travel

Travel - Hot List 2012 (Part 4)

- Give Up Coffee For Beautiful Breasts
- Losing Weight In A Week With Honey
- Treatments For Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy

China – Banyan Tree Macau

Description: Cool off at the "beach resort deck" and pool at the Banyan Tree Macau.

Cool off at the "beach resort deck" and pool at the Banyan Tree Macau

There is an old primary- school teachers’ trick: if children get rowdy, do not raise your voice- lower it. The kids will instinctively quiet down to listen. The same goes for luxury. Its does not have to shout. It should whisper. Amid the gaudy lights and round- the- clock madness of the vast new Galaxy Resort in Macau, casino capital of the world, the Banyan Tree is an oasis of serenity. It is the little touches that make it special: the notepaper in your room is not just headed; it is persionalised with your name. You are given use of a mobile phone, with a host on 24- hour call. The staff is attentive without being intrusive. But the Banyan Tree can do bif- picture, too. Each of the 246 rooms is a suite. Each suite has its own relaxation pool. The design is Zen minimal, right down to the big black Tibetan wooden tub in the bathroom, but also hi- tech: push- button blinds, state- of- the- art TV, a toilet whose heated seat thoughtfully lifts up as you approach. I would have said they will do everything expect wash your beachside for you, but there’s a button for that, too. Add in a huge spa and a superb top- floor restaurant, the Belom, eccentrically designed to a quatic theme, and this – whisper it- probably the finest new hotel in a city full of brasher contenders.

Description: the New Banyan Tree Macau Resort

the New Banyan Tree Macau Resort

When to go

Macau’s Portuguese heritage makes Christmas a special time, as is Chinese New Year.

Room to book

Even the smaller suites offer 100 square metres for just over $305, but the Sky Villa at 160 square metres for $770 gives you that high- roller cachet.

00 835 8883 8883; www.banyantree.com/en/macau/ double from $335

The Ritz- Carlton, Hong Kong

Description: The Ritz- Carlton, Hong Kong

The Ritz- Carlton, Hong Kong

To ride the lift up The Eits- Carlton, Hong Kong is to switch between Lemuel Gulliver’s Brobdingnag and Lilliput. One moment you are dwarfed by the city’s skyscrapers; swallow a couple of times to equalise the pressure, and 490 metres later, the buildings are looking positively puny. Just as the biggest buffet in the world would not necessarily serve the best food, so the highest hotel in Asia might not be the ideal place to stay. Suffice to say and skipping obvious puns such as ‘scaling the heights’, the Ritz- Carlton has aced it. The design theme- a not unsurprising ‘East meets West’- is rendered with a fair amount of subtlety, and spiced  with elements such as blue palissandro marble, which is used throughout. The 312 rooms and suites are all one might expect from this hotel group, but it would be a very dull guest who found the iPod/ Blu-ray DVD player/ whatever more intriguing than pressing his or her nose against the window pane and goggling awhile. Naturally, competition for window seats at the Italian and Chinese restaurants on the 102nd floor is intense; strolling through the illuminated wine cellar between the two is incredible inspiring. The obvious conclusion is Ozone, a sinning combination of nightclub, bar and restaurant which would ensure its popularity even if it were not at the top of the highest hotel in Asia

Description: Bed room

Bed room

When to go

The clearest days- when city, harbor and beyond are at their most panoramic- usually fall between September and November.

Room to book

One of the mid- tier suites, either Carlton or Premier Executive, on the 116th floor

00 852 2263 2263; www.ritzcarlton.com. Double from $937

Xixuan Spa Hotel Hangzhou

Description: Xixuan Spa Hotel Hangzhou

Xixuan Spa Hotel Hangzhou

Proudly modernistic in its architecture and minimalist in detailing, this 68- room spa hotel overlooking the Xixi National Wetland Park showcases China’s emerging resort aesthetic. The property is part of the Westbrook Resort, a kind of bucolic mega- retreat (it also houses Sheraton, Banyan Tree and Angsana hotels) beloved of Chines developers. The boxy glass and marble exterior evokes a contemporary art museum; the tiled lobby is redolent of a merchant bank; within, the hotel’s charm quotient begins to reveal itself. The cream- and- white bedrooms and suites are sparingly styled with wood paneling and floor- to- ceiling glass windows and are equipped with iPod docks and locally sourced Ba Yan Ka La bath products. There is an organic gourmet Chinese restaurant and wine bar and a three- level, 6,000- book library with black- leather banquettes. These elements are mere teasers, however, for the remarkable MetaSpa. Designed by Ho + Hou Studio Architects, this palatial, split- level spa is a movie- set in waiting, with 16 treatment rooms providing sophisticated beauty and spa therapies, using products  including Cosmelan, TMT and (exclusively in China) AQS from Switzerland. Framed by dark granite, marble and hardwoods, the stepped private steam pool and Jcuzzi is a 21st- century update of a Central European bathhouse enriched by mod- oriental ambience. Only a 20- minute cab ride from downtown Hangzhou, one of China’s most affluent cities, Xixuan Spa Hotel is a refined retreat from the big city- Chinese style.

Description: Xixuan Spa Hotel Hangzhou

Xixuan Spa Hotel Hangzhou

When to go

Spring (Apr- May) and autumn (Sept- Nov) for the best chance of clear skies.

Room to book

A Spa suite with mini in- room greenhouse garden.

00 86 571 8500 2888; www.xixuanspahotels.com. Doubles from $183

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