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New Hotels in Asia

Chill Out in Asia: Luxe New Hotels Open
March 24, 2015
By , Travel Writer and Reporter

Pampering is taken to a high art at these new hotels in Thailand and Japan, from the lavish Kata Rocks in Phuket to the elegant Aman Japan in Tokyo. Here’s our roundup of the finest newcomers.

Sofitel So Bangkok, Thailand
It’s all about the view at Sofitel So Bangkok, which overlooks Lumpini Park, the city’s version of Central Park. The best spot to take it all in? The rooftop bar Park Society, which crowns the 30-story hotel. The park inspired the hotel’s theme of the five Chinese elements: water, earth, wood, metal and fire.

Five of Thailand’s top designers interpreted the elements to bring them alive in the hotel, and the distinct rooms all offer varying textures, designs and furnishings. The fire element is reimagined in the restaurant Red Oven, with live cooking stations and the longest Molteni red oven in Southeast Asia. The staff uniforms rival the chic rooms: They’re created by French fashion designer Christian Lacroix. Also unique are the various scents you encounter on different levels of the hotel, which will keep your nose as stimulated as your eyes.

Kata Rocks, Phuket, Thailand
There’s a new player in the luxury resort game and its first offering is ambitious. Infinite Luxury, launched by CEO Richard Pope, recently opened Kata Rocks, on a hilly plot of oceanfront land next to Kata Beach on the resort island of Phuket. The company’s name is apt, because everything about this resort is infinitely luxurious. The experience begins with a private limo ride from the airport – and a welcome drink as soon as you arrive. A golf cart navigates the steep hill to take you to your room. On the property, there’s a small but relaxing spa offering state-of-the-art technology like colored light therapy and a heated water massage bed. The 45-foot-long infinity pool has a swim-up bar so you can hang over the edge and drink in the views, along with the potent cocktails.

The 34 villas will make you consider relocation: They feel like a home away from home, with a full kitchen, tableware, a washing machine – even a wine refrigerator. The rooms range from one- to four-bedroom sky villas, all with private patios with infinity pools and comfortable lounging chairs so you can kick back and gaze across the Andaman Sea. The villas all face west, for front-row seats of the best show on the island: the sunset.

Aman Tokyo, Japan
Aman’s first urban venture is a stunning property in the heart of Tokyo. The hotel occupies the top six floors of the new Otemachi Tower near Tokyo Station. A small army of employees greets you at a private entrance in the lobby to whisk you up more than thirty flights. The elevator opens to reveal an enormous lobby showcasing what looks like the inside of a Japanese paper lantern, which soars nearly 100 feet high through the center of the building.

The 84 elegant rooms and suites offer nods to traditional Japanese homes, like gleaming wood floors, Shoji screens and deep soaking tubs positioned next to floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of the city. The indoor, temperature-controlled pool is a worthy competitor to the one at the top of the Park Hyatt Tokyo featured in the movie Lost in Translation. It’s now the longest pool in Tokyo – but it’s just one corner of the 27,000-square-foot spa that encompasses a pristine gym, steam rooms and Japanese hot baths.

Kick off the morning at the breakfast buffet in The Restaurant by Aman, which overlooks Mount Fuji. Feast on freshly baked breads, mini smoothies, Kozu Jersey butter and so many courses that you may not even be hungry by dinner.

W Bangkok, Thailand
You’ll be ready for some Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) in Bangkok, thanks to the hot pink glitter boxing gloves you’ll find on your bed. That sense of fun permeates the entire 403-room hotel, which rises over central Bangkok. If you check in at night, popular dance tunes will likely be booming from the lobby Woobar. The pool and gym are both open 24 hours a day to extend Bangkok’s party atmosphere as long as you’d like. Even the concierge is open 24/7. Order make-your-own mojitos from room service, and pair your cocktails with whimsical candy from the minibar, including a giant lollipop and sour punch sticks.

The offerings are decidedly more sophisticated at The Kitchen Table, which serves Thai and American specialties. Chef Thaneth Naovarat recently moved up from Phuket to serve as the hotel’s Director of Cuisine. Try the Chor Muang cocktail (butterfly flower-infused raspberry vodka topped with 24K gold dust) or the watermelon martini, accompanied by wok-fried soft shell crab and Maine lobster with a curry sauce, and fried tiger prawn with jasmine rice.

If you want to really get away from it all, there’s Away Spa, where the spa beds change color to correspond with your mood. After that, it’s time to hit the clubs again – in Bangkok, the night is always young.