3 Southeast Asian Luxury Resorts with Something Extra

  • 01 of 04

    Life-Changing Experiences for High Flying Southeast Asia Travelers

    Sunset view from Puncak Villa, Nihiwatu, Indonesia
    Sunset view from Puncak Villa, Nihiwatu, Indonesia. Image courtesy of Nihiwatu Resort, used with permission

     If you're traveling to Southeast Asia soon – and if you have the cash to burn to get an extra-special experience in exchange – the resorts in this short list might be right up your alley.

    From gorgeous sunsets at the world's number-one resort (they have papers to prove it!) to watching baby turtles hatch at night, these luxury resorts have an extra something up their sleeve that makes the long travel times (and the significantly lighter wallets) well worth the wait and expense.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    This Thai Hotel Hosts the World's Top Chefs.

    Chef plating main dish at Biscotti, Anantara Siam Bangkok
    Chef plating main dish at Biscotti, Anantara Siam Bangkok. Image courtesy of Anantara Siam Bangkok, used with permission

    And it's not for ever: for one week between September 19 and 25, Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel welcomes the world's top Michelin-starred chefs, gourmets and wine connoisseurs to the 17th World Gourmet Festival.

    Food lovers can come to the Anantara Siam Bangkok in Thailand's capital to sample some of the finest cuisine and wines from around the globe, with the world's top chefs as the visitors' guides. Confirmed attendees include Michelin-starred Chef Mauro Colagreco from Mirazur in Menton, France; Chef Hideaki Sato from Ta Vie in Hong Kong; and Chef Kanesaka Shinjii from Shinji by Kanesaka of Raffles Singapore.

    The Festival's chefs will host dining evenings in the Anantara Siam Bangkok's award winning restaurants: Italian bistro Biscotti; Madison steakhouse; and Japanese joint Shintaro. Tickets to each hosted dinner cost between THB 5,000-6,900 (US$142-197). The World Gourmet Brunch on September 25 winds up the whole week's feasting.

    If you're coming for the food, get a stay, too –for THB 23,900 (about US$680), you can book a stay at the Anantara Siam Bangkok that includes overnight accommodation at a deluxe view room; access to Kasara lounge and accompanying buffet breakfasts and evening canapés; and tickets to any selected World Gourmet Festival dinner. Reservations for the package open in August and last only till supply gives out.

    To book individual dinner tickets, contact wgf.asia@anantara.com or visit www.worldgourmetfestivalasia.com.

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    This Malaysian Resort Helps Save Endangered Giant Turtles.

    Baby turtle hatching from nest
    Baby turtle hatching from nest. Image courtesy of YTL Hotels, used with permission

    Over the centuries, hawksbill turtles' numbers have been decimated by human hunting (their shells are prized for their beauty), ocean pollution, and animal predation. Their slow reproductive rate and high attrition rates for turtle hatchlings certainly don't help the situation.

    Luckily, these giant sea vertebrates still have a few human allies. YTL Hotels' Tanjong Jara Resort stands on Malaysia's eastern coast, in close proximity to natural turtle hatching grounds. This luxury seaside resort in Terengganu is now a key partner to a newly launched turtle hatchery launched by Lang Tengah Turtle Watch.

    The Tanjong Jara site is Lang Tengah Turtle Watch's first foothold on the mainland, after its main operations on Lang Tengah Island off the east coast. In only three years, Lang Tengah Turtle Watch has released over 8,000 turtle hatchlings, including 300 hawksbills.

    The 24 turtle nests near Tanjong Jara Resort can be viewed by resort guests; a wooden trellis allows easy viewing of the nesting sites while keeping predators away. A lucky few can watch the turtles hatch at night and slip through the trellis into the sea. Almost 700 hatchlings have already been successfully released from the Tanjong Jara nesting site since its launch.

    Tanjong Jara guests can help in a more tangible way, by supporting the nest adoption program with their cash pledges. For a pledge of either MYR300 (about US$75) for a clutch of 50-99 turtle eggs, or MYR500 (about US$125; read about money in Malaysia) for 100-150 turtle eggs, guests can help minimize the risk of poachers getting to the nests and selling the eggs for food.

    All this is completely in line with Tanjong Jara Resort's culture, with deep roots in Malay traditions and respect for the surrounding environment.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    This Indonesian Resort was Crowned the World's Number One.

    View from Lantoro Villa, Nihiwatu, Indonesia
    View from Lantoro Villa, Nihiwatu, Indonesia. Image courtesy of Nihiwatu Resort, used with permission

    On July 2016, Travel + Leisure unveiled their readers' picks for the World's Best Awards, with Indonesian resort Nihiwatu getting the most nods for the Number One Hotel in the World.

    At a press conference held by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism a few weeks later, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya praised Nihiwatu as a “successful example of ecotourism” that the Ministry was holding up as a model: “the current trend in tourism is ecotourism that preserves local culture,” Pak Arief said in the local language. “More hotels in Indonesia now implement this concept.”

    And Nihiwatu hasn't been on the scene long: only relaunched in its present form in 2015, the resort has since made the most of its private “Occy's Left” surf break, its “culturally immersive” surroundings, and its closeness to nature.

    From Bali – the air travel hub for eastern Indonesia – travelers take a short flight to Sumba Island's Tambolaka Airport, and on to Nihiwatu. 33 villas provide private plunge pools and amazing views of Nihi Beach. Getting out of the rooms, guests can book a private tour of the island's waterfalls, rice paddies and villages; horseback riding along the beach on sunset, courtesy of the resort's own equestrian center; and adventures out on the sea for snorkelers, surfers, and consummate divers.

    The resort is part of the Sumba Island community, hiring over 400 Sumba locals (making up about 90 percent of the staff) and plowing part of the profits to the Sumba Foundation that supports community-based projects. To date, the Foundation has set up over 100 water wells and stations, opened four medical clinics, and presently supports 15 primary schools in Sumba.

    As the world's number one resort (at least in 2016), all that makes for a very tough act to follow.