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New Kids on the Block

Asia is asserting its reputation as one of the fastest-evolving destinations on the planet. Here’s a look at some of the region’s freshest luxury resorts.

After a quiet few years due to the pandemic, Asia has come roaring back. Notable luxury openings have been appearing with the regularity of a ticking metronome. These range from secluded boltholes in the Himalayas, the Balinese jungle, and one of Thailand’s most unspoiled islands to the brash, brilliant Atlantis The Royal at the crown of The Palm in Dubai. It’s been another busy year for resort openings. So much so, that we’ve had to pass over some notable names. In the meantime, here’s a selection of some our new favorites.

Koh Yao Yai Takes to the Stage

The lack of development on Koh Yao Yai has long been a mystery, as well as a blessing. Prominent in the karst-studded waters of Phang Nga Bay, the island is the biggest chunk of land between Krabi and Phuket. Yet, its sleepy, low-key nature has barely been disturbed, even as tourism has continued to boom nearby. This year, though, the island finally succumbed to large-scale luxury tourism with the autumn unveiling of Anantara Koh Yao Yai Resort & Villas. An ambitious undertaking, the resort encompasses 148 expansive suites, pool villas, and penthouses. Thankfully it manages to stay true to the island’s spirit via its idyllic ambience. Activities include an expedition to Hong Island, where a secluded white-sand beach meets a crystalline lagoon or a vintage sidecar excursion through a rubber plantation.

Bensley Hits New Heights in Mustang

A new Bill Bensley-designed making waves is Shinta Mani Mustang, a 29-suite property in Mustang: one of Nepal‘s most unique regions. Mustang is characterized by desert landscapes punctuated by towering peaks like Mount Nilgiri and procession of Buddhist chortens (stupas).  Interiors at the new property will incorporate warm coloured fabrics and materials to reflect the rich tones of the surrounding landscape, which can be viewed from every window of the Lodge. Huge fire pits on the outdoor terrace will allow guests to admire millions of stars in the night sky in warmth as the temperatures dip.

Dubai Unveils its Refurbished Desert Rose

There’s a lot more to the UAE than its reputation as a supercharged destination for a sun, sea, and sand stopover would suggest. Indeed, you don’t have to venture far from the coastline to immerse in the mysteries and Bedouin traditions of the Arabian Desert. Near Dubai, the award-winning Bab Al Shams is designed to resemble a fortified rural Arab village and offers traditional Arabic hospitality, luxurious accommodations, and stunning desert views. The veteran resort has been transformed following a major refurbishment and reopened to guests in early 2023.

Buahan goes Beyond Walls

A slice of undulating, untouched jungle north of Ubud was the ideal location for Buahan, the first resort in Banyan Tree’s new Escape offshoot. The acclaimed group is aiming for something rootsier, more culturally driven, with the new brand. And the mark has been well and truly hit with a property that deploys a “no walls, no doors” concept for thrilling impact. Each of the 16 villas dotting the hillside is a balé, an open-air pavilion with creaky floors, girthy pillars from reclaimed ironwood, and vaulted roofs bedecked in wooden shingles. Other highlights include Toja Spa and the resort’s Open Kitchen restaurant which majors in hyper local produce and heirloom cooking techniques.

Atlantis The Royal Burnishes The Palm

Dubai isn’t a place to do things by half, something demonstrated by the success of the original Atlantis, the iconic property at the crown of the Palm. And the full-throttle approach deployed by the Emirate is present and correct at the long-awaited Atlantis The Royal. With 795 rooms and suites, 17 restaurants and bars, 17 high-end boutiques, a wellness space spanning 32,300 square feet and multiple swimming pools, including one perched high on top of the sky bridge, the resort is luxury on a grand scale. Highlights are myriad and include big name dining venues by celebrity chefs including Nobu by the Beach and Resonance by Heston Blumenthal.

Southern Comforts in Okinawa

Often neglected by visitors, Japan’s southernmost prefecture offers delights in abundance. These include broad beaches, historic WW2 sites and, now, one of Japan’s most appealing new resorts in the shape of HOSHINOYA Okinawa.  A modernist island retreat hugging a remote and scenic stretch of the East China Sea in Japan’s southernmost prefecture. As well as coastal views, lush gardens, exquisite cuisine, and a scattering of 100 sumptuous rooms, HOSHINOYA Okinawa offers a plethora of activities, from karate to music lessons.

Return of the Prodigal Retreat in Siargiao

Disaster hit Nay Palad Hideaway in 2022 when it was devastated by Hurricane Odette. But the resort has reopened and is as appealing as ever. It provides a tropical island escape at its finest, on the stunning Siargao Island in the southern Philippines. With its all-inclusive packages, guests never have to worry about signing bills or carrying their wallet around, since everything guests could possibly want, or need is included in the room price. Only nine villas make up this exclusive resort, all extremely luxurious, with private terraces and stunning views of the lush, tropical surroundings.