Under the Radar Openings in Southeast Asia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 12, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / It’s an obvious understatement that the pandemic has wreaked devastation on Southeast Asia’s vital tourism sector. For the past two or so years, big-ticket destinations have been starved of international visitors. Visitors, in turn, have been denied the region’s uniquely vibrant blend of high octane dining and nightlife, and paradise beaches and landscapes. But all has not been quiet. Indeed, the region has welcomed a spate of notable resort openings. With travel now opening up again, here are a few cherishable new addresses.
Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh
Key to Phnom Penh’s future success is the presence of world-class lodging options such as Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh. Opened into a world battened down by the pandemic in January 2021, it is among the most exciting additions to the hospitality scene in recent times. With 247 guestrooms including 43 residential-style suites, the property is the largest internationally branded hotel in the city. Located in the heart of Phnom Penh’s cultural and business district of Doun Penh, the hotel is a 30-minute drive from the airport and is within a short walking distance to the Royal Palace, National Museum, and the riverside. Conceived by award-winning Singapore-based SCDA Architects and leading Thailand-based PIA Interior, the contemporary-meets-colonial interiors of the hotel reflect Cambodia’s unique history, seamlessly blending Khmer architectural accents, French colonial influences, and specially-commissioned artworks by contemporary Cambodian artist, FONKi. As guests pull into the hotel’s driveway, they are greeted with a welcoming centerpiece: a beautiful French heritage building flanked by sweet-smelling frangipani trees. The Colonial House is home to The Attic, an old-world speakeasy-style bar tucked into the eaves of the building. Additional F&B standouts include Metropole Underground, an art-deco themed space that is Phnom Penh’s first subterranean venue, and FiveFive Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, where guests can feast on creative cuisine and soak up breathtaking views of the Royal Palace, the Mekong River, and the city skyline. Other hotel highlights include a 22-meter outdoor infinity pool surrounded by lush greenery and the hotel’s Jivapita spa, which offers a range of pampering treatments often inspired by Khmer wellness traditions.
Maia Resort Quy Nhon
Understanding that the journey to any traveler’s heart often requires a detour through the stomach, the Fusion Group opened Maia Resort Quy Nhon as a gastronomically-driven, 94-villa resort in a relatively untrodden destination along Vietnam’s southern coast. Although the property had a soft launch in late 2020, they only just celebrated a grand opening in December 2021, with the opening of the final villas. The latest ‘Maia’ brand expands on Fusion’s original wellness focus by bringing in another important factor in a trip away – food. Maia guests have the choice of dinner or lunch, in addition to the complimentary breakfast; or an indulgent spa therapy, as part of the nightly rate. The property features an expansive pool and fitness center stocked with the latest international standard equipment. Maia has two restaurants, the casual all-day dining restaurant Vị and the intimate ad hoc, along with an open-air pool bar. The 94 villas range in size from one and three bedroom villas, most with private plunge pools and gardens, and interiors that follow an earthy color palette, with pops of various ocean hues throughout. The link to the earth continues throughout the property with the use of reclaimed elements such as preserved driftwood, copper, and rattan making up the core materials used for the overall design. The property is located in Quy Nhon, an area that has been under the radar of most travelers to Vietnam, despite being just an hour’s flight from the country’s commercial hub, Ho Chi Minh City. Rooms start at USD 185 net per night, inclusive of half board or one spa treatment per adult per room.
Meliá Phuket Mai Khao
Meliá Phuket Mai Khao, a wellness-inspired resort that fronts Phuket’s longest stretch of sand with a chilled-out beach club and private pool villas, opened on Thailand’s largest island in December 2021. A 15-minute drive to Phuket International Airport and near an array of attractions including Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation and Sirinat National Park, the resort is the second five-star property launched in Thailand under Spanish hotel group Meliá Hotels International. Situated on secluded Mai Khao beach, commanding eight acres of Phuket’s northwestern coastline on the Andaman Sea, the 30-suite and 70-villa resort’s design melds traditional and contemporary Thai aesthetics with a smattering of Mediterranean accents and uses a neutral palette of colours to complement Mai Khao’s sandy shoreline. All of the suites and villas feature outdoor bathtubs, open-air showers and outdoor terraces to take advantage of Phuket’s tropical climate. The 78sqm suites are complemented by cabanas, and the 85sqm one-bedroom villas have private plunge pools. Fifteen wellness villas each feature an open-air Vitamin C shower, ultrasonic essential oil diffuser, GermGuardian air purifier, Tempur-Pedic pillows, aromatic salts for the outdoor bathtub, a fit ball and yoga mat. The resort’s diverse dining landscape comprises four outlets and adds a dash of Mediterranean flavor to Phuket’s culinary scene. Privately tucked away behind the lobby and Elyxr Café, Meliá’s signature YHI Spa is 300sqm and home to five treatment rooms. In addition to its extensive menu of massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps, spa therapists also provide poolside and in-villa treatments.
Azerai Ke Ga Bay
Azerai Ke Ga Bay, an elegant and secluded oceanfront retreat in southeastern Vietnam, launched as the third property in Azerai Resorts’ growing portfolio just as calendars were flipping into 2021. The 46-key resort, a combination of suites and private-pool suites, is located 180 kilometers east of Saigon on a sweeping five-kilometer white sand beach overlooking the East Sea. Framed to the north by Hon Ba Island, with its historic 1899-built colonial French lighthouse, and to the south by soaring sand dunes, the property cultivates one of the most naturally splendid oceanfront settings in the country. The guest suites at Azerai Ke Ga Bay evoke a contemporary aesthetic defined by elegance and minimalist design, with 10 units boasting either plunge pools or larger private pools. The resort’s four swimming pools include an oceanfront pool with sunbeds positioned on terraces, a free-form pool set back from the beach and surrounded by lush tropical gardens, and two square pools set within mirrored courts, flanked by guest rooms. The Azerai Spa fronts the ocean with 10 private treatment rooms (six single and four double rooms), along with modern hydrotherapy facilities, individual or shared relaxation lounges and daybeds, a beauty studio, a Jacuzzi, and a gym including the latest cardiovascular and strength-training equipment. The Terrace, The Dining Room and The Living Room provide a variety of dining and lounging options, including indoor and outdoor settings with views of the beach and relaxed poolfront tables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The culinary team crafts an array of local delicacies, with a focus on plentiful offerings from the sea. Azerai Ke Ga Bay marks the brand’s first beach resort, and follows Azerai La Residence, Hue, a historic city resort overlooking the Perfume River in Vietnam’s former imperial capital, and Azerai Can Tho, a peaceful retreat set on a lush islet in the Mekong Delta.