The hospitality industry in South East Asia is well renowned for excellence, and many even assert that hotels in the region are a star above their US counterparts. Traveling to the tropical far east means a chance to experience pampering on a whole new level, so those seeking a luxury stay that goes beyond the realms of five-star limits can count their lucky hotel stars. Upscale Living Magazine uncovers six South East Asian properties so spectacular, they’re a bucket list endeavor in their own right.
The Ritz-Carlton, Bali
A stay at any Ritz-Carlton sees high standards accompany, but the Bali edition raises the bar so much that many of the rest, especially in the United States, are overridden as ordinary. You see, The Ritz-Carlton, Bali is the pinnacle of the extraordinary. Perched in Sawangan, Nusa Dua, on 12.7 hectares of dreamy beachfront and cliff-side land, this is where legendary Balinese service comes to life. The villas, of which there are multiple options, are the best walls to experience such hospitality and the key here is the soak. Soak in views of the Indian Ocean from your private infinity pool; of locally-sourced products in the oversized tub, and, wetness aside on Super King Bed with all room controls at your fingertips. Every corner is stylized with the influence of intricate works by local craftsmen, giving all modern amenities an uplift. It’s no wonder guests in select villas are offered the expertise of a professional photographer to capture their (hashtag) Ritz-Carlton Memories. The sweet spot? A twinkling glass-lit beach-side chapel that makes for a heavenly wedding venue. Romance aside, there’s plenty on this five-star resort to enrich any vacation: from the spa’s scrumptious ‘sea of serenity’ treatment (after a dip in the hydro-vital pool) to soothe wellness warriors, to family zones and ways to play with the region’s natural delights, to six restaurants and bars offering tastes spanning Britain (afternoon tea), Japan, and of course, authentic Indonesian cuisine from Bejana (don’t miss the Rendang Daging Sapi, a Sumatran-style braise beef in spicy coconut milk). Wine, dine, play, sleep, soak, whatever the plan, the Ritz-Carlton, Bali is the unforgettable way to indulge.
As one of the most photogenic islands in the world, many tourists hire a professional photographer via Flytographer for the trip, especially if that’s a GetYourGuide Instagram Highlights Tour which includes the famed Lempuyang Temple and a jungle swing. Bali Zoo is unlike any other in that it cares for its animals. Visitors can do breakfast with resident orangutans, elephants, and more in a huge open-air, free-roaming space, rather than watch them from cages. This gives the animals plenty of room to explore and enriches their day.
Chatrium Grand Bangkok
The Chatrium Grand Bangkok is a peep into Far East VIP recreation. Situated in the heart of the Siam district, the independently-owned luxury building oozes traditional Thai hospitality with contemporary amenities. Modern luxe rooms and suites are draped in soft palates that harmonize cloud and indigo, popped with Thai heritage pieces from the lobby up. It all works to amplify space, which starts at an already generous 46 sqm right up to a 321 sqm penthouse. Cutting-edge tech edges Chatrium ahead of Bangkok’s skyscrapers: you have here everything from eco-smart temperature control to AI command electronics. These views need no hard sell: to put it simply, there’s no need for observatory tickets when you can recline and enjoy the same spectacular from the comfort of a personal bedside chaise. From sticky-mango-flavored welcome snacks to the lemongrass and mandarin boost of the bathroom’s Panpuri wellness products, this hotel thoughtfully circles back to local roots whilst catering to international needs. This is no more evident than at mealtime: buffets at Savio truly bring together a concoction of cuisines to satisfy any discerning foodie from the premium sashimi station to handmade pasta. 2023’s pièce de résistance will be Casia, for French Mediterranean from an award-clad team. Club floor guests are treated to day-to-night canapes and beverages: a must for following the sun’s movements over Siam Paragon and so forth. Other hotel highlights include a 40-meter pool, a resident-side fitness center, extensive business spaces, a kids club, and a forthcoming SPA by THANN.
Bangkok Must-Do – Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River stories romance from its banks, so raise a glass of bubbles or a Mai Tai at one of the many golden delights that line it. Try the outdoor upscale Thai restaurant Thiptara or one of the many outlets at ICONSIAM, and Chok Dee. Bangkok is too famed for nightlife, but boozing aside visitors can discover its historic entertainment district via Patpong Museum which combines a private collection of memorabilia and artifacts with a bar and interactive exhibits; or alternatively, witness fabulous live entertainment at the Calypso Bangkok, a cabaret extravaganza where RuPaul’s Drag Race meets Eurovision meets Moulin Rouge. Celebrities like Lady Gaga have been to the spectacle, which you’ll need to come to see for yourself.
Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur
A breath of fresh air in KL – literally. From the lobby on, prepare to be mesmerized by the essence of Shangri-La: a delicate aroma of calm. Hard to believe you’re slap bang in the middle of the city, within fields of vision from the Petronas Twin Towers, the KL Tower, and a multitude of luxury boutiques. Cocoon yourself in one of 662 classic rooms and suites, and for the ultimate wrap, make that a Horizon Club experience, granting access to dedicated concierge, meeting spaces, and catered lounge use (buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktail service all included). This hotel-within-a-hotel VIP floor is just one of the many plush amenities housed under the Shangs’ iconic tower, one of the earliest built for the brand. Amenities like the tropical garden poolside hideout, the Koi fish pond or the fully equipped health club spa, provide space to exhale. The Premier Selection Suite calms down further, a class above in elegance and luxury. Remember, this is one of the oldest of the Shangri-La properties, meaning real charm. Suites dance in Asian romance thanks to the rich mahogany woods, red velvet cushions, and auburn chaise. Then you have the bathroom, L’Occitane anointed and royally marbled. Everything works seamlessly here: with personnel that has worked within these walls for decades, you’ll see it in their swift action and genuine smiles. All that’s left to do is to melt away with rapture, and when you’re ready to depart be sure to take a piece of the Shangs with you. The room spray is available from their boutique and online store. Tip: The ground floor Japanese-designed Lemon Garden restaurant is a local hotspot for dinner, in case you don’t want to venture too far to switch back on, and working travelers should seek out a new room category, the Premier Business Room, specially fitted with ergonomically designed furniture and ultra-modern electronic devices.
Kuala Lumpur Must-Do – The first thing that comes to mind for most when it comes to KL is the Petronas Twin Towers, sat in close proximity to the Shangri-La. Aside from snapping a selfie at ground level by the fountains, we highly recommend purchasing tickets for the double-decker sky bridge (the highest two-story bridge in the world) and the 86th-level observation deck for the most incredible views over the city.
W Singapore – Sentosa Cove
When a resort’s motto is to Live It Up, you know it’s going to be one to remember. W Singapore – Sentosa Cove, keeps in line with the spirit of its island, a recreational paradise hinged between wicked indulgence and blissful restoration. That’s why folks come far and wide, flipping between ‘detox and retox’ at this yacht-lined oasis. Check-in and recover from jet lag at one of their 240 guest rooms and suites, notably an AWAY Room, situated spa side with a private plunge pool, marble bathroom with MOMO amenities, and an essential Mixbar to cap the night. Then spend the next day splashing out (in more ways than one). The main pool, emblazoned with W-logo glory, a waterslide, and a WET bar, is the way to kick things off, before an afternoon’s exploration of the Sentosa region, whether that be via theme park, supermall, or aquarium. The property’s F&B outlets are a must for welcoming the night. Stylish lounge WOOBAR’s bubbles fizz fresh, while dining hotspot, SKIRT, grills steaks and seafood to evoke senses beyond taste. The Kitchen Table spreads a giant breakfast buffet feast, including an outstanding chili crab omelet, best washed down with a mimosa. Need to work it off? FIT, the hotel’s 24-hour gym and one of Singapore’s largest offers personal training and state-of-the-art equipment to boot, though if that doesn’t sound like a vacation, maybe a session at the AWAY Spa is a preferable way to calm down from the Asian fiesta. Other overnight options include an AWAY Suite on the same floor, and the presidential Extreme WOW Suite, locally acclaimed for having one of the most unique bathtubs around. Staff service and attention to detail are impeccable.
Singapore Must-Do – Top of your activity list must be Gardens by the Bay. The scenic paradise is a family fun affair filled with a diverse collection of over 1.5 million plants. Within it, don’t miss Floral Fantasy, a romance of pinkish hues, and the sights from their OCBC Skyway, suspended between two supertrees 22m above ground. Afterward, cool off with a visit to the Museum of Ice Cream Singapore where you’ll discover a world of ice cream and simultaneously get your fill of it.
AYANA Segara Bali
With Bali a haven for luxury, it’s only fitting to spotlight a second superb stay. Stateside, AYANA is unfamiliar to many, but those familiar discover all understanding of ‘resort’ changed. This Indonesian-born playground is so vast and spectacular that even a week-long stint requires little need to venture off the ground. You’ll feast, you’ll frolic, and you’ll absolutely forget time. Who says that family trips can’t be this glamorous? The AYANA Estate boasts 90 hectares with 294 rooms and suites at the main AYANA, 78 AYANA villas, 403 rooms and suites at RIMBA (the most family-friendly), a residential community, and 205 rooms and suites in the newly opened AYANA Segara. Whatever resort you’re on, guests enjoy full access to the estate’s amenities, including breakfast. Drinking and dining stand out at AYANA, the Rock Bar is hailed as one of the coolest destinations to savor tastes and views (14 meters above the Indian Ocean, precisely). Meanwhile, the lower-key but equally scenic KISIK Lounge and Seafood restaurant is where to get a fix of the freshest catch, Balinese style. Keen to learn more about local food? Join the team in preparing it: the resort’s ‘Farm to Kitchen Experience’ journey’s guests from harvesting vegetables at AYANA’s organic farm to cooking them with the on-site chef. Those seeking slow can choose may retreat to their expansive spa, boasting 53 treatment rooms and a slew of rituals, but for the ultimate romantic gesture, treat your spouse to an Ocean Ritual at AYANA’s Spa on The Rocks, where duos are pampered amidst roaring waves of the piercing blue ocean. The new AYANA Segara option is where we recommend that couples retire. It brings an indoor-outdoor concept twist and has a glassy adults-only rooftop pool and bar (though with 14 pools to choose from, competition is fierce). Boudoirs here are designed by award-winning design firm WATG, with sleek marble flooring and beautifully carved wooden furnishings. Enjoy turquoise hues as you recline back on the private balcony in their designer kimono-Esque robes, or watch them while lathering in Sensatia Botanicals in your oval tub. If this is what it means to resort, there’s no going back.
Rosewood Luang Prabang
An arm’s length away from the heart of a UNESCO world heritage town, Luang Prabang, lies a jungle resort, a Rosewood in boutique format. Opened in 2018, the property features 23 accommodations including riverside rooms, suites, villas, and hilltop tents: echoed in meditative natural waterfalls. Villas are perched by pools which though, not completely private, are individual to the guest. This is a resort laced with Laos tradition and French Colonial style, no more evident than in The Great House Restaurant, a feast of French and Royal Laotian cuisine. Order a dragon-boat platter of Au Nor Mai (deep-fried stuffed bamboo shoot with minced pork), Oou Larm Gnuar (beef stew), and other local delicacies, best joined by a bottle from their sommelier’s selection: you won’t be disappointed. The Elephant Bridge Bar, an ode to the location’s wild past, is where to sip a Tamarin Whiskey Sour. A petit lobby side pool with shaded cabanas, complimentary shuttle service, communal lounges, and a spa are available.
Laos Must-Do – Enjoy a morning at Kuang Si Waterfall, one of the most beautiful in the world, and en route back to the Rosewood, stop at Laos Buffalo Dairy, a socially responsible, sustainable farm offering hands-on tours and delicious buffalo milk treats. Viator packages both experiences in a half-day tour for those strapped for time.