The resort’s 50 luxury villas—built on stilts with curved thatch roofs that nod to the huts of the Andaman Islands’ indigenous Jarawa tribe—fit the vibe perfectly.
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.
Ensconced in a secluded cove on India’s remote Havelock Island, the Taj group’s newest outpost brings five-star luxury to one of Asia’s most beautiful stretches of sand. Radhanagar Beach remains unmarred by seafood shacks, trinket sellers, or many tourists, and the Taj Exotica’s 50 luxury villas—built on stilts with curved thatch roofs that nod to the huts of the Andaman Islands’ indigenous Jarawa tribe—fit the vibe perfectly. Interiors feature wood floors, timber walls, and gorgeous canopied beds, with wraparound verandas for snoozing away the afternoons.
To protect this biodiversity hot spot in the Bay of Bengal, the site architect fit the villas, Olympic-length swimming pool, and three restaurants into the landscape like puzzle pieces so as to avoid chopping down a single tree. For divers and snorkelers, the local waters boast sea turtles, dugongs, sunken wrecks, and a terrific array of fish; be sure to try a spot of night kayaking in the island’s mangroves, which harbor a constellation of bioluminescence algae.
The poolside Turtle House restaurant serves a wide range of grilled seafood as well as great renditions of Indian standards and favorites from Taj properties around the world. But the real gem is The Settlers, a 10-seat chef’s table that spotlights dishes from the different mainland communities who migrated to the Andamans after India won its independence.
91-3192/283-333; tajhotels.com; doubles from US$530.
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Luxe List 2018: Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Andamans”).