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Hanoi vintage luxe, hipsters in Phuket, HK staycations...

Capella launches in sleepy Hanoi with more bells and whistles than you could shake a stick at; medical tourism in Phuket with a relaxing twist; and Hong Kong deals.

Bill Bensley's Capella Hanoi offers lush surrounds for history and opera buffs

Hanoi opera comes to the bedroom


A stone's throw from the historic Opera House and its selfie-throngs and wedding parties dressed to the hilt in lace and finery, the all new 47-room Capella Hanoi (January 2021, www.capellahotels.com) is a Bill Bensley designed throwback in an "une petite auberge" mould saluting a nostalgic time of operatic enjoyment and refinement. Yet this is anything but a casual small inn. Capella Hanoi is a magnificent and sumptuous construct, from its curving white exterior with balconies to the spacious interiors and vast suites from 59sq m to 194sq m kitted out with generous daubs of red velvet, marble, cobalt blues and irridescent greens facing neat black-trim windows welcoming of light. Think vintage decor, tasselled silk lampshades, recessed paintings, spoiling bathrooms and a delicious Auriga Spa for apres-pho. Also expect special aromatic coffees, Bluetooth speakers, complimentary bar (non-alcoholic), and online newspapers and magazines. There is a gym for the fitness inclined (though we caution Hanoi is very much a walking city) and an indoor pool with sauna. Unwind in the Living Room with its selection of old literature and recipes dug up from the 1920s. If you have the money and the moxie try a 'Capella Calling' launch package priced at US$555 per night (first two nights) and US$355 thereafter with breakfast, a US$100 food credit, one way transfer to the hotel, and masterclass attendance for cultural insights.


Hotel Alexandra (above right, hotelalexandrahk.com) slated to open on the Hong Kong Island waterfront 16 March 2021 with some enticing 'staycation' deals, has pushed back its opening as the city gets a fourth wave under control. For reference, rooms would start from HK$988 and monthly deals run from HK$12,388. An 'Opening Staycation' deal for two could be priced at HK$1,088 with breakfast and lunch and the added bonus of early 10am check-ins and late check-outs at 4pm. Replacing the laundered white cubist villas of Princess D’Annam Resort & Spa is the spoiling new Azerai Ke Ga Bay (above left, November 2020, azerai.com/resorts), an intimate, elegant, upscale retreat a four-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, with four swimming pools and a seafront spa with 10 treatment rooms. Occuping a premium stretch of clean white sand, this 46-key hideaway is the third property under Azerai Resorts, the brainchild of veteran hotelier Adrian Zecha who in 1988 authored the brilliant Aman vision.

Aleenta Phuket Resort & Spa in Phang Nga

Medical deal for hipsters in Phuket


Hotels too are once again flirting with medical tourism packages. In partnership with Thonburi Hospital, Akaryn group (which runs a string of homey hotels in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand under the Aleenta name) is offering those who can’t wait till hospitals free up in their home countries to "do knee and hip surgery and recover in style in the lap of luxury with Aleenta’s world famous pampering and care," livewire group head Anchalika Kijkanakorn told Smart Travel Asia in March 2021 as the Covid-19 crisis continued. The group also offer a ' Breathing Recovery & Immunity Boosting Retreat' to get you ready for the "brave new world where Covid is a thing you have to live with." All this is being offered under the Ayurah Wellness Centre (www.aleenta.com/phuket) at the Phuket property. "The surgery involves a four to seven-day stay at the hospital, then 15 more days at Aleenta for rehabilitation under the care of our physiotherapist, nutritionist, and nurse on duty with follow up visits with doctor before returning home." The package runs from Bt750,000 for 37 days, inclusive of doctor, nurses, specialists, meals, and on site medication.

Azerai Ke Ga Bay, arrived in Vietnam November 2020 Hotel Alexandra opens in Hong Kong March 2021

At the Taj Chia Kutir Resort & Spa, Darjeeling (above left, www.tajhotels.com) enjoy grand views of the Eastern Indian Himalaya and sip the finest teas savouring a break in the clean hill air. Set in a scenic and fully functioning tea estate in Kurseong dating back to 1959, the resort is at a height of 6,700ft. The 72 rooms and suites serve up woody interiors with ample space, four-poster beds, and quite a few balconies. Expect a high end spa with Jacuzzi, a temperature controlled swimming pool, a hairdressing salon for men and women, sauna, fitness centre, babysitter service, walking trails, and meeting facilities. In September 2020 the storied and popular FCC Angkor by Avani (www.avanihotels.com/, above right), reopened with a special deal including room upgrades, breakfast and some dining at US$99 per night for a couple. The FCC permits early check-in by 10am and late checkout at 4pm.

Taj Chia Kutir Resort & Spa, Darjeeling FCC Angkor - Avani reopened Septemberr 2020

Hurry to get booked at The Hari Hong Kong (www.thehari.com, above left) that arrived at a canter on 12 December 2020 to naughtily ruffle the sombre hotel scene with an upscale Wanchai retreat that came on the heels of The Hari London. Located on Lockhart Road in the hustle and bustle of one of the Island's oldest districts - known for its entertainment, food, and bars - The Hari with 210 keys (including three rooftop suites) is for "for discerning travellers who want to do more than scratch the surface of the city," says flamboyant founder Dr Aron Harilela. In Vietnam, the exciting Coupe De Hue ( above right) a gruelling two-day two-stage cycling adventure winding through cloud-grazing hills, was bumped from the September 2020 calendar due to Covid interruptions but key sponsor Laguna Lang Co plans to have this stunning event back in 2021. The company plans to turn Central Vietnam into an adventure hub. Stay tuned and keep those wheels greased.

The Hari comes to Hong Kong Coupe De Hue Cycling Challenge in Vietnam will return in 2021

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