The decor is carefully curated castaway-chic—think knotted ropes, glass fishing floats, and giant copper bathtubs so big you could sail away in them.
From an intimate tented camp in the green foothills of Bali to a converted 19th-century Jesuit retreat in Tamil Nadu, our editors and reviewers have roamed the Asia-Pacific region to bring together DestinAsian’s annual collection of the year’s top hotel openings. Read on to discover which new properties stood out from the rest in terms of service, setting, amenities, and a singular sense of style.
How do you improve on the underwater perfection of the Maldives? At the Fairmont Maldives in the northern Shaviyani Atoll, you ask famed underwater artist and activist Jason DeCaires Taylor to create the world’s first semi-submerged art gallery. The result is the Coralarium, a perforated silver cube full of figurative sculptures that are part human, part plant, and part coral, accessed via a short snorkel across the lagoon. It’s astonishing, but so too are the onshore facilities. The resort’s 120 beach and overwater villas, all with their own pools, are oriented toward sunrise or sunset (two- and three-bedroom options are available) and the decor is carefully curated castaway-chic—think knotted ropes, glass fishing floats, and giant copper bathtubs so big you could sail away in them.
There are also tented “jungle” villas tucked inside pandanus-shrouded groves. The crescent-shaped island is petite enough that you can walk from end to end in 15 minutes, but you’ll nevertheless be assigned a personal butler with a golf buggy. Get him to take you to the Willow Stream Spa or the Balinese-inspired Onu Onu bar for some beachside bubbly. Dining is another highlight here, with all-day restaurant Raha Market offering local flavors like Maldivian tuna curry, Kata specializing in sushi and robatayaki, and Azure, the most romantic of the bunch, serving superlative seafood from its perch above the lagoon.
—960/654-8888; fairmont-maldives.com; doubles from $US650, half-board.
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Luxe List 2018: Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi”).