The Best New Luxury Resorts
More than a few noteworthy resorts launched in 2017. Some reimagine historic buildings to immerse guests in centuries of local culture. Others are entirely new creations that open up frontier destinations. Here are six to consider checking into. Rates are per room per night unless otherwise indicated.
Fringed by sandy beaches and clear blue water, Kokomo Private Island—part of Fiji’s Kadavu archipelago, a 45-minute seaplane or helicopter transfer from Nadi International Airport—is that rare luxury resort that not only offers jaw-dropping tropical-island-paradise vibes but caters simultaneously to couples, adventure seekers, and families.
Accommodations, including 21 beachfront villas and six residences with up to six bedrooms, are inspired by Fiji’s traditional open-plan bures, rendered in a neutral palette that reflects the island’s sand, driftwood, and natural grey rock. All feature private decks and infinity pools and are well spaced for privacy.
Kokomo’s owner, billionaire Australian real estate tycoon Lang Walker, says he was drawn to the location by its proximity to the Great Astrolabe Reef, which he ranks among the world’s best dive sites. Not surprisingly, the property is outfitted for water play, with a complimentary dive tank or Discover Scuba session with the island’s certified trainers included with each stay. You can dine at one of the resort’s three restaurants, in-room, or under the stars on a neighboring island; catch your own meal on a deep-sea fishing excursion and chefs will serve it with your choice of veggies from the organic garden. Butler and nanny services are included, as is a massage at the secluded Yaukuve Spa Sanctuary.
From $7,500 (two nights)
Roman jewelry brand Bulgari’s mission to bring Italian hospitality and la bella figura to the world’s most eminent destinations continued in December with the opening of Bulgari Resort Dubai—the brand’s fifth and most ambitious property, following Bulgari Hotel Beijing, which debuted two months prior. Developed over 13 hectares on the seahorse-shaped, man-made island of Jumeira Bay, the property evokes an Italian maritime town on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, complete with boulevards, illuminated gardens and pools, and even a lemon grove.
The world’s first Bulgari Marina & Yacht Club, incorporating 50 berths for superyachts up to 40 meters, abuts La Spiaggia beach club, which has its own private beach and striking mosaic-tiled outdoor pool. Bulgari Spa’s 25-meter indoor pool is framed by floor-to-ceiling windows with expansive ocean views. Chef Niko Romito—whose restaurant in Abruzzo, Italy, has three Michelin stars—oversees main dining hub Il Ristorante.
At just four stories, the property has a lower profile than other Dubai developments but is no less lavishly appointed. Architect Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel’s contemporary, marble-rich Italian buildings incorporate Middle Eastern and maritime touches, such as the coral-shaped, Arab-style brise soleil shading that links the ocean to the skyline; accommodations juxtapose furnishings by luxe Italian brands Maxalto, Flos, and Flexform with silk walls and Berber carpets.
And while the resort’s 101 rooms are spacious, fronted by balconies overlooking either the gulf or the glittering city skyline, its 20 one-, two- and three-bedroom villas—all with butler service, private pool, and gazebo—are better suited to families or groups. The most lavish of these is the 5,810-square-foot, three-bedroom Bulgari Villa, which boasts a large outdoor swimming pool framed by lush gardens.
It’s easy to imagine that this knot of Ming and Qing Dynasty dwellings at Aman’s new Amanyangyun resort—set within 10 hectares of tranquil, pond-dotted grounds 30 minutes from Shanghai—has stood unchanged for centuries. But a decade ago, these structures looked very different and were somewhere else entirely.
When entrepreneur and philanthropist Ma Dadong learned in 2002 that a new reservoir would submerge 50 ancient villas scattered over his home province of Jiangxi in eastern China, 400 miles away, he embarked on a mammoth conservation and restoration project to disassemble, preserve, and ultimately rebuild those structures here, brick by brick.
Kerry Hill Architects—the firm that designed Aman Tokyo—has reimagined the original buildings as 12 Aman residences for purchase and 13 four-bedroom antique villa guest accommodations covering up to 1,000 square meters with a central courtyard, private pool, and Jacuzzi. At the property’s center, the grandest house, Nan Shufang (named for the Forbidden City’s royal reading pavilion), is a shared space to read and relax, practice calligraphy, participate in tea ceremonies, or watch a Kunqu Opera performance.
Some of the 10,000 camphor trees Dadong uprooted as part of the project—including a 1,000-year-old Emperor Tree—have found a new home here; the property also includes 24 new Ming Courtyard Suites, an expansive spa and fitness center with Russian banya and hammam, and five drinking and dining hubs: restaurants serving Cantonese, Japanese, and Italian cuisine; plus a bar and cigar lounge with a wine cellar and a humidor stocked with selections from Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
This 230-year-old former fort—perched atop a rugged, granite hillock in Bishangarh village in Jaipur, India—stands out for its rich aesthetics. A decade of careful renovations preserved its marble-and-sandstone-clad, two-meter-thick walls, which are pocked by openings for firearms. Interior emphasize elegance and simplicity over fussy opulence, taking their cues from local materials and architectural influences from the Mughals and the British—Tudor and cusped arches, stone Jaali work, brass embossed panels.
Because dining venues are scattered over towers, secret passages, and cellars, mealtimes have a treasure-hunt feel. Amarsar, set in the former Shahpura royal residence, offers all-day, Silk-Road-cuisine-inspired dining. At outdoor grill terrace Nazaara, chef Ranveer Brar serves Rajput and hunter-style cuisine—meat cooked in its own juices in sandpits and firepits—against the backdrop of the Aravalli Range. Kachhawa Lounge, site of the former royal escape route, serves the 4 Cs—champagne, coffee, chai, and cakes—while open-air poolside hub Haveli offers Mediterranean cuisine informed by seasonal produce from the hotel’s organic garden. The after-dinner hangout is cigar-cum-cognac turret Madhuveni, which is ventilated by holes in the thick stone that were originally used to pour boiling oil over attacking enemies.
The Fort’s 59 rooms and suites are spacious, ranging from 703 to 912 square feet, all with king-size or twin beds, daybeds
set against large jarokha-style windows with uninterrupted views of Bishangarh’s rural beauty, and footed or oversized tubs in the bathrooms.
There’s Wi-Fi, a gym, and a marble-pillared library whose holdings still include a wall map of charming Bishangarh village and its havelis (mansions). Carved out of the granite, the fort’s old dungeons have been reimagined at Spa Alila, where treatments combine the wellbeing rituals and spices and emollients of the region.
Perched atop a lushly forested hill slope overlooking the Pakerisan River in upscale Ubud, this 30-villa property—Hoshinoya’s first outside Japan—is Balinese inspired and Japanese designed, executed, and operated. Architect Rie Azuma has drawn on the layout of a traditional village to create 30 villas that blend local culture with Japanese spatial concepts. The grounds are networked by UNESCO World Heritage–listed Subak canals, which have supported the valley’s terraced rice paddies for a thousand years, and feature three swimming pools that are accessible from every villa’s terrace or balcony.
Operations manager Mari Kobayashi says her favorite villa category of the three available is Bulan, for its outdoor poolside living space, where a private alang-alang–thatched gazebo is oriented to catch the breeze from the roaring river below, and traditional carvings by Ubud artisans are placed above the bed. “The impression of the wood carving changes in accordance with the sunlight streaming in the room and lightings throughout the day,” she explains.
Balinese spirituality also imbues wellness activities. Daily yoga sessions are geared towards morning awakening and moonlight meditation; at spa villas set halfway down the hill from the resort, where exotic birds flit between steaming, sheen-covered trees, massage therapists use techniques originating in the courts of Javanese kings to realign guests’ ki.
Kyoto-born chef Makoto Miyamaguchi offers Indonesian cuisine using Japanese techniques and aesthetics, with dishes available a la carte or as a nine-course prix fixe set menu served at the restaurant or one of seven birdcage-like gazebos perched in the jungle canopy. And should you fancy a change, Ubud’s litany of great restaurants is just outside the gate.
In Madagascar’s relatively undeveloped luxury hospitality scene, Miavana stands out for its commitment to conservation and creating sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of local people. Set on the sand-and-coral-ringed island of Nosy Ankao, it’s accessible only by helicopter and offers a unique base for water and sky safaris to neighboring islands and mainland parks.
Anchored by a central plaza and offering a couple of dining options and dive training by PADI-certified instructors, the resort has been designed by South African architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens—and handcrafted by more than 500 Malagasi using native materials—to connect guests with the setting at every opportunity. The stone Fort bar overlooks an infinity pool that seems to spill into the Indian Ocean. The Cabinet of Curiosities showcases artifacts, including elephant bird eggs, a sapphire collection, and a brass propeller that took 36 people to move. Inside the resort’s 14 villas—which trace the west coastline for uninterrupted ocean views and direct beach access—bathtubs overlook the sea and are framed by curtains hand-dyed to reflect its gradients from the shallows to deep blue.
The 10 Best New U.S. Hotels
Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills, California. Interior firebrand Pierre-Yves Rochon designed the terraced rooms, suites, and penthouses, and the chef is the world-renowned Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Other attractions include a La Prairie spa and a rooftop pool overlooking one of California’s most coveted ZIP codes.
San Francisco Proper, San Francisco. This 131-guest-room property in San Francisco’s Financial District attracts locals who come for cocktails by bar scene stalwarts Josh Harris and Morgan Schick and food by James Beard-nominated executive chef Jason Franey, formerly of Michelin-starred Campton Place and Eleven Madison Park.
Life Hotel, New York. Sleep where writers produced some of the 20th century’s most compelling stories at this hotel, which occupies the former headquarters of Life magazine, just off Fifth Avenue
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, New York. Local artisans have used greenery and reclaimed materials to great effect in this hotel’s welcoming spaces. Rooms and the newly opened rooftop bar overlook the East River and Manhattan skyline.
Ventana Big Sur, Big Sur, California. Upscale resort Ventana took the enforced closure of Highway 1 south of Carmel, along which it’s situated, as an opportunity to renovate its 59 rooms and common spaces. The five-star, adults-only facility reopened last October as Alila’s first North American property.
Nobu Ryokan, Malibu, California. Eleven of this hotel’s 16 rooms have ocean views, and all have fireplaces and teak soaking tubs; guests have priority access to the adjacent Nobu restaurant.
The Line, Washington, D.C. Set within a 110-year-old historic church, this hotel showcases the work of the capital’s best local chefs, bartenders, artists, and designers, and features 3,000 artworks plus curated micro-libraries. James Beard–recognized chefs Spike Gjerde and Erik Bruner-Yang ensure dining is tip-top.
Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Surfside, Florida. Five minutes from Bal Harbour, architect Richard Meier and designer Joseph Dirand have channeled old-school Miami glamor to create 77 light, airy rooms and lofty public spaces at this former surf club on the beach, which also features the first overseas restaurant outlet by Amalfi Coast icon Le Sirenuse.
Las Alcobas, Napa, California. Occupying a 1907 Georgian-style farmhouse separated from Beringer Vineyards by a narrow stream, this 13-room hotel offers wine country charm in spades plus a saltwater pool, spa, and 50-seat restaurant Acacia House by Chris Cosentino of San Francisco’s Cockscomb.
Andaz Scottsdale, Arizona. Set against the backdrop of Camelback Mountain, all 201 mid-century-modern-inspired bungalow-style rooms and suites feature patios and terraces overlooking the surrounding Sonoran Desert; the complex also includes Cattle Track Arts Compound, an expansive wedge-shaped pool and luxe Palo Verde spa.