Monthly Archives: December 2009

Sleek & Chic ~ Habita Hotel, Monterrey, Mexico

By Dian Hasan | December 20, 2009

Ever since the arrival of Habita Hotel Mexico City, the term boutique hotel has firmly entered Mexico’s hospitality industry vocabulary. That first move by Grupo Habita has now expanded into a slew of boutique hotels across the country. And now it’s Mexico’s second city of business and trade, Monterrey to get a taste of chic hotel experience. Bienvenido, Habita Monterrey!

Habita Monterrey is sleek and spare but comfortable. All rooms are furnished with riffs on Midcentury Modern pieces by avant-garde designer Rick Owens. Continue reading

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Sleek & Chic ~ Villa 32, Taipei, Taiwan

By Dian Hasan | December 20, 2009

The bustling Taiwanese capital of Taipei’s best-kept secret in chic accommodation isn’t even in Taipei. But close enough for conducting business when you’re in town. Villa 32, a spa-themed little boutique hotel outside the city, not too far from the airport, offers tranquility near the Beito hot springs.

Villa 32 is surrounded by its crisp, clear air, white clouds, stone-grey walls, lushes of greens, blooming flowers, and soothing hot springs, Villa 32 has preserved the last piece of leisurable tone in this urban bustle. Continue reading

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Sleek & Chic ~ Ambience Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan

By Dian Hasan | December 20, 2009

As the capital city of one of Asia’s original tiger economies, Taipei surprisingly lacks presentable boutique hotels with style and personality. The wait is over. Courtesy of Ambiance Hotel, brainchild of Taiwanese Architect Wei Ming Lee and Designer Ted Su. Ambience promises the first offbeat and contemporary boutique hotel designed to breathe style and excitement into Taiwan’s capital.

Ambience’s 61 avant garde guestrooms and suites feature a unique decor blend of polished steel, glass, white granite and calf skin leather upholstery. Furnished with designer pieces by Philippe Starck and Feruccio Laviani. Continue reading

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St. Regis Singapore ~ a new era of high-end luxury

By Dian Hasan | December 10, 2009

In the notoriously competitive world of high-end luxury hotels, there aren’t that many new players, at least not in the sense of a new luxury brand that is going international and expanding across the world. Luxury hotel guests are famously fickle and vehemently brand loyal. One such newcomer is the St. Regis, an expansion that’s been riding on the strength of the original St. Regis New York, and now… proudly available in the world’s major cosmopolitan cities.

Here’s a look at the excellent St. Regis Singapore, the lion city’s latest luxury entrant that has quickly become a permanent fixture on the social agendas of the creme de la creme of Singapore’s high society, and address of choice for discerning global business travelers. Continue reading

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Raffles Hotel ~ Singapore’s luminous grand dame

By Dian Hasan | December 10, 2009

Across Southeast Asia, in the bygone colonial days, each major city was defined by her grand hotel. These hotels – which really resembled palaces or opulent mansions, not only offered accommodation for the weary travelers who traveled from Europe in steamships, but also served as the social nucleus for the ruling elite, and all those power. In their heyday, they saw the splendor of many a magnificent balls, feasts, and their share of international celebrities of their era. Pomp and pageantry included.

Only a few remain today, saved from the wrecking ball, thanks to some forward-thinking conservationists who were convinced of their historical and architectural value. Yangon’s The Strand, Penang’s O & E, Surabaya’s Oranje (renamed Majapahit), and Singapore’s Raffles. Indeed a collection of exquisite gems from the Sarkies Brothers, hip hoteliers of their day who hailed from Armenia. Continue reading

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Capella ~ Singapore’s ultra-luxe resort with all the right curves

By Dian Hasan | December 10, 2009

Singapore, a city-state that already is home to some of the finest luxury hotels in the world, welcomes its first genuine ultra luxury resort, Capella. Not along her world-renowned version of Rodeo Drive, on Orchard Road, but on Sentosa Island, where the second Integrated Resort – Resorts World – is being built. It will feature Southeast Asia’s only Universal Studios Theme Park, a Casino, Convention Facilities, and several hotels.

Sentosa Island, is reachable by road, tram and airtrain. Big name design firm, UK-based Foster + Partners are the brains behind the design. A series of low rise wings spread across a lush tropical rain forest setting, built around a main colonial-era building now housing the reception area. Curvaceous would be an apt description of the resort.

Capella is perched on a hill with a sweeping sea view that is framed by oversized wall-to-wall windows in guest rooms. The interior is a blissful sanctuary of sophisticated chic, with neutral tones, integrated remote panel that controlled the lighting, climate, window shades and blinds, and personalized service at a push of a button. Continue reading

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Sleek & Chic ~ Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya, Resort & Spa, Mexico (1 of 2)

By Dian Hasan | December 4, 2009

Mexico has been developing its modern tourism for a good few decades, securely placing itself as among the world’s most formidable travel destinations. The lessons Mexico has learned from the inception of building cookie-cutter highrise hotels with little character in Cancun and Acapulco, in the 1960s and 1970s, has now evolved into a new approach.

Hotels, and notably the resorts, that are more eco-oriented, place-specific, with a more distinctive cultural and design statement. The end result are hotels that are generally low-rise, have fewer rooms, and blend in with their immediate environment.

Riviera Maya, a resort development south of Cancun, along Mexico’s Caribbean coast is one case in point. And the chic Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya exemplifies this new breed of hotels impeccably.

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