Maxime d’Angeac.
What’s the difference between these above-mentioned trains besides the countries they debut in, you may ask? To put it simply, Accor’s Orient Express is a completely different entity from Belmond’s.
The concept of developing a full hotel around various buildings within a location, such as a village, is known as albergo diffuso (spread-out inns in Italian). It started in Italy in the 1980s, when entrepreneurs saw a commercial opportunity in reviving historic and depopulated villages by turning various buildings into stand-alone hotel rooms and businesses like a spa or restaurant. Today, such a hospitality concept offering immersive experiences and social distancing has spread to other parts of the world.
San Canzian, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World member that opened in 2019 in Istria, Croatia’s westernmost peninsula, is one such example. It is developed on the ruins of the ancient medieval village of Mužolini Donji, near Grožnjan, a 14th-century Venetian fortress. Surrounded by shady olive groves, gardens and the celebrated vineyards of San Canzian, you can eat and drink very well at the Michelin-recommended Luciano Restaurant, which is situated away from the 28 rooms and suites housed within a cottage and a villa.
Enso Ango Fuya II in Kyoto is Japan’s first dispersed hotel. Its 86 rooms are spread out between five buildings scattered on a few streets within the same neighbourhood. Each building has different communal facilities and provides different services. For example, you could be staying in Fuya II that has a gym, but you visit Tomi II for breakfast as it houses the hotel’s main restaurant. Each of these five buildings is a restored traditional machiya (Japanese wooden townhouses) featuring a Zen-inspired aesthetic.
The Rakkojae Hanok Collection started in the early 2000s with Rakkojae Seoul Main Hanok, a 130-year-old traditional Korean house that belonged to aristocrats during the Joseon Dynasty. Rakkojae, the pioneer developer of hanok hotels in South Korea, turned a hanok in the historic Bukchon enclave in downtown Seoul into a hotel with five rooms, a Korean sauna and a spa with a traditional courtyard.
In 2018, the Rakkojae Culture Lounge debuted in another building across the street to host cultural activities like Korean tea ceremonies and traditional Korean feasts with classical music performances. Just this March, Rakkojae announced the opening of Bukchon Binkwan by Rakkojae with four suites and rooms. Located next to Rakkojae Culture Lounge on elevated ground, Binkwan affords guests beautiful panoramas of the Bukchon neighbourhood, and is a collaboration with the Seoul Metropolitan Government that owns the building.
While air travel does not contribute to reducing your carbon footprint, frequent jetsetters could lend their support for a sustainability-focused property and get the chance to see the latest innovations in green design and living. One such hotel is Soori Bali, which first opened in 2010 as Alila Soori and was then taken back by its owners, Singapore architect Chan Soo Khian and his wife Ling Fu, to be self-managed.
After maintaining a seven-year standard of observing sustainability practices, Soori Bali was one of Indonesia’s first resorts to achieve the EarthCheck Gold certification in 2018. Launched during the pandemic, its Plastic for Rice Initiative is one of the ways the hotel tries to tackle Bali’s beach pollution while supporting local farmers and feeding the community. Under this initiative, every kg of rice is given as a barter for 1kg of plastic trash collected by the locals.
The 94-room Six Senses Svart resort, slated to open in Norway in 2024, will be the first net energy-positive hotel in the northern hemisphere. Designed and built after the highest energy-efficiency standards, it will harvest enough solar energy to go back into the system, covering the consumption of the hotel and adjacent operations, as well as the energy needed for its construction – rendering it independent from the power grid. To minimise onsite impact, the property is propped on poles above the waters of the Holandsfjorden fjord, reducing the burden on the base of the spectacular Svartisen glacier and minimising seabed disruption.
Carbon-neutral Soneva Kiri’s Eco Centro plant recycles 90 per cent of its solid waste, turning some of it into compost for the food gardens. Outside of its hotel on the island of Koh Kood in Thailand, it is involved in a number of projects that benefit the community. Under the Soneva Forest Restoration project, which has seen 500,000 trees planted over 121ha in Chiang Mai, the hospitality brand is aiming to mitigate 255,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission over 42 years. Particularly telling of its commitment to using sustainably sourced wood is the fact that most of the fixtures and fittings at Soneva Kiri are made by local artisans.
This story first appeared in the Sep issue of Prestige Singapore.