Passion Points: Escape
Perhaps a positive indication for 2010, this fall has already seen numerous new resort openings—and there are more to come this winter. The properties range from a deeply stylish, privately owned boutique hotel outside Punta Mita to an exclusive three-suite hideaway on New Zealand’s North Island (pictured left). As the editors of Indagare, we are constantly hearing about what’s new and visiting recently unveiled properties—here are the ten we are most excited about this Fall and Winter.
Coming soon: Our Top Ten list of the best properties opened in 2009.
This much anticipated resort, set on 35 acres near Malliouhana on Anguila, features 166 guest accommodations, ranging from standard guestrooms to expansive four- and five-bedroom beachfront villas—all designed by renowned decorator Kelly Wearstler. Brand-new this season, it should be a great option for hip travelers who prefer the laid-back, beach-chic style the company behind Viceroy is known for (another newcomer this season is the Viceroy Snowmass, a ski-in-ski-out property with 173 guest rooms and residences all designed to meet LEED Silver standards). Read more about the Viceroy Anguilla. ~H.V.
KAUAI, HAWAII: St. Regis Princeville Resort
Longtime devotees who worried that the St. Regis would gentrify the special vibe of the beloved Princeville on Kauai, located on the lush North Shore, need not have fretted: the renowned hotel company simply updated and modernized the old-world resort, ushering it into the 21st century with style. The recently unveiled property now boasts a 10,000 square foot spa, a Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course and Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant (many of the ingredients used are farmed or produced on the island). The 252-rom resort’s location, in close proximity to a wildlife refuge, equestrian paths, hiking trails and protected lagoons, remains unbeatable. Honeymooners heading to Kauai this season should not miss a stay here. Read more about the St. Regis Princeville Resort as well as about Deer Valley’s new St. Regis Deer Crest. ~M.S.
MEXICO: Imanta Resort, near Punta Mita
Although Punta Mita has served as a luxury destination since the Four Seasons opened ten years ago, what it has lacked is the exclusive hideaway resort for which areas like Costa Careyes are known. Until now: Hidden at the end of an unassuming dirt road, Imanta, which will open to guests on December 22, provides the kind of private retreat Aman regulars will adore. The two three-bedroom casas and five one-bedroom suites each occupy individual bungalows tucked away on top of dramatic cliffs where the jungle tumbles into the sea. Read more about Imanta.
MONTANA: Ranch at Rock Creek
Once upon a time, an East Coast investment banker dreamed of owning a ranch in the Wild West and after searching for more than two decades, he finally found his reverie in the wilds of Montana. Luckily, the rest of us don’t have to wait quite as long: this winter, the Ranch at Rock Creek will soft open as an upscale Western retreat. Initially, there will be only twenty-seven guest rooms—and that on a property that measures some 6,600 acres—though two- and three-bedroom cabins, as well as luxe riverside tents are in the works. Activities focus on the great outdoors (fishing, riding, sporting clays, wildlife viewing, hiking), though a 2,100 square-foot spa, authentic saloon and dance hall, and a four-lane bowling alley might entice some to stay back at the ranch. From Butte (which has daily flights from Salt Lake City), the Ranch is a one-hour drive. A full review of the Ranch at Rock Creek will post on Indagare soon. ~S.G.
NEW ZEALAND: Lake Okareka Lodge
New Zealand’s North Island has no shortage of uber-luxe retreats, including Cavalli, Eagle’s Nest and the Farm at Cape Kidnapper’s, and judging from the buzz, newcomer Lake Okareka Lodge will hold its own with the best of them. A 7,000 square-foot lake house set on a secluded peninsula, the lodge accepts only one group at a time, assuring total privacy as you take over the property. The wood-and-stone mansion, which blends beautifully into the lush environment, includes just three oversized suites that center around the stunning views. A personal butler can arrange everything from afternoon cocktails to island heli trips and a chef customizes all your meals (of course, it helps that the ingredients are typical New Zealand: ultra-fresh and locally sourced). Distractions from the peaceful enclave include a private beach, boathouse and private jetty. Read more about Lake Okareka Lodge. ~S.G.
ST. BARTH’S: Le Sereno Villas
The ideal combo between renting a Caribbean villa and having the services of a hotel has emerged with the completion of three villas on the grounds of stylish Le Sereno on St. Barth’s. Designed by Parisian architect Christian Liaigre (also responsible for the hotel’s sleek lines), each villa offers 7,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space overlooking the popular Grand Cul-de-Sac beach on the island’s east end. Guests in the villas will have access to the hotel’s amenities but will also be served by a 24-hour butler. Read more about Le Sereno Villas. ~H.V.
THAILAND: Soneva Kiri
Six Senses, the company headed by pioneering hoteliers Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, has long championed the principle of intelligent luxury, i.e. resorts that offer a five-star experience but that tread lightly when it comes to the environment (read reviews of Soneva Gili and Fushi, in the Maldives). Their newest property, Soneva Kiri in Thailand, takes this philosophy even further. Located on Koh Kood, the country’s fourth-largest—but mostly undeveloped—island, Kiri has forty-two gorgeous free-standing villas that are scattered along the beachfront and hillside; all overlook the striking blues of the Gulf of Thailand. They range from two-room suites with private pools to the sprawling Private Beach Reserve whose whimsical details include a water slide into the swimming pool and tree houses for kids. Eco aficionados can also book the forward-looking Eva Villa, a prototype zero-carbon emissions suite that showcases a range of environmental technologies the Shivdasanis are exploring for their new eco-brand. Guests who manage to pull themselves away from their large eco pads can explore the beautiful rainforests and mangroves of Koh Kood, an island that feels blissfully remote (but is actually less than a one-hour flight, with the resort’s private Cessna, from Bangkok). ~S.G.
URUGUAY: Playa Vik
When Estancia Vik opened near Punta del Este earlier in 2009, it sparked international interest in the idyllic coastal region of Uruguay. Now the imminent opening of sister property Playa Vik is creating major buzz. One of the few residential projects from renowned Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, the ultra-contemporary Playa Vik will feature a 55-foot long sliding wall of glass, curved titanium walls, rich Patagonian ebony floors and artworks by James Turrell, Zaha Hadid and Anslem Kiefer. Housed within will be just three bedroom suites, a communal living and dining space, a library and an Italian-designed kitchen. Flanking this central building are six two- and three-bedroom casas, each with their own bedrooms, living areas and gardens. The stunning 75-foot swimming pool is made from Uruguayan black absolute nero granite and glows with a fiber optic map of the southern hemisphere. Playa Vik and Estancia Vik are accessible via Punta del Este airport (a 30 minute drive along the coast) with daily flights from Argentina and Brazil. ~N.R.
Aman resorts are famous for standing out but the latest Aman property happily blends in. Amangiri (meaning peaceful mountain) opened earlier this month among the deep canyons and sweeping plateaus of Southern Utah in the Four Corners region of the American South West. Located on 600 acres of land close to the famous Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, the 34-suite hotel has been clever not to try and upstage one of the most impressive landscapes on earth, preferring to merge with natural stone floors, desert tones and simple but comfortable furnishings. The resort’s position in the middle of the so-called ‘grand circle’ means the area’s most famous attractions (Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion National parks) are all nearby. Amangiri was the second resort the so-called Aman junkies were anticipating: recently opened in Laos, is Amantaka, a 24 suite hotel and spa that is housed in an old French-colonial building close to temples and palaces of the ancient city. Read more about Amangiri. ~N.R.
Since its opening in March 2009, Kilindi (www.kilindi.com) has marked a new level of luxury in Zanzibar with fifteen domed private pavilions that British-owner, Bobby McKenna, describes as “functional art.” He also coined the phrase ‘Zanzibaroque’ to illustrate the interior style that reflects local traditions and culture. The resort is firmly committed to eco principles and environmentally sound development, which can be seen in such details as solar panels, rainwater private pools and a water treatment center. The pavilions take full advantage of their position overlooking the white coral beach, Dhow Routes and Tumbatu Island, and they feature such whimsical touches as stained-glass skylights above the beds. Chef Richie Tewnion, who worked with Jamie Oliver in London, is overseeing the gastro-hotel style restaurant (meals are included in the rate) with much of the food sourced from the hotel’s organic garden. Private diving and big-game fishing can be organized through the hotel. Kilindi is one hour from Stone Town, on the North-West of the island. ~N.R.
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