Throwback to the time when folks would categorise holiday-goers into two groups: one who sought parties, nightlife and organised chaos, and the other who always went looking for the farthest frontiers of the earth. It took a global pandemic that spread between humans to make everyone jump ship, from the first kind of holiday-goers to the second. And so we sought seclusion.
Now, seclusion isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Ask a few members of our team who were under self-quarantine and were isolated in the safest and most inhabitable quarters in the world — their homes — and they will tell you how arresting it can be. To think of leaving these four walls and setting off across the oceans for a holiday in the uninhabited abyss is a little absurd, but it is the only holiday that you will feel safe in; at least till this wretched virus is beaten. To save you the endless scrolls, clicks, reviews, and disappointments the Internet could lure you into, we have put together a list of the finest hideaways on the planet. If you’re worried about the cavernous spaces coming to eat you, rest assured,because these locales are doused in luxury. There’s always someone at your beck and call and there’s so much more than just sitting in a room to look forward to.
Anantara Golden Triangle
Bling into the morning mist at the border of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, at this spectacular Thai property. You wake up, move your sheets away, and see a troop of elephants marching down to the nearest water body for their morning fix. This five-star property contributes greatly to the well-being of the largest beasts on Earth. The Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp is a unique experience because it is part of the foundation that rescues captive elephants and gives them a shot at living a natural life. Their mahouts are paid a fair wage to incentivise them with the upkeep of the gentle giants.
A in the Anantara Golden Triangle is as close you get to your dream of living in a jungle.
The lush green expanse houses over 60 luxury suites and rooms with private balconies and sunken baths. You can set off on a trek to learn, discover, and witness the elephants in their natural habitat, as they chomp away on home-grown vegetation.
Rates start at $400 ++ per night
Getting there: Fly to Chiang Rai airport from Bangkok for a 60-minute scenic drive to the hotel
Alila Jabar Akhdar
When you think of an Indian-equivalent of a hill-station in the middle of a desert, here's the surprise: it exists in the remotest reaches of Oman. You can check into the splendorous Mountain View Suite, which is situated on the upper floors of the marooned hotel, to take in views you'd never imagine seeing until you withdraw the drapes.
Everything about this luxury property is a mix of western and local influences; the rooms are large and accommodating, with an outdoor terrace, a rain shower, and a bathtub, a well-stocked minibar, and a king bed. Other than the views and the rooms, it’s the Omani hospitality that welcomes you and makes you feel extra special from the moment you check-in. From afar, the hotel looks like it is part of the stone cliff that drops right at its foot. The blessed fact is that the weather around the Alila Jabar Akhdar hotel is always several degrees cooler than the rest of the more commercial areas.
Rates start at $350 ++ per night
Getting there: Three hours by car from Muscat airport
Japan is known for its bustling cities, but the real mysticism of the land lies in its countryside. Aman hotels are known to blend in the locales and ecosystems on which they are built, within their design inspiration, and The Amanemu is no exception to this rule. Arriving here after a two-hour, scenic ride from Nagoya prepares your senses for what is to come. Located in Ago Bay, the resort is in the middle of the Shima National Park. The living spaces bear inspiration from traditional Japanese interiors, as is custom with Aman properties. The shutters are made of timber and the floor-to-ceiling doors welcome ample natural light in. The suites have granite bathtubs, baths that function like an onsen, massive beds, and ample wood and timber employed everywhere. It has good access to the Golden Shrine, pearl diving expeditions, and a trip along the Kumano Kudo trail, which is a bamboo trail and a UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimage route.
Rates start at $1,000 ++ per night
Getting there: Take the bullet train from Tokyo to Nagoya and then a local train to Kashikojima train station for a pick up by the Aman staff
Some expeditions are once-in-a-lifetime getaways, for two reasons. Firstly, they are quite expensive and exclusive. And secondly, because you do not want to tarnish the novelty of experiences they bring. Such are the wonderful moments you can experience at the Soneva Kiri, situated on the Koh Kood island in Thailand. It is made up of stunning beach villas that have their own pools and sunken baths. The Soneva Group prides itself in its hospitality solutions that include the finest grub — which is often local — and the most luxurious living spaces. You are ferried to the location in a plush, luxurious 8-seater plane, which lands on the private airstrip within the property. You always have access to the butlers (known as Fridays). Soneva Kiri’s villas are considered to be among the largest in the world and are largely made of bamboo and tan wood. You can avail of walk-in cabinets, high-tech entertainment, a personalised bed-set from Six Senses, an outdoor rain shower, and more. Soneva always works towards enriching the marine life around their properties and as a result, you can enjoy a snorkelling trip.
Rates start at $1,000 ++ per night
Getting there: Soneva flies its private plane from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to Koh Mai Si (Soneva Kiri’s Airport Island)
Conrad Maldives Rangali
The Maldives is a natural pick for anyone who seeks an escape from humanity. The nature of the speckled islands is such that even properties expanding across entire landscapes give you a sense of privacy and seclusion. Spread across two islands is the Conrad Maldives Rangali, which is a couple’s haunt. Part of the Hilton Group, this experience opens up possibilities for several outdoor activities ranging from hiking, diving, swimming, or snorkelling, you can enjoy it all here. You can pick between the Superior Water Villas or the Beach Villas, spread across both respective islands. The islands are connected with a bridge that takes 10 minutes to traverse. The villas offer privacy and fantastic amenities. They are large and spacious, with the Beach Villas offering their own outdoor bedroom, a zen garden, and an outdoor shower. If you’re one for firsts, then the MURAKA under-water residence is something you would absolutely love to try out. The property also has an underwater restaurant.
Rates start at $2,200 ++ per night
Getting there: A 30-minute sea plane flight from Male airport followed by a short speedboat transfer to the property
Four Seasons Seychelles at Desroches island
Keeping in tune with the barrage of tropical paradises we’re enlisting here, one cannot miss out on the Four Seasons Seychelles. Located on the remote Desroches Island, the property literally separates you from the world. You feel like the most pampered castaway in the heart of the Indian Ocean. You can check into the Sunset Beach Suites with your private pool cabana, as you laze away your afternoons on a hammock, serenaded by the gentle sound of the ocean. There’s also a fair bit to discover while you’re here. The Tortoise Sanctuary houses the Aldabra Giant Tortoise that is threatened by extinction, you can also indulge in a dive into the lush reefs, or settle back for a fun movie night on the pop-up screen, as you relax under the stars. There are a total of 71 villas to choose from, in the resort, each with two bicycles parked for you to explore the island in its truest form.
Rates start at $2,800 ++ per night
Getting there: A 35-minute flight from Mahe airport to the property’s private runway
Al Wathba, A luxury collection resort
Abu Dhabi is known to be the land of excess, and when you set out to find one of the most luxurious and secluded properties here, you have to brace yourself, mentally. The Al Wathba is a desert resort and spa that is fast gaining increased popularity across other Emirates as well. With 103 guest rooms, the property also hosts one of the region’s finest wellness centers. Everything is themed in the classic Bedouin-style, with sand-coloured exteriors and interiors. The bedrooms and baths are large and lush, with the finest materials present to spellbind guests. This is the perfect destination to spend a night if you’re on a business trip to the UAE and need to unwind before heading back home. If you’re in a bigger group, you could truly explore seclusion in the 13 private standalone villas, which have their own pantries and private patios.
Rates start at $500 ++ per night
Getting there: A two- hour or 50-minute drive from Dubai International and Abu Dhabi international airport respectively
Bulgari Resort Bali
Located on the edge of the Bukit Peninsula in Bali, the Bulgari Resort is nestled amid man-made and natural attractions that will captivate your senses and flood your Instagram feed. If you’re a surfer, someone who seeks a spiritual experience in a cliff-hanging shrine, or even a tired soul seeking some time with yourself, then this is an ideal resort to check into. With 59 ultra-luxurious villas that spec the 160-metre high cliff, you get some of the best infinity pool views that you could ever enjoy. The rooms are hand-cut and made of volcanic stone, which makes them seem to be a part of the scenery. With traditional bamboo roofs, black basal bathrooms, and a beautiful pavilion to enjoy your poisons, this is a great luxury escape to discover the true culmination of Western design within an Eastern tapestry. The restaurants and bars in the Bulgari Resort, all, offer unique experiences in terms of ambiance and fare.
Rates start at $1,100 ++ per night
Getting there: A 30-minute drive from Denpasar (Bali) international airport