One Month Left to Experience the Igloos at Pier One

Pier One Sydney Igloo Interior

From hot tub experience to unique proposal setting, Pier One Sydney’s igloos offer cosy winter experiences with unobstructed Walsh Bay views

Pier One Sydney Harbour’s beloved winter pop-up – ‘Igloos On The Pier’ – is back with new re-imagined experiences. Open until the 30th of August, this season’s retinue of Pier One Igloos are now perched in suites overlooking the harbour. Igloo experiences range from sleepovers under the stars to a hot tub igloo and a bespoke proposal experience.

Enjoy this socially distanced harbourside retreat in safety, knowing that the NSW Government has certified Pier One Sydney Harbour as a COVID-Safe premises. This year, each igloo is limited to a maximum of 10 people to ensure social distancing expectations are met.

Pier One’s Dream Igloo Suite offers harbourside views of Walsh Bay from the comfort of the igloo balcony’s cosy furnishings, including plenty of cushions and a daybed. With overnight accommodation available in Suite 216, there’s no time like the present to experience a sleepover under Sydney’s stars.

Perched 5 metres above the pier, the Hot Tub Igloo offers warm and cosy relaxation sessions with a private bathroom, including bathrobes and towels. Stroll from the igloo’s interior to its balcony to find the hot tub, where the fresh harbour breeze enhances the ambiance. Guests can also book the Hot Tub Igloo for an overnight experience in Suite 247.

The popular winter proposal experience hosted by Pier One are once again available in collaboration with My Proposal Co. Rent out a private igloo designed for a romantic wintery proposal setting, complete with mood lighting, catering, photographer, event coordination and personal touches.

Pre-ordered sharable food and beverage items are available for all igloos. Three luxe hampers are available to guests: the Cheese & Charcuterie Hamper in collaboration with The Gantry; the Seafood Market Basket; and the After Dark Hamper featuring desserts styled by The Gantry. All three hampers feature Australian products, including components of the After Dark Hamper being sourced from bushfire affected regions to support local recovery efforts.

Daily bookings are available at 12:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.

Book from $600AUD, which includes a minimum of $400AUD spent on food and beverages.

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.

Explore Holistic Luxury Wellness at the New Maldivian Velaa Spa

Velaa Spa Aerial View, Velaa Private Island, Maldives
Velaa Spa Aerial View, Velaa Private Island, Maldives

Centred in the heart of the Maldives’ Noonu Atoll, Velaa Private Island offers a new wellness experience for travelers seeking whole body rejuvenation

Responding to the shift towards holistic wellness in travel experiences, Velaa Spa launched in early 2020 to provide guests with a health conscious retreat. A luxury beach resort located in the Maldives’ Noonu Atoll, Velaa Private Island aims to blend Maldivian culture with contemporary luxury while providing guests with a boutique hideaway.

Of the luxury resort’s 47 private villas, houses and exclusive residences, 18 are built over water while the Romantic Pool Residence remains accessible only by boat.

Following the themes of comfort and luxury, the new Velaa Spa promises to offer guests unique relaxation and rejuvenation experiences catered to their individual desires.

Features of Velaa Spa

Velaa Spa is the resort’s new wellness brand that focused on complete rejuvenation. Perched above the resort’s lagoon, Velaa Spa promises to offer a sanctuary of spa treatments, personalised fitness and nutrition regimes.

Body, Nutrition, Fitness and Mind are the cornerstones of Velaa Spa’s philosophy. Offerings from the spa aim to adhere to these ideals and include the following experiences:

  • Multi-sensory treatments that blend organic ingredients with natural healing therapies
  • 3- and 5-day wellness experiences tailored to individual guests’ desires and needs
  • Monthly experiences with visiting practitioners from across the globe
  • A new menu of spa services, including such experiences as a series of healing signature treatments
  • New spa products ranging from Velaa Spa’s own line to products of Japanese skincare brand Kotoshina and of Dr Burgener’s luxury Swiss beauty range.

The New Wellness Experiences

The 3- and 5-day holistic wellness experiences offer guests to Velaa Spa the opportunity of experiencing a new wellness menu based on the latest technology and treatments to address individual health and lifestyle concerns of guests.

Guests can choose from four different experiences: The Detox, The Relaxing, The Rejuvenating and The Fitness Reviver. Each package offers a range of massage treatments and facials, personal training sessions, meditation and juices. This holistic approach to personal well-being and restoration is facilitated by therapists, qualified nutritionists and fitness trainers.

On the Spa Menu

The Velaa Spa offers a range of treatment experiences including facials, massages and body-slimming rituals. Signature treatments of Velaa Spa include the Green Caviar Facial—which uses green caviar sourced from Okinawa, gold trace elements and ultrasound waves to benefit the skin on a cellular level.

The light and sleep therapy pod, Cloud 9, aims to recreate the feeling of being cradled as a child while the snow room promotes detoxification. Slimming programmes at Velaa Spa include G5 figure contouring and HIFU body sculpting. Nail and beauty services available to guests include hair styling and Kérastase treatments while a junior range caters to younger guests.

Visiting Practitioners

Velaa Spa aims to host practitioners and wellness specialists with a new featured expert each month. Ranging from hypnotherapist and nutritionists to personal trainers and many more, these practitioners-in-residence will provide guests with access to their expertise, training and healing.

New Spa Products

Velaa Spa Products—the resort’s new spa line—will feature products and scents inspired by the island’s flora and the surrounding ocean. The line aims for a multi-sensory approach with products including essential oils, fragrance reeds, aromatherapy candles and mist. These products will be used across the range of Velaa Spa’s services and be available for purchase.

Two partner spa product lines, Kotoshina and Dr Burgener, offer guests to Velaa Spa a unique experience in the Maldives. Originating from Kyoto, Kotoshina is organically produced with ingredients such as green tea and spring water. The swiss line, Dr Burgener, was created by welling practitioners and features a luxury skincare range that combines natural active ingredients with advancements in science and technology.

More about Velaa

Translating to “turtle” in the local language, Velaa is named for the generations of sea turtles that flock to the island to nest and hatch. From a broader “bird’s eye view”, which guests arriving by seaplane may experience, the island’s exclusive over-water villas are constructed to resemble the head of a turtle, with the island forming the body.

Giving back to the creatures and ecosystem that helped name and support the resort, Velaa Private Island sponsors a coral restoration team that aims to rehabilitate the surrounding ocean life and educate guests.

With three restaurants, a cocktail lounge, champagne bar and wine cellar, Velaa aims to please the palate of all guests. Adventure awaits guests to the resort in the form of excursions, water activities, sports and more.

To find out more about what Velaa Private Island has to offer, follow the link below:

Soneva Leads the Way for a More Sustainable Maldives

Soneva’s Namoona Baa initiative with Maldivian governments has led to Maalhos becoming the first Maldivian island to stop open burning

Aerial beach view, Maldives
Aerial beach view, Maldives

In partnership with Common Seas, an international NGO dedicated to reducing marine plastic pollution, Soneva and island council presidents have pledged to reduce the waste produced in the Baa Atoll for a more sustainable Maldives.

Each island in the Namoona Baa initiative will create an ‘eco-centro’ waste-to-wealth centre that will sort, recycle and reuse island waste in an effort to end the practice of the open burning of waste. This is modelled on the Soneva resort practice of recycling 90 per cent of food and organic waste, metals, plastics and bottles. The eco-centre on Maalhos has already enabled the island to completely stop the open burning of rubbish and waste.

In February, Parliamentary Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh took part in a friendly cricket match celebrating this step towards a more eco-friendly and sustainable Maldives. Speaking at the dinner that followed, Nasheed said: “What we have brought to our islands in the course of building a life, has taken us over – waste has taken over our reefs, beaches and islands. This waste is now a curse.”

Central to the Namoona Baa initiative is the reduction in the volume of plastics arriving to the island nation. This effort is supported by the establishment of a water treatment plant that desalinates and mineralises sea water, bottling the beverage in reusable glass containers.

“The eco-centro is a revolution for Maalhos,” noted island council president, Abdulla Shujau. “After 20 years, we have turned our dump yard into a proper waste centre.”

The waste reduction program is fostered on a sense of love for the ocean and local environment. Soneva is nurturing a new generation of environmental stewards, enabling the Maldivian islands to “produce wealth from its waste,” as stated by Soneva CEO and co-founder, Sonu Shivdasani.

Dealing with waste, particularly plastic, is a major issue for every island community in the Maldives. Plastic bottles and bags tend to litter streets, island jungles and beaches, while waste is routinely burned in toxic, open bonfires. Human health and guesthouse tourism suffer as a direct result of this practice.

Under the Namoona Baa Initiative, the Maalhos model will be expanded to neighbouring Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo, with eco-centro waste-to-wealth centres established on both islands later this year. With government support, it is hoped that the model can be rolled out across the Baa Atoll and eventually the whole of the Maldives. A nationwide phase-out of single-use plastics in the Maldives is expected by 2023.

From Montenegro to The Hamptons: 5 Luxurious Hotels to Start Dreaming About

Villa Geba, Montenegro, Small Luxury Hotels

From an intimate adults-only bolthole in Barcelona to a sustainable Sicilian farmhouse and an eco-friendly hideaway in Cambodia, Small Luxury Hotels adds more hot properties to its ranks

Small Luxury Hotels of the World has added another round of luxurious properties to its growing portfolio. Hand-picking luxury hotels and boutique properties from across the globe, the company’s current collection includes everything from a boutique resort nestled on the edges of Erhai Lake in China, to an elegant hotel on eight acres near where Pablo Picasso once called home. And now, they’ve announced a further five additions, including two properties in new destinations for the brand – Montenegro and the Hamptons.


Angkor Village Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Located in the heart of Siem Reap just minutes from historic Angkor Wat, the Angkor Village Hotel is a collection of Khmer houses set amongst lush tropical gardens, made with carefully selected local materials sourced from the community. The hotel’s eco-conscious ethos comes from reducing energy consumption with efficient devices and movement sensors, all the way to reducing single use plastics throughout their room amenities.

Guests can eat dinner by torchlight in L’Auberge des Temples – a ‘floating’ pavilion surrounded by lotus-laden pools – which serves delicious Khmer recipes made with locally sourced ingredients. Nearby, the onsite Apsara Theatre allows guests insight into traditional Cambodian dances and Khmer culture.

The 42 rooms start from $233 AUD per night, including breakfast.

The Wittmore, Barcelona, Spain

Bringing a hint of New York sophistication to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, The Wittmore has a speakeasy vibe with its plush, red velvet interiors, Bakelite telephones and adults-only, no-photography policy. The property exudes intimacy throughout from its baronial dining room decked with tartan motifs and a crackling fireplace and Sinatra and Dean Martin playing on repeat, all the way up to a rooftop sun deck with yellow-and-white striped loungers, a plunge pool and panoramic views of the city.

In keeping with the members’ club vibe, The Witty restaurant feels as if it’s straight out of a Wes Anderson film thanks to it’s bird-print wallpaper, dog-shaped salt and pepper shakers and an old-master-style oil painting of a fictional Lord Wittmore. You never quite know what you’ll find, particularly on a Thursday night when the restaurant is host to a range of musicians playing everything from jazz to Spanish pop.

The 22 rooms start from $685 AUD per night, including breakfast.

Villa Geba, Sveti Stafan, Montenegro

A secret hideaway overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Villa Geba offers privileged views of the Sveti Stefan peninsula, a former fishing village that has recently been named Montenegro’s most photographed site. Each of the hotel’s eight suites comes with its own private butler and is named after a different Greek goddess who was the inspiration behind its design. From the Moorish-themed Salma, to the blue monochrome Appolonia and the black-and-gold Elena, each is individual and tells a story.

Guests are invited to indulge their senses at the hotel’s Muse Restaurant & Bar, serving French cuisine prepared by Chef Olivia Méli, who trained under Joël Robuchon. Specialties include a seabass in salt crust and a lemon meringue pie with notes of lavender. Alternatively, the hotel can also organise a host of bespoke activities for guests including tea ceremonies with Montenegrin monks in a local monastery, dinner in a winery, or a gourmet lakeside picnic.

When it’s time to unwind, the infinity pool, suspended above the Montenegrin coastline and surrounded by ancient ruins is just the place.

The eight rooms start at $1,600 AUD, including breakfast.

Susafa, Sicily, Italy

A part of Northern Sicily’s bucolic landscape, Susafa is a family-run estate owned by the Saeli-Rizzuto family, which aims to introduce a new generation of guests to centuries-old rural life from cherry harvesting and Sicilian wine tasting, to ravioli and tortellini making.

Committed to working in tune with their natural environment, Susafa produces most of its own energy through solar panels and all their water is sourced from on-site wells.

Guests are encouraged to join walking tours of the bountiful gardens that grow the native fruits, vegetables and herbs used daily in the hotel’s restaurant. Using these ingredients, guests are also invited to take part in a Sicilian cooking class and learn how to make tomato sauce, or ‘caponata’, as well as ricotta cheese and cannoli.

The hotel is also home to olive groves they use to produce their own organic extra virgin olive oil, and wheat fields that go into their delicious focaccia bread and pizzas that are served daily, on site.

The 18 rooms start from $277 AUD per night, including breakfast.

Topping Rose House, The Hamptons, United States

Approximately 160 kilometers from New York City on the East End of Long Island, Topping Rose House is The Hamptons’ full-service, luxury hotel. It also happens to be conveniently within walking distance of Bridgehampton’s boutiques, art galleries and cafes, and for guests with an eye for art, the hotel’s personal collection includes pieces from Seattle artist Christopher Boffoli, and Scott Patt’s “Rabbit with Foot” ceramic sculpture.

The 75-seat restaurant is truly farm-to-table, featuring produce that has been grown on the property’s one-acre Topping Rose Farm and also honours the best ingredients from other local farmers and fishermen.

The Naturopathica Spa gives guests the chance to unwind with a host of herbal treatments such as Herbal Hydration Complex masks and anti-inflammatory massages. The staff are also on hand to organise bespoke activities for guests including private yoga sessions, cooking, wine or spirit demonstrations, guided hikes and bike rides, chartered fishing excursions and vineyard visit with wine tasting. Just say the word.

The 22 rooms start from $967 AUD per night, including breakfast.

Aman Resorts Introduces Spiritual Sister Brand, Janu

Janu Montenegro Serviced Residence with Pool

The new hotel brand “with a soul” comes with a goal to rekindle human interaction and foster connection

With properties hidden in the middle of a 32-hectare forest in Japan, a restored ancient village in China, and stretching out of a dusty desert in the States, Aman Resorts are renowned for their minimal-luxe aesthetic, inspired by the unique environment in which they exist. Now, Aman has announced the launch of a new concept – Janu, a sister brand which “aims to deliver harmony through the dynamic balance of opposites. While Aman is all about the sanctuary, Janu is about connectedness,” according to the company’s announcement.

So what does that mean, exactly?

“The overlap between Aman and its sibling is mutually beneficial; together they offer a total solution for the fluctuating needs and desires of today’s global travel cognoscenti,” explained Aman Chairman and CEO Vladislav Doronin. “With today’s modern fast-paced society, which has seen human connection and communication redefined by the digital world, we wanted to create a new hotel brand with a soul and with the aim of kick-starting human interaction again.”

With ‘Janu’ translating to ‘soul’ in Sanskrit, it’s fitting that at the core of the hotel concept is a focus on the mind and body, and the coming together of both. The brand lives under an ethos of embracing the dualities that life brings – work and play, head and heart, yin and yang – and the belief is that when one acknowledges and accepts opposing elements, total relaxation and restoration can be achieved. Janu, then, aims to instil an environment for kindred souls to come together, to learn and to restore.

Three Janu hotels are already under construction, with each designed to play with the concepts of light and space. While large guest rooms offer the private relaxation the luxury group is known for, energetic social spaces introduce the new concept’s focus on reconnection.

Dynamic dining opportunities will experiment with concepts like low-temperature cooking, fermentation and theatrical open kitchens, while guests can engage over one-night-only exclusivity and immersive experiences that feed the soul.

Time-conscious and high-octane group classes will be available to guests, as well as more subdued, mindful practices; an expansive wellness spa, too, is set to offer bespoke treatments including cutting-edge hydro and thermal facilities for both solo and group visits.

The three forthcoming Janu hotels in Montenegro, Al Ula in Saudi Arabia and Tokyo are set to open in 2022.

Four Seasons Bali is Opening a 2000 Square-Metre Spa

Healing Village Spa treatment at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Healing Village Spa treatment at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay is set to pamper guests from May 2020 at the newly renovated Healing Village Spa

The all-villa beach retreat of Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay will open its new, two-storey Four Seasons Healing Village Spa on 1 May 2020, offering a dedicated pamper space that is 70 per cent bigger than its previous iteration, spanning 2,000 square metres. Showcasing contemporary Balinese design, the reinvented Healing Village Spa will be home to 10 all-suite treatment rooms including six double rooms for couples complete with a private outdoor relaxation area, outdoor bathtub and shower. The Illume Room feature a heated quartz-sand bed for inversion therapy and surround sound original music and The Longevity Garden comes with a private steam room amid tropical gardens. Products from skincare brand ISUN draw on organic ingredients.

“We feel blessed to have such strong cultural and community connections, from our team of local healers who bring their loving presence to each treatment, to the traditional influences and home-grown ingredients,” said Regional Director of Spa, Luisa Anderson. “By uniting cultural elements with the latest in emerging science, we are able to offer truly transformational experiences in one of the island’s most dynamic wellness hubs.”


The Healing Village Spa highlights include:

Bali’s first ‘Surround Sound Spa Suite’

The Illume Room includes a heated quartz-sand bed made of crushed crystals for inversion therapy and undulating massage and is sealed from outside sources of light to maximise colour therapy healing. Engineered for surround sound technology, it features original ‘Sounds of Jimbaran’ music composed exclusively for the Spa and recorded onsite. Seven alchemy crystal singing bowls add to the high vibrations of the uniquely conceived space.


The Longevity Garden

Guests move through a thermotherapy sequence in The Longevity Garden: DIY salt scrubs and mud wraps; infra-red mats; sun-warmed stone loungers; and an invigorating ice bath, all combining to offer reduced inflammation, increased circulation and endorphins and encourage faster muscle recovery.


Treatments that harness the intrinsic qualities of gemstones

Gemstone Joy is a ritual that uses gemstone oils along with crystal massage wands, while the Celestial Light Facial combines sound and light vibration with crystal wands for skin health.


A Blessings of Bali ritual

Guests can experience oceanside energy healing, simple yoga poses, traditional massage, a Balinese gong ‘sound bath’ and a flower blessing performed by a Balinese priest.

The island’s new wellness destination also features the only Rossano Ferretti Hair Spa in South-East Asia. The Italian celebrity stylist will cater for both local residents as well as visitors to Bali.


On The Healing Village Spa’s upper level, ocean views and state-of-the-art equipment inspire a work-out at the Fitness Centre with the Resort’s personal trainers. The wellness program also includes yoga and meditation sessions daily, not to mention a year-round calendar of visiting practitioners: a rare opportunity to experience one-to-one therapies from Reiki and Clairsentience to Aura-Soma Colour Therapy with global experts.

Israel’s Six Senses Shaharut Promises Desert Luxury

Panorama Pool Villa outdoor terrace, Six Senses Shaharut, Israel
Panorama Pool Villa outdoor terrace, Six Senses Shaharut, Israel

Located in the Arava Valley in the Negev Desert, Six Senses Shaharut will celebrate its arrival this June with a special offer for trips before August 2020

The highly-anticipated Six Senses Shaharut in Israel will open in June offering just 60 suites and villas along with a plethora of experiences, from sunrise yoga workshops to late-night stargazing sessions, hikes and camel treks through the Negev Desert.

Israel has been pegged as ‘hot’, must-visit destination on various worldwide travel lists over the last few years.

Conceived as a modern reinterpretation of nomadic structures, reminiscent of the Nabataean community which occupied the area over 2000 years ago, Six Senses Shaharut has been constructed in an eco-friendly manner, with the masterplan introducing architecture and interiors that blend with its desert environment. Inside, the furniture and fittings have been sourced from local artisans to complement the natural rock formations and utilise natural stone, wood and copper; the interior doors are custom made from reclaimed teak, which was rescued from disused boats, houses and footbridges.

“Six Senses Shaharut marks a new milestone for the brand as it enters yet another unique destination,” said General Manager Manish Puri. “I am very excited about this new opening which will bring the Six Senses ethos of sustainability, local sensitivity, and wellness together with this region’s desert culture and traditions.”

On-site experiences on offer include the Earth Lab, camel stables and an open-air amphitheatre. The desert setting presents a host of activities from overnight camel camping to extreme sports, hiking, jeep safaris and neighbouring Kibbutz tours. Treatments, together with a variety of wellness programs, will be on offer at Six Senses Spa, which draws its inspiration from the majestic landscape in which it is situated.

Located a three-and-a-half hour drive from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, and three hours from Petra in neighbouring Jordan, the resort can arrange transfers for guests, or alternatively, guests can opt for a 50-minute domestic flight from Tel Aviv to the new Ramon International Airport (ETM) near Eliat. From there, it is a 45-minute transfer to the resort.

Reservations are being accepted now for stays from June 1, 2020, onwards, with Six Senses Shaharut offering a complimentary Dusk Camel Trek experience in the Negev to guests who book three consecutive nights or more by the end of August.

Six Senses is in the midst of rapid expansion, with the wellness and sustainability-focused luxury hotel brand having been acquired by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in early 2019. On acquiring Six Senses, IHG announced that up to 60 Six Senses hotels will open by 2029, with other projects currently underway in Austria, Brazil, Mainland China, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and Thailand. Six Senses will make country debuts in Iceland in 2022, England in 2023 and Costa Rica, which will also be the first Central American hotel for the brand, in 2021. In addition, IHG opened the last of the five lodges that make up Six Senses Bhutan, just this month.

The Best Hotel, Restaurant and Spa in the World

Twin Farms, Vermont, USA

The best of the best, according to Forbes Travel Guide

For the first time in its 62 year history, Forbes Travel Guide has announced the best hotel, restaurant and spa of the year. Recipients of this accolade were chosen, as told to Forbes by CEO Filip Boyen, based off of a series of criteria that matches Forbes Travel Guide’s “well-known commitment to integrity”.

Covering 76 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, each year Forbes Travel Guide’s highly trained inspectors visit properties as objective mystery guests, evaluating and verifying their quality based on up to 900 objective criteria. The evaluation covers both service and facilitates as well as service, judging what kind of impression the property leaves on guests, how it makes them feel and what they remember most about the visit.

Without further ado, here are Forbes’ travel standouts for 2020:

Hotel of the Year

Located in the Vermont town of Barnard with a population of less that 1,000 people, the 20-room boutique hotel known as Twin Farms received this honour for its achievement of 98.24% on Forbes’ scoring card.

When prompted as to what makes Twin Farms unique, managing director John Graham told Forbes, “in part it’s a beautiful Vermont setting, in part wonderful design and art, in part great culinary and wine, in part memorable activities, but in whole our team truly dedicated to serving, really serving.”

With just 20 rooms spanning 300 acres, Twin Farms’ secluded adult-only property provides an intimate escape among the trees and mountains of Vermont. Visitors to this secluded boutique hotel can venture further afield—about a 1.5 hour drive—to Burlington, the capital of Vermont. Back at Twin Farms, services include such amenities as same-day laundry service, staff members to pack and unpack luggage, fully stocked refrigerators and local craft touches.

Chalet Bedroom at Twin Farms, Vermont
Chalet Bedroom at Twin Farms, Vermont

Restaurant of the Year

Inside Wynn Palace in Macau, sits the five-star Sichuan Moon by Andre Chiang, which received a score of 99.22% on Forbes’ rating scale, leading the restaurant to undeniable victory. The 15-course degustation menu aims to reacquaint the public with Sichuan food—shifting perceptions of the local cuisine as only spice to include the wide variation of flavours presented in Macau.

In an interview with Forbes, Wynn Palace chief operating officer Frederic Luvisutto stated, “Our goal is to reinterpret the flavours of Sichuan dishes and present them on a global stage, by introducing creative new culinary techniques and pairing dishes with extraordinarily rare specialty teas from around the world.”

Sichuan Moon, Wynn Palace Macau
Sichuan Moon, Wynn Palace Macau

Spa of the Year

Neighbouring Forbes’ Restaurant of the Year sits another of 2020’s outstanding destinations: the Morpheus Spa at the City of Dreams complex. Receiving a 99.50 score when compared to Forbes’ criteria, this six-room spa was created b architect Zaha Hadid. According to Forbes, it’s the first spa in the world to feature real snow. Additional amenities include the spa butler and platinum mask.

Chief operating officer of Macau Resorts and property president of City of Dreams, David Sisk, told Forbes that “The globally renowned Forbes award is a tribute to their talent and dedication. With its imaginative guest experiences, iconic design and exceptional amenities, Morpheus redefines high-end hospitality.”

Morpheus Spa at the City of Dreams, Macau
Morpheus Spa at the City of Dreams, Macau

Scenic Sumba is Getting a Boutique Wellness Retreat

Exterior view of Alamayah, Sumba
Exterior view of Alamayah, Sumba

With a focus on nature and healthy lifestyle, a boutique retreat hotel, Alamayah, will open next month on the lush Indonesian island of Sumba

Set to open in April 2020, Alamayah is a five-star all-inclusive boutique retreat hotel tucked away in a jungle beachside village in Sumba – an island that’s home to one of the last prehistoric tribes on earth.

Alamayah offers an holistic holiday retreat replete with just six private suites, a wellness spa, a fitness centre including rooftop yoga, entertainment rooms, blooming gardens as well as a plant-based restaurant.

The Alamayah experience begins with a scenic two-hour drive from Sumba’s Tambolaka Airport that passes mountains, fields and forests to reach the beachside village of Kerewe, where Alamayah sits. Located on the southwestern side of Sumba, Alamayah sits moments away from beaches, waterfalls, mangroves, caves, lakes and lagoons.

Each of the luxury suites offers king-sized beds dressed in cotton linen, outdoor terraces with views of the surrounding beaches and jungles, private dining areas, workspaces, en-suite bathrooms and walk-in showers. Every guest is treated to an all-inclusive experience that includes a healer’s body analysis, three plant-based meals per day, Medicinal Mixology and daily massage treatments.

Alamayah has collaborated with a team of physicists and chemists to create five therapeutic essential oil blends to target and heal the most common human ailments. Ranging from the signature Thrive blend, an oil that nourishes the body, mind and soul, to more specialised blends such as Fulfil and Awaken, guests can enjoy therapies that target specific health concerns.

With a customisable schedule, guests can opt into activities such as yoga, sound healing, surfing, mountain biking, guided jungle treks, art therapy and more at their leisure throughout their stay. Alamayah’s specialists are also available to arrange a flexible daily schedule, freeing guests from the mental load of travel planning to settle into the Alamayah experience.

Understanding that mental health is related to gut health, Alamayah offers Conscious Cuisine, a farm-to-table menu presenting health and sustainability through ethical and environmental methods. The culinary creations showcase foraged ingredients indigenous to Sumba, integrating herbs, fruits, vegetables and edible flowers grown by local farmers in neighbouring plantations and Alamayah’s organic permaculture gardens. Inspired by apothecary potions, guests can also indulge in a plethora of homemade elixirs, foraged garnishes and top-shelf liqueurs in Medicinal Mixology cocktails and mocktails.

For those seeking an even more intimate experience, visitors and retreat organisers can op to book out the full Alamayah property for a private boutique retreat experience.

Alamayah is available for bookings from 2 April 2020.