By Shamilee Vellu
Jul 31, 2020
YES, FLYING IS BECOMING AN OPTION AGAIN as countries emerge from lockdown and reopen their borders. But if you’re leery of boarding an airplane right now, there’s never been a better time to get in your car and drive to your own stunning private abode (or in some cases, just hop on the subway). You’ll find the following villas and apartments a short jaunt or scenic roadtrip from a major city, enabling you to physically distance, skip the hassle of COVID-19-era air travel and lower carbon emissions— bonus points for supporting our local tourist economies.
Mangala Resort & Spa
It’s hard to imagine that this lush Pahang resort, with its palm plantations, flower gardens and pristine wetlands, was once a barren mining site. Each tastefully appointed, eco-friendly villa (from the 55-square-meter Sara Villa to the six-bedroom bungalow) is set in its own pocket of nature, a tranquil oasis from which to observe the area’s 80-plus bird species, go on guided walks with the resort’s naturalist, and stargaze at night. The resort is a 2½-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur— easy breezy.
mangalaresortandspa.com; villas from RM399.
Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas
Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas’ first luxury resort in Malaysia sits on a 17-kilometer-long beachfront facing the South China Sea. A four-hour drive from KL (and two from Singapore, once the border reopens), the 108-key resort offers the best of the locale, from its kampong-inspired architecture to the finest coastal flavors, alongside spa, golf and watersports opportunities. There are 13 standalone double-story one- and two-bedroom pool villas set around a lagoon, but the top picks for isolation are its five family-sized three- and four-bedroom residences that offer a private infinity pool, spacious living areas, full kitchen and chef and butler service.
anantara.com; villas from RM4,154.
Capella Singapore’s tree-canopy-covered stately manors on Sentosa Island are just a 10- to 20-minute drive from downtown Singapore and offer a luxurious refuge from the city. The Contemporary and Capella Manors, which can each accommodate up to six adults and one child, come with outdoor terraces with sunbeds and private lap pools, perfect for secluded alfresco lounging. Two restored Tanah Merah colonial bungalows (which date back to the 1880s) feature three en-suite bathrooms, a private lap pool and separate dining, living and study areas, ensuring ample room for small families or groups.
capellahotels.com; manors from S$9,000.
Located in Hong Kong’s vibrant Kowloon area, staycations at the hometown Rosewood are decidedly luxurious—think exclusive experiences with Cartier and Maserati, or its stunning Harbour House, a 1,150-square-meter suite on the 57th floor which overlooks Victoria Harbour, with two outdoor lap pools, private elevator and gym, wraparound landscaped gardens and magnificent harbor views. Its two Asaya Lodges—each with their own private room offering customized treatments from the eponymous spa—are also excellent for those seeking regeneration.
rosewoodhotels.com; doubles from HK$3,900.
Style-savvy Millennials and design-savvy staycationers will love this property’s Midcentury-modern-meets-hipster-chic aesthetic, with its Artemide lamps, Jean Prouvé and Milo Baughman-style chairs, Bang & Olufsen speakers, Miele kitchens, Aesop toiletries and enthusiastic use of marble and terrazzo. Suite 1, with its full kitchen and workstation, is one of four suite types available at Balance, which offers room service from Simple, the beloved neighborhood café offering organic, fair-trade fare to which it is connected. Plus, you’re in a quiet alley in the highly walkable Sukhumvit area, known for its excellent shopping, dining and nightlife.
balancesuites.com; suites from Bt5,560.
The Resort Villa
A three-hour drive from Bangkok, this luxurious property in Rayong is as close to a personal paradise as you can get. Its eight opulent villas, 11 dining areas, four bars, a fully equipped gym, full-service spa, home cinema, 15-meter aquarium and more are spread out over 14,000 square meters and are attended by an armada of more than 70 staff. While you’ll find plenty to keep you onsite (spa treatments, fine dining and marble-clad infinity pools), the beach is a five-minute stroll away and private luxury boat charters are also available. To keep things exclusive, the resort is for the sole use of up to 16 guests—villas cannot be booked individually.
theresortvilla.com; rates on application.
The Royal Sands, Koh Rong
Play castaway at this resort, which is set on a 400-meter-long beach on Koh Rong Island and accessed via a 40-minute ferry ride from Sihanoukville Port. The contemporary-with-a-Khmer-twist Beach Front Villas offer stunning ocean views, while the three-bedroom Ocean View Pool Villa is a palatial option that sleeps up to six adults and comes with a private pool and large open-air terrace. Island hop, snorkel and bike during the day, then watch the sea come alive with bioluminescent plankton at night. The resort will be taking bookings from October 1, 2020.
royalsandskohrong.com; villas from US$500.
Mia Nha Trang
Nestled in the cliffs between Nha Trang and Cam Ranh, this secluded resort offers breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle and East Sea, and features tasteful interiors that highlight locally sourced stone and timbers, and eco-friendly grass-covered roofs. Particularly stunning are the 10 Luxury Beachfront residences, which overlook the sea and accommodate up to 10 guests in five separate bedrooms on three connecting floors. While Nha Trang city is a 30-minute drive away, the private infinity pool, barbecue area, indoor/outdoor dining and living areas, plus optional private chef and babysitting services mean you’ll never have to leave.
mianhatrang.com; residences from VND 41,860,000.
If you fancy a longer road trip, the serene coastal hills of Vinh Hy Bay promise otherworldly seclusion as a reward. An hour’s drive from Cam Ranh—or seven from Saigon—this far-flung forest-beach resort features pavilions, villas and residences designed for get-away-from-it-all rejuvenation. Residences come with kitchen amenities, up to five bedrooms, in-house staff, daily morning wellness classes and activities for the kids. Or make health the focus in a Wellness Pool Villa, with a steam room and thermal bathing facilities, plus inclusions like lifestyle coaching, daily treatments, forest bathing and more.
aman.com; pavilions from VND28,975,000.