Luxury hotel InterContinental Sydney unveils redesign

Occupying a position in a heritage-listed former Treasury Building of 1851, InterContinental Sydney will reveal in full its $110 million renovations in September.

Since its opening in 1985, the 509-room InterContinental Sydney has hosted Hollywood’s elite such as Frank Sinatra and Cher, as well as world leaders including President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton. The hotel occupies a prime CBD location, within close walking distance to Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay and Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens.

Now, the owners of the luxury hotel, Mulpha, and management aims to enter a new chapter in its hospitality as it nears the end of a large-scale transformation. Renovations have been under way since 2020, led by leading local architecture studio, Woods Bagot.

Design notes

Taking into account the historically important and sensitive heritage-listed facets of the building, Woods Bagot has redesigned the hotel’s rooms and public spaces with the sophisticated traveller in mind.

Tracey Wiles, Woods Bagot Regional Interior Design Leader, revealed to Luxury Travel that, “sustainability was at the core of Woods Bagot’s decision to conserve as much of the original fabric of the existing Intercontinental Sydney as possible.”

“This goes back to the 19th century works in the heritage areas but also includes the more recent additions, including the 1980s tower,” said Tracey.

External restoration work has enhanced the hotel’s sandstone façade. Inside, all rooms and suites, as well as public areas and two new bars that have been subject to a more contemporary interpretation and the introduction of a new colour palatte to refresh the building’s classical architecture.

“All the refurbishment works have been programmed around preserving the original super structure. The primary configuration of the hotel has been retained to minimise demolition and the use of materials, at a time when it is always easier to knock down and start from scratch,” said Tracey.

“Compared to what is typical of the hotel typology, where the lifecycle of the interior design is approximately seven years, the intent was for Woods Bagot’s layering to endure through the use of long-lasting, high quality and durable materials. For example, all the new limestone flooring will become an additional, permanent layer to the building’s fabric and story. We approached this project with the ambition of becoming embedded in the history of the Intercontinental Sydney.”

For its interiors, the team has drawn inspiration from the nearby botanic gardens and harbour, introducing green and blue hues through picture-frame windows – with the aim to create a connection and seamless flow from indoor to outdoor. Key Australian elements of water, sand, wood and sky, have also been incorporated into the furnishings.

A new lobby bar that will serve creative and innovative beverages will become a central hub of the hotel – creating an outdoors vibe yet still enclosed within the original brick walls of the Treasury Building.

The much-loved InterContinental Sydney rooftop space on Level 32 will also be updated in the renovations. For the first time in the hotel’s history, a signature bar and an upgraded outdoor terrace on Level 32 will be accessible to Sydney locals too, not just hotel guests – so all can enjoy its uninterrupted views across Sydney’s skyline.

The timing coincides with major works and upgrades to Sydney’s dynamic new Quay Quarter precinct.

Enjoy luxury hotels by the day with DayAway

Park Hyatt Sydney The Living Room View
Park Hyatt Sydney, The Living Room

Launched in Singapore in 2021, the new DayAway online destination for booking hotels by the day is now available in Australia.

If you’re going to launch a luxury hotel experience concept, then Raffles Hotel Singapore makes for a formidable first hotel partner.

In 2021, leading lifestyle and technology entrepreneur Martha Waslen created her DayAway concept in Singapore – commencing with Raffles Hotel Singapore as well as The Fullerton Hotel Singapore. The idea came to Martha during the height of the pandemic in 2020 when Singapore’s hotel leisure spaces, shut off from international visitors, were largely sitting dormant. Martha began to explore ways that could provide locals with the opportunity to enjoy much-needed getaway moments of indulgence in luxury hotels.

“I’ve always enjoyed spending time in beautiful hotels whether it’s for lunch with friends or for an indulgent spa treatment. I thought that there should be an easier way to offer and access daytime experiences at some of the world’s best luxury hotels on a single digital platform,” says Martha Waslen, Founder and CEO of DayAway.

The benefit for hotels, says Martha, is the ability to generate revenue and maximise use of under-utilised hotel spaces by creating experiential and ‘recharging’ activities for visitors while at the same time, creating brand awareness and loyalty. The concept was recognised as a Skift IDEA Award Winner 2021 for Tech & Innovation.

Martha has spent her career working in luxury consumer goods, starting out at Ralph Lauren in New York. She was instrumental in the growth of online beauty platform Luxola – eventually acquired by Sephora, owned by LVMH.

The DayAway concept and locations

The B2B2C DayAway digital platform is the first of its kind, creating a new market category around daytime hotel experiences that can be booked through a seamless online experience using SaaS technology. In several cities around the world, individuals can book dining, spa or other lifestyle experiences at several luxury hotels, regardless of whether they are staying as guests at that hotel. The experiences can also be booked in your own home city.

DayAway launched in Australia earlier this year, with four luxury hotel partners signed up in its initial stages – including Park Hyatt Sydney; The Langham, Sydney; Victoria’s Jackalope Mornington Peninsula ; and COMO The Treasury Perth in Western Australia.

At Park Hyatt Sydney, you can book through the DayAway platform for its Signature Afternoon Tea in the Living Room; or a 60-minute Aromatherapy Escape that includes a full body massage (read on for our feedback about this experience). Alternatively, book a 90-minute Sensory Organic Facial.

In Sydney’s Rocks district, you can book a signature high tea in the Palm Court at The Langham, Sydney;  or a Kitchens on Kent Lunch or Dinner experience.

The art-driven Jackalope Mornington Peninsula is set on the private Willow Creek vineyard in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula wine region, an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Soak up the ambience here by booking a three-hour DayAway Body Bliss experience at Jackalope’s Spa. For the wine lovers, there’s a Wine Immersion and Lunch that includes a vineyard tour, a wine tasting, blending session and lunch.

At contemporary boutique hotel COMO The Treasury, Perth, a masterful redesign of a mid 19th-century state building by Australian designer Kerry Hill, guests overlook Perth’s Swan River. Spend time here in either a Heritage or a Heritage Balcony Room with a dining credit to dine on lunch at one of its two restaurants. Or visit the Spa for a COMO Shambhala Treatment; or book a Seasonal Lunch or Afternoon Tea.

In Singapore, DayAway experiences can be booked at Marina Bay Sands Singapore, The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, Andaz Singapore; in Hong Kong at Rosewood Hong Kong and in Thailand at Rosewood Hong Kong and the Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok.

DayAway experiences can also be booked in several United Arab Emirates hotels. The group is poised to soon launch experiences in the United Kingdom.

Our DayAway experience at Park Hyatt Sydney

With an enviable location alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge and with views of the Opera House, the Park Hyatt has long been a hub of understated luxury and consistent service in Sydney.

After pulling into the curved driveway entrance, I’m escorted to the lifts that take me up to The Spa – passing sculptures, artworks and framed photographs by Australian artists that line the hotel’s walls and public spaces. Stepping inside the hotel for a 90-minute Aromatherapy Massage, passing other guests visiting from interstate or overseas, I too feel like I’m having my own, mini luxury getaway that’s a welcome deviation from the everyday.

The spa’s interiors envelop visitors with a sense of calm, furnished in warm, earthy and neutral tones and textures; and subtle, native floral arrangements. I am ushered to a lounge area where staff greet me and ask me to fill out a form that allows me to nominate my massage preferences, desired pressure and areas I’d like my therapist to concentrate on.

While sipping on lemon and myrtle native tea, I’m offered the choice of different base oils for use in my massage, all by NSW botanical skincare brand, iKOU. Options include Tranquility (Turkish rose and rose geranium); De-Stress (geranium and lavender); Renewal (bergamot and may chang); and Muscle Relax (eucalyptus and kunzea).

My therapist, Tanatcha, leads me to a treatment room. All are fitted with private bathrooms and showers. While getting ready, I wash my hands with the heavenly-scented iKOU Australian lemon myrtle and Tahitian lime hand wash. From my room, I can see glimpses of the harbour and the sandstone structures that form the supports of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

For the next 60 minutes, I’m figuratively transported away by the skilful and soothing hands of Tanatcha. As usual, I initially struggle to switch off my monkey mind that is internally looping my ‘to-do’ list in my brain. Yet, there’s something otherworldly and almost spiritual that happens once I give way to the experience and be present in the moment. The arresting and evocative fragrance of Australian eucalyptus is used throughout the session. A soundtrack of serene music plays, includes a symphony of warbling birds. At one point, I truly feel as though I’m lying in the heart of the Australian bush or a rainforest, absorbing its scents and sounds.

Afterwards, while sipping on a post-treatment herbal tea and munching chocolate biscotti, I think what a clever gift idea this could make. It’s easy to book for family and friends and would give them a slice of an ‘Away’ experience that, all told, is just a couple of hours out of your day, but is so restorative in providing a moment of self-care in calm surrounds.

A Dive Inside the Newly Refurbished Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach

Reef Suite balcony, Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach

From relaxing in the cool baths to tasting the gastronomic offerings, Kelly Allen reviews Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach’s recent refurbishment.

Waking up to the sun creeping up over the horizon, its golden tinge winking on the ocean surface, I slide my big armchair to the edge of the balcony overlooking Coogee Beach. The swimmers, joggers and dog walkers below are busily chatting as they line up at their local cafe for their morning caffeine hit.

I throw my swimmers on so I can enjoy a quick dip at McIvers Baths, the last remaining ladies only rock pool in Australia, before breakfast. Down in the lobby bar I grab a takeaway coffee, where the friendly barista remembers my order from yesterday. This will be my warm reward after a few laps in the cold pool. The pool is stunningly beautiful in the morning light and I feel like I have entered a secret mermaid grotto. If you don’t happen to be a lady, there are several other rock pool options — Wylie’s Baths and the surf club rock pool are next door and both co-ed. It’s a chilly barefoot sprint back to the hotel, but I can’t think of a better way to start the day.

The newly refurbished Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach sits directly across from the beach. From the balcony of my oceanfront suite I can see much of the famous coastal beach walk to Bondi that I will explore this afternoon.

Breakfast at Shutters Restaurant with its soaring windows and glass ceiling also makes the most of the fabulous views out to sea. Stations are set up around an open kitchen offering all of the usuals including eggs, bacon, mushrooms, muesli, fruit, salmon, pastries and a very delicious pot of housemade baked beans.

The fresh new look of the hotel borrows the soft hues from its coastal location, incorporating deep blue, soft grey and creamy white throughout. Framed artwork of local rockpools and surfboats give it an authentic beach vibe and the staff are genuinely friendly.

“The pool is stunningly beautiful in the morning light and I feel like I have entered a secret mermaid grotto.”

Estate Coogee, the onsite restaurant, takes its inspiration from the west coast of America with a focus on seafood. Dishes are designed to be shared and some of the highlights include the kingfish crudo with coconut ranch on bluecorn tostada, spicy yellow fin tuna tartare with creole spice and the Morton Bay bug roll. I highly recommend leaving room for the signature desert- “Violet Crumble” which arrives as a smoking plate of dark chocolate brownie, violet ice cream and nitro infused salted honeycomb.

Grab a local wine or signature margarita at the adjoining cocktail bar, or when the weather is fine check out the Terrace, a trendy outdoor oasis complete with daybeds, bleachers and a charming Airstream that doubles as a bar.

The Details

Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach

242 Arden Street Coogee,NSW


Pullman Melbourne on the Park Unveils William Clarke Sky Villa

William Clarke Sky Villa

The two storey William Clarke Sky Villa is the jewel in the crown of Pullman Melbourne on the Park’s $40 million renovation

Pullman Melbourne on the Park has just unveiled the renovation of its two storey penthouse, William Clarke Sky Villa. This split level layout includes a living and dining area, king bedroom, kitchenette and a walk-in-robe leading to a bathroom with a free-standing spa bathtub overlooking the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Designed by leading architects DKO, the villa provides luxury to guest through its marble, brass and leather interiors. Contemporary art from Australian artist Angela Roskell decorates the William Clarke Sky Villa’s walls while flat screen TVs in the living area and bedroom add additional entertainment.

The William Clarke Sky Villa, one of 419 rooms in the hotel, is named for Sir William Clarke who owned the Cliveden Mansion, the original building on the site that the hotel sits on today. Sir Clarke’s ties to the area run even deeper, having served as president of the Melbourne Cricket Club from 1880 to 1886.

The William Clarke Sky Villa is “the jewel in the crown of our recent $40 million renovation,” according to General Manager of the Pullman Melbourne on the Park Erkin Aytekin.

In addition to the William Clark Sky Villa, Pullman Melbourne on the Park’s renovation included upgrades to 19 floors of rooms and suites as well as a new Executive Lounge.

Updated rooms and suites feature windows with metal shrouds, chaise lounges and privacy glass in bathrooms designed to provide guests with access to the room’s views even from the bathroom.

The new Executive Lounge, perched on Level 18 of the hotel, features velvet sofas, marble tables, a flat screen TV and bar area. The Lounge offers views of the MCG and the city’s skyline towards Port Phillip Bay.

Previously updated as part of the hotel’s comprehensive renovation program, the Cliveden Bar & Dining offers local Victorian produce mixed with traditional European preparations and Australian native ingredients.

The William Clarke Sky Villa is open for bookings at $5,000 per night.

Capture Holiday Moments in the Heart of Sydney in Park Hyatt’s GFX Suite

GFX Suite lenses
GFX Suite lenses

A partnership between Park Hyatt Sydney and FUJIFILM, the GFX Suite brings a camera and equipment valued at over $10k to the fingertips of travellers

FUJIFILM and Park Hyatt Sydney’s recently launched GFX Suite aims to give guests the picture perfect holiday. Guests checking into the suite can expect to find a FUJIFILM GFX100S and an array of lenses to capture high resolution memories.

Guests can book any room at the Park Hyatt Sydney in combination with the GFX Suite package. Located across the harbour from the Opera House, Park Hyatt Sydney offers an array of rooms including the Cove Suite with two balconies overlooking the city and the 350-square-metre Sydney Suite overlooking the Opera House.

Guests at The GFX Suite can also experience:

  • In-room interactive video tutorial to help guests capture their best moments
  • A post-stay photography concierge service to 5 edit images taken during the stay and one high-quality print-out
  • Full access to the Park Hyatt’s facilities including the spa, rooftop pool and fitness centre that overlooks the Sydney Harbour

As the most photographed spot in Australia over the past year per FUJIFILM and Pureprofile research, Sydney Harbour hosts the two most photographed spots: Harbour Bridge and Opera House. With more and more travellers looking for picture perfect destinations, this suite offers the tools and location to achieve maximum likability.

Leanne Hughes, National Marketing & Category Manager at FUJIFILM Australia, said: “a stay at The GFX Suite is perfect for those looking to combine luxury with a high end photography experience. We look forward to bringing this suite to life across Australia’s most loved, picture perfect landmarks.”

Chapter Two: Even More Luxury at Soneva Jani’s Newest Expansion

Aerial view ofSoneva Jani Chapter Two
Soneva Jani Chapter Two

Chapter Two Soneva Jani expands guests’ overwater resort stays with unique culinary, relaxation and adventure opportunities

Chapter Two expands the Soneva Jani’s award-winning offering with the addition of 27 luxurious water villas, three innovative new dining concepts, and a new Soneva Wellness Centre.

Ranging from One to Four Bedroom Water Reserves, the villas command panoramic views over the private lagoon, with terraces and freshwater swimming pools. Some of these pools even many feature curved water slides into the ocean. The interior designs of Bedroom Water Reserves feature large glass portholes, signature al fresco bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Guests can sate their appetites at three new dining concepts, including Overseas and Primitive. Overseas by Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren features plant-based dishes. Guests dining at Primitive can enjoy an array of meats, seafood and vegetable dishes grilled, roasted and seared on a central fire pit.

Chapter Two aims to see the launch of a new Soneva Wellness Centre by mid-2021 that will include a dedicated Ayurvedic centre, additional treatment rooms, cross-functional fitness facilities and an open-air yoga pavilion.

Villa rates at Chapter Two Water and Island Reserves include a Soneva Unlimited experience that includes perks such as unlimited signature experiences, diving, and spa treatments (including from visiting practitioners), fine dining and drinks, not to mention dinners with visiting Michelin-starred chefs.

Small Luxury Hotels’ 2020 Award Winners Awe with Innovation

Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Italy

2020’s Small Luxury Hotels award winners innovate boutique stays in unprecedented times from eco-friendly practices to virtual experiences

This year’s Small Luxury Hotels award winners embody and revolutionise the boutique hotel experience. From a restored one-thousand-year-old castle and two carbon neutral resorts to unique experiences that focus on empowering local people and environments, this year’s winners awed SLH panellists with their ability to make the everyday extraordinary.

Richard Hyde, Chief Operating Officer at Small Luxury Hotels, noted that “sustainability is now also about supporting our hospitality industry, and the communities that they in turn support. All these remarkable hotels are open, or opening imminently, and ready to welcome back guests to demonstrate just why independent hotels are so very special.”

A panel of experts in luxury, travel, wellbeing and cuisine voted for SLH’s finalists. They are:

  • Simon Leadsford (Publisher, Condé Nast Traveller)
  • Katy Simpson (CEO, Noble Isle)
  • Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn
  • Carol Duval-Leroy (Owner, Champagne Duval-Leroy)
  • Gary Allen (Managing Director, Luxury Travel Media)
  • Gisele Orellano (Co-Founder, Hermana Creatives)

Without further ado, dive into the list of hotels that are defining independent luxury travel.

Hotel of the Year: Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda


Taking inspiration from the tiered lemon houses of Lake Garda, Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda has been named Hotel of the Year based on its strong eco-friendly philosophy and wellness area that combines classical Chinese medicine with Western scientific research.

Offering highly customised treatments designed to cure stress and insomnia, Lefay SPA extends over 3,800 square metres and boasts six saunas of varying temperatures, an ice pool and a large salt lake.

The hotel also produces its own electricity, heating and cooling through clean, renewable sources such as biomass, cogeneration and solar panels. Lefay’s environmental friendly practices reduce CO2 emissions by 1.130t per year.

Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Italy
Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Italy

INVITED Hotel of the Year: The Tokyo Station Hotel


Located inside The Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building, The Tokyo Station Hotel preserves its deep-rooted heritage while innovating methods of sharing that history with visitors. From QR codes attached to framed old photographs and notepads made of Japanese manuscript paper to staff wearing pillbox hats and train timetables hanging in the corridors, INVITED guests commended the preservation efforts of The Tokyo Station Hotel.

The property’s Japanese and European style buffet breakfast should be high on every traveller’s bucket list, as guests can choose from around 110 items including rolled omelettes, sashimi, tempura and mini wagyu burgers.

Highly Commended:

  • Dormy House Hotel (UK)
  • Velassaru Maldives (Maldives)
  • Hotel Relais Christine (France)
The Tokyo Station Hotel, Japan
The Tokyo Station Hotel, Japan

City Centre Hotel of the Year: The Norman Tel Aviv


Located in a UNESCO-designated site with the world’s highest concentration of Bauhaus-style buildings, it was only a matter of time until The Norman Tel Aviv was named SLH’s City Centre Hotel of the Year. The Norman’s offerings range from a rooftop infinity pool with exquisite views of Tel Aviv, a restaurant serving some of the best Japanese food in the country to resident DJs and a private art collection boasting an in-house curator. Bespoke guests experiences are available through The Norman’s concierge, including crafting your own signature scents with a perfumer or visiting usually off-limits artists’ studios.

Highly Commended:

The Norman, Tel Aviv
The Norman, Tel Aviv

Country House Hotel of the Year: Château La Chenèviere


Nestled among Normandy’s lush, north-west coast, Château la Chenevière ticks all SLH’s boxes of a grand yet welcoming country house hotel. Features include marble fireplaces, velvet-backed beds, rose gardens with beehives, an outdoor pool and a tennis court—not to mention the canine-friendly policy that means guests’ pooches can enjoy the countryside too. Two dining rooms serve fresh dishes supplied by the on-site sustainable vegetable garden. The hotel’s speakeasy-style Zanzibar bar displays a collection of the owner’s travel souvenirs and Calvados-themed cocktails such as the signature ‘Chenevière cocktail’ – a combination of pommeau (apple port), peach cream and champagne.

Highly Commended:

  • Schlosshotel Kronberg (Germany)
  • Stein Eriksen Residences (USA)
  • Hotel Rangá (Iceland)
Château La Chenèviere, France
Château La Chenèviere, France

Resort Hotel of the Year: Hotel Villa Franca


Overlooking the town of Positano, Hotel Villa Franca offers a wide variety of experiences including an L-shaped swimming pool with views of the Amalfi Coast, lemon-infused detox spa treatments and a fine dining restaurant rooted in Campanian culinary traditions. Guests can enjoy a special Amalfi lemon tour, where they get the chance to taste the citrus fruits hanging from pergolas and sample them in homemade cakes, drinks and of course, limoncello.

Highly Commended:

Hotel Villa Franca, Italy
Hotel Villa Franca, Italy

Mystery Inspectors’ Excellence Award: Hemingways Nairobi


Set between Nairobi National Park and the foot of the Ngong Hills, Hemingways Nairobi offers personalised service with the kindness inherent to East African culture. A bespoke butler service ensures guests are catered to their every whim, from grander experiences such as tailor-made afternoon tea and outings to The Giraffe Centre or the Karen Blixen Museum, to daily comforts including adjusting customised pillows, setting out guests’s nightcaps and packing their suitcases for departure.

Highly Commended:

Hemingways Nairobi, Kenya
Hemingways Nairobi, Kenya

Sustainable Innovator of the Year: Arima Hotel


Hidden among the trees in the Miramón Forest of San Sebastián, Arima Hotel’s building structure is named as a prototype of zero-energy buildings, marked by the European Union as a mandatory standard to mitigate the effects of climate change. Its savings in CO2 emissions compared with a standard construction are similar to the carbon that 15,000 trees would absorb annually. From clean energy systems and sulphate-free toiletries to a menu inspired by locally-grown ingredients at veggie-focused fine dining restaurant Misura, the hotel has set a new benchmark in terms of environmental and social responsibility, as evinced by its rigorously audited Passivhaus qualification. Overall, 77% of Arima Hotel’s energy needs are fulfilled from aerothermal and geothermal power.

Highly Commended

  • Susafa (Italy)
  • Petit St Vincent (St Vincent & The Grenadines)
  • Domaine de Manville (France)
Arima Hotel, Spain
Arima Hotel, Spain

Stay Small, Stay Considerate Award: Lefay Resorts


Created around the philosophy that personal wellness should never overlook environmental wellness, Lefay Resorts is committed to operating in the most responsible way possible without compromising luxury and wellbeing. As the first Italian hospitality company to sign an agreement with the Italian Ministry of the Environment that is aimed at neutralising CO2 emissions, both its hotels in Lake Garda and The Dolomites (which opened in August 2019) are 100% carbon neutral. The company offsets its direct CO2 emissions and those of travelling guests through the purchase of CERs credits in accordance with the Kyoto protocol.

Established from the outset with landscape protection and energy efficiency at the fore, great efforts are also taken to ensure the guest experience is grounded in sustainably practices. All the products used in its spa are vegan, free from parabens, SLES (a detergent that causes skin irritation), colourings and preservatives. Lefay also handpicks its food suppliers ensuring they adhere to strict environmental standards with 66% of ingredients sourced directly from the local provinces.

Highly Commended:

Lefay Dolomites, Italy
Lefay Dolomites, Italy

Most Inspirational Interior Design: Castello di Reschio


Nestled amongst rolling hills on Italy’s Umbria-Tuscany border, Castello di Reschio is a thousand-year old castle which has been meticulously restored and stylishly reimagined by architect Count Benedikt Bolza and his wife, Nencia Corsini. The hotel’s rooms and suites have been imbued with personality and panache, thanks to an organic approach to contemporary design coupled with subtle references to the fascinating characters who once lived here. Count Benedikt designed much of the furniture and lighting himself and sourced rare pieces from Italy’s below-the-radar antiques markets and art fairs.

Highly Commended:

  • Le Coucou Méribel (France)
  • Gangtey Lodge (Bhutan)
  • Ksar Char-Bagh (Morocco)
Castello di Reschio, Umbria, Italy
Castello di Reschio, Umbria, Italy

Most Intimate Bedroom: Cap Rocat


Housed within a striking 19th-century military fortress, Cap Rocat’s three Sentinel suites are wonderfully secluded, carved out of the rocks that into which the fortress nestles, with private infinity pools featuring views of Palma Bay. The three rooms, which once served as watchtower spots, are decorated with king-sized beds, refined rugs, Mediterranean fabrics and a private terrace. Guests can explore the corridors and pathways of the fortress using the maps provided upon check in.

Highly Commended:

El Cabo Suite, Cap Rocat, Mallorca
El Cabo Suite, Cap Rocat, Mallorca

Most Mindful Wellness Retreat: Castle Hot Springs


Castle Hot Springs’s remote location, tucked in a rugged canyon surrounded by Saguaro Cacti and backdropped by the Bradshaw Mountains, makes it an oasis. Three hot springs well up from deep within the desert surface to offer 115-degree waters filled with revitalising minerals. The waters are also piped through the retreat for guests to enjoy in their rooms and to feed the three-acre sustainable farm.

Guests can further take in the landscape through immersive activities like hot springs Paddleboard Yoga and Via Ferrata – a state of the art climbing course. Castle Hot Springs spa services are provided in custom cabanas set along the spring water creek and offer customised treatments using hot stones from the springs.

Highly Commended:

Castle Hot Springs, Arizona
Castle Hot Springs, Arizona

Most Intense Bespoke Experience: The George

New Zealand

Drawing upon traditional Maori cultural values of care and guardianship, The George offers an exclusive half-day Flight Path Conservation Experience accompanied by an Endangered Species Ranger. Guests are taken on a half day trip to Canterbury’s forest valleys to support the conservation efforts for the critically-endangered orange-fronted Kakariki, a native parrot whose numbers are estimated at fewer than 300. Once a year, by special arrangement, guests can even release one of these treasured birds into the forest. A portion of every flight from the Conservation Experience is donated to the recovery programme.

Highly Commended:

Guest holding a Kakariki at The George, New Zealand
Guest holding a Kakariki at The George, New Zealand

Best Gourmet Experience: The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa


The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa launched Bali’s first ever Dine in the Dark event in collaboration with Yayasan Dria Raba, a donation-only orphanage for visually-impaired children. Held in the resort’s darkened Klass & Brass private dining room, the six-course sensory dinner experience has been curated to focus on texture, aroma and flavour, while being served and guided by children from the orphanage. The aim is to help provide the children with employment opportunities and basic hospitality training while raising awareness for the vision-impaired people of Indonesia. The experience is available any day of the week with a minimum one day reservation and at least eight participants.

Highly Commended:

  • The Atlantic Hotel (Channel Islands)
  • Castle Hot Springs (USA)
  • Halcyon House (Australia)
Sanje Restaurant & Lounge, The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa, Bali
Sanje Restaurant & Lounge, The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa, Bali

Local Food Champion: Chef Marc Collins at Wentworth Mansion

Charleston, South Carolina

Circa 1886 located in the Wentworth Mansion of central Charleston combines the local products of farmers and fishermen to create local dishes under the keen eye of executive chef Marc Collins, who is South Carolina Chef Ambassador. In 2006, Chef Collins co-founded the Charleston Wine + Food Festival to spotlight Charleston and the Lowcountry’s diverse culinary and hospitality community. In 2019, he launched a unique menu concept that takes guests from South Carolina’s humble beginnings to Charleston’s Southern-modern foodie scene. Culinary highlights include the Broken Arrow Axis Venison with sunchoke hash and sunflower seed butter and Piedmontese Oxtail with conch fritter and mustard greens.

Highly Commended:

  • Chef Salvatore Minneci, Susafa (Italy)
  • Chef Carvison Pratt, Sailrock Resort (Turks & Caicos)
  • Chef Jim Hopkins, Stein Eriksen Residences (USA)
Circa 1886 at Wentworth Mansion, Charleston, South Carolina
Circa 1886 at Wentworth Mansion, Charleston, South Carolina

Travel Agents’ Hotel of the Year: Hôtel Relais Christine


Built atop a 13th-century Augustinian monastery in Paris’ Saint-Germain-des-Prés district, Hôtel Relais Christine was commended by travel agents for its refined calm, remarkable home-away-from-home ease and vintage glamour. From a secret garden with beehives producing honey for the hotel’s breakfast table to the basement Spa Guerlain with its medieval stone vaults and impressive display of Guerlain perfume bottles, everything about this hotel exudes intimacy and charm.

Highly Commended:

Hôtel Relais Christine, France
Hôtel Relais Christine, France

Most ‘Liked’ Hotel of the Year: Halcyon House


Found on Instagram as @_halcyonhouse, it is without a doubt that Halcyon House‘s colourful and eclectic interiors and idyllic beachside setting make it so Instagrammable. The hotel is often lauded for its ‘Instagram-worthy interiors.’ Everything about the hotel is photogenic from the blue and white wicker chairs in Halcyon’s Paper Daisy restaurant to the blue and white candy-striped loungers next to the pool area.

Highly Commended:

  • Canaves Oia (Greece)
  • Castello di Reschio (Italy)
  • Cap Rocat (Spain)
Halcyon House
Halcyon House

Digital Excellence Award: Triumph Hotels

New York

In 2019, Triumph Hotels revamped all digital platforms to bring an experiential approach to internet hotel browsing. Explore the heart of New York City and interiors of SLH member hotels like The Frederick Hotel in Tribeca and Iroquois Hotel in Midtown from the comfort of home.

Sarafina Dining Room, The Federick, New York
Sarafina Dining Room, The Federick, New York

Aman New York to Ring in the Crown Building’s Centenary in Spring 2021

Aman Residence Bedroom, New York
Aman Residence Bedroom, New York

At the crossroads of 57th and 5th, Aman New York will feature all the staples of the Aman brand plus a global first: exclusive urban Aman Residences

Designed by architect Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston as homage to the Crown Building’s architecture, Aman New York is currently in its final stages of a transformation that blends Aman’s asian roots with the New York state of mind. Guests at Aman New York will have the opportunity to chose between 83 guest rooms and suites, which start at 70 square metres and each feature a functioning fireplace. Private residences will total 22, many of which will feature outdoor terraces, while the penthouse residence spans five storeys. Guests and residents will have access to facilities, including three principal dining venues, a jazz club, and the 2,300-square-metre Aman Spa and will also be home to an Aman Club for members.

Bringing authentic omakase (chef-chosen) washoku cuisine to Manhattan, Aman’s signature fine-dining Japanese restaurant, Nama, will serve sushi and sashimi at its live-cooking counter and on its outdoor terrace. The Wine Library, Aman New York’s wine cellar, will sit adjacent to Nama and will be available for private wine tastings and events. Arva, Aman’s signature Italian restaurant, will offer all-day dining both within the airy restaurant and on the wraparound garden terrace which claims views of Central Park. The Bar will serve cocktails, craft beers and gin from leading local breweries and distilleries, and a global selection of fine wines, while the addition of a Cigar Bar, provides an al fresco terrace.

Extending over three-storeys, the Aman Spa will be the brand’s new flagship Wellness Centre in the western hemisphere. In the Wellness Centre guests can relax in seven spa treatment suites and two unique Banya and Hammam Spa Houses. Each Spa House will feature its own private outdoor terrace with hot and cold plunge pools. Guests to the spa can also enjoy the 20-metre indoor swimming pool lined with double daybeds around cosy fire pits.

The 280-square-metre innovative Aman Fitness Centre will feature Technogym training equipment, a yoga studio and a full experience hydrotherapy facility with saunas, steam rooms, ice fountains and sensory showers. A classic gentlemen’s barber and a ladies’ hair and nail salon will provide professional grooming and further beauty services.

Aman New York’s 22 private residences are fully serviced and range from one to six bedrooms that feature functioning fireplaces in living and bedroom spaces. Many residences will have outdoor terraces and heated pools. Furthermore, residence owners will have a private entrance to the Aman Spa as well as access to 24/7 lifestyle management and concierge services, restaurant service from the principal dining venues and a lifetime membership to Aman Club.

Look inside DOMA Group’s freshest CBD offering: Little National Sydney

Little National Sydney
Little National Sydney

Now open for bookings, Little National Sydney is nestled atop Wynyard station, providing guests with a haven from which they can explore Sydney

Little National Sydney’s ornate placement atop a transport infrastructure was designed using a steel frame structure—a rare architectural choice in Australia.

“Little National Sydney’s design focuses on providing everything you need, but nothing that you don’t,” says Guy Lake, Director at Bates Smart and lead architectural designer at Little National Sydney. “We wanted to ensure this hotel felt refined and understated, without compromising on quality and space.”

The hotel’s communal guest areas were designed with the concepts of space, light and experience in mind. The open plan rooftop features double height ceilings, a library work-space, bar and fireplace with lounge seating. Designed with the intent of providing a green oasis amid Sydney’s urban sprawl, the indoor setting aims to offer private workspaces and socialisation spots in the heart of the Harbour City.

Little National Sydney aims to offer natural light and efficiency of space within guest rooms. A floor to ceiling window is situated alongside king-sized bed with charging ports, television and lighting. The joinery in guest rooms was crafted with the aim of blending into the furniture without impeding natural light.

“We are so pleased to have crafted the Little National Sydney for DOMA,” says designer Hayden Crawford, who led the Bates Smart interior design team. “It’s a fresh and exciting offer for Sydney – especially the rooftop, which will be a destination like no other in the city.”

The New Way to Travel: Stay Small, Stay Safe with Small Luxury Hotels

Socially distanced dining at Small Luxury Hotels

As hotels prepare to welcome travellers, Small Luxury Hotels provides new cleanliness standards for increased solitude and safety across all destinations

Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) is launching the ‘Stay Small, Stay Safe’ initiative that offers enhanced health and detailed safety guidelines for all 520 member hotels in 90 countries. Nearly 230 SLH member hotels have now re-opened and many prepare to open in the coming months. The program aims to ease guests’ cleanliness concerns as they prepare to travel the world once again.

A recent survey conducted of SLH guests shows over 90% of travellers would feel more comfortable staying in a small independent hotel. The ‘Stay Small, Stay Safe’ initiative’s goal is to provide travellers with the intimate, less crowded hotel experiences they are seeking. With an average of 50 rooms per SLH property, these destinations can offer secluded, discrete options with safety standards.

In order to safeguard these standards, SLH has entered a partnership with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) for its hotels to pursue GBAC STAR™ accreditation. This accreditation provides third-party validation that ensure hotels have the proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques and work practices in place so guests can relax during their stay.

Additionally, a ‘Stay Small, Stay Safe’ module will be launched on the SLH website, helping guests and travel advisors make informed decisions by guiding visitors’ journeys through the site. The SLH module aims to provide the latest updates on border openings, quarantine restrictions, best practices and information pertaining to COVID-19 precautions at each hotel. The SLH Quality Assurance Policy will also update the 700-point Mystery Inspection program checklist. Mystery Inspectors are anonymous SLH staffers who pose as guests at member locations to ensure that each destination adheres to SLH standards. The update will add 136 checkpoints related to health, safety and cleanliness standards performed at all 520 hotels annually. The heightened standards for hygiene will be critical for the safety and comfort of each guest and staff member as hotels reopen their doors.

“Travellers are yearning for a change of scenery and have already begun to cautiously book their next adventure, and with these new measures, SLH can confidently reassure each guest of a worry-free stay,” says Jean-Francois Ferret, CEO at Small Luxury Hotels of the World.