Top new Asian resorts to relax with the family in 2019

avani+ samui , thailand
AVANI+ Samui opens later this month

AVANI+ Samui, Thailand

AVANI Hotels & Resorts launches into the Land of Smiles in January with an upscale resort at Taling Ngam Bay on the southwestern, ‘quiet’ coast of Koh Samui. Koh Samui is this year positioning itself as Thailand’s most luxurious holiday destination and is set to be a hot location for 2019.

The seaside retreat is aimed at families, with 25 guest rooms, 27 private pool villas and six beachfront pool villas tucked away in the secluded bay. The resort offers a range of activities, from beach yoga, to stand-up paddle boarding and mountain biking. The resort’s AVANISPA offers a wide menu of treatments that can be taken either at the spa or in the privacy of your villa.

“AVANI+ Samui also embraces an eco-friendly culture… such as no plastic straws, biodegradable materials and locally sourced ingredients,” added Dillip Rajakarier, chief executive officer of Minor Hotels, the owning company of AVANI Hotels & Resorts.

Waterfall trips, island hopping and snorkelling are all easily accessible activities from its location away from the island’s main tourist spots. The AVANI brand currently operates 24 hotels in 15 countries and recently debuted in Australia, New Zealand and Laos. Fifteen further openings are in the pipeline, including Dubai, Bangkok and Busan. Watch this space. avani.com

 

anantara quy nhon vietnam
Luxe it up in central Vietnam

Anantara Quy Nhon Villas, Vietnam

Set to open in late January, Anantara Quy Nhon Villas is located in a secluded emerald bay in south central Vietnam.

The luxury 26 one- and two-bedroom ocean-facing villas are set amid seven hectares of landscaped tropical gardens and welcome both families and couples. Locally sourced materials and regional influences have been woven into the resort design – think sleek timber and granite sundecks, oversized bathtubs and private lap pools. Personal touches that take the resort to the highest level include customisable amenities – such as preferred room scent, an Anantara signature soap collection and an in-villa wine cellar – as well as in-room butler service and ‘Masters of Wellness’ private sessions with alternative therapists.  

Dining outlets include signature restaurant Sea.Fire.Salt boasting its very own salt guru, cocktails and Cuban cigars at the ocean-facing swim-up bar, plus in-villa dining covering everything from breakfast in bed, to poolside barbecues and castaway island picnics.

Surrounding Binh Dinh province offers plenty of cultural interest; the guided Quy Nhon Explorer tour takes guests on an early morning ride through the countryside before stopping at Mr Lan’s fifth generation Non La (conical hat) makers for a hat weaving workshop and lunch. In the afternoon, tour the ruins of Champ towers, finishing up with a rice paper-making workshop before heading back to the resort.

The resort is a 40-minute drive from Quy Nhon airport with daily flights from Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. From April, the resort is launching a private Anantara train carriage for guests who would rather travel overland from Danang, taking in the stunning Vietnamese countryside as they travel. anantara.com

The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah, Maldives

Cenizaro group’s second Maldivian property is on schedule for a summer opening and is located next to its original property, The Residence Maldives at Falhumaafushi, on the stunning Gaafu Alifu atoll. The two resorts will be connected by a bridge to form one of the largest resorts in the country. Dhigurah boasts 173 beach and water villas, each with a private pool. With families in mind, Dhigurah also has 12 two-bedroom beach and water villas and on-land options for those with younger children.

The resort’s Turtle Kids Club is open daily for three to 12 year olds and includes a huge playground stretching across the island. Further children’s activities include yoga, Dhivehi language learning, arts and craft, beach games, cooking and scavenger hunts. Babysitting is also available. “We wanted to create a hotel that’s… an ideal place for families to let loose and have fun,” said Gary Xie, director for Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts. For adults, there’s a yoga deck, Clarins spa, 42-metre infinity pool, dive and watersports centre, reading room and gym.

Dining options include beachfront restaurant The Dining Room, Cantonese offering Li Bai, the sunset-facing Long Island for cocktails and light bites, Mediterranean tapas at Cafe del Sol, plus private dining and beach barbecues as well as castaway dinners on neighbouring private islands. cenizaro.com

 

apurva kempinski, bali
Blissed out Bali at Apurva Kempinski in Nusa Dua

Apurva Kempinski, Bali

This ocean-front, family resort in Nusa Dua on the southern tip of Indonesia’s most popular holiday island opens in the first quarter of this year. Reservations can now be made for bookings from February 1 onwards. The 475-room resort is 15 minutes from Bali’s international airport and top-of-the-range facilities include an ocean-facing spa and fitness centre, a 60-metre swimming pool, a children’s pool and a family club.

The five-star resort is dramatically located on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. Sixty per cent of the accommodation – comprising rooms, suites and villas – boasts a private plunge pool. And no less than seven dining venues complete the picture. “We’re very excited to finally take the first steps towards our debut,” commented general manager Vincent Guironnet.

Kempinski is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group with a portfolio of 76 five-star hotels in over 30 countries. kempinski.com

 

How Hong Konger Tina Atkinson turned a dusty block of land on Koh Samui into a luxury fitness retreat

tina atkinson
Tina Atkinson (centre) with two of her fitness retreat guests

After university it was clear that my destiny was not in the UK. Inspired by a gap year in Asia, I felt unsettled back in London. But I needed money so I worked for a property developer for 18 months, launching a villa marketing business in Portugal. It was hard work and eventually a conglomerate of Portuguese villa owners – with equity – offered me the chance to set up and run new offices in Chelsea Harbour. The experience clarified to me that I wanted to travel and work overseas.

The country with which I had most affiliation was Thailand. A work permit wasn’t a possibility so a job looked unlikely, but I decided to give it a go. My then-boyfriend (who I later married) was an Asian equity trader and had never considered an overseas posting. But a week before my departure he managed to wangle himself a transfer.

Bangkok was miserable. My only friend was my maid, we had no money to furnish our apartment, there were no mobiles and we didn’t even have a landline. But I invested in a language course and was eventually offered a job with Saatchi and Saatchi looking after the British Airways Executive Club Account. We stayed four years.

In 1993 I moved to Hong Kong to launch Asia’s first frequent flyer programme. I’d met an environmental activist in Thailand who had a brother working for Cathay. I went along for a chat and came out with a job.  

I have yet to fall out of love with Hong Kong. My children were born here and I’ve never left. I fluttered between buying and renting, but eventually property roads led me back to Thailand and to a block of land on Koh Samui. Due to Thai ownership laws and the political situation it wasn’t the wisest move. I had no background in design or build – actually I didn’t have a clue – but my father’s a developer so I kind of hoped it might be in the blood. To complicate matters further, I also decided it was worth offering the landowners on either side the opportunity to use the same architect and builder and then really threw caution to the wind and offered to project manage the whole process.

It was a painful two years of bankrupt builders and run-ins with triads. But eventually Baan Kilee was built and the houses on either side shortly thereafter. It was only towards the end of the build that I realised what a monster I had created. The footprint was huge – I calculated that the ‘over-size’ flat-screen TV I had in Hong Kong would be barely visible in the TV room here. I ended up needing eight TVs, not to mention the seven staff.

I made a swift decision to transition the villa into a business venture. I mooted the idea with the other owners and Chai Talay Estate was born. After taking a group of friends over, I realised the property was amazing for groups. The gardens and greenery, the white sands of the year-round swimming beach, the sunsets, the staff, the food, the unspoilt location and the direct flights to Hong Kong made it a fantastic potential getaway destination for multi-generational families and destination events. Chai Talay has 18 rooms and can cater for up to 40 people.

In 2010 I took voluntary redundancy from Cathay. I was determined to leverage my Koh Samui investment and drive a sense of community there. I came up with the idea of a fitness retreat and partnered with Natian Solia of Elite Personal Training in Hong Kong, whose own vision was simply to give back to his clients by offering them a stunning location for rest and relaxation each year. I didn’t have a gym, so we worked with nature, slinging equipment around coconut trees and using the beach and ocean. We also forged partnerships with Hong Kong’s Chrissy Denton Nutrition and Dayle Haigh Smith Outdoor Fitness and with local practitioners to offer yoga, Thai boxing and pilates.

Eight years and 16 residential retreats later and the programme has morphed into what it is today. We now run three-to-five day fitness and wellness retreats three times a year in March, June and November. People form amazing friendships and 70% of participants are returnees. Our clients are global, not just from Hong Kong, and want to take time out from their busy lives for themselves.

We’ve just completed an indoor-outdoor gym in an acre of organic gardens. But  wellbeing isn’t simply about cardio and jumping around for 5+ hours per day, so over the years we’ve added an holistic stream to help create a safe and supportive space through mediation, TRE and other modalities. Feedback suggested we were about more than just fitness and we found we were playing an important role in helping people manage their stress or other issues. People felt safe and relaxed with us and so wanted to open up.

I’ve now learnt to live my own life by the five ways to wellbeing – to connect, be active, take notice, to learn and to give back. Back in Hong Kong, I’ve joined SharedValueProject Hong Kong, a corporate-funded NGO, working with large companies to tackle societal issues in Hong Kong and aligning profit with purpose. Our eight corporates all voted to tackle mental health as their number one priority in 2018/19 and I am leading that work.

This year we’re introducing parent-teen retreats for families. They’ve been designed with the help of our holistic practitioner and our trainers – all of whom have worked extensively with teens. It’s a ‘therapeutic retreat meets activity holiday’, exploring healthy ways for teens to manage stress and anxiety. And mum and/or dad can work on a simultaneous programme of activity and relaxation.

The first Parent & Teen Wellbeing Retreat will run July 1-6 and is suitable for parents with children aged 13 to 18 years. The retreat covers mental wellbeing, fitness and nutrition and will be ‘digital light’ with a no alcohol policy. chaitalay.com

 

A beginners guide to skiing Japan

fun with go snow ski school
Snow fun with GoSnow ski school, Hirafu

At a Hong Kong charity rugby ball in the summer I was lucky enough to win a week in a ski chalet in Niseko, Japan.

My last brush with the white stuff had been back in the ‘90s in France and the rest of the family had never so much as touched a ski before, so we were pretty firmly in the beginner basket.

The whole ski holiday scenario has been too daunting to consider before – there was the gear, the lessons, the packing, would the kids enjoy it? But with accommodation already in hand, we just had to go for it.

First challenge was the gear. Japan is seriously cold – no swanning around the al fresco apres-ski bars in a pair of sunnies as I had done in France. The snow is relentless and we didn’t see the sun until day four. I don’t think the temperatures rose as high as zero the whole time we were there.

So, not really having a clue, we headed for Carl’s Ski Shop at 189 Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok and he did a fabulous job kitting out the whole family. We ended up with two sets of thermals each; one set of gloves or mittens (mittens are advised as your fingers stay warmer bunched together); two snoods (one can be used to keep your neck warm, the other can be converted into a beanie); two pairs of socks (make sure they’re knee length to give you some ‘rub’ protection from the rock hard ski boots); one pair of goggles; one pair of snow boots; one ski jacket and one pair of ski pants. We also topped up with socks from Decathlon – their cheapest, own-brand version was awesome – and a few packets of Aptonia Hand and Feet Warmers (tiny little heat pads that slide into your mittens or boots and stay warm for up to six hours when activated, also from Decathlon).

If you’re still struggling, Stanley Market is a great source of ski clothing and Uniqlo, being Japanese, does a fine line in thermals.

So the packing turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated – we wore our ski jackets and snow boots on the plane, and also packed a couple of ‘normal’ leggings and jumpers in case we wanted to change in the evening (we didn’t – we actually felt perfectly comfortable sitting around in Niseko’s finest dining emporiums in our ski thermals).

We hired all the ski gear – poles, skis, boots, helmets – from Grand Hirafu Mountain Center which sits right next to the gondola at the bottom of the slopes and was nice and handy. Ski passes can also be bought here.

We opted for a 9am flight which had us into Sapporo by 3pm. I would advise booking an earlier rather than a later arrival as the drive up to Hirafu is more three hours than the two we had been advised. We opted to take a bus up as it’s a tough drive in the snow if you don’t know the area. Self-drive is an option with car hire available at the airport. Beware of snow storms – friends on a later flight were unable to land due to deteriorating weather conditions and ended up hitting the tarmac two hours later than scheduled. They reached their accommodation at 2am.

With this in mind, it’s worth thinking about leaving the first day clear, especially if you’re self-catering as there’s a certain amount of ‘finding your feet’ and stocking up on essentials to do. There are a number of small supermarkets in Hirafu. A grocery basket costs about the same here as in Hong Kong.

We booked ski lessons through Go Snow, who were excellent. They start you on the nursery slopes in a group of five or six and you gradually work your way up to the ‘real’ slopes. The nursery slopes were fine to tackle as a group, but by day three I was ready for something a little more challenging but not quite as challenging as the main Boyo run, which the group instructors tend to be used for beginners. The first time I tried it I lost all my confidence – part of the run is ‘red’ and fairly steep and it’s a long way up. My top tip would be to hire a private instructor at this point – expensive but worth it. I also used the nearby Family Slope to learn on which was a lot gentler.

mount yotai
Early morning views of Mount Yotei from the Hirafu Family slope

While I heroically battled my way down the ‘easy’ green runs, the kids were soon zipping up and down the mountain like ninjas with their instructor. Nothing makes you feel more middle-aged than watching young children learn to ski. They left at 10am and were dropped back to the gondola at 4pm, tired but elated.

In terms of dining, don’t reserve a table too late in the evening. We were exhausted at the end of every day, so a 6/6.30pm sitting suited us just fine. Many of the top restaurants get booked up weeks in advance, so bear this in mind. Our favourites were Niseko Pizza, The Alpinist and Rin – and Ginger at the bottom of the Family Slope served a fine line in lunchtime katsu curries. The coffee kiosk opposite Ginger also served coffee with a shot; a perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up when you’ve been zipping up and down the slopes all day.

While the kids wanted to ski, ski and ski again, myself and my husband found five days were enough and on the last day treated ourselves to lunch a deux and an onsen. The warm waters were perfect for tired muscles.

 

Out and about

With more powder than a Johnson’s factory and barely a soul around, Moiwa Ski Resort (a short, twenty minute drive from Hirafu) is gorgeous. It offers some great runs – black, red, slalom and easy-going forest trails – and it’s definitely a resort I’d like to return to. Rafael’s restaurant in the main hotel complex served up one of the nicest meals I’ve ever had – BBQ soya lamb and miso soup followed by deliciously warm coconut bread with Hokkaido honey.

moiwa ski resort
The quieter slopes of Moiwa Ski Resort

Next door is the slightly busier Annupuri family resort with yet more easily accessible slopes for beginners. But it was still quieter than Hirafu and also looks like a strong contender for our hard-earned Yen next year.

 

Where to take a ‘micro-break’ in 2019

By Carolynne Dear for Hong Kong Living

Rosewood Hotel, Hong Kong
Rosewood Hong Kong is set to open in March

Rosewood Hong Kong

Slated for a March 17 opening, the eagerly anticipated Rosewood Hong Kong is now open for bookings. It promises “an ultra-luxury property” on the harbourfront in the new Victoria Dockside district of Tsim Sha Tsui.

The 65-storey tower has been designed by American architects Kohn Pedersen Fox and 43 of the floors will be dedicated to the hotel. Views over Victoria Harbour will be “prominently showcased” from 80% of guest rooms; these include 322 rooms and 91 suites. The hotel will also be  home to 18 signature suites, including the 1,000 square metre Harbour House and The Garden House with wraparound harbour views and from their private sky terraces (which come with private lap pools) on the 57th floor.

The property will eventually have eight food and beverage outlets, including Chinese tea house Holt’s Cafe, Cantonese speciality restaurant The Legacy House and cocktail bar DarkSide, all three of which will be open from the March launch day.

Rosewood Hong Kong will also the first urban outpost of Asaya, its signature wellness centre and spa. Asaya will be set over two floors and will include alternative therapies, fitness and lifestyle activities, nutrition advice, social spaces and a membership programme open to local residents.

Rosewood opening events will dovetail with the launch of Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Xiqu Centre in the West Kowloon Cultural District, both of which are due to open early this year. rosewoodhotels.com

 

Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel
Eco-credentials abound at Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott

Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott

Following a delayed soft opening in the summer, the hotel sees it’s full-launch early in the new year. Something of a game-changer for the local area, the much-anticipated Southside hotel is Hong Kong’s first true ‘resort’ hotel and boasts no less than four pools. Surrounded by mountains and described by management as “a green, urban retreat”, it is nevertheless well-connected with the rest of Hong Kong via the Ocean Park MTR stop, which is directly connected to the hotel via a footbridge.

The three hotel ‘towers’ offer 471 guest rooms, including 130 club rooms. This is the only hotel in Hong Kong, possibly in Asia, with an entire tower designated to ‘club’ facilities. The hotel has been built around a central, resort pool area, which boasts a fun-looking aqua playground for younger guests. The four restaurants all have al fresco dining areas overlooking the pool deck and include the American-style grill house and cocktail bar Prohibition, Canton Bistro, the Pier Lounge and bar, and the all-day, buffet-style dining Marina Kitchen, with an adjacent fully-staffed tots play area. 

As you would expect, the hotel is very much family-oriented – panda-themed twin-bed rooms include Ocean Park children’s gifts, junior robes and slippers and views over the park. The hotel will also be running various resort activities such as seashell art, scavenger hunts and special dining. But whether the ‘Meet the Animal’ hotel packages – including encounters with captive dolphins and sea-lions – meld or jar with the overall conservation message is something for guests to decide for themselves.

Other eco-credentials that Marriott has taken into consideration with the build are commendable. The building uses sustainable timber, non-ozone depleting insulation materials, rainwater collection and water recycling. The hotel has a recycling and waste reduction programme, an organic rooftop farm and has implemented energy saving initiatives. Vertical planting systems have been installed and the restaurant outlets all serve Wild Wildlife Fund-certified sustainable seafood from approved suppliers.

The hotel says it is targeting the local, staycation market as well as chasing the international market. The new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge will no doubt play its role in upping tourist numbers. After a sluggish couple of the years, 41-year-old Ocean Park is certainly committed to raising its profile globally, with a $2.9 billion water park scheduled to open next year and a Fullerton hotel on track for a 2021 opening. It’s hoped that the Tai Shue Wan Water World, as it is to be known, will attract up to 1.5 million visitors in its first year of opening.

Bookings are now being taken for the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, with guests taking up occupancy from last November. The pool area is still awaiting licensing and is due to open in Spring 2019.  Marriott.com

Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, China

This Beijing-located addition to Mandarin Oriental’s portfolio is poised to open its doors early this year. With roof-terrace views over the Forbidden City, the hotel is located in central Beijing, just minutes from Tiananmen Square and in an area dotted with the city’s historic hutongs. Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing is positioning itself as the city’s most luxurious boutique hotel, with ample dining facilities and a Spa at Mandarin Oriental. The 73-room hotel is located on the upper two floors of WF Central. The remainder of the building will house over 130 retail outlets, including 20 brands debuting in Beijing or China.

Three food and beverage outlets include two restaurants and a rooftop MO Bar with a garden terrace. Cafe Zi will offer all-day Asian-inspired dining with a signature lunchtime dim sum selection by Michelin-starred Hong Kong chef Wong Wing-Keung, while Mandarin Grill + Bar features grill-style dishes.

The spa will offer a menu of wellness experiences, a fitness centre and a 25m indoor lap pool with a sky roof. mandarinoriental.com

 

St Regis Hong Kong
A Wan Chai welcome for St Regis

St Regis, Hong Kong

Another dramatic addition to Hong Kong’s skyline this spring is the 129-room St Regis. This is the first time Marriott International has introduced the St Regis brand to Hong Kong. The hotel is located in Wan Chai and within walking distance of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. The interiors have been designed by renowned Hong Kong architect Andre Fu (his Hong Kong credits include The Upper House and Kerry Hotel) and many of the rooms will enjoy views over Victoria Harbour and out to Kowloon Bay. Further amenities include the St Regis Butler Service, Chinese and French restaurants and a heated pool.

St Regis Hotels & Resorts has more than doubled its footprint in recent years with more than 40 hotels worldwide and nine in the Greater China region. This is Marriott International’s second hotel launch in Hong Kong this year, with Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott on southside expected to complete its full opening next month. marriott.com

Raffles Shenzhen

On schedule for a March opening, the new flagship hotel for the Raffles group in China is set to wow. The hotel will occupy the top floors of the new 72-storey One Shenzhen Bay Building with views over Shenzhen Bay (still known to many as the Pearl River Delta, Shenzhen Bay is now part of the Chinese government’s re-branded ‘Greater Bay’ area bordering Hong Kong, Macau and southern China). The hotel promises 168 guest rooms with Raffles’ trademark butler service plus six restaurants and a Raffles spa. Situated opposite the Hong Kong bridge border control, it’s claimed Central is a mere 30 minutes drive away. raffles.com

 

Hyatt Regency Bangkok
Movers and shakers in the Thai capital

Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit

The Thai capital’s fourth Hyatt-branded property is now open for bookings ahead of its early 2019 opening. The 273-room and 21-suite property has been designed as a traditional Thai house and is located in the Nana district of the city. The area was originally founded by Indian merchants who were granted the space to set up a marketplace, attracting traders from India, the Middle East and China. Remnants of that heritage can still be seen in areas such as Soi Arab, Little Korea and Little India. Dining options include the Market Cafe – a Thai-inspired all day dining restaurant, the two-level rooftop Spectrum Lounge & Bar and a Lobby Lounge Bar for cocktails and coffee. An open-air pool and a 24-hour gym completes the picture. The hotel will be directly connected with Nana BTS station by a skybridge. hyatt.com

 

Fusion Original, Vietnam
Fusions Originals is channelling a Darwin-vibe in Ho Chi Minh this summer

Fusion Originals, Vietnam

Fusion will be opening its first Fusion Originals hotel in Ho Chi Minh this summer. Darwin – a Fusion Original is currently under construction and is the first of a new collection of hotels  that will be named after pioneering artists, inventors, scientists and social leaders. This 88-room, inaugural property has been named after Charles Darwin, the British botanist, scientist and naturalist. The property is located in the city’s District 1 and nearby to the famous Saigon Opera House. It is also minutes from the area’s shops, restaurants and bars.

Darwin’s botanical studies have been integrated into the design of the rooms, with plant motifs and excerpts from Darwin’s studies. Each room will include a copy of Darwin’s ground-breaking publication, The Origin of Species. The Beagle Bar (named after HMS Beagle, the vessel used on Darwin’s second survey expedition) will host live music and spoken-word events, while the Origins Restaurant will be serving dishes inspired by Darwin’s travels across the globe. fusionresorts.com

 

Azerai, Hue, Vietnam
Explore Vietnam’s former imperial capital at Azerai La Residence

Azerai La Residence, Hue, Vietnam

Hue is just north of Da Nang and is Vietnam’s former imperial capital. La Residence hotel and spa will be Azerai’s second property in the country, following the opening of the 60-room Azerai Can Tho on the Mekong Delta and in the waterside city of Can Tho early last year. Flagged for a February opening, Azerai La Residence will be located inside a 1930s mansion which has undergone the most extensive renovation in over a decade.

The 122-room hotel’s aesthetic is firmly rooted in Azerai’s calling card of simplicity and elegance, and promises “affordable luxury”. The hotel boasts 200 metres of frontage along the fabled Perfume River – in autumn, flowers from orchards upriver from Hue fall into the water, giving the river a perfume-like aroma. It enjoys views of Flagtower Bastion and the 1804-built Citadel on the river’s north bank.

The name Azerai comes from the initials of hospitality group founder Adrian Zecha and the Persian word caravanserai, which means resting place. Further Vietnam openings are planned by the group, watch this space. azerai.com

Rosewood Hong Kong set for Spring opening

By Carolynne Dear for Expat Parent

Rosewood Hotel, Hong Kong
The new five-star Rosewood Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui

Slated for a March 17 2019 opening, the eagerly anticipated Rosewood Hong Kong is open from this month for bookings. It promises “an ultra-luxury property” on the harbour-front in the new Victoria Dockside district of Tsim Sha Tsui.

The 65-storey tower has been designed by American architects Kohn Pedersen Fox and 43 of the floors will be dedicated to the hotel. Views over Victoria Harbour will be “prominently showcased” from 80% of guest rooms; these include 322 rooms and 91 suites. The hotel will also be  home to 18 signature suites, including the 1,000 square metre Harbour House and The Garden House with wraparound harbour views and from their private sky terraces (which come with private lap pools) on the 57th floor.

The property will eventually have eight food and beverage outlets, including Chinese tea house Holt’s Cafe, Cantonese speciality restaurant The Legacy House and cocktail bar DarkSide, all three of which will be open from the March launch day.

Rosewood Hong Kong will also the first urban outpost of Asaya, its signature wellness centre and spa. Asaya will be set over two floors and will include alternative therapies, fitness and lifestyle activities, nutrition advice, social spaces and a membership programme open to local residents.

Rosewood opening events will dovetail with the launch of Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Xiqu Centre in the West Kowloon Cultural District, both of which are due to open early in 2019. rosewoodhotels.com

Hong Kong Island welcomes Marriott ‘resort’ hotel

By Carolynne Dear for Southside & The Peak

IMG_2423
The pool deck opens next Spring

Southside’s much-anticipated Marriott hotel has now opened, boasting no less than four resort pools and dining spaces.

Something of a game-changer for the local area, the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott is the territory’s first true ‘resort’ hotel. Surrounded by mountains and described by management as “a green, urban retreat”, it is nevertheless well-connected with the rest of Hong Kong via the Ocean Park MTR stop, which is directly connected to the hotel via a footbridge.

The three hotel ‘towers’ offer 471 guest rooms, including 130 club rooms. This is the only hotel in Hong Kong, possibly in Asia, with an entire tower designated to ‘club’ facilities.

The hotel has been built around a central, resort pool area, which boasts a fun-looking aqua playground for younger guests. The four restaurants all have al fresco dining areas overlooking the pool deck. They include the American-style grill house and cocktail bar Prohibition, Canton Bistro, the Pier Lounge and bar, and the all-day, buffet-style dining Marina Kitchen, with an adjacent fully-staffed tots play area. All four hotel restaurant outlets are open to walk-in guests.

As you would expect, the hotel is very much family-oriented – panda-themed twin-bed rooms include Ocean Park children’s gifts, junior robes and slippers and views over the park. The hotel will also be running various resort activities such as seashell art, scavenger hunts and special dining. But whether the ‘Meet the Animal’ hotel packages – including encounters with captive dolphins and sea-lions – meld or jar with the overall conservation message is something for guests to decide for themselves.

Other eco-credentials that Marriott has taken into consideration with the build are commendable. Air, water and noise pollution was monitored and controlled from the very first construction stages. The building itself uses sustainable timber, non-ozone depleting insulation materials, rainwater collection and water recycling. The hotel has a recycling and waste reduction programme, an organic rooftop farm and has implemented energy saving initiatives to reduce load and thus keep the building cooler during the summer. Vertical planting systems have also been installed. The restaurant outlets all serve Wild Wildlife Fund-certified sustainable seafood from approved suppliers.

The hotel says it is targeting the local, staycation market as well as chasing the international market. The new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge will no doubt play its role in upping tourist numbers. After a sluggish couple of the years, 41-year-old Ocean Park is certainly committed to raising its profile globally, with a $2.9 billion water park scheduled to open next year and a Fullerton hotel on track for a 2021 opening. It’s hoped that the Tai Shue Wan Water World, as it is to be known, will attract up to 1.5 million visitors in its first year of opening.

Bookings are now being taken for the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, with guests taking up occupancy from last month. All restaurants are open for walk-in guests during the soft opening period; full opening is planned to take place early in the new year. The pool area is still awaiting licensing and is due to open in Spring 2019.  marriott.com