Bucket-list travel

Worth The Hassle: Stay At These 10 New Hotels In 2022

A refurbished train suspended on tracks overlooking South Africa’s Sabie River is among the list of dream destinations to visit.

Worth The Hassle: Stay At These 10 New Hotels In 2022
Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan.

01 | Six Senses Össurá Valley, Iceland

You couldn’t get further from hot, humid Singapore than a trip to Iceland, especially to its breathtaking southern coast which featured as the backdrop for Batman Begins, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, James Bond and Game of Thrones. Spread over 1,619 hectares of flatland, Six Senses Össurá Valley comprises a 70-guestroom resort and private cottages built using renewable and locally-sourced materials. Explore glacier tongues, craggy volcanoes, ice-filled lagoons, geothermal lakes, rugged highlands and black sand beaches; try your hand at dog sledding, horseback riding, ice and rock climbing and bird watching, or head out on a boat trip.

The resort’s spa, library, cinema room, yoga studio, Earth Lab showcasing the project’s sustainability efforts and farm-to-table cooking school provide options galore for those who prefer staying in, while Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, a popular site to catch the Northern Lights, is an hour’s drive away. The resort is slated to open in 2022; check Six Senses’ website for updates.

02 | Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel, USA

Scheduled to blast off on 1st March 2022, Walt Disney World’s 100-cabin Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel in Orlando, Florida, is the perfect out-of-this-world family vacay to shake off those “stuck in one place for too long” blues, with its two-night adventures that’ll transport you to a galaxy far, far away.

According to its website, “You and your group will embark on a first-of-its-kind Star Wars adventure that’s your own. It’s the most immersive Star Wars story ever created — one where you live a bespoke experience and journey further into a Star Wars adventure than you ever dreamed possible.”

“Arrive at the Walt Disney World Resort terminal, board a launch pod and rendezvous with the magnificent Halcyon starcruiser. Stay in a cabin or suite with an exquisite view of space. Throughout the ship, you’ll interact with an eclectic collection of characters, sit down to exotic galactic cuisine and perhaps even plot a secret mission together.” Wow.

03 | Kruger Shalati, South Africa

Aficionados know that African safaris are more than just something to tick off a bucket list — once is not enough!

If you fancy a change from the usual luxury villa or glamping tent, Kruger Shalati is a luxuriously refurbished train-hotel perched atop a bridge overlooking Sabie River, in a nod to the early 1920s when the first visits to the iconic park were via trains, which would park overnight in the exact spot Kruger Shalati now sits.

Aside from 31 chicly-appointed rooms, including 24 glass-walled Carriage rooms, on the train that celebrate African design and local artisanry, a bespoke deck with pool offers a swimming experience that overlooks crocodile, hippos, buffalos and elephants. And of course, you’ll embark on two game drives daily in open safari vehicles.

04 | Fari Islands, Maldives

Beach bums who had to make do with East Coast Park and Sentosa will want to splash out on a visit to the Maldives’ newest ultra-luxury development in Fari Islands. There’s the modern, minimalist all-villa resort Ritz-Carlton Maldives, with 100 villas ranging from 1,615 sq ft to 4,306 sq ft set over water or nestled in beach coves; the luxe-boho Patina Maldives, which combines chic digs with quirky complimentary amenities like ice cream, evening cocktails and canapés, and toasted marshmallows by a campfire, and Capella Maldives, featuring 57 villas and mansions designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and interiors by Hongkong-based interior designer André Fu.

Best of all, the resorts all have Kids Clubs, so parents can spend their holiday really relaxing and unwinding, instead of babysitting. Should you feel a need to wander out of your luxury digs, Fari Marina Village, located on another island, offers luxury shopping from world-renowned designers, fine dining and workshops focused on arts, culture and local crafts.

05 | Nobu Hotel, Marrakech

If you’re hankering for cool weather and long days, a Morroccan adventure might be worth the wait. Set to open in the third quarter of 2022, Nobu Hotel Marrakech is located in the Hivernage district, mere steps from the historic heart of the city, souks and vibrant Djemaa el-Fna. The hotel will house 71 spacious guest rooms and suites, a selection of dining venues and rooftop spaces, a luxurious spa and fitness centre, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and meeting and event spaces. Outside, lots of exotic sights and smells beckon, from the labyrinthine Unesco World heritage-listed medina, Bahia Palace, El Badi Palace, Koutoubia Mosque, Majorelle Garden and Saadian Tombs.

06 | Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grande Contrôle

If binge-watching period dramas like Versailles, Downton Abbey and Bridgerton during lockdown helped preserve your sanity by transporting you to another place and time, a stay at Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, which opened in June 2021, will bring your princess fantasies to life. Originally built in 1681 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Louis XIV’s favourite architect, the building within the grounds of the former royal palace was entirely restored, its 14 rooms and suites decked out in 18th century furnishings and artwork.

Guests get privileged access to Château de Versailles and its grounds, such as daily tours of the Domaine de Trianon every morning, which uncovers a new room and garden every time, and after-hours access to different parts of the palace. Unlimited complimentary access to electric golf carts and electric boats aid exploration of the expansive gardens, and you can even choose to spend a day as Marie Antoinette: after a treatment at the in-house Valmont Spa, a macaron tasting session and lunch, you get to don a period costume of your choice and get your hair and makeup done up Antoinette-style. You’ll then sit down to a lavish tea spread, where there’ll presumably be lots of cake, before making a rose-infused water — France’s last queen’s favourite beauty must-have — using blooms from the gardens.

07 | Fufu Kyoto, Japan

It’s no secret that Singaporeans are absolutely crazy about Japan. The best place to go, of course, is to the ancient imperial city of Kyoto for its beguiling sights — think temples, palaces and serene bamboo-lined walks, exceptional food and natural hot springs. Opened in April 2021, the 40-room Fufu Kyoto is a luxurious take on the classic Japanese ryokan, with in-room cypress onsens, traditional kaiseki dinners featuring local ingredients and tasteful art pieces and ikebana floral arrangements throughout. Tradition and modernity meet at the bar, where you can enjoy a cocktail while taking in geisha performances.

08 | Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan

  • Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan.

A visit to the world’s happiest country is bound to lift your spirits. Part of luxury hotel group SLH’s Considerate Collection, which showcases a collection of 26 upmarket boutique hotels that display exemplary sustainability efforts, Gangtey Lodge is an all-suite outpost overlooking the unspoilt mountainous landscapes of Gangtey Valley. The 12 suites feature traditional Bhutanese design and exposed wooden beams, with log fires and slate underfloor heating to keep you cosy, plus gorgeous views. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit a Bhutanese farmhouse to experience how the locals live, seek blessings at the nearby Gangtey Monastery or go on a guided forest hike.

09 | Janu Montenegro, Montenegro

For your next European holiday, look beyond the usual hotspots of France, Italy, Germany and Spain, and set your sights on the Balkans. Just east of the Mediterranean, Janu Montenego’s coastal location along the Adriatic sea is the perfect setting for scenic hikes, stunning sunsets, boat trips and scuba diving. Billed as the more affordable sister brand to Aman, Janu’s Montenegro outpost features luxe contemporary decor that’s rustic yet sophisticated. It’s also home to the world’s first Janu Spa. Communal tables at its outdoor bar and restaurant, as well as lively entertainment showcasing local arts scenes, bands and DJs, encourage guests to mingle.

10 | Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Cartagena, Colombia

Slated to open in 2022, Four Seasons’ 131-room Cartagena property in Colombia sits right at the edge of the Unesco World Heritage-listed walled city of Cartagena, and is housed within a collection of historic buildings that include a cloister, a church and theatres, some of which date back to the 16th century. Featuring interiors designed by François Catroux and Wimberly Interiors, facilities include six indoor and outdoor drinking and dining concepts, a rooftop pool (complete with a pool bar and grill, daybeds and cabanas) with views of the ancient walled city and Cartagena Bay.

Wander outside to explore the colourful colonial architecture and lively streets and squares of the walled city, visit the historic Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas fortress or take a day trip to explore some of the 27 islands known as Rosario Islands, located in the crystal clear Caribbean waters just off the coast.

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