Where in the world should you book this year’s great escape? Kiwi Experts and sojourn connoisseurs Bradley Cocks and Rene Vosslamber share their top picks of places and properties for 2012 travel.
Thailand remains popular with a constant flow of new luxury hotels—in Bangkok, Siam Kempinski Bangkok, The St. Regis Bangkok, and the upcoming Siam Bangkok; and in Phuket, The Naka Island and The Surin—but hoteliers tell us guests are leaving bookings till the last minute after a year of political uncertainty and a string of natural disasters. Phuket is still strong but seeking out deals seems to be high on the agenda for luxury travelers, both in terms of room rate discounting and value adds.
Vietnam is seeing steady growth as a side trip from Thailand. New areas such as the beaches of Con Dao (where Six Senses has opened a resort) as well as coastal Danang and Hoi An, are helping turn the communist country into a more complete vacation destination. The Nam Hai near Hoi An remains a favorite.
Burma will continue to pique the interest of more adventurous travelers as one of the last frontiers of tourism in Asia. Travelers will still have to rough it outside the main centers, but in the capital of Rangoon, The Strand provides colonial charm and luxury.
Seoul, with its youthful energy and a growing arts scene, is winning the hearts of travelers who might have otherwise picked Tokyo. Perhaps in part because of the Japanese yen remaining stubbornly strong. The Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul comes recommended as a complete urban resort concept with its signature spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and even an indoor rock climbing wall in the gym.
India is even more attractive for travelers as its currency hit record lows. There are new areas to explore, such as the Kashmir, in the country’s mountainous north, which is now much safer to visit after the easing of border tensions with neighboring Pakistan. To the southeast, Oberoi’s Wildflower Hall also offers guests an authentic Himalayan experience. Situated in Shimla, the hotel is the former residence of Lord Kitchener and has been restored to the grand style of the colonial era. It sits 8250 feet above sea level. While in the area, Ananda in the Himalayas, an award-winning destination spa, is also worth a visit.
More On Our Radar:
Montenegro seems to have all the right ingredients to be the next Mediterranean hotspot; it boasts a wealth of natural beauty—forests, beaches, mountains—and a unique culture and history. The idyllic eight-suite Aman Sveti Stefan, former summer residence of Queen Marija Karadordevic, is a part of the collection, and we have aims to unearth other worthy dwellings in the area.
Tulum, Mexico is becoming very popular with the affluent crowd. This year, we’ll be visiting this vacation destination and looking to add the best luxury boutiques and resorts to our roster.