Zannier Hotel – Bai San Ho, Vietnam
The team behind Namibia’s remote Sonop and lush Phum Baitang in Siem Reap, Zannier, have turned their sights to Vietnam, offering their unique brand of eco-chic, pared-back luxury and cultural immersion to Bai San Ho. The hotel is set on a gorgeous sweep of beach, surrounded by 245-scres of untamed nature on a secluded peninsula of Phu Yen Province – the mid- section of Vietnam’s coast which, overlooked and underdeveloped, was the ideal spot for Zannier to open their next hotel – respect for the local culture and sustainability are high on the agenda here.
Free-standing villas, made with local bamboo and reclaimed wood are set within the lush paddy fields, verdant hilltops and alongside the long, white-sand beach, each having its own patch of privacy but never far from one of the hotel’s three restaurants, which showcase the best of traditional Vietnamese cuisine paired with local specialities so you can tap into the regional cuisine. Great for couples and families alike (there’s also a kids’ club), you can spend your day snorkelling the corals just a few strokes from the beach, hiking, playing tennis or practising yoga, or simply relaxing by the pool or in the spa.
Tropical Island Living
Cielo Samui, Thailand
For that classic Thai beach holiday experience, the island of Koh Samui off the east coast Thailand fits the bill, being beautifully lush and encircled with white, sandy beaches, plus it’s also easy to get around and explore from waterfalls, jungle treks to Buddha-filled temples. Adding to the reasons to visit is a new hotel Cielo Samui, formerly Eden Beach Bungalows.
With an impressive renovation and upgrade, the hotel sits on Bophut Beach, in the northern reaches of Koh Samui, surrounded by an abundant tropical garden. The overall décor is portrayed with an effortless tropical luxe – lots of rattan, wood and a pared-back colour scheme which lets the colours of nature shine through from the shimmering palm trees, colourful flowers and the blue of the sky and sea in the Gulf of Thailand. Rooms come as spacious suites, with wide, floor-to-ceiling doors which can be opened up to a private garden or pool. Groups or families can take the standalone villas which have three bedrooms and plenty of space for lounging. The on-site restaurant has excellent Thai food and you’ll also steps away from beachside bars, local eateries and coffee pitstops.
Intercontinental Khao Yai, Thailand
We know that when award-winning architect and interior designer Bill Bensley has a hand in a project, the result will be startlingly unique, and no more so than his recent endeavour at the Intercontinental Khao Yai, located in the wilds of UNESCO-protected Khao Yai National Park in northern Thailand, just two and a half hours drive from Bangkok.
Part conservationist, part hotelier, Bill Bensley has taken us back to the golden age of rail travel with this ambitious project, opening in late 2022, which takes inspiration from the property’s location – historically the gateway for rail transportation to the north-east, built during the reign of King Rama V (1853 – 1910), the monarch known for modernisation of Thailand. Set over 100 acres of forest, mountains and dotted with lakes, guest can choose to stay in an upcycled train carriage, adorned with heritage features, mod-cons and a Victorian-era bathtub. Aside from the quirky heritage characteristics, staying here is an immersive experience and a chance to get far off the beaten (rail) track at this destination retreat where untamed nature, filled with bird and animal life awaits.
Amber Kampot, Cambodia
Riverside Kampot on Cambodia’s south coast is a tranquil place to spend a few days, exploring the area including the pepper plantations the region is known for. Located at the foothills of the Elephant Mountains, Amber Kampot offers an enclave of calm in this peaceful spot, the perfect antidote from temple fatigue at Angkor Wat or energetic city days in Phnom Penh.
The one- or two-bedroom villas come with private pools, floor-to-ceiling windows, tropical gardens and zen-like bathrooms replete with free-standing tubs, meaning it’s easy to relax right here in your suite. However, it would be a shame to miss out on the area’s charms. Take to the river on a kayak or paddleboard to admire the misty mountains and local life from the river. Hop on the hotel’s shuttle boat to explore Kampot and find out about its fusion colonial history – a unique blend of French, Chinese and Khmer culture. Use Amber Kampot as your base to delve into the wonder of Bokor National Park where you can spot Asiatic black bears and pig-tailed macaques amid the sultry forest and cascading waterfalls. Come home to Amber Kampot for a massage in the boutique spa – the perfect end to a day exploring.
What’s New In South East Asia
We shine a light on new and imaginative hotels that have opened up in South East Asia.