2017 Honeymoon Awards: The Most Romantic Hotels in Asia (Islands)
We partnered up with Martha Stewart Weddings and asked our readers and followers to reveal their ultimate honeymoon destinations in nine regions around the globe. Now, with nearly 9,000 of you accounted for, we've found our winners. While Bali came out on top among the Asian islands thanks to covetable hotels, flavorful local cuisine, and slick beach clubs, the Maldives, Phuket, Philippines, and Koh Samui also held their own. Here, a roundup of our favorite romantic island retreats in each so you can check 'find hotel' off your long wedding to-do list.
Built on a steep hillside, the Viceroy Bali overlooks the Petanu River gorge at the east end of Ubud. The place looks and feels like bona fide Old World Bali: weathered thatch roofs soar above the jungle floor, women balance trays of frangipani blooms on their heads, there are life-size statues of Hindu deities everywhere, and tropical flowers cascade above rough-hewn stone walls that look as if they’ve been around a lot longer than the hotel, which opened in 2005. Minimalist indoor and outdoor spaces flow easily together in the spacious open-plan guestrooms (none smaller than 1,500 square feet) which work with elaborately carved teak furniture, canopy beds shrouded in gauzy white fabric, and bathrooms fit for a king (think: caramel-hued marble soaking tubs and glass-encased outdoor showers). Splurge for a Terrace Villa or Viceroy Villa for a private outdoor terrace with an infinity pool, a bale (a raised daybed) and a small dining table. While guestrooms tempt you to stay inside, the hotel’s amenities are impeccable. There’s a poolside bar, a restaurant and a sybaritic spa.
Alila Villas Uluwatu
Set high on the cliffs in the south of Bali, Alila Villas Uluwatu embodies the very best of contemporary-cool Bali. The architecture is minimalist and razor-sharp, with oblong buildings cantilevered over the Indian Ocean, eye-catching infinity pools, lava stone pathways and sculptural gardens. The villas are tasteful white-on-white affairs with outdoor decks, private pools and sizable bathrooms stocked with everything from lip balm to face masks and sunscreen. Throw in a next-level restaurant and spa, and a staff that feel like your BFFs, and you might never want to leave.
Set within lush gardens inspired by Balinese rice fields, Mulia Villas’ vast open-air lobby gives way to a curling stairway that leads down to an exclusive, guests-only library, lounge and restaurant. Quirky artworks decorate the walls and budding orchids dot the exquisite wood stained tables and shelves. Although the villas are part of the mammoth Mulia resort complex, this intimate retreat feels very much like a private hideaway. The 108 villas are scattered around the gardens and feature spacious yards with stepping stones leading to thatch-canopied seating areas and private, current-controlled pools. While guests can take to frosted-glass showers indoors, you can also lather up in a discreet outdoor shower, or soak in your two-person Jacuzzi. Brit-based Aromatherapy Associates amenities are provided for an indulgent, spa-like experience. Equipped with a juice bar, hydrotherapy pools, an ice room, and color-, music- and aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms, Mulia Spa is not your typical day spa. The treatment list is traditional though and offers an indulgent selection of Balinese massages.
The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah, Ubud
An estate turned boutique hideaway, this 20-room hotel has the feel of a private residence thanks to former owner and collector Hendra Hadiprana’s formidable art collection. The tranquil setting, with views of Ubud’s famous jade-green rice paddies, is a far cry from the tourist bustle of Bali’s beach towns: the daily yoga classes and spa treatments (like the signature Chedi Jade Massage or Indonesian cream bath) add to the Zen vibe. See the fabled Balinese countryside through the eyes of an insider on a walk through the rice paddies and local villages with your butler, who can facilitate authentic experiences like meeting a shaman or eating street food. Visit the nearby Goa Gajah, a UNESCO-listed 9th century temple full of elephant carvings or hit the well-regarded Agung Rai Museum of Art, or ARMA, which houses a collection of significant Balinese artists along with a selection of works from expat talents. When it’s time to eat, treat yourself to a multi-course French-Balinese fusion adventure at Mozaic, one of Indonesia’s most acclaimed restaurants, or opt for breezy people-watching at Ary’s Warung.
St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Island
A stunning new addition to the Maldives resort scene, the St. Regis Vommuli Island is everything you’d want in a far-flung island escape—except perhaps for the price tag. But you get what you pay for: take your pick between 33 on-land and 44 overwater villas, each with their own private pools and signature white-glove butler service. The property’s crown jewels are the John Jacob Astor Estate, the largest overwater villa in the Maldives at 16,000-plus square feet, and the country’s largest recreational area, which includes an anti-gravity yoga studio, a beauty salon, and an Observatory Tower where you can take in unrivaled views of the sea and sky.
Vivanta by Taj Maldives
Spread out over Hembadhu Island in the North Malé Atoll, Vivanta by Taj is a laid-back take on five-star luxury, with an eye towards showcasing the area’s natural beauty. The beds in each one of its 62 thatch-roof villas are perfectly positioned to watch the sunset, there’s a moon deck for stargazing, and guests spend time between meals wreck diving, spying coral reefs by submarine, getting an aerial view from a seaplane, night fishing, participating in the daily sting-ray feeding, or simply soaking in the moment during an Indian-inspired massage at the Jiva Spa.
Cheval Blanc Randheli
You might recognize the tasteful eye of designer Jean-Michel Gathy (the man behind the One&Only Reethi Rah and the Chedi Muscat, among others) at this second branch of prestigious French brand Cheval Blanc. Every detail in its 45 cathedral-roofed, chic beach villas has been pored over, and onsite extras include all-white rentable bicycles, a Havilland seaplane (which transfers guests to and from Malé), and rattan-ceilinged Guerlain spa, reachable by sailboat. But be warned: after an indulgent facial and massage, followed by the nine-course tasting menu at Le 1947 restaurant, you might never want to return to real life.
Baros Maldives is the type of retreat you stalk relentlessly on social media and make a vision board of in the hopes you can honeymoon there. Is it super pricey? Yes. But is it worth its salt? Also yes. The romantic boutique resort has a living house-reef, for goodness’ sake. While every form of accommodation is more than cushy, Water Pool Villas steal the show with private sunbathing decks, plunge pools, and direct lagoon access.
Phuket’s latest luxury resort is pure fantasy. A veritable Hobbit village of glammed-up clay cottages, sexy safari tents and cocooning bird’s nest villas–but the super-luxe treehouse suites are the true showstoppers. Dangling amid the palm trees like giant Christmas ornaments, each is split over two levels and has romantic bed canopies and private half-moon infinity pools.
Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary
Located on the white sand beaches of Phuket’s Bang Tao Bay, Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary is every inch the ideal tropical paradise hideaway. Inspired by Thai architecture, the lush retreat has private walled gardens and villas with a “floating bed pavilion,” a glass-walled sleeping chamber that juts out over a lotus flower– and lily pad–filled lagoon. The 14 Spa Pool Villas are completely tricked out, with indoor and outdoor showers and bathtubs, a private steam room, a private jet pool, sun loungers, and an outdoor area for with a table and chairs for alfresco dining. You won’t even have to leave your villa for a spa treatment: part of the nearly 6,000 square foot space is dedicated to a private sala, and the therapist will come to you. Like any Thai resort worth its salt, Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary also offers a plethora of activities, from daily yoga classes to golf, as well as the opportunity to kick back on the beach all day and settle into a reserved beachside sun lounger overlooking the Andaman Sea’s sparkling waters.
The Bell Pool Villa Resort Phuket
Two centuries ago a boom in tin mining lured thousands of Chinese immigrants to Phuket’s sunny shores. The Bell Pool Villas, in laid-back Kamala, taps into this rich heritage with a Sino-chic look. There’s only one public space: the reception-cum-restaurant, which is strewn with scarlet lanterns, fierce-looking Peking Opera masks and oversize bamboo sofas and chairs. It’s at its most alluring in the evening, bathed in the glow of candles, moonlight and lamps. All of the 16 villas are enclosed within high stone walls covered in jungle greenery, and they feel exceptionally private. A subtle Chinese aesthetic carries through each one, from the expansive living spaces to the bedrooms, which feature large brass bell chandeliers and red lacquer furnishings set against putty-colored walls. The bathrooms are generously proportioned, with swaths of black marble, twin sinks, big tubs and lemongrass and mandarin amenities from swish Thai perfumery Panpuri, while the outdoor spaces have huge swimming pools, wooden decks, salas, and sun loungers.
Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas
On the grounds of a former coconut plantation on the Thai island’s still-secluded northwest coast, the 83 over-the-top villas at Anantara Mai Khao Phuket are draped in bougainvillea and have pools, daybeds, rain showers and—thanks to wooden fences—an intensely private vibe. With an excellent spa, an infinity pool and a spot on quiet six-mile Mai Khao Beach, this romantic resort delivers a decadent take on classic Thai design. Villas are kitted out with pools flanked by palm trees, daybeds swathed in silk, and alfresco bathtubs. The main infinity pool overlooks the Andaman Sea, and the state-of-the-art spa has five open-air treatment rooms, two of which have soaking tubs. Try a Thai herbal compress massage, which begins with a floral foot ritual. As for dining, all four restaurants are excellent; they include the Tree House, where you can dine on tapas high above the trees, and Sea.Fire.Salt which serves fresh-caught seafood in a barbecue style, complete with a tableside salt sommelier who will properly season your dinner.
Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa
The trappings of a luxe resort combine with Filipino flourishes at Shangri-La Boracay. Public spaces, including the grand lobby and sleek restaurants, have pointed thatch roofs and are decorated with both contemporary and traditional artwork, while the outdoor areas are awash with indigenous flora. The interiors of all 219 guestrooms are done in a crisp nude walls, pale woods, and contemporary furnishings accented by colorful local fabrics, abaca weave rugs, and lamps, while private balconies and verandas are equipped with daybeds. Marble bathrooms are decorated with intricate capiz shell work (a Filipino specialty) and come with organic Panpuri products. The four on-site eateries offer a range of dining options from globally influenced buffet fare (with a massive desert selection) at Vintana, to alfresco seafood at clifftop Sirena. When it’s time to unwind, head for Chi, The Spa, which is set on a rocky peninsula overlooking a private bay, but don’t linger so long that you miss the spectacular sunset views (and cocktails) from your very own hillside cabana at the Solana lounge.
Opened in 2013, this 280-room hotel offers five-star service in the heart of Manila’s Makati City. The spacious guestrooms start at 431 square feet and feature high ceilings, marble spa bathrooms with a separate rainfall shower and tub, and views of the skyscraper-studded skyline. Splurge on a Fairmont Gold room for luxe extras including private check-in, Stearns & Foster beds, and access to the exclusive lounge for breakfast, afternoon snacks, and hors d’oeuvres. Relax in the Willow Stream Spa, a 3,937-square-foot, adults-only sanctuary with a eucalyptus steam room and a mineral pool; revitalize at the state-of-the-art fitness center; or refresh in the salon, where the services on offer are courtesy of Vicente “Teng” Roma, one of Manila’s best-known stylists. Dining options include Spectrum, an all-day buffet venue that serves international favorites, and Café Macaron for freshly baked breads and pastries. Guests can also unwind in the Writer’s Bar, a library-style watering hole; enjoy afternoon tea at the upscale Fairmont Lounge; or try out signature cocktails at the Longbar—don’t miss the Makati Luxury Sling which comes with 24K gold flakes.
Discovery Shores Boracay
Discovery Shores Boracay’s all-suite designer digs, three restaurants, and enviable island location make it a favorite among luxury travel publications. Ample glass walls, hardwood floors, minimalist furnishing, and pops of ruby and royal blue make already spacious quarters feel all the more roomy and welcoming, while the pool, fitness center, recreation room, and library provide plenty of diversions beyond the private beach. If you’re looking for pampering, the award-winning spa offers a host of restorative treatments ranging from body scrubs to deep tissue massages. Devote three hours to the Terra Journey Massage at the top-rated Terra Spa, or opt for a shorter Hilot Haplos massage for a taste of the island’s best treatment featuring virgin coconut oil and heated banana leaves. Beyond the resort, your concierge can hook up a private island excursion to neighboring coves and cays, or provide snorkeling gear, paddleboards, and other water sports amenities so you can explore the surrounding seas on your own.
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The Peninsula Manila
Set in the heart of the Makati Central Business Center, Peninsula Manila is full of five-star comfort. Rooms offer panoramic city views and are outfitted in sleek, contemporary furnishings in a nod to the modern design sensibilities of the Philippines. Four restaurants, including Old Manila and The Lobby, the hotel’s flagship venue, offer sumptuous settings for lunch or dinner, while 24-hour room service ensures you won’t go hungry between meals. Outside, the hotel fountain is a landmark in its own right, making an iconic Manila photo-op. The property’s enviable location puts the city’s best restaurant and retail venues within easy walking distance. But the Peninsula Spa is worth setting aside a full day for, thanks to its full treatment menu, luxury spa amenities by Simply Peninsula and traditional hilot healing services. Nearby, Ayala Center offers brand-name swag at a deep discount, including Bvlgari, Armani Exchange, Guess and an assortment of cosmetic outfits, like Sisley and Shiseido.
Koh Samui, Thailand
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
The Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui’s design blurs the line between outside and in, opening up villas, restaurants, and spas to views of Laem Yai Bay and the Gulf of Siam. The overall look is rustic luxe—think teak loungers, rosewood side tables and Thai silk linens, curtains, and throw pillows. At the bottom of the hill, guests lounge poolside under the shade of coconut trees, and waves lap the four-mile long powdery white sand beach. Guest villas are perched on the side of the hill and right on the beach among swaying palms. Each is furnished with southern Thai touches that blend modern teak and rosewood furnishings with silk accessories in azure, turquoise, and copper. Enormous bathrooms are equipped with his-and-her vanities, terrazzo shell-shaped tubs big enough for two, and separate glass-walled rain showers while living areas extend outdoors with furnished wooden decks and private infinity pools perfectly poised for skinny-dipping. During your stay, sign up for an elephant trek into the jungle and a dip under a tropical waterfall, but leave yourself some time for the spa where treatments rely on century-old healing techniques and holistic remedies.
Silvadee Pool Spa Resort
Located on one of the most beautiful (and private) beaches on an island known for its beautiful beaches, Silavadee Pool Spa Resort is secluded, romantic, and exclusive. It’s a mix of rustic, back-to-nature simplicity, and high-end creature comforts like a French spa and 24-hour butlers who can arrange anything from island tours to private beach barbecues. The 80 rooms and villas are spacious (starting around 500 square feet), and almost all of them have private pools with aqua-massage chairs or Jacuzzis, as well as bang-up ocean views. The island of Koh Samui, or Samui as locals and regular visitors call it, has a history that spans more than 325 years. It was discovered by backpackers several decades ago, but since the 1990s it’s become a present-day sophisticated enclave of excellent spas, dining, and nightlife.
Banyan Tree Samui
Banyan Tree hotels are synonymous with exceptional service and locally inspired design, and the Banyan Tree Samui is no exception. This hillside retreat has wide-open luxury villas and glassed-in balconies that gaze over a tropical cove. Guests often find it hard to tear themselves away from their villas to go to the crystal-clear beach, but when they do they find chauffeured golf carts there to carry them back.
Anantara Lawana Koh Samui
On a quiet edge of Chaweng, one of Koh Samui’s most famous beaches, this Anantara property is decorated in a gorgeous Asian style. The accommodations are decidedly romantic, and rooms have private balconies, outdoor patios and even individual pools in the villas, all a few steps from the warm sea and pearly white-sand beach. After a day at the spa, sipping on a sunset cocktail at the resort’s unique treehouse restaurant will feel perfectly natural.
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