Asia’s Best Resorts and Villas for Golf Enthusiasts

Asia’s Best Resorts and Villas for Golf Enthusiasts

Following the Masters golf tournament last week, you might be tempted to pack up your clubs and travel to the country’s best golf destinations: Georgia, Florida, or Palm Springs, to name a few. But if you want to mix a golf vacay with tropical sun, pristine beaches, and exotic culture, book a flight to Southeast Asia where golf courses are world-class, and high-end accommodation can be very affordable.

Big, bold and beautiful, Villa Sawarin glitters brightly from its hilltop position at Phuket’s exclusive Cape Yamu. The sprawling 8-bedroom villa was designed by the world-renowned Philippe Starck and Jean-Michel Gathy, blending modern grandeur with the charm of alfresco Thai living. In addition to a gorgeous infinity pool and 3 acres of tropical gardens, the villa features its own private par 3 golf practice green.

Also situated in the luxurious haven of Cape Yamu on Phuket’s eastern coastline, Villa Amarapura is a chic and glamorous 7-bed villa that comes with a full staff of five to attend to your every need. A perfect crash pad for families or large groups, the villa features spectacular architecture and two infinity pools with glorious views. Golf enthusiasts can work on their swing in the villa’s game room which houses a high-tech golf simulation game.

A 2nd place winner for the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Banyan Tree is a luxurious villa resort nestled in the enclave of Laguna Phuket, steps away from a pristine stretch of beach. Golfers don’t have to go far to tee off – the resort has its own 18-hole, par-71 course surrounded by a spectacular display of scenic lagoons, coconut groves, and waving fairways.

Located in the breathtaking setting of Uluwatu, The Ungasan Clifftop Resort houses an exclusive collection of ultra-luxe villas, each with their own private infinity pool, butler, and chef, not to mention incredible clifftop views. In addition to a private lagoon for sunbathing, a trendy beach club, and a flood-lit tennis court, Ungasan offers guests an on-site professional golf putting green.

With a name that means “White Coral”, Villa Karang Putih embodies a charming Hamptons vibe with its all-white furnishings, beautiful French doors, and colonial architectural elements inspired by old-money glam. Kids and adults alike love the villa’s private mini golf course, perfect for those sunny Bali mornings. Other features include a private saltwater pool, movie theater room, 8-foot long pool table, and even a helipad to make the ultimate entrance via chopper.

Located on a black sand beach next to Bali’s famous Tanah Lot Temple, Villa Parim is a design aficionado’s dream. The villa features an expansive garden designed by renowned artist John Pettigrew, and is powered by solar panels to help reduce energy consumption. For golfers, the villa is perfectly located just 3.4 miles away from Nirwana Bali Golf Club, which is not only the best golf course in Bali according to Forbes, but also one of the best in Asia!

For golfers looking to get away from the Bali crowds and experience a more serene Indonesian island, the 4-bedroom Anandita Villa provides the ultimate beachfront escape in the neighboring island of Lombok. Sitting on a private white sandy beach and boasting a full staff, the villa is located right next to Lombok Golf Kosaido Country Club where you can enjoy an 18-hole championship course with dramatic views of Mount Rinjani.

Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, lush greenery, and rolling hills, Cameron Highlands Resort is a countryside heritage hotel that fronts the prestigious Cameron Highlands’ 18-hole golf course, which is just a minute’s walk away. Besides golf, guests can hike jungle trails, explore tea plantations and strawberry farms, or enjoy tea bath at the resort’s Spa Village.

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When and Where to View Cherry Blossoms in Japan

When and Where to View Cherry Blossoms in Japan

The travel experts over at The Luxe Nomad give us the low-down on making the most of cherry blossom season in Japan!

Timing is everything

Let us preface this by saying the most important thing isn’t where you go, it’s when. Cherry blossoms only tend to last for a week or two, and once they fall, it’s over for the season. Blooming time varies by geographic position (they bloom earlier in milder climates) and weather conditions in the region. Cherry blossom season typically begins in the south of Japan around Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo in late March, before heading up north to Hokkaido in late April to early May.

Be flexible

While the Japan Meteorological Corporation has already released this year’s forecast, our friends in Japan say that it’s still too early to predict the exact time. Local newspapers and TV stations will give more accurate forecasts two to three weeks before the season commences, so if you have the luxury to book a trip on a whim, keep an eye and ear out around early to mid-March.

Where to go

Cherry blossoms bloom all over Japan during sakura season, but some of the best places to witness the romantic pinks and whites are Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

Tokyo | Last week of March

One of the most popular places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo is Ueno Park, which has more than 1000 trees leading towards the National Museum. Blossoms here typically open one to three days ahead of other spots in the city. Given its popularity, Ueno Park is also one of the most crowded, so we recommend heading to the quieter Shinjuku Gyoen, which is home to dozens of cherry blossom species, including numerous early and late blooming varieties. There is a fee to enter Shinjuku Gyoen, but it’s a great place to go if you’re in Tokyo slightly before or after the main blooming season. Looking to stay close to the action? Consider Gyoen Loft Shinjuku, The Luxe Nomad‘s minimalist two-bedroom apartment located just around the corner from the park.

If you’re keen on a pleasant picnic surrounded by blossoming trees, stop by Yoyogi Park which has over 600 blossoming trees and a small variety of food stands.

The gorgeous Inokashira Park features a large pond where you can rent a boat and view the delicate beauty of cherry blossoms from the water.

Last but certainly not least, the Imperial Palace offers free sakura viewing from its east gardens, perfect for a nice afternoon stroll. The Luxe Nomad’s minimalist lofts Chiyoda and Residence by The Imperial Palace are conveniently located just west of the palace.

Kyoto | Late March to early April

The Philosopher’s Path is Kyoto’s most popular cherry blossom spot, starting from Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) and ending in the neighborhood of Nanzenji. The path is nearly 2km long, lined with cherry trees that stretch as far as the eye can see. The path can get quite crowded, so we recommend visiting in the evening when the crowds disperse and the trees are illuminated near Ginkaku-ji Temple.

Maruyama-koen Park is the go-to place to experience hanami, cherry blossom viewing parties, where you can grab a cub of tea and tuck into traditional Japanese fare. The park has a towering 70-year old weeping cherry tree that is absolutely beautiful, especially when it’s lit up at night.

Nijo Castle has over 50 different cherry blossom varieties spread across the castle grounds, surrounding its moat, walls, and inner garden.

To escape the crowds, head to the local favourite Konkai-Komyoji Temple, which is over 1000 years old and surrounded by large cherry trees that look extra special at twilight.

Finally, The Kyoto Botanical Garden is great for late season sakura viewing, featuring many weeping trees than tend to bloom later than others in the area.

Live like a local in Kyoto by staying at one of The Luxe Nomad’s authentic machiya townhouses built in the early 1900s, such as Izumiya-cho Machiya or Nishijin Isa-cho Machiya. Each of these spots come with their own onsen-style Japanese hot baths.

Osaka | Late March to early April

While Tokyo and Kyoto are typically the go-to cities for Sakura viewing, Osaka also offerings wonderful views sans the crowd. Osaka Castle has over 4000 cherry trees across its expansive grounds, and you’ll often be treated to taiko drumming performances during the peak of hanami season.

Kema Sakuranomiya Park offers a seemingly endless row of cherry trees lining the Okawa River. The park is one of Osaka’s most popular sakura spots attracting heavy weekend crowds, so we recommend viewing the cherry blossoms from a pleasant river cruise.

Home to over 5000 cherry trees, Expo 70 Commemorative Park sits on the outskirts of Osaka city but can easily be reached via monorail at the Banpaku-kinen-koen Station. The huge park also has a traditional Japanese Garden as well as a large open-air craft market when the flowers are in full bloom.

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Beat The Crowds: Up-and-Coming Destinations to Visit in 2017

Beat The Crowds: Up-and-Coming Destinations to Visit in 2017

Any well-seasoned traveller would tell you that the best adventures happen on the road less traveled. So while you’re planning your getaways for the year, why not forget about the clichés and consider destinations that are still under the radar? Here’s my list of up-and-coming destinations to visit before they get too crowded.

Undiscovered paradise with a diverse landscape.

As far as tropical beach vacations go, Sri Lanka has it all: golden beaches, glistening turquoise water, and alluring views that rival the Maldives. But that’s not all – make your way inland and hike rainforested peaks, spot leopards and elephants on a safari, or visit a lush tea plantation. You’ll also find age-old heritage sites such as Galle Fort, plus an unpretentious laid-back island vibe with warm hospitality and amazing food!

Bali without the crowds.

If you like the pristine beaches, clear water, and breathtaking temples of Bali (who doesn’t?), then you love its small neighboring island Lombok. Regarded as “the new Bali”, Lombok offers plenty of activities from trekking volcano peaks to surfing world-class waves, biking through lush rice paddies to relaxing at a white sandy beach. You can also plan a day trip to the nearby Gili Islands, a largely undiscovered paradise known for its incredible snorkeling and diving.

Authentic culture in the Japanese Alps.

By now you’ve probably heard of Japan’s premier ski destination Niseko, but it’s not the only place in the country where you can score amazing powder. Nestled in the Japanese Alps and host to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, Hakuba boasts unparalleled snowfall, diverse terrain at over 10 ski resorts, plus a charming town that gives you a true taste of traditional Japanese culture. And it’s only a bullet train ride away from Tokyo!

Deeply spiritual country with hospitality beyond words.

Almost completely cut off to the outside world until recently and fiercely protective of its ancient traditions, Bhutan remains an enigmatic kingdom nestled in the Himalayas. Obtaining a tourist visa is not easy (or cheap), but everyone who gets to enter is instantly captivated by its sacred sites, mesmerizing Buddhist architecture, near-vertical mountains, and benevolent culture. They say Bhutan is indescribable, so you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself.

Coastal cosmopolitan with a celebratory lifestyle.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, foodie, sun worshipper, or cultural buff, you’ll find plenty to appreciate in South Africa’s favourite coastal city. Beyond picturesque beaches and the gorgeous peaks of Table Mountain National Park, you’ll find colourful neighbourhoods, award-winning wineries, and worldly cuisine that earned Cape Town the #1 spot on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of best cities for food.

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Go Get Some: 6 Adults Only Resorts for Valentine’s Day

Go Get Some: 6 Adults Only Resorts for Valentine’s Day

Anantara Veli Maldives Resort – South Malé Atoll, Maldives

What’s more romantic than being surrounded by miles of turquoise waters in an over-water bungalow? The Anantara Veil Maldives Resort promises the privacy and tranquility of an adults-only island getaway, replete with soft white sand and azure waters. Unwind on a sun deck overlooking pristine coral reefs, take a dip in your own private pool, or be blissfully pampered at the resort’s Ayurvedic Spa.

One Eleven – Seminyak, Bali

A stylish and luxurious adults-only villa resort in the heart of bustling Seminyak, One Eleven is a secluded yet convenient escape for lovebirds. The resort offers spacious villas plus the first- class treatment you deserve, from 24-hour butler service to private in-villa spa pavilions. For traveling foodies, One Eleven also houses one of Seminyak’s finest restaurants, an authentic Japanese sushi/sake bar headed by Chef Shiro San.

The Amala – Seminyak, Bali

Quietly tucked away in an unspoiled natural enclave in Seminyak, The Amala gives you the best of both worlds: a calm and intimate atmosphere where you still have easy access to Bali’s most vibrant neighbourhood. The resort’s adults-only policy is intended to allow couples to rejuvenate and reconnect with each other in a serene setting, where they can enjoying an extensive selection of Balinese-inspired spa and wellness programmes.

Kahanda Kanda – Galle, Sri Lanka

From sun-kissed beaches to lush mountains, the landscape of Sri Lanka exudes romance. Nestled on a peaceful tea plantation and surrounded by sweeping jungle views, Kahanda Kanda is a boutique adults-only resort with just eight individually designed villas, a sanctuary of serenity, privacy, and personalised five-star service. Unwind with a relaxing couples massage or take a romantic stroll through the resort’s own working tea plantation.

The Pavilions Phuket – Phuket, Thailand

Perched high above Layan Beach, The Pavilions is an intimate escape from the hustle and bustle of Phuket’s tourist hotspots. Popular for honeymoons, the adults-only resort treats guests to commanding ocean views, luxurious interiors by the world famous designer Rene Ozorio, and an alluring atmosphere that encourages warmth and affection. From champagne breakfasts to sunset cocktails, love is in the air.

Villa Samadhi – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Discreetly hidden from street view in the heart of Malaysia’s capital is Villa Samadhi, an upscale hideaway and Kuala Lumpur’s best-kept secret. The adults-only sanctuary offers the biggest suites in town, each with their own over-sized plunge hot tub for sultry nights in. With a gorgeous lagoon-style pool, delicious restaurant that’s exclusively for in-house guests, and an chilled-out atmosphere, there’s no reason to ever leave.

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5 Romantic Stays That Come With Babysitters

5 Romantic Stays That Come With Babysitters

Want to get away for a romantic trip this Valentine’s Day but can’t leave the kids at home? While ‘family-friendly’ and ‘romantic’ typically do not go hand-in-hand, these resorts and villas offer babysitting services, meaning you can sneak away from the family vacay and enjoy some much-needed alone time with your hubby.

 Alila Seminyak – Bali, Indonesia

A breezy beachfront retreat with a modern tropical vibe, Alila Seminyak offers sleek and sultry suites, bespoke service, and five stunning pools overlooking the ocean. In addition to a family-friendly restaurant and kids club, you can arrange for babysitting services while you escape to a romantic day at the world-renowned Alila Spa.

With turquoise water, fine white sand, and amazing over-water bungalows, Anantara Dhigu promises the idyllic Maldivian family vacation where you snorkel and swim at your doorstep. The resort offers private babysitting services as well as the Dhoni Kidz Club with a climbing wall and treehouse, allowing you alone time while basking in the romance of the Maldives.

Iniala Beach House – Phuket, Thailand

Phuket’s most luxurious and bespoke beachfront accommodation, Iniala sets new standard for service and luxury. An interior designer’s dream, the property offers a collection of stunning villas and penthouses, including a separate pirate-themed kids hotel with a complimentary nanny. Your kids will have so much fun they won’t even notice you’re gone.

SALA Samui – Koh Samui, Thailand

A serene boutique resort on Samui’s northeast coast, SALA exudes a relaxing ambience by harmoniously blending traditional Thai architecture with modern touches. Spend the day playing with your kids at the beachfront pool, then book a resort babysitter so you can enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with your love.

The Vale Niseko – Niseko, Japan

Snowy mountains are just as romantic as the beach, so why not treat the family to a ski vacation at Niseko’s premier ski-in-ski-out luxury hotel The Vale? Whether you’re after a couple’s day on the slopes or a night out on the town, you can arrange for professional childcare in the comfort of your suite. Did we mention you’ll also get your own private onsen?

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Forget Hotels, Stay in These Minimalist Tokyo Lofts Instead

Forget Hotels, Stay in These Minimalist Tokyo Lofts Instead

Tokyo – a place where pop culture, food, fashion are a way of life; a concrete jungle that juxtaposes neon billboards and innovative design with age-old tradition and charm.

In a city where hotel rates are high and square footage is low, finding the perfect stay in Tokyo can overwhelm even the most seasoned traveller. We suggest staying in a private loft instead of a hotel, where you’ll have all the space and home-away-from-home comforts you could ever want, not to mention the more authentic experience of “living like a local”. Here are a few minimalist sanctuaries you can book for your next Tokyo getaway!

To see other private properties in Tokyo, visit TheLuxeNomad.com.

Meiji Loft – Shibuya

Tucked away on a quiet street in one of Tokyo’s best neighbourhoods, Meiji Loft is a bright and modern 2-storey loft featuring welcoming yet minimal interiors. The loft comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, balcony, Apple TV, and a great selection of books for relaxing nights in. Conveniently located near the shops of Harajuku, the loft is a great place to recharge after exploring, sightseeing, and shopping.

Gyoen Loft – Shinjuku

A newly renovated loft in the heart of the lively Shijuku District, Gyoen sits on the top floor of a 10-storey building offering amazing views of the city. Perfect for families, the loft features a cosy master bedroom plus a sleeping loft and kitchen, all fitted with clean and modern décor. The loft is just a short walk from subway lines, restaurants, and some of the best shopping in Tokyo.

Chiyoda Loft – Central Tokyo

For travellers seeking an authentic Tokyo experience, look no further than Chiyoda Loft, a quiet oasis surrounded by rich greenery and large tree-lined streets in the heart of Tokyo. The spacious loft is located steps from the Yasukuni shrine, and just west of the Imperial Palace which is known for beautiful cherry blossoms in spring.

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