Getaways close to home

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 15, 2018.
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With little time off during the year-end season, a quick getaway that is close to home is a convenient but no less exciting option. Here are ideas for travel within the region, proving that memories can be made even when you are close to home.

 

Sri Lanka

A view of Craig Appin by Jetwing.

Expanding its luxury collection of villa properties, home-grown Sri Lankan hospitality chain Jetwing Hotels has taken over the management of three gorgeous Victorian properties in the Hatton highlands, which beautifully preserve the colonial ambience through their elegant decor, simple luxuries and warm service. Strathdon by Jetwing offers guests four spacious rooms with ample seating areas to relax and unwind. Dickoya by Jetwing includes four rooms with magnificent views of the lush gardens and sprawling tea estates that surround the bungalow, while Craig Appin by Jetwing includes five perfect rooms for families looking for a cosy getaway.

Each bungalow includes a separate lounge and living room where guests can attend to their work, interact with other travellers or simply sit back by the fireplace. Furnished with elegant antique wooden furniture, the rooms are reminiscent of a rich colonial past while providing all manner of creature comforts. The culinary experience at the three bungalows are not restricted to a menu; instead, the chef will prepare flavourful meals any time you choose, based on preferences and dietary requirements. Using the freshest of ingredients from the garden, meals can be served in the main dining room, in bed, or even the garden.

Travellers seeking adventure have a multitude of options to choose from in Hatton. They may take a step back in time to a planter’s life by bungalow-hopping and enjoying the beautiful scenery the highlands have to offer, followed by a delectable high tea and dinner. They may also visit the nearby local villages, tea estates and surrounding forests, take a scenic train ride from Hatton to Thalawakele or Watawala, or hike up to the majestic Devon Falls. For reservations, e-mail [email protected].

 

Thailand

Como Point Yamu, a contemporary oceanside resort perched above the Andaman Sea in Phuket, has launched its Phang Nga Bay Experience, which includes a seven-night stay in one of the resort’s iconic villas, as well as a private Champagne cruise that takes guests to the heart of the dramatic Phang Nga landscape.

One of Thailand’s most prized national parks, located between southern Thailand’s mainland and the island of Phuket, Phang Nga Bay is 20 minutes from Como Point Yamu by private transfer. With this new experience, guests will step into the resort’s Capricorn II yacht and sail away on a four-hour cruise exploring the bay’s striking limestone cliffs and rock formations that jut out of the turquoise waters.

The cruise will also take in the 40 small islands that sprinkle the bay, each cloaked in forest and dotted with mysterious sea caves and hidden lagoons. Among the isles is Koh Tapu, or “James Bond Island”, so called after being featured as the island hideout of the villain Scaramanga in the Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun. Back at the Paola Navone-designed resort, guests will spend seven nights in one of COMO Point Yamu’s three top villas, each with spectacular ocean views.

Each stay includes airport transfers, personal butler service and daily personalised villa breakfasts, as well as opportunities for relaxation and wellness at the resort’s nurturing Como Shambhala Retreat. Find out more on comohotels.com.

 

Vietnam

There are many good reasons to visit the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam, but here is another — its INK 360 sky bar offers the most stunning panoramic sunset views of the island, accompanied by some serious mixology. Located on the 19th floor of the new hotel, the bar is the perfect place to sip signature cocktails as the sun goes down over the sparkling sea, creating a magnificent sunset view second to none.

A sleek, sophisticated take on the consuming might and power of a mysterious sea creature, Australian designer Ashley Sutton’s creation is an ode to mythical maritime tales of yesteryear. The main bar and cocktail lounge uses mother-of-pearl and white marble to evoke the feel of the ocean floor, while the exterior deck offers an unparalleled vista of the ocean from the highest point on the island. The shadow play and longitudinal markings of the floor pattern represent a marine chart, further enhancing the maritime theme running throughout that redefines the concept of a sky bar.

Signature cocktails at INK 360 include Uncle Ho Penicillin with a scent that evokes the nostalgia of days gone by (Scotch whisky, lemon juice, Phu Quoc honey, ginger syrup, Lapsang Souchong and black cardamom); the curious Three Way Mirror (London Dry Gin, St Germain elderflower, sparkling wine, strawberry and turmeric dust), designed to be enjoyed with a different taste sensation accompanying each sip; and the Nobleman (Bacardi 8 rum, Sandeman Sherry PX, spiced sugar, chocolate bitters and coffee perfume), a smooth and complex drink. A selection of fine and sparkling wines, champagnes, beers and spirits are also available at INK 360, as well as a Japanese and Italian menu of bar bites and sharing plates. More information is available on www.ihg.com.