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Hotel manager Michaela Barbist, second generation of a family of Tyrolean hoteliers, chose her location well: just metres from the Haldensee lake, the property of the same name is an oasis of calm in which the majesty of nature and the bright, contemporary comfort of the interiors blend seamlessly. The hotelier’s childhood fascination with the emerald lake nestled in Austria’s mountain-encircled Tannheimer Tal valley is reflected in a design that seems to invite nature in; each room offering a balcony with inspiring views, which can also be savoured from the stylish and wonderfully tranquil spa, with an infinity pool that appears to flow into the natural body of water itself. The range of outdoor activities on offer, the use of natural materials in the cosy and clean-lined rooms and the focus on regional suppliers and natural ingredients in the dining room further contribute to the strong sense of nature and region in this recently opened, adult-only hotel where rest, relaxation and regal panoramas are inescapable.
Perched on the southeastern edge of the green and historic state of Bahia, Trancoso is a magical place where rainforests meet Atlantic mangroves and endless beaches, where the subtropical climate and warm seas combine to create an idyllic setting all year round. And this is the location for UXUA CASA HOTEL & SPA, exuding privacy but still only 55 minutes by car or eight minutes by helicopter from the nearest airport. Some of this exclusive hotel’s casas date back 500 years and it was restored by designer Wilbert Das together with local artisans using traditional techniques. Take, for example, the rustic-style lounge area on the property’s own beach: at this former fisherman’s bar, guests are served refreshing cocktails and culinary delicacies from an antique wooden boat. You can also relax in the ALMESCAR SPA – whose approach is inspired by untouched nature and the timeless wisdom of Bahian and Indian traditions – or enjoy more sporty or cultural activities, from surfing or beach volleyball to a gallery with 24 impressive canvases by renowned artists. The Quadrado Restaurant and the five-star service at this unique hotel round off your perfect holiday experience.
A private island that goes by the name of “bamboo” in Khmer – reflecting a lush heart edged by a copper-sand stripe tapering into crystal waters – is the exclusive location of Alila Villas Koh Russey. Yet this minimalist ecological escape lies less than ten minutes by private speedboat from the coast of the new Cambodian Riviera, and the concierge can assist guests in discovering glimpses of local life – from pagodas to pepper plantations – within a couple of hours of the resort. The environmentally sustainable design incorporates local materials, natural characteristics and open space, while the simply styled gunmetal-grey cubed buildings blend discreetly with the jungle-like setting and the overall look is influenced by the Krama, a patterned cloth widely used in Khmer life. Guests can drift from one of 63 pavilions and villas, via the beachfront infinity pool, spa or complimentary yoga classes to poolside dining and beach cinema nights – what could get closer to tropical relaxation?
It is hard to decide whether the views over the dramatic Hajar Mountains or the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort itself are more spectacular – what is absolutely indisputable is that both are worth the two-hour trip from the Omani capital Muscat. Sitting at about 2,000 metres above sea level, which makes for a delightful escape from the blistering heat of the Arabian summer, the luxurious resort is perched right on the edge of a canyon. One of the highlights is the awe-inspiring panorama from Diana’s Point viewing platform, named after the late Princess of Wales, who visited in 1986 – you can even reserve this breathtaking setting for a private dinner under the stars. Options for activities here are plentiful and impart a sense of place: from archery to rock climbing, painting or discovering how to make the area’s famous rose water, there are dozens of ways to explore and immerse yourself in the rich local culture.
Two young Munich-based entrepreneurs have taken the concept of “vertical farming” to another level – your own home. The idea started taking shape in the kitchen of Agrilution co-founder Max Lössl’s parents: together with his basketball teammate and mechatronics engineer Philipp Wagner, he developed a two-level, app-controlled indoor greenhouse called the Plantcube. The device, which uses up to eight Seedmats to grow your choice of herbs, salads and microgreens, simulates optimal growing conditions, from the ideal lighting and automated watering to sensor-based climate control for maximum nutrients and freshness. After a one to four-week growth phase – depending on the plant variety – your app will let you know it’s harvest time. Then all you have to do is enjoy your produce – it doesn’t get any more farm-to-table than that.
The true beauty of this charming, slate-covered, low-rise resort at the very southern tip of Portugal is how unobtrusively it fits into the idyllic surrounding landscape of the Algarve. Surrounded by dense, shady pine forest and a stunning view of the aquamarine ocean, Design HotelsTM – Praia Verde Boutique Hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment at the hands of award-winning Portuguese architect Miguel Saraiva. Inside, another Portuguese national, designer Pureza Magalhães, is responsible for the 65 fresh, comfortable rooms and suites – the suites featuring a separate living room, balcony and kitchenette – as well as the lobby-as-a-marketplace, an inviting space which integrates different functions such as a reception, grocery store, restaurant, area for children and workspaces, making it a lively meeting area for guests.
A hip new hotel for a hip new neighbourhood: the first Austrian outpost of the Andaz brand is located in the heart of the Quartier Belvedere, a suburb full of trendy offices, shops and living and recreational spaces being developed within walking distance of the less-than-a-decade-old main train station. The Renzo Piano-designed property and its artwork-filled interiors are inspired by a more historic Vienna – the city’s spectacular art and architecture, as well as Prince Eugene of Savoy, the man behind Belvedere Palace and one of the leading diplomats, developers and art collectors of his time. Each of the 303 guest rooms, including 44 suites, offer stunning views over the capital from the floor-to-ceiling windows as well as an infusion of local touches and artworks. Dining options range from a contemporary Austrian tavern, to a Scandinavian-influenced rooftop bar to an urban eatery serving health-conscious food and coffee specialties, a cool and innovative trio that reflects the hotel’s wider approach.
The inspiration for Golden Hill resort springs from the owners’ fascination with Canadian log homes and after a stay at a Western ranch, they decided to turn a plot of land nestled between the vineyards of south Styria into their own version of sustainable architecture in an expansive natural setting. Sustainability is at the heart of their vision, and they used energy-efficient construction methods and preserved the existing architecture as much as possible – for example when converting an old Styrian farmhouse into “Steinfuchs” Cottage or when constructing the modern Panorama-Lofts over the former stables. Energy from renewable sources, a sauna in an upcycled container and organic food from local suppliers expand on this philosophy. Luxury is newly defined here: the cottage, loft and country chalets – all built from solid wood – come with spa facilities and vegan cosmetic products, e-vehicle charging stations and a large natural swimming pool, showing a conscious and sustainable way of interpreting exclusivity.
It’s a statement of sophistication for the northern Italian powerhouse of Milan, where culture, fashion and a buzzing nightlife come together. Park Hyatt Milan, set in a 19th-century palazzo, effuses elegance, with a soaring nine-metre-high glass dome floating above the overstuffed chairs of La Cupola Lounge, a brightly lit central meeting space just beyond the discreet entrance. La Cupola is just one dining option, the most renowned being the excellent, two Michelin-starred restaurant VUN, helmed by Neapolitan chef Andrea Aprea, and diners can also stop for a pre- or post-prandial cocktail in the classic Mio Lab bar. Step further into the cocoon of cream travertine, Venetian stucco and hand-blown Murano lamps in the 106 rooms and suites (with large marble-filled bathrooms) or indulge in a moment of relax at The Spa by Sisley – and don’t forget that you’re in the heart of Milan, steps from the vibrancy of the Piazza del Duomo.
The mellow red-brick, blue-shuttered Villa Fontelunga peeks through landscaped gardens on an estate of 200 olive trees, conjuring up the archetypal Tuscan image. Indeed, it is located close to the town of Cortona, the setting for the film Under the Tuscan Sun, and the main nine-room villa – plus two separate self-catering villas nearby – have views across rolling hills, fields and a secluded valley. Inside there is an assured mix of antique and contemporary furnishings, including pieces from Philippe Starck and Arne Jacobsen alongside terracotta-tiled floors and oversized headboards in subtly colourful Italian prints. For those who want to enjoy their own moments under the Tuscan sun, the property offers an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, tennis court and mountain bikes, while further activities can be arranged. With communal dinner parties organised twice a week, a welcome hamper for the self-catering villas and the team’s local knowledge informing their guest recommendations, staying at Villa Fontelunga feels like returning to the country abode of old friends with excellent taste.