A frenetic buzz surrounds urban Asia: the fashion, culture and business in the continent’s metropolises easily challenge the biggest European and American cities for their status as global hubs. This ever-evolving modernity can make for some incredibly special travel experiences.
Here our picks for the best resorts in Asia:
Six Senses Yao Noi – Ko Yao, Thailand
Once you make landfall, you’ll find all the signature luxuries of a Six Senses resort—soft organic-cotton bed linens, oversized colorful daybed cushions, an eco-chic design aesthetic, and an out-of-this-world spa. Styled after a traditional Asian long-house, the Six Senses Spa offers a full range of treatments, from an all-in-one head, back, neck, and shoulder massage to a Thai Herbal body scrub, which uses a traditional blend of herbs and tamarind.
The Pool Villa accommodations provide generous personal space, a variety of views and present an uncompromising lifestyle.
Natural materials used in the modern architecture, together with attention to detail and focus on the unique destination, reinforce the Six Senses philosophy of sustainability and creating exceptional experiences.
Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Bali, Indonesia
Mandapa (the entrance to a traditional Hindu temple) is one of three Ritz-Carlton Reserves. In this Balinese ‘village,’ which has its own rice paddy and farmers, there is no reception. Rather, you are met by your butler, or patih (the king’s right-hand man) and taken to your ‘house’. These feature vivid murals, Balinese prints and sustainably-built Balinese furniture.
The resort, which sits at the intersection of Ubud’s jungle and the Ayung River, offers individually tailored spiritual, wellness, and health programs: sunrise and sunset yoga classes overlooking the water are popular, as are the spa and vitality pool.
Ananda in the Himalayas – Narendra Nagar Tehri Garhwal, India
Courtesy of Ananda in the Himalayas
India’s premier health and wellness spa is located on the lush grounds of the palace of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal in the Himalayan foothills near the cities of Rishikesh and Haridwar. The region in Northern India is believed to be charged with Shakti, or cosmic energy, and is considered the birthplace of yoga with a history that dates back thousands of years. The Beatles put Rishikesh in the public eye in 1968 when they came to visit their guru, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi. While the area clearly is a mecca for yoga fanatics, you don’t have to be one to appreciate the beauty and rejuvenating spirit of the place.
The resort takes this legacy pretty seriously, with a holistic approach to wellness that combines both Eastern and Western healing methods—Ayurveda and aromatherapy treatments are at your disposal, as is a 24,000-square-foot, 24-treatment room-spa that near-guarantees a restorative experience. The fresh air and 100 acres of forest don’t hurt, either.
Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa – Philippines
Courtesy Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
A private paradise cocooned in nature’s lush beauty: nestled in a sheltered bay on Boracay’s pristine northern coastline, Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa exudes tropical island luxury.
Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa provides complimentary shuttle service to and from the main drag downtown, so you can see the sights before returning to your private oasis—a suite or villa, or even the signature CHI spa on a rocky, detached peninsula—afterwards. Choose between a clifftop meal of jumbo tiger prawns and marinated jelly fish at the seafood-heavy Sirena, or an intimate dinner (plus a 16-hour slow-roasted suckling pig) at the tree-top Rima.
St. Regis Lhasa Resort – Tibet, China
Courtesy St. Regis Lhasa Resort
At 3,680 meters above sea level, The St. Regis Lhasa Resort sits at the legendary “Roof of the World,” overlooking the wondrous Tibetan landscape and the magnificence of the Potala Palace.
The St. Regis Lhasa Resort, which derives its name from the Tibetan word, “Lhasa,” meaning “the holy land,” certainly looks the part. At night, the complex is a golden beacon in the darkness, but the view from the inside, out onto the majestic Patala Palace (once the primary residence of the Dalai Lama) is extraordinary, too. Peel yourself away from the views for a drink at the Decanter by Haut-Brisson wine bar, which carries more than 140 top-tier wines from around the world, plus aged cognacs and fine cigars. Alternatively, head for the heated Gold Energy pool—because there’s nothing that says “de-stress” like a metallic dragon mural and a foot massage, poolside.
Banyan Tree, Lăng Cô – Central Vietnam
Courtesy Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts
Private paradise of luxurious all-pool villas nestled between the azure waters of the East Vietnam Sea and the Truong Son mountain range at Laguna Lăng Cô. This is the perfect destination for travellers who seek a luxury hideaway, or a base from which to explore this beautiful area, which includes three UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites: Hoi An Ancient Town, The Imperial Citadel of Hue and My Son Sanctuary. Step into a world of ancient and modern history, of unspoilt natural beauty and unparalleled luxury at Banyan Tree Lăng Cô.
Each villa is beautifully furnished with Vietnamese details like pitched roofs and lacquered wooden furniture, but the Sanctuary Pool Villa is the one to book, where a reservation comes with an unlimited supply of spa treatments.
Amanpulo – Pamalican Island, Philippines
Courtesy Aman Resorts
Cerulean sky and turquoise sea merge at Amanpulo, a whisper-quiet private island retreat in the in the Sulu Sea accessible only by a private plane.
Villas come with their own private chef and butler, and while you may not actually brush shoulders with the likes of Bill Gates, Tom Cruise, or Beyoncé, you’ll feel as much of a star as these regulars. Try a traditional Hilot massage, which alternates between hot and cold with banana leaves and cold-pressed coconut oil, to rebalance areas of tension; or channel your inner Julia Child by picking vegetables from the organic garden (aubergine, pumpkin, beans, and four varieties of tomatoes are all grown there) for the chef at the Clubhouse Restaurant to prepare.
Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, Sri Lanka
Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort offers a complete escape—albeit, with relatively easy access to civilization. Sitting on a rocky outcrop on the southern coast of Sri Lanka near the old fort town of Tangalle and golden-hued beach fringed by coconut palms overlooks the roaring Indian Ocean.
You can schedule an excursion to the ancient town of Galle, about an hour west, or a visit the Uda Walawe Elephant Sanctuary. De-stress with some holistic exercises on the beach or a little pampering, courtesy of the specialists who administer Ayurvedic and reflexology treatments. Recline back by the pool, cocktail in hand, while the kids kick around at the children’s club, or watch the sun set from the deck of on-site restaurant Il Mare.
The Mulia Villas – Bali, Indonesia
Courtesy The Mulia Villas
Wander through private pathways and tranquil gardens to discover a truly transformative escape combining intimate settings with luxurious amenities that transcend conventional villas in Bali.
Each villa is a sanctuary that boasts a private hydrotherapy pool, a day bed as well as a magnificent terrace area set within lush landscapes of the resort gardens.
Four Seasons Resort Langkawi – Malaysia
Flanked by a tropical rainforest, limestone cliffs and the emerald waters of the Andaman Sea, the natural beauty on the Island of Legends is as dramatic as it is serene.
Tucked away within an UNESCO World Geopark, the Resort’s Malay-style pavilions and villas offer both quiet, romantic havens for lovebirds as well as versatile family-oriented retreats. Wake up with a morning swim in your plunge pool before enjoying breakfast on the deck, then head out to explore the mysterious mangrove forests, winding rivers and ancient sea stacks that create our unique landscape. Find some balance at The Geo Spa, then sit down for authentic Malay cuisine at Ikan-Ikan before toasting the spectacular, jewel-tone sunset with a cocktail at Rhu Bar.