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Travel - Hot List 2012 (Part 6)

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Vivanta By Taj – Bekal, Kerala

Life is tough at this new, 71- room spa resort in undiscovered north Kerala. Should I order a Mojito or a Mai- Tai cocktail? Take a spa treatment go for a walk on the beach, or a have a gentle kayak on the serene backwaters? Set on 30 acres of land fronted by Kappil Beach, 80km from Mangalore airport, the resort has wonderful views of the Arabian Sea. The 17th- century fort of Bekal, the largest in Kerala, is a 40- minute walk away and guests can also walk or cycle on paths along the pretty backwater, fringed with dense palm groves. The secluded beach is perfect for paddling, but the currents can be dangerous so swimming is restricted to the infinity pool. The distinctive architecture with its sweeping lines and high, vaulted ceilings fashioned from hand- woven bamboo was inspired by kettuvallam, the traditional Keralan boats. The public areas weave around beautiful water garden and there is an abundance of local stone sculptures in the Hindu tradition as well as Islamic- inspired artworks and lighting. Every room has a mural, some hand- painted by local artists. The spacious Jiva Spa is at the core of the resort with eight suites offering traditional Ayurvedic treatments and a dedicated Ayurvedic dining room and juice bar; there is a separate yoga pavilion. The energetic and passionate chef, Valentine Athaide, produces authentic Keralan cuisine and a fresh seafood menu. The resort’s signature Sadya lunch is a delicious banquet served on banana leaves and features homemade pickles and specialty curries.

Description: Vivanta By Taj – Bekal, Kerala

Vivanta By Taj – Bekal, Kerala

 When to go

The most comfortable time is between December and February, when the skies are clear and the daytime temperatures do not exceed 32*C.

Room to book

The 10 Premium Indulgence Villas have private plunge pools and outdoor bathrooms. For greater privacy the Deluxe Delight rooms have a similar footprint but have enclosed courtyards. Both are well worth the extra price. 00 91 467 661 6612; www.vivantabytaj.com. Doubles from $297

Thailand – The ST Regis Bangkok

Description: Thailand – The ST Regis Bangkok

Thailand – The ST Regis Bangkok

What views! From the floor- to- ceiling windows of almost every room of the St Regis you get terrific panoramas over the energetic Thai capital. In the evening a luminescent world of neon stretches out. By day there are outlooks over the LEGOLAND- like Skytrain and bird’s- eye views straight on to the golf course of the (very) exclusive Royal Bangkok Sports Club.

The epicurean breakfasts at Viu restaurant on the 12th floor tend to be drawn- out as guest gaze on to the green far below, mismarked by the action. The hotel building is in a prime position, just along from the Grand Hyatt and next door to the Four Seasons. The St Regis has an edge over these rivals thanks to its location right opposite Rajadamri sky train station. The clever layout allows for two dramatic entrances: one on the second floor, from which a walkway leads to the sky train; the other at street level, where you step into a huge lobby off which are two restaurants: a franchise Zuma; and Jojo, an upscale Italian trattoria. From there a lift scoots you up to the 12th- floor reception and the ‘Drawing Room’, a chic bar area that captalises on those jaw dropping views. Above are the 227 rooms (51 of them suites), decorated on variations of soothing cream, taupe and pale blue and furnished with silks and lush carpets. There is a very generous sense of space: corridors are wide; even the standard rooms are exceptionally big; bathrooms accommodate a separate rainforest shower bath with ease. Facilities include a wine bar, Decanter, devised for serious oenophiles and a 15th- floor leisure complex with gym, outdoor infinity pool and Elemis spa where the relaxation areas are open to all guests whether or not they book treatments.

Description: Bed room

Bed room

When to go

November, December and January offer the best weather.

Room to book

A corner Caroline Aster Suite with spectacular views, stylishly comfy sitting room and prodigious bathroom. 00 800 325 78734; www.stregis.com/bangkok. Double from $274

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