The Lure of the Exotic

From hidden and luxurious retreats in mountainous countries and tropical paradises bathed with sunshine, to quaint lodgings in secluded rainforests and romantic hideaways in splendidly exotic cities, Asia offers a staggering choice of destinations for honeymooners.

the datai langkawi Sitting on the Malay Peninsula’s Langkawi Island’s northwestern tip in Malaysia, The Datai Langkawi is a tropical dream built in 1993 smack in the middle of an ancient rainforest. Its secluded and powdery beach faces the Andaman Sea. There are small islands on the horizon and in the distance, looms the kingdom of Thailand. At nights, moonlight reflects on the water and palm trees silhouetted against the shimmering glow make Datai seem surreal. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill resort. The Datai’s sheer luxury and quality of service will make honeymooning there an experience not soon to be forgotten. One quick look around will convince newlyweds that this is an unblemished spot in which to begin a lifelong romance. The Datai manages to blend exotic Malay traditions with subtle luxury and personalized service. The place boasts that it was built “with love and imagination.” It sure seems that way, as it never fails to captivate guests at first sight. Its 54 luxurious rooms and villas are stunning—there are private verandahs and such pleasing amenities as rainfall showers, plunge pools and oversized beds. The Gulai House restaurant is a short distance from the resort’s main building and accessed via a traditional Malay hanging bridge. This is an open-air restaurant cooled by sea breezes. It dishes out exotic Malay and Indian cuisine. Guests have two seating choices: “Nobat,” where you sit on the floor to eat in traditional Malay style or in the Western way. Rates here range from about $480 per night for a deluxe room to about $930 for a top-end suite.

amandari Bali is a green Indonesian seventh heaven known as “The Island of the Gods.” Here, in this land of myth and timelessness, the Amandari resort sits high above the Ayung River gorge near Ubud, an artistic community known for its serene atmosphere. Amandari was designed about two decades ago to reflect the beauty of Bali and to capture and preserve the purity of its unique culture and joyful spirit. It’s still going strong, with its tradition of pampering guests in charming traditional Balinese style. Its name means “peaceful spirits,” and one never leaves without a sense of having had a taste of Nirvana. Indeed, locals from the nearby village of Kedewatan use the resort’s walkways and trails to reach a sacred pool nearby. Amandari was designed in the style of an ancient Balinese village and is about one hour from Bali’s Denpasar International Airport. It consistently ranks among the top sexiest hotels in the world and shows no sign of slacking. The restaurant is all teak and exotic woods and the chefs prepare local dishes as well as international cuisine. The Amandari spa offers traditional Balinese treatments, exotic regimes like cream baths in open-air treatment rooms overlooking peaceful lily ponds where the sound of rushing water has a soporific effect. While Bali denotes romance and peaceful seclusion, the Amandari takes everything the island offers and enhances it. Rates run from about $800 per night dbl for a village suite, to about $3,700 for a luxury suite.

hullett house Those seeking a romantic, marvelously quaint and unique hotel for a honeymoon should find Hong Kong’s Hullett House ideal. Although it is in the middle of the beehive-like “Fragrant Harbor,” what “Hong Kong” means in Cantonese, the Hullet House maintains a quiet elegance. On the site of a former Marine Police barracks circa-1881, the Hullett House is a 13-suite boutique hotel that re-defines romance. It has all the charm of Hong Kong’s bygone days. Suites range in size from about 800 to 1,100 sq. ft. and have terraced balconies with jaw-dropping, floor-to-ceiling views of Hong Kong Island’s spectacular skyline. Each room has its own color scheme. While the honeymoon, or bridal suite, is all white, the black room has black padded walls and black carpeting. The resort is so elegant and sparkling and yet so retro, that a stay there has been likened to visiting San Francisco’s Chinatown in the ‘40s, except that the Hullett House has all the modern conveniences and elements for a remarkable honeymoon. Its five restaurants have the feel of a colonial mansion and the informal restaurant, Stables Grill, is built over the original police stables that have the original— and wonderfully preserved—wooden stable doors opening onto a huge terrace. Rates run from approximately $570 per night dbl for a small suite, to about $775 for the more luxurious accommodations. But even the less expensive suites are worth the price, as the Hullett House is rapidly becoming Hong Kong’s premier, and most romantic, boutique hotel.