Home Across Asia New Hotels in South & Southeast Asia – The Hotel Hub

New Hotels in South & Southeast Asia – The Hotel Hub

by Melissa Nicholas

One of the reasons people travel is to stay in incredible accommodation.  Whether it be luxurious private islands or humble, remote eco-lodges, everyone has their own tastes.  Hotels in South & Southeast Asia are full of variety with new options coming online all the time and properties going through re-vamps and changes.  As specialists in travel to the region we’re always on the ball and ‘The Hotel Hub’ is the place to come up for up to date information on hotels in South and Southeast Asia.

New Hotels in South & Southeast Asia for 2024

April 2024

Condé Nast Traveller have announced their 2024 Hot Lists. Naturally, we’re most excited about ‘The best new hotels in Asia’ list, and pleased as punch that two of our recent favourites have made the cut:

Cap Karoso, Sumba – Indonesia
Shinta Mani Mustang – Nepal

New Hotels in South & Southeast Asia for 2023

November 2023

Uga Riva Negombo

October 2023

National Geographic Traveller (UK) Hotel Awards 2023 include a fair few of our favorites in Asia:

Ahu Bay, Sri Lanka

Villa Palladio, Jaipur

Cap Karoso, Sumba

Buahan – Banyan Tree, Bali

Aleenta Retreat, Chiang Mai


May 2023

Tekanda Lodge, Sri Lanka

High on a hilltop on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, Tekanda Lodge sits in a prime position. This lovely homely hotel is also mere minutes from the Indian Ocean – bliss.

Tekanda Lodge

March 2023

ISHQ Colombo

This is a GORGEOUS little four-room hotel that is sold exclusively. Great location, lots of space, great service, amazing food – all pluses! When you take more than one room, the rate becomes better and better, so this is great for families.

March 2023

Resplendent Ceylon in Sri Lanka has a new arm called Reverie and has 2 new properties under this:

Kayaam House.

Kayaam House is a 10 room property in Ranna, Tangalle – one of the best beach stretches in Tangalle. They have a heavy focus on wellness but does FIT as well.

Ahu Bay

Ahu Bay is a 7-unit property (4 bay view rooms and 3 three bedroom villas) in Ahungalla on the Southwest coast. It is on a bit of a rocky point of the coast with two beaches on either side.

January 2022

New Hotels in South & Southeast Asia for 2022

2022 will see many new hotel openings across AsiaBigger, luxury ones include Anantara Ubud and Patina Ubud in Bali as well as The Standard Bangkok, The Edition Singapore, and Regent Phu Quoc in Vietnam.

But we’re particularly excited about 7 other openings, a couple of refreshed properties, and the chance to finally get to visit some that opened just before the pandemic. We’re talking about hotels that are a little bit truer to the Experience Travel Group ethos usually smaller in size, locally designed, and full of character. Typically, they’re in harmony with their surroundings with great sustainable credentials. We’ll start the list with our top new hotel openings for 2022.  

Banyan Tree, Ubud – Indonesia

Set to open in April 2022 Buahan is the first hotel to launch for the new hospitality group Banyan Tree Escape (an extension of the Banyan Tree Group). Set in the jungle North of Ubud, Buahan offers 16 private villas with spectacular views of the volcanic mountains, tropical rainforest, and tranquil paddy fields. Designed by a local Balinese architect to maximise it’s amazing surroundings, the villas have a ‘no walls, no doors’ concept allowing for the indoor-outdoor living Asia is famous for. Local Balinese culture plays a big part in the design and experience of this hotel- the villas are set out to mimic a local Balinese village. The ethos of connecting with nature and discovering local traditions runs throughout the hotel experiences. In an island that can suffer from pockets of over-tourism, we are hopeful that this tranquil local retreat will offer a lovely offthebeaten-track option. 

Cap Karaso, Sumba – Indonesia

With stunning wild landscapes, unique well-preserved culture, and ancient megaliths Sumba is the ideal island for a real adventurer. Though just a 50-minute flight from Bali very few tourists make it over to Sumba, and up until now accommodation options have been limited (the award-winning Nihi Sumba paved the way in 2015). We were excited when we heard that Cap Karoso was opening.  

The hotel has a mix of modern design and traditional Indonesian architecture. The thatched roofs of the villas pay homage to the local villages that surround it, but when you step inside the interiors are contemporary and chic. The resort itself has a wide selection of amenities including a kids club, open-air cinema, yoga pavilion and its very own farm that will provide the hotel with all its eggs, dairy, fruit, and vegetables. Throughout the year international chefs, DJs and artist will do short residencies providing visitors with unique one-off experiences. The property will have 47 rooms and 20 villas in total and is due to open towards the end of 2022. 

Explorar Pawapi, Koh Mook – Thailand

If you know where to look, you can still find some wonderful hidden island retreats in Thailand. The bungalows at Explorer Pawapi look relatively simple in style but the resort is under the management of Pavilion Hotels & Resorts, who have an excellent track record for unique hotels that have a true sense of place. This resort is on an idyllic beach on Koh Mook – a small off-the-beaten-track island just south of Koh Lanta on Thailand’s west coast. 

Given the Pavilion connection and the island-paradise location – we have high hopes that this will be an excellent option for anyone wanting to live the Thai dream. 

Alila Dalit Bay, Sabah – Borneo 

Finally, a luxury beach option to really get excited about in Borneo.  The exclusive Ocean Wing at the Shangri La Rasa Ria has always been a good option as has Gaya Island Resort for its fantastic value for money given the stunning island location. But we think Alila Dalit Bay could become the pick of the bunch. 

Due to open in February, this is a bigger property (152 rooms and 74 private villas) located in between Kota Kinabalu and Shangri La Rasa Ria. The location is the ideal mix of being away from it all but close enough to head into Kota Kinabalu in the evening to explore the Filipino market or the increasing array of restaurants. 

Jumeirah, Muscat Bay – Oman 

Scheduled to open on March 1st 2022, this newly built resort will feature 206 spacious rooms spread around this secluded cove of Bandar Jissah. Set to be a serene retreat between the dramatic Al Hajar mountains and Arabian sea, it feels close enough to Muscat centre to explore, but far enough away to feel removed from the hustle and bustle. They’ll be plenty of experiences to be had from exploring the incredible hiking routes to local diving sites and a water sports centre. The styling will be light, contemporary with sea views from every room and villa. They’ll be lots of room types to cater for the different markets from large junior suites to one-bedroom family suites for 2 adults and 2 children. Families will be well catered for with a kid’s club. There was significant excavation to build the resort, but there are plans for a lot of greenery to make it more lush and inviting but expect this to take at least 6 months to bed in.

Tilar Saro, Andaman Islands – India

Opened at the end of December 2021, Tilar Saro is CGH earths newest (and incredibly exciting) venture.  Moving away from the mainland they have developed a 25 stilted room property (including 16 villas) which is camouflaged by vegetation. On Vijaynagar beach, where there are cafes and local restaurants, the property adds to the competition on Havelock Island.  

The Andaman Islands are a wonderful location but decent accommodation is few and far between. Barefoot at Havelock is the go-to rustic option, there is the brash, relatively new Taj Exotica and the exclusive inland Jalakara Villa.  Given CGH Earths’ performance and sustainable approaches in South India, we fully expect Tilar Saro to be a front runner here.  

Refreshed properties in Sri Lanka for 2022 

Whilst, not new properties, there has been a lot of change in Sri Lanka over the last 18 months or so.  KK Collection have taken ownership of Leopard Safaris, right on the edge of Yala National ParkJames visited on his trip to Sri Lanka in October and fell in love with the re-vamp.  It now has less of an African camp feel and is much more Sri Lankan in style.  Fixtures and fittings have been upgraded and a new Sri Lanka naturalist who has come back from South Africa has imbibed the property with more expertise.  Another KK Collection addition is Villa Bentota.  A few of the rooms need improving but the Geoffrey Bawa-designed property oozes character and Sri Lankan tradition with stunning grounds (and the railway line running through it just adds to the character!). 

Another Bawa-designed property we’re excited about is Lunuganga.  And when we say Bawa property we mean his own countryside getaway. Teardrop hotels now manage the property and they have a great track record, so we expect the service to improve immediately with special touches here and there to add to the unique stay…you wouldn’t want to change much in this characterful gem though.  A pool wouldn’t go a miss and that is exactly what Teardrop is adding.  Bawa would approve too…it is over the crest of the hill from the entrance to the main house…so you can’t see it.  Bawa raised the level of the hill on purpose so you couldn’t see the water body beyond.  

Not new for 2022, but ones to watch 

A couple of options in India to start off with.  First the Bori Safari Lodge, the latest addition from the Reni Pani group who are the experts in Satpura National Park and its surroundings.  Located close to the gate of Bori Wildlife sanctuary which has seen a rapid increase in tiger sightings in recent years, the 8-room property comes with private viewing decks, a spa, and a small pool. Luxury in the lap of nature. 

Our second property in India to look out for is the little-known Denmark Tavern on the Hooghly River in Serampore, West Bengal. The region is full of colonial influences – British, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Armenian and you guessed it, Danish. The property went through a painstaking five-year renovation between 2013 and 2018 to turn it from rubble to a well-known restaurant with guests now increasingly spending time there on tours of West Bengal. It is the perfect addition to our Plains of Bengal tour.     

The Alila Hinu Bay opened last year in Mirbat in Southern Oman. The Salalah region is a true hidden gem in the Middle East and one of our favourite secrets to share with clients. Like a microcosm of the rest of Oman this small state offers visitors UNESCO ruins, impressive mountains, wadis, and some of the best beaches in the country. With 5* accommodation previously limited to the Anantara Al Baleed, this is a great new addition for anyone wanting to explore Salalah.  

Another hotel on our radar is Le Relais De Chhlong near Kratie in Cambodia, one of our team made it there just before the pandemic but we never got the chance to arrange any trips including this unusual, colonial relic with just 10 rooms. This is a fantastic base for adventures on the Mekong River and a stopping point en route to the Elephant Valley project in the wild and grassy forests of Mondulkiri – a terrific addition for anyone wanting to experience Cambodia in depth.  

Joali Being opened in the Maldives just at the end of 2021, the magnificent sister resort to Joali, one of the most popular luxury resorts to grace the archipelago in the last few years. Joali Being is the first dedicated wellbeing retreat of its kind, focusing on ‘four pillars’ of mind, skin, microbiome and energy. Luxury is not compromised throughout, and you’ll find this one of the most progressive resorts anywhere in the world with a dedicated wellbeing space including facilities such as a Himalayan salt room, Russian Banya, the exhilaration of our Aufguss Sauna or the blissful tranquillity of the Sensory Deprivation Room. 

As part of the rejuvenation ethos, there is no WI-FI at all outside of your villa which is a bold move for such a luxurious resort with a high price tag. We will be interested to see if this sticks – less selfies by the pool and the beauty of being ‘present’ during meals.  

July 2021

New Hotels in South & Southeast Asia for 2021 & 2022

Although some hotel projects were put on hold during the pandemic, the shutdown allowed others to kick into gear and there are a surprising amount of new properties in South and Southeast Asia for 2021 and 2022.  

We thought we would share a few of the ones that got our travel desires tingling the most! 

The Johri, Jaipur – India  

Located within the walled city down a winding lane in Johari BazaarThe Johri is part of a lovingly restored, 19th-century merchant’s haveli.  It is a haven for Rajasthani design with arts, crafts and building materials sourced within the princely state. It is a small intimate property with just five (large) suites.  

A small boutique property reflecting local design, in a central location…right up ETG’s street. 

Capella, Hanoi – Vietnam 

For a capital city, there are surprisingly few upmarket hotels in Hanoi, so the arrival of roaring 1920’s themed Capella in mid 2021 has to be an exciting addition. Designer Bill Bensley is well-known for the architecture and interior design of some of Southeast Asia’s finest and more unusual hotels (such as Shinta Mani Wild in Cambodia and The Siam in Bangkok).  Don’t be put off by the flamboyant theme, even if it’s not your go-to style. Bensley hotels always ooze quality, from the food to the staff to the accommodation, and this 47-room addition in Hanoi’s Old Quarter is unlikely to be an exception. 

The Raffles, Udaipur – India

The first Raffles property in India is due to open soon and they’ve gone all-out with the location.  The property is set in the middle of Udai Sagar Lake – the private pool suites face onto the water – and it is just a 45-minute drive from the heart of Udaipur.  We think this makes for a perfect balance: absolute luxury, plus the chance to explore the magic of rural Rajasthan and the Aravalli Mountains, and the most romantic city in India on your doorstep. 

Azerai Ke Ga Bay – Vietnam  

We visited this hotel near Mui Ne in southern Vietnam a few years ago in its previous incarnation. Although it was a pleasant property in a lovely location on a sweeping bay, it was a little austere and didn’t quite cut the mustard for our portfolio. The hotel has now been taken on and overhauled by Azerai. Their recipe for good hotels is a sense of place, lashings of natural beauty and local craftmanship combined with great service, so we’re confident this 46-suite resort will now live up to the promise of the location. A wonderful way to end a holiday in Vietnam with a few days in a peaceful, quality beach resort.

Six Senses Fort Barwara, Rural Rajasthan – India 

Another first, the Six Senses Fort Barwara will be Six Senses first foray in India.  And what a place to start.  Think, 700-year-old fort owned by the Rajasthani Royal Family, out-of-the-way local temples, private tiger safaris in one of the best parks in India to see tigers and the luxury and spa facilities that the Six Senses brand is so well known for. 

You can understand why ETG is so excited about Six Senses Fort Barwara.    

Amber Kampot, Cambodia 

Cambodia has always missed a hotel that offers a tranquil setting, an element of luxury and restaurants and local eateries on its doorstep.   But now, here’s your answer – Amber Kampot.   

It might not be quite up to the levels of some of Cambodia’s incredible luxury hotels but it still fits the 5-star bill with some fantastic pool villas.   Plus you’re in Kampot, a town unfairly missed by many and especially by those who don’t treat Cambodia as a destination in itself

Zannier Bai San Ho, Vietnam 

Given its long coastline, there are surprisingly few top quality, luxury beach resorts in Vietnam so it’s great that we have two on this list. Bai Son Ho is set on a peninsular between Nha Trang and Hoi An on Vietnam’s central coast. The 71 pool villas and the resort, in general, have lovely interiors dotted with Vietnamese artefacts and silks. Surrounded by paddy fields, verdant hilltops and a long white sand beach, this is set to be another great option for wellness and relaxation during a trip to Vietnam.  

The Barracks Sentosa, Singapore 

A characterful, heritage property has made its way to Sentosa.  Built-in 1904 and used as a British outpost during World War IIthe former military barracks blends old world charm with contemporary amenities to create an understated luxury.   

Sentosa is populated with several large 5-star chain hotels –  we’re delighted that The Barracks Sentosa is bucking this trend. 

January 2020

New Hotels in South & Southeast Asia for 2020

At ETG, we look for hotels with character. Rather than impersonal, “could-be-anywhere” resorts, we look for hotels that enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the destination. And all of these certainly hit the mark. From brand new openings to our travel specialist’s latest discoveries, these exciting hotels are bound to whet your wanderlust. If one (or all!) of them takes your fancy, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Haritha Villas – South Coast, Sri Lanka

Haritha Villas is a new slice of paradise on Sri Lanka’s south coast. It only opened at the end of 2019 but has already received rave reviews from our travellers, including Telegraph journalist Pearl Lowe, who visited Sri Lanka on an ETG-organised trip in January 2020. What sets it apart is its remarkable location, immersed in paddy fields and jungle, yet only a short drive from vibrant Galle. The three-tiered infinity isn’t bad, either.

Nirjhara – North Bali, Indonesia

A new find for ETG, Nirjhara strikes us as the perfect base for ETG travellers in Bali: a beautifully finished boutique hotel that brims with charm. Nestled in lush jungle and in close proximity to Tanah Lot, Bali’s most iconic temple, its location is perfect for those who want to explore the bustle of this popular Balinese neighbourhood while retreating to an idyllic escape by night.

Taj Fateh Prakash Palace – Udaipur, India

The iconic luxury Indian hotel group Taj opened 2020 with a brand new hotel in beautiful Udaipur. The Taj Fateh Prakash Palace sits on the eastern banks of Lake Pichola, with stunning views of the lake and the mighty Aravalli mountain range. Constructed in the 19th century by Maharana Fateh Singh as a venue for royal events, the building is brimming with history and could make a fantastic addition to a northern India holiday.

Six Senses –  Bumthang, Bhutan

In 2019, Six Senses opened four beautiful lodges across Bhutan: Gangtey, Paro, Thimphu and Punakha. In March 2020, the final property in the Six Senses Bhutan circuit will open in Bumthang. ETG has been lucky enough to visit all five of these lodges and can assure you that they will impress even the most experienced hotel connoisseur.  You can read our ultimate guide to hotels in Bhutan for more information about luxury accommodations and others in the land of Gross National Happiness.

Legian Sire – Lombok, Indonesia

The Legian Sire is set to open in May 2020 on one of Lombok’s prettiest stretches of beach. Set in the north of the island, the new property will have staggering views towards the Gili islands and Lombok’s mighty Mount Rinjani. It also promises to bring the beautiful design and impeccable service of its sister property on the neighbouring island of Bali, the Legian Seminyak.

One&Only Desaru Coast – East coast of Malaysia

One&Only specialise in the utmost luxury resorts, and this new property in Malaysia’s Desaru Coast is to be no exception. Due to open its doors in late March 2020, the One&Only Desaru Coast will be a collection of villas on Malaysia’s exquisite southeast coast. With a focus on wellness and delicious Malaysian cuisine, this looks set to be an incredible luxury beach option and provides a completely new option on the east coast of the country with great access to Singapore.

December 2018

New hotel openings in Asia for 2019

Another year, another batch of brilliant new hotels. Here’s our pick of the most exciting boutique and luxury hotels opening this year in Asia, to give you something to look forward to…

NOTE: The extra hotel-savvy among you may sense a little déjà vu with a few of these properties. Your mind is not playing tricks on you: several were due to open in the past year, but for one reason or another their completion has been pushed back. Kind of like Brexit. Except we suspect that, once finalised, the hotels will be met with much more unanimous approval…

Wa Ale Island Resort, Myanmar

We’ve been excited about this property for quite some time. In October 2018 the Wa Ale Island Resort became the first luxury property to open in the 800 islands of the beautiful Mergui Archipelago. This sustainably built resort is comprised of 3 treetop villas and 11 luxury tent-style beach villas. It’s situated in a private cove in a marine park, in rugged beach landscapes – think luxury meets Jurassic Park, as my colleague put it after he visited. Though technically part of Myanmar, it can be most easily reached from Southern Thailand, so could work well with a visit to either country.  If you’re looking for a luxury finish to your Myanmar holiday, this is the place.

Wa Ale Island Resort

Six Senses, Bhutan

In the evocative Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, Six Senses will be opening five boutique lodges in key spots across the country: Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang and Paro. Two members of the ETG team recently visited Bhutan and can say that these intimate lodges are set to be absolutely beautiful: with luxury meeting traditional Bhutanese style, exceptional mountain views and excellent facilities.  For more information, you can read this blog from our Product Direct Melissa on what to expect from hotels in Bhutan.  Bhutan isn’t all luxury hotels…

Bhutan Six Senses Luxury Hotel

Anantara Quy Nhon Villas, Vietnam

A new branch of the luxury Anantara hotel group is set to open in south-central Vietnam this January. Anantara Quy Nhon is found in a secluded bay with wide beaches and emerald waters. Each villa will be fitted with a private pool, butler service and unique spa offerings including coconut milk baths. It’s made up of 26 one- and two-bedroom ocean-facing villas designed to blend with the natural environments.

Anantara Quy Nhon

Legacy Yen Tu, Vietnam

An exciting and characteristically ambitious new project from architect Bill Bensley that will put a 13th-century pilgrimage site on the global tourism map. Yen Tu mountain is found in Northern Vietnam and is considered the cradle of Trúc Lâm Zen Buddhism – around one million pilgrims visit the sacred site every year. The new hotel will combine modern, world-class facilities with design redolent of the heritage and traditions of the historical site. The property is set to open this January, and bound to be an exciting development on the scene.

Legacy Yen Tu Vietnam Mountain Luxury Hotel

Rosewood Bangkok, Thailand

A new development of the luxury Rosewood hotel group will be opening in Bangkok’s business district in 2019. The dynamic design has already got people talking: a 33-storey building slopes down from the top to a jutting point, something like a ‘play’ button on a remote control. It offers 159 spacious guestrooms, three restaurants and bars, a spa, fitness centre and swimming pool. Definitely one to capture the interest of those keen on architecture, modern design and incredibly high-end luxury. A stay here could be worked into any of our Thailand holidays.

Rosewood Bangkok

Bawah Reserve, Riau Islands

We recently visited the extraordinary Bawah Island Resort in the Riau Islands, which opened at the beginning of 2018. Accessed only from Singapore, it is made up of a group of five tropical rainforest islands wrapped by coral reefs. Bawah has a strong environmental ethos: each of the 35 suites are created from eco-friendly materials that were harvested in the least intrusive way. The luxurious beach, gardens and overwater bungalows feel exclusive yet in harmony with the natural surroundings. Perfect for couples and families alike.

Raffles, Singapore

Though by no means a new opening, the iconic Raffles hotel Singapore is in the process of a major refurbishment with a re-opening planned for mid-2019. Originally opened in 1887, the hotel plans to maintain certain traditional features and charm – including the famous Singapore Sling experience in the Long Bar and afternoon tea in the lobby – yet bring a modern edge. In particular, the restaurants are due for a big overhaul: three-Michelin starred chef Anne Sophie Pic will head up La Dame de Pic, which serves innovative French cuisine, and Alain Ducasse will lead a new Mediterranean restaurant.

Raffles Hotel Singapore

ETG’s top 3 new hotels in South & Southeast Asia for 2018

The most exciting new hotel opening in Asia for 2018 is…

Shinta Mani Wild, from the legendary hotel designer Bill Bensley, opening up (with the aim to preserve) a great area of wilderness in South East Asia, the parks of Cardamom, Bokor and Kiriom. It’ll probably be at the ‘once in a lifetime’ scale of affordability – we predict rates from around $700-1000 per person per night all-inclusive. We can’t see it being much less with the planned high-end luxury, pioneering new location and commitment to conservation.  It is definitely one to watch and put on the list of best luxury hotels in Southeast Asia.  Calling it a hotel might be doing it a disservice though!

New Hotels in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka continues to boom with excellent new hotels opening all the time. Really exciting openings in the past 6 months, or slated for 2018 are Wild Coast, a luxury eco-lodge near Yala, Wattura, an unusual and high-end wellness retreat, Notary’s House, a beautiful traditional little boutique hotel for decompression on arrival and Ishq– a luxury tropical villa on Sri Lanka’s south coast.

Exterior of Notary's House with path leading up to building

Southern Cambodia and Koh Rong Archipelago opening up as a luxury beach Destination

The south of Cambodia is really opening up for beach holidays now with the development of the Koh Rong Archipelago. Joining the legendary Song Saa is the just-opened Royal Sands Hotel and the coming-some-time Alila Koh Russey and Six Senses Cambodia – an upscale resort on tiny Krabey Island.  Not only that, but it’s now possible to fly direct from KL to Sihanoukville and from 2018 there are rumours of direct flights from Bangkok.  In general, we’re predicting that Cambodia will now become a luxury travel destination in its own right…not just the beaches.

January 2017

New Hotels & Travel Themes for 2017

MD & Founder, Sam Clark, provides his round-up of the most exciting new luxury accommodation in South and Southeast Asia. 

This is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive list. I’m focusing almost exclusively on high-end hotel openings: those glamorous or exciting enough to get some ETG attention. We have high standards and ration our pre-excitement – does the proposed new hotel fill a niche? Does it have a pedigree behind it? Is it going to bring a new perspective on the location or country for our discerning travellers?


New Openings in Sri Lanka – where ETG were started way back in 2004.

We’ll start, as usual, in Sri Lanka, where recent years have seen a spate of new openings island-wide. With Chena Huts, Tri and Fort Bazaar, the south of Sri Lanka saw several high-profile openings in 2016. We can expect more of the same in 2017. The hospitality arm of Dilmah team, Resplendent Ceylon, are opening Wild Coast Tented Lodge near Yala in late 2017, which should be very exciting – a luxury accommodation option that could be Sri Lanka’s answer to the luxury wildlife lodges of Africa. They are also opening Sigiriya Resort in 2018, while Red Rocks Beach Camp, on the white sands of Kuchalveli, a pristine beach 20-minutes’ drive north of Trincomalee, will follow at some point too.

Both these hotels look exciting and we hope that Resplendent Ceylon can hit the high notes they reached with Tea Trails, Sri Lanka’s first truly high-end hotel experience and still, in our experience, top of the tree. If they do it will open a whole new area for luxury tourism in Sri Lanka, a country where tourists have traditionally been concentrated in only a third of the country.  

Another region where supply has not kept up with demand is in the hills themselves. The aforementioned Tea Trails is very often fully booked and, in any case, right at the very top end of the budget range. Coming in to fill the void are three new tea plantation bungalows opening in late 2017: GoatfellPekoe House and Nine Skies, all from Teardrop Hotels (The Wallawe and The Fort Bazaar). After the success of Fort Bazaar this year, we expect great things from these intriguingly named small hotels.

Also worth mentioning is a brand new opening called Ahas Pokuna, which looks incredible. It’s a real labour of love from Anuruddha Bandara, the founder of Eco Team, a high-end safari operator. He has converted part of his family’s land into a private nature reserve and a super high-end safari-style lodge with the aim of bringing walking safaris to Sri Lanka. At ETG we’re all in favour of a more natural, get out and explore an approach to wildlife tourism – where necessary and when it doesn’t interfere with the local wildlife. We think it brings a more nuanced understanding of the natural world and, just as importantly, can be much more fun. It’s a new direction for Sri Lanka.


A different side to the Maldives

In The Maldives, we think it’s all about taking a few days to explore one of the ‘proper’ islands, by which we mean those islands where people actually live and not those that can be easily reached from neighbouring resorts. Discerning travellers are loving the chance to stay in these utterly remote and other-worldly little places at one or other of the great little guesthouses and mini-hotels that have sprung up. There’s nothing wrong with combining that with some Robinson Crusoe magic at one of the superstar luxury resorts too and, as ever, The Maldives works brilliantly combined with neighbouring Sri Lanka: see our suggested holiday; you’ll experience The Maldives in a way that we can promise will be entirely different to almost all other visitors to this incredible country.


New Hotels in Southeast Asia

Over in Thailand there are, as ever, plenty of new hotels and re-workings of older places. Among the new places definitely opening, Cape Kudu caught my eye. Koh Yao Noi is my personal favourite of the Thai islands, with just enough going on to give you options for popping out for a bite or a sunset beer, but much quieter and more peaceful than any of the other larger islands, especially in peak season. This new resort is part of the ‘Cape Collection’, most well-known of which is Cape Panwa on Phuket. Other than this, I’m struggling to see the value in many of the new hotels in Thailand.

There is also a decent amount of activity in Vietnam. With plenty of the country as yet totally undeveloped for tourism, there’s so much scope for a well-planned expansion to their tourism offering. Unfortunately, most of the new hotel openings look fairly boring: new Sheratons and so on and so forth. Phou Quoc Island is being developed at a ferocious pace, though some of the hotels look promising: a JW Marriot, for example. I think, however, that the time to visit Phou Quoc is now: it is still a lovely island with fantastic low-key hotels. For how much longer though, I just don’t know.

One place I am excited about in Vietnam, however, is the Lak Tented Camp. Vietnam is really lacking in terms of ‘eco’ style places – or at least places that are heavily inspired and influenced by their natural surroundings. It is also close to Saigon, which makes it easily accessible for most visitors.

Lak Tented camp

Apparently, Four Seasons have also begun work on a new hotel in Hanoi, which should be interesting, especially after they took over management at the incomparable Nam Hai in 2016. No news yet though, on any likely opening date.

We are seeing a sharp upturn in demand for Indonesia beyond Java and Bali to some of the smaller (or at least less well known) outlying islands, and we expect to see this trend continue. There are some excellent new hotels opening on Lombok later this year too, such as the Legian Lombok, to add to Indonesia’s extraordinary accomplishment in the field of boutique and luxury hotels.

India is full of luxury hotels

Back west to India and we are quite excited about the east of India – Calcutta, Darjeeling and Sikkim – this year. Exploring the heart of Buddhism, post-colonial Calcutta and the wildlife in the Sundarbans,  is certainly high on my list for the coming year.

The owners of Glenburn Tea Estate (a really fabulous place near Darjeeling) are opening a hotel in Calcutta, overlooking the Victoria Memorial, called The Penthouse. With that kind of pedigree and location, I suspect that it is going to be spectacular and offer a whole new high-end element for the city that does not currently exist – it also jumps straight into our list of the best hotel views in Asia. Along with Glenburn near Darjeeling, it will also dovetail well with the fabulous Rajbari Bawali, which opened only last year and is two hour’s drive from Calcutta itself.

Along with some really fantastic walking tours and options for exploring the unique Bengali historical/cultural/culinary heritage, the east of India and Calcutta is coming of age, I think. It really opens up Calcutta and Darjeeling as a high-end combination option. We are developing a luxury tour to launch along these lines later this year: let us know if it’s an interesting idea to you. As a side note, I’ve used the name Calcutta here, rather than the correct Kolkata: there is an excellent little blog on the subject here!

In general, across India, the trend towards converting forts into hotels (both luxury and otherwise) continues inexorably. India has an almost inexhaustible supply of mind-boggling forts and palaces and there are few better modern uses for them than as evocative and atmospheric hotels. Firm dates are hard to come by in India – we generally announce new hotels once they have opened and we’ve seen them – but watch this space.

Houseboat in backwaters in India

In the south, the excellent hotel group CGH Earth, are opening Wayanad Wild in the rainforest in the Wayanad region of northern Kerala. This is interesting as it opens up the north for an off-the-beaten-track but luxury holiday experience, although it might be targeted at domestic tourists from Bangalore. The north of Kerala is really where it is at – culturally fascinating, remote, beautiful, wilder than the south and you still have the chance to see Cochin, the backwaters and beyond on route if you so wish.

We think South India will come back in a big way this year and we are predicting a trend towards visiting Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other less well-known Indian states alongside Kerala, as well as more itineraries that include the less well-visited area of northern Kerala. We are promoting Tamil Nadu and beyond pretty heavily for 2017–18 as we think there is so much to see, and it is fantastic value, too.

November 2016

Perfect hotels for a Summer Holiday in 2017

If you wanted to include an extra special, unique element to your next summer holiday, why not consider staying in a new hotel? Here, we’re rounding up the best set to open in time. Do note that construction schedules can sometimes change and rates for rooms may not be listed yet – but this article is a good place to start for inspiration. 

Six Senses, Krabey (Cambodia) – to open 2017

Comprising of 40 pool villas set on a carefully landscaped 30-acre island, Six Senses Krabey on an island off Cambodia’s south coast is hotly anticipated. To reach the island is easy, fly to Sihanoukville and take a 10-minute transfer by car to the main jetty where you can check-in. From there, it’s just a short boat ride to the island itself. The luxury pool villas will all feature plunge pools, outdoor decking for private sunbathing and beautifully designed bedrooms with canopied netting and bathtubs.

Six Senses Krabey Island3_hires

Goatfell, Nuwara Eliya (Sri Lanka) – opening April/May 2017

Located on a working tea estate, just 25 minutes from Nuwara Eliya, in the heart of Sri Lanka’s magnificent hill country, Goatfell, one of Teardrop Hotels’ newest hotels, consists of 4 ensuite bedrooms in the main house, 2 luxurious stand-alone chalets, living and dining rooms and a swimming pool. With a focus on outstanding cuisine and efficient yet unobtrusive service, guests will immediately feel at home whilst being able to enjoy the fresh air and stunning views from the bungalow’s beautifully manicured gardens.

tea country1

Alila Fort Bishangarh, Jaipur (India) – opening 2017

A lovingly restored luxury resort, Alila Fort is above Bishnagarh village and is only a 45-minute drive from the Amber Fort as well as other major sights. The views from the 59 rooms are stunning and the interiors are spacious and comfortable. The open-air terrace is the perfect place for a sun-downer and with a spa to boot, it is a highly anticipated new opening.

This could be a great way to experience Jaipur differently. Or you could finish your Rajasthan trip in a luxury environment as it is only a few hours from Delhi airport for a direct flight back to the UK.


The Planter’s House, Koslanda (Sri Lanka) – recently opened

A beautiful colonial property in the original Lipton Estate, The Planter’s House is an incredibly relaxing and authentic place to stay when visiting Sri Lanka’s hill country. With the infinity pool, croquet lawn, badminton equipment, spa treatments and stunning walks through the plantations nearby, there are plenty of activities to do in the surrounding area.

Newly opened summer 2016, it’s still a hidden gem, so definitely book this beautiful property for next year sooner rather than later – before the secret gets out!

President by Akaryn, Vientiane (Laos) – to open 2017

A beautiful new hotel in Vientiane, reminiscent of colonial architecture yet contemporary in amenities and service, it’s the luxury address for visits to the Laotian capital.  An onsite spa means you can indulge in some truly relaxing experiences away from the more busy centres of the city. The hotel is situated next to Parliament House where the Laos National assembly convenes and opposite the vast Chou Anouvong Park.

Nine Skies, Demodera (Sri Lanka) – opening April/May 2017

Just a few minutes along the tea lined estate roads from Demodera Railway Station, stands Nine Skies, a majestic former tea planter’s bungalow turned 6-bedroom luxury hotel. Set within several acres of private gardens are the hotel’s croquet lawn, swimming pool and sun deck, with wonderful views across the valley to the working tea factory and famous Demodera loop. The bungalow’s name is thanks to the nine arch viaduct, through which it is possible to see ‘nine skies’ when looking up through the arches.

Soneva Jani, Maldives – opening late 2016

In the crystal clear waters of Doonu Lagoon lies Soneva Jani. A string of luxury over-water villas emerge out of crystal clear waters whilst island residencies emerge from coconut tree-fringed, white-sand beaches. It’s an exclusive and sustainable experience for those wanting an extra special Maldives stay and works its way straight into our favourite overwaters hotels in Asia.

January 2016

2016 Hotel Recommendations – New Hotels in South & Southeast Asia

For the new year, we asked our team to nominate their favourite hotels and explain why. From sumptuous luxury to humble and luxury, here’s our selection. 

Castle Bijaipur in Rural Rajasthan – Quirky and idiosyncratic

“Quirky and idiosyncratic, just the way I like hotels – we finished our stay being serenaded at breakfast by the waiter we had made friends with over the past few days. Meeting the proud aristocratic family who has owned the land for several hundred years was a real experience. If it felt like staying in a remote and dusty castle, that’s because that’s exactly what it is! ”

Sam Clark, Co-Founder & Managing Director.

Buri Rasa Koh Phangan – Perfect for families 

‘This is just ideal for families, I’m going there in April on my way back from Australia for some much needed R&R.”

Melissa, Product Director.

Blue Mansion, Penang – Period Architecture

“I’m a period building enthusiast, so when I pulled up to the Blue Mansion Penang I was in my element. I stayed in the old kitchen room, which was huge, and I had my own private jacuzzi. Everyone was jealous. I felt guilty, but not for very long.”

Philly, Content Editor

Reni Pani in Satpura National Park – more than tigers.

Its staff and owners are genuinely lovely people, the experiences in the national park are top-notch and varied – walking, boat trips, jeep and camping safari! The hotel is the perfect balance of comfort, style and in keeping with its surrounding, using local craftsmanship and materials.

Matt, Travel Specialist

The Savoy in Yangon – Charming and atmospheric

“Charming small hotel with a lovely pool and atmospheric bar ideal for a pre-dinner drink or two.”

David, Travel Specialist

Jeeva Beloam on the east coast of Lombok – A Digital Detox

“No signal, electricity only 2 hours a day, the most incredible beach I have ever seen- I defy anyone not to be relaxed here!”

Becky, Travel Specialist

Makunudu in The Maldives – Rustic & Charming

“It’s an ETG favourite, but it’s had a facelift and raring to go for 2016. It only has 36 beachfront rooms and has kept it’s Robinson Crusoe feel. With such low-density rooms, not super flashy like many Maldives resorts. It’s the actual dream.”

Matt, Travel Specialist

Kelburne Estate Cottages in the hill country – Amazing views

“It has got the best setting imaginable and is a great place to spend time with a family/small group. The food is fantastic and the staff are incredibly friendly and make the place full of character. Perfect for a relaxing few days reading a book or for walking in the surrounding hills. Also, the place that clients are always pleasantly surprised with!”

Nick, Travel Specialist

Surya Shanti in rural Bali – Bali away from the crowds

“Amazing value property set in rural Bali. Perfect for getting away from the crowded south and for exploring rural/traditional farmlands. This is authentic Bali!”

Becky, Travel Specialist

January 2015

Luxury Hotel openings in Southeast Asia for 2015

In our annual round-up of new totels in South & Southeast Asia, we’re focussing on some big-name brands and their boutique, sustainable ventures.

1. Keemala – Phuket, Thailand

Set amidst woodland streams, trees and waterfalls are these unique villas, tents, tree houses and clay cottages. They are designed to represent mythical early Phuket settlers.

Treehouses at Keemala Phuket. A stream runs down between the treehouses with trees either side.

2. Alila Seminyak – Bali, Indonesia

The architecture of this resort is designed to resemble a rice paddy field, with lots of green spaces. It’s also very sleek and modern, in one of the most fashionable parts of Bali.

3. Anantara Tangalle – Sri Lanka

An exciting new opening on the south coast of Sri Lanka, this Anantara will have superb pool villas set over 18 hectares of coconut palm groves.

4. Phum Baitang – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Lovely villas set across acres of lush gardens and paddy fields, this hotel is close to the Temples of Angkor but is still a haven of tranquillity. The villas all reflect traditional Khmer design and we’re predicting this could be one of the best luxury hotels in Southeast Asia due to its combination of traditional design, beautiful surroundings and proximity to a variety of restaurants and the incredible temples of Angkor.

5. Mandapa Ubud – Bali, Indonesia

In a beautiful natural setting on the Ayung River, the suites and villas here a very luxurious and there are plenty of nods to traditional Balinese design and architecture.

6. Raffles Jakarta – Java, Indonesia 

Outdoor swimming pool, expansive spa, a large variety of dining options, luxurious rooms and slick service – everything you’d expect of a Raffles hotel in the heart of Jakarta’s Central Business District.

7. Ani Villas – Dikwella, Sri Lanka

From the architects behind the Nam Hai and Six Senses Con Dao in Vietnam, this breathtaking beachfront property has an intimate feel with only 15 guest rooms as well as incredible facilities for leisure, dining and families.

8. Chedi Club Jimbaran – Bali, Indonesia

GHM’s latest offering is due to open this year is nestled amidst rolling hills only a short distance from gorgeous beaches and the warm Indian Ocean. The pool villas are absolutely stunning and include butler service as standard.


If you would like to discuss any of the mentioned hotels with an expert, do get in touch on 020 7924 7133 or drop us an email here. We have various example itineraries for privately guided tailor-made trips that can provide you with holiday inspiration. 

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