Crème Chantilly in a countryside château hand-made by a resident pastry chef, or an apple tasting platter in a quaint 17th-century manoir in Normandy. Swinging from a hammock overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, or a midnight swim with bioluminescent plankton in Cambodia. Get to know Mexico’s Tarahumara tribe in the Sierra Mountains, or the exotic wildlife along the Ecuador coastline – meet this month’s newest SLH members, including our first water-based boutique venture with Kontiki Expeditions.
VALA Hua Hin, Petchburi – Thailand
Located between Hua Hin and Cha-Am, known to locals as Thailand’s royal town, VALA Hua Hin provides grounds filled with space to discover what it means to be disconnected but engaged, relaxed while active and at home among the unfamiliar. The hotel has been created to be a conscious, luxury escape for urbanites with Pool Villas, Mini Suites and an Olympic-sized oceanfront swimming pool blending into the pristine landscape. Nature abounds with green spaces offering shade under 100-year-old trees carefully preserved throughout the development of the resort. While offering an idyllic private retreat for couples, the hotel also caters for families with a tree-house inspired playground allowing children to explore creative pursuits and rooms with bunk beds. An organic fruit, vegetable and herb garden, chicken coop and rice field ensure WOODS Kitchen and Bar restaurant minimises all food miles and waste, while WOODS Upper Deck is a rooftop bar with panoramic sunset views over the Gulf of Thailand.
SLH Insider Tip: Book a Pool Villa for maximum privacy and enjoy a private saltwater swimming pool, garden area and a spacious terrace that can be customised for outdoor activities and dinners.
Kontiki Wayra – Toquilla Expedition, Ecuador
First voyage commences on 30th May 2021
As the first ever water-based member of SLH, Kontiki Wayra offers a luxurious and sustainably-minded way to explore captivating destinations along the coast of Ecuador. Departing weekly and travelling between Manta and Guayaquil, this eight-day sea expedition provides an authentic immersion into the local cultures, traditions and cuisine of each stop, all from the comfort of a state-of-the-art yacht. Nine state rooms are designed to provide a contemporary space to relax complete with spacious walk-in showers, while communal areas include an on-deck jacuzzi and Chill Parlour with soft loungers to soak up the sunshine or a glass of chilled champagne. The boutique expedition visits five provinces and reveals seldom-visited spots including deserted beaches, ecological reserves and natural treasures. A crew of ten is on hand to arrange activities such as kayaking, SUP and snorkelling straight from the deck – alternatively retreat to the on-board spa or enjoy a dinner of local delicacies.
SLH Insider Tip: Save your energy for the final stop on Kontiki Wayra’s voyage to explore the bohemian streets of Guayaquil, and the 444-step climb to the top of a lighthouse for sweeping views of the colourful city.
Koh Russey Villas & Resort, Bamboo Island – Cambodia
A blissful retreat on Cambodia’s remote Bamboo Island, Koh Russey Villas & Resort is just a short speedboat ride from the Khmer Riviera. The resort offers 50 pavilions and 13 freshwater pool villas skirting 1.2km of private beach on the Gulf of Thailand. Inspired by the traditional geometry of Cambodian Krama fabric, and with the island little more than one mile wide, all the buildings blend into the palm trees and bamboo groves while the restaurant and infinity pool offer wraparound ocean views. Accommodation varies from minimalist ‘cubes’ with outdoor baths to a four-bedroom beachfront villa complete with a kitchen and butler pantry. Enjoy the spa or take a culinary trip to discover the pepper plantations in Kampot before sampling them in action at one of two restaurants, or a private table at a variety of locations around the resort.
SLH Insider Tip: Let the staff know if you’re keen to take a magical night-time bioluminescence swim so they can advise when will be best during your visit.
Tiara Château Hôtel Mont Royal, Chantilly – France
Just 35 minutes from Paris and 10 miles from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Tiara Château Hôtel Mont Royal is easily accessible whilst immersing guests in all the countryside charm of the Chantilly Forest. This beautifully-restored château, originally commissioned as the home of French composer Fernand Halphen, blends Louis XV-style furnishings with a modern sense of space. Taupe, cream and gold tones provide the backdrop for grand double beds and toile de Jouy linen. Enjoy the opulence of swimming under chandeliers in the spa and the elegance of L’Opera Restaurant, once the château’s music room. Outside there are beautiful grounds to explore where guests can try their hand at a traditional activity like pétanque, or a cycle through the forest. Nearby, discover the story of Chantilly’s Bourbon-Condé princes with a visit to the magnificent Château de Chantilly, which also houses some of France’s most famous paintings in the Musée Condé.
SLH Insider Tip: Take luxury to new heights with a stay in the Rooftop Suite, a mansard-roofed apartment including bedroom, lounge, kitchenette and a magnificent 646 square-foot private terrace with views over the forest.
Les Manoirs des Portes de Deauville, Canapville – France
An historic manor house that dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, Les Manoirs des Portes de Deauville is just 10 minutes from the bustle of Deauville, a seaside resort in Normandy known as the ‘queen of the Norman beaches’ and renowned for horseracing. Set in the calm of a six acre garden, the 27 rooms and suites are spread across the manor house, which is a listed Historical Monument, and nine cottages decorated in crisp white and pastel tones complementing the buildings’ rustic exteriors. While there is no restaurant on property, room service is provided by nearby restaurant L’Auberge du Vieux Tour. In winter, gather round the open fireplace to sample local poiré (pear cider) or Canapville’s famous calvados (apple brandy) from the honesty bar. In summer, relax by the outdoor pool in the sublime gardens.
SLH Insider Tip: Read up on your Pierre Corneille before visiting – widely considered to be the founding father of French tragedy, this prolific 17th century playwright, a contemporary of Moliere and best known for his tragicomedy ‘Le Cid’, was a frequent visitor here.
Hotel Mirador, Chihuahua – Mexico
Located just a three-minute drive, or a scenic hike, from the Copper Canyon Adventure Park, Hotel Mirador sits on the highest point of the canyon like an eagle’s nest – it’s the only hotel in the Copper Canyons of Chihuahua to have a panoramic view from the private terrace of every room. The hotel is surrounded by pine trees and its unique architecture and décor pay tribute to traditional Mexican style. In the rooms, guests will find beautifully carved beams made from local wood, hand painted tiles, fireplaces and bathrooms of natural stone complemented by modern comforts to create a truly luxurious yet authentic experience. The Adventure Park, as expected, offers plenty of activities from horseback riding and zip-lining to an annual ultra-marathon each March. Delve deep into the ancient canyon caves or explore the trails on the valley floor with a Tarahumara guide, whose native name translates as ‘those who run fast.’ Nearby, Creel is home to the otherworldly Valle de los Monjes (Valley of the Monks) and Recohuata hot springs.
SLH Insider Tip: People travel to Copper Canyon for the view but also El Chepe, which many consider the most spectacular train trip in the world. Every day since 1961, El Chepe ventures into the imposing landscapes of the Sierra Tarahumara, between Chihuahua City and Los Mochis in Sinaloa. Hotel Mirador even has its own Barrancas del Cobre stop on the El Chepe train, so be sure to set aside a day to take this scenic route.