The experts at Remote Lands have announced their picks for the Dozen Dream Destinations of 2019. With a weather eye on new luxury hotel openings and the changing winds of the travel industry, this year’s Dozen Dream Destinations decisions include the very finest of luxury travel in Asia.
From winding, empty roads in Tajikistan to opulent tented camps in the heart of Laos, the picks for the Dozen Dream Destinations 2019 reflect the most important upcoming luxury travel options available to the exclusive clientele of the world’s premier Asia tour operator.
Long a staple of Southeast Asia traveler, the spiritual hub of Luang Prabang was given a boost this year with the opening of the Rosewood Luang Prabang. Taking visitors out of the town and into the hills just outside the ancient capital, the new tented camp designed by starchitect Bill Bensley is a game-changer for this Mekong destination.
Also new to Luang Prabang are the services of Mekong Kingdoms cruises, offering luxury trips on the Mekong with ships like the private two-cabin Gypsy for a Golden Triangle adventure linking Luang Prabang to Chiang Rai or a quick tour around the river with Nomad to see the Pak Ou Caves or Kuang Si Waterfall.
Beyond the new luxury accommodations, Luang Prabang has been growing as a travel destination for years – with more convenient flights and improved travel facilities. A favorite Remote Lands activity is the MandaLao Elephant Conservation sanctuary, offering cruelty free elephant experiences, as well as the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden, a must-see for plant and herb lovers.
For the luxury traveler to Bhutan all eyes have been on Six Senses, and 2019 is the year they change travel in the Land of the Thunder Dragon forever. Six Senses will be opening five luxury resorts in Bhutan, ramping up the luxury accommodation competition.
Already home to four key Aman properties, Bhutan’s reputation as a luxury destination is on the rise. The Amankora Paro and Amankora Thimphu will play an important role in Remote Lands’ upcoming Aman Private Jet Expedition in October of 2019, Asia’s most exclusive private jet trip that goes from Shanghai to Sri Lanka.
Another charming Southeast Asia destination, Southern Cambodia is seeing an boom in luxury options. Starting in the capital, the new Rosewood Phnom Penh is adding a splash of luxury that would have seemed impossible years ago, towering 188 meters over the business district. This new edition, which opened earlier this year, brings with it signature Rosewood dining experiences and what is undoubtedly the best rooftop bar in the city at Sora.
A little further south, there is Shinta Mani Wild – The Bensley Collection, named for the eponymous architect synonymous with luxury and style, set to open in November this year. Already drawing rave reviews, the Cardamom Mountain destination is a tented camp unlike anything Cambodia has seen before, a harmonious mix of world-class design and conservation along 1.5 kilometers of river and waterfalls.
Finally, on the coast are the luxury property openings of Alila Villas Koh Russey and Six Senses Krabey Island, meaning that travelers can combine the capital, mountainous jungle, and beach all in one luxury location.
Southwest of Okinawa and the southernmost region of Japan, the Yaeyama Islands feature tropical Japan at its best – a diver’s paradise. Manta rays, whale sharks, dugongs, and swarming hammerhead sharks, Yaeyama is just as impressive below the waves as above.
Ishigaki island is perhaps the most well-traveled of the Yaeyama Island destinations, surrounded by water so clear it puts one in mind of the Andamans or Komodo. Just off of Ishigaki is Taketomi, a much smaller island paradise surrounded by coral, which – apart from some of the best beaches and clearest water in East Asia – boasts the Hoshinoya Taketomi, a tropical ryokan experience.
But the crème de la crème for divers to the Yaeyama Islands is Yonaguni, home to Japan’s most incredible diving experiences. From December to February hammerheads congregate off of Yonaguni, but most come to this part of the world to see the Yonaguni Monument, an odd shelf of strange rock formations that look like hallways and staircases 20 meters below the water.
A bit of a dark horse as a Dozen Dream Destination, Quy Nhon is on the rise. Known for clear waters, ancient ruins, and Central Vietnam charm, Quy Nhon has been given new life for luxury travelers with the opening of the Anantara Quy Nhon Villas.
Twenty-six world-class villas will be opening just 15 kilometers south of the Quy Nhon city center under the Anantara flag, bringing world class luxury to this often overlooked location. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, this isolated resort destination features hillside Ocean View Villas as well as Beachfront Villas on the resort’s intimate cove.
The Anantara Quy Nhon, opening in November 2018, will give new life to this Central Vietnam gem and well and truly put Quy Nhon on the luxury travel map.
Late last year a new flight route from Hyderabad to Ballari opened the world to one of India’s most treasured UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Hampi. Luxury travel looks to pick up in 2019 with the new Kishkinda Camp from The Ultimate Traveling Camp.
With towering boulders and architecture with more than a millennia of history, the Hampi region is one of the most historic destinations in all of Karnataka. The most well-known of the Hampi sites is the Vijaya Nagara, the former capital of the Vijayannagara Empire; Hampi includes 21 square kilometers of ancient history and religion.
Open from October to July the Kishkinda Camp joined the few luxury accommodation options available in Hampi earlier this year, offering sunsets over the city ruins and the glamping trappings for which The Ultimate Traveling Camp is so well known.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Many travelers are surprised to learn that India has its very own slice of Southeast Asia in the form of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A remote archipelago of 572 islands, this unique destination is found at the juncture of the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
The reason for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands inclusion on the Dozen Dream Destinations 2019 and its elevation in the world of luxury travel is down largely to the opening of the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Andamans. Opening on Valentine’s Day this year, the luxury resort has been quick to win plaudits for providing luxury in this otherwise lesser visited South Asia destination.
Known for white-sand beaches, tropical rainforests, mangroves, and world-class diving, the isolated Andaman and Nicobar Islands are slowly becoming a more desirable destination for curious luxury travelers.
For luxury travelers looking to get off the heavily beaten track of East Asia, Central Asia is arising as hub for the curious and the adventurous. Uzbekistan provides an intimate glimpse into places like Tashkent, Bukhara, and Samarkand – regions steeped in ancient history in a country that only existed with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
For the art lover in Uzbekistan, there is the Savitsky Collection at the Nukus Museum found in the remote western area of Uzbekistan, the second largest collection of collection of Russian avant garde art after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.
From the elaborate architecture of the Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque to the rusting ships sailing the empty Aral Sea in Moynaq and the history of Zindon Prison, Uzbekistan is unique among Central Asian destinations.
The Middle Kingdom is on the rise, and that’s no surprise. Luxury travelers have been glad to see China’s star ascendent for many years now, but this year hold something very special: The Aman Private Jet Expedition Across China.
Teaming up with Aman, Remote Lands is offering a 13-day journey across the Middle Kingdom aboard a 24-seat Boeing Business Jet through Beijing, Hangzhou, Lijiang, Shanghai, and more to stay at luxury Aman destinations throughout the Middle Kingdom. The journey begins on September 8, 2019. The Aman Private Jet Expedition Across China begins at $59,888 per person and involves stays at Aman destinations around the country, including the newly finished Amanyangun built from reclaimed villages and forest in rural Fuzhou.
Besides the private jet trip, China had a bumper crop of unique luxury hotels opening this year, including Bvlgari, Middle House, and Capella in Shanghai; Dhawa Jinshanling, a Banyan Tree brand, opening at the Great Wall; and Capella and an Edition opening in the bustling Chinese beach destination of Sanya.
The Pamir Highway is an adventure traveler’s playground: sparsely traveled, unique, dramatic, and, yes, even dangerous. With Afghanistan on one side and sheer cliffs on the other, this journey is an endurance test for the body and the nerves and well worth every second for intrepid travelers.
The accommodations are few and humble and the drives are long. But, the recompense is some of the most incredible scenery in Central Asia and a unique look into a road less traveled – the second highest road in the world, in fact, at 4,655 meters.
The Pamir Highway, more formally the M41, runs mainly through Tajikistan and up into Kyrgyzstan, terminating at Osh. Traveling these regions of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is no easy feat, but luxury travelers have the privilege of seeing Central Asia at its most raw.
There’s nothing surprising about seeing Singapore on a list of luxury travel destinations. If you saw Crazy Rich Asians, you know just how crazy the luxury in the Lion City can get. Singapore has Asia’s finest dining, most opulent hotels, and is a jumping off point for yachting destinations from Bawah to Bintan.
With a new non-stop flight route set to take off soon from Newark, Singapore Airlines’ Asia-bound flight will be the longest in the world at 9,500 miles, opening up Singapore as a gateway to all of Southeast Asia.
Two new Six Senses hotels in Singapore are adding yet another dimension to this already stellar destination for luxury travelers. Normally a brand associated with natural serenity and wellness as well as luxury, these Six Senses – Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell – are set to be city hotels celebrating Singapore’s unique history, architecture, and convenience.
United Arab Emirates
Nothing says luxury quite like the over-the-top opulence in the United Arab Emirates. In 2019, things will be looking even better in this federation with new hotel openings and some special treats for art and design lovers.
The big news in Abu Dhabi in 2017 was the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the results have not disappointed; later this month the world’s most expensive painting – the $450 million Salvator Mundi from Leonardo da Vinci – will be displayed. Boasting two of the planet’s most luxurious airlines, Emirates and Etihad, the UAE continues to grow as a stopover destination, with lesser-known emirates like Sharjah just north of Dubai on the rise.
Dubai itself, ever the luxury destination of choice, is adding to its world class destinations – such as the Armani Hotel Dubai and the Burj Al Arab – with the reopening of The Address Downtown, a Remote Lands favorite, which is opening its gates once again after the highly-publicized fire on New Year’s Eve 2015. The Oberoi Dubai also launched earlier this year, adding a number of impressive rooms to Dubai’s collection, including the 235-square-meter Presidential Suite. This Oberoi property compliments the The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah just 35 minutes away from the Dubai airport.