Cover Story - Beauties on the block

    Cover Story | May 2017

    Beauties with character? Oh yes, they exist. We profile some of our favourite design hotels in Asia-Pacific that work well for business events

    QT Melbourne, Australia
    Event venues Two meeting rooms accommodating 32 delegates each
    Design story The QT chain of hotels are designed to be unique to their location and QT Melbourne has stayed true to the brief.

    Launched in September 2016 in the CBD’s Russell Street, the hotel is inspired by the rag traders of nearby Flinders Lane from the 1900s, which also sees its influences in the city’s ‘Paris end’ of Melbourne famed for its fashionable luxury shops.

    The hotel is tucked in a city laneway emphasizing its connection to its surrounding shops and eateries and has a strong urban European style, combining vintage and modern. But there’s also plenty of quirky charm, which becomes quickly evident when you step into one of its interactive lifts, ever ready with a cheeky greeting or remark in one of three languages as you enter or exit.

    Meeting rooms are furnished in rich tones and feature the bold and contemporary artwork of Tony Garifalakis. The room names Barclay and Paramount pay homage to the Greater Union Cinema that stood in the place of the hotel until the cinema closed in 2013. – Adelaine Ng


    ARTOTEL Sanur-Bali, Indonesia
    Event venues One meeting room for up to 80 pax, plus ROCA Sanur restaurant and Bar at ARTOTEL which are open to private events
    Design story he boutique hotel’s architecture pays tribute to Sanur, a seaside town well known for its annual kite festival. Rhombus shapes and inspired designs are found in the tiles, balcony partitions and roof of its restaurant.

    But more than its quirky architecture, the hotel’s bigger design story lies in its role as a supporter of artworks by some of Indonesia’s leading contemporary artists. Consistent to the brand’s artistic commitment, ARTOTEL Sanur-Bali has the ARTSPACE, an ARTOTEL signature gallery, where artworks are displayed. The hotel also provides a painting course for groups.

    The design of MEETSPACE, the hotel’s meeting room, is however more subdued, with white walls and wood paneled floors and ceiling. – Mimi Hudoyo


    Alila Fort Bishangarh, Rajasthan, India
    Event venues Various indoor and outdoor venues
    Design story Once a warrior fort and now a luxurious resort under a brand known for its breathtaking properties, the Alila Fort Bishangarh perches atop a granite hill with its conserved 2m-thick walls and battlement turrets and arches looking very much like a natural extension of the surrounding terrain.

     The heritage resort is said to be a unique example of Jaipur Gharana architecture, influenced by both the Mughals and the British, and much of that has been carefully restored.

    The resort boasts 59 stately suites, each individually created to capture the stunning views of the surroundings.

    The regal atmosphere is carried through the hotel’s suites, four specialty theme restaurants – particularly Amarsar all-day dining restaurant which features restored Rajasthani thikri work and handpainted wall art, and The Nazaara terrace lounge with its elegant Indian arches, and Spa Alilla.

    For private events, the resort has plenty to offer too, including a royal banquet hall, a banquet dining room, conference and meeting rooms, an open-air terrace and large banquet lawns. – Karen Yue


    Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, 
    Kyoto, Japan
    Event venues One multipurpose venue with garden views
    Design story Sitting amid the Arashiyama hills to the west of central Kyoto, Suiran is a traditional-style property overlooking the lazy Hozu River.

    In keeping with the serenity of its location, Suiran has only one meeting room which makes it just as exclusive as the entire hotel. The 98m2 space is equipped with modern conference technology and tantalises delegates with views of a stunning Japanese garden beyond the sliding paper screens and windows.

    Upgrade the meeting experience with refined kaiseki cuisine, or host dinner at the hotel’s Kyo-Suiran restaurant, built in 1899 as baron Shozo Kawasaki’s summerhouse. Kyo-Suiran combines Meiji era architecture with contemporary lighting and seating. An intrinsic part of Japanese design, the indoor-outdoor aesthetic is fostered by floor-to-ceiling windows that offer unobstructed views across the countryside. The restaurant has a private four-seat teppanyaki room and a private dining room for 12 guests. – Julian Ryall


    Hotel Luna, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, the Philippines
    Event venues Three, accommodating up to 180 pax altogether
    Design story This museum hotel has retained the character and features of the original Spanish colonial house built in 1882 by an affluent father as a wedding gift to his daughter.

    It pays tribute to one of the illustrious sons of Ilocos, Juan Luna, the world-renowned painter and activist of the Philippine revolution. Luna was a close friend of the country’s national hero Jose Rizal while his younger brother, Antonio Luna, was a great general who fought during the Philippine-American war.

    Hotel Luna boasts a museum with an impressive collection of contemporary artists, national artists, and of course, Luna masterpieces.

    The hotel is a destination in itself, with the Spanish colonial theme extending to the architecture, vintage furniture and fixtures of the meeting rooms, priceless paintings that adorn the property throughout. Even the Chula Saloon Bar is named after the Chula series of painting by Luna.

    And while it turns back time with its colonial architecture and lifestyle, the hotel isn’t averse to modern concessions. Wi-Fi is available property-wide and in the guestrooms are orthopaedic beds and electronic toilets. – Rosa Ocampo


    Hôtel Vagabond, Singapore
    Event venues One, for up to 350 guests
    Design story The luxury boutique hotel lives, breathes and plays art. Housed in a 1950s Art Deco building and designed by renowned French designer Jacques Garcia, Hôtel Vagabond embodies his design philosophy of “all things in excess” from the bronze rhinoceros that doubles as a reception desk to the life-sized golden elephants that ‘hold up’ the elevator.

    Come evening, the Vagabond Salon, which comes with a touch of Parisian glamour, takes centrestage, providing guests with a space to experience art through interaction with the artist-in-residence. The 400m2 venue encompasses a bar and a restaurant kitchen, and can adapt to different event requirements. Its floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains are soundproof, allowing the space to cater to intimate soirees or be opened up, catering up to 100 pax seated or 350 standing. – Barathi Narayan


    Hoshino Resort Risonare Yatsugatake, Yamanashi, Japan
    Event venues Two convention rooms, four boardrooms and a ballroom
    Design story A winner of a dozen international architecture and design awards, Hoshino Resort Risonare Yatsugatake appears as a contemporary complex of various facilities set high in the spectacular mountains of Yatsugatake.

    The complex – which incorporates striking design concepts by a number of prominent architects – also has a 300-seat auditorium, reception venues and restaurants, including the newly created YYgrill. Other facilities include a cafe with a wide selection of books, a spa with top-of-the-range therapies, an indoor pool and the Yatsugatake Winehouse.

    There are a number of meeting facilities, including venues that permit work to continue on a shady deck with mountains forming the backdrop. Meeting rooms can accommodate 12 to 120 people.
       The surrounding environment also lends itself to teambuilding events, including treasure hunts and cooking classes. – Julian Ryall


    Blossom Villa Resort & Spa, Sichuan, China
    Event venues A multimedia room for 150 guests plus an attached outdoor terrace
    Design story Opened in December 2015, the latest China member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World is located 140km from Chengdu in Jiangyou, the hometown of famed Chinese poet Li Bai.

    The Jiangyou authorities commissioned the developer to build a poetry-themed European-style wellness retreat where the design of each of the 24 rooms, measuring between 65m2 and 70m2, is different and based on a selected poet and poem.

    The hotel has an art gallery, a café, a swimming pool and Thalgo Spa, known for its thalassotherapy treatments using sea water and sea products, and the 90m2 One Room Chinese restaurant where dishes are made using seasonal, non-genetically modified, organic ingredients.

    One Room restaurant is divided into different sections comprising a living room corner with sofas and armchairs, a long table with a screen and equipment for a business meeting, and a 20-seat round table in front of a fireplace.

    The hotel offers modern lifestyle concepts in a village-setting and meeting planners can consider booking the entire hotel for a high-end retreat or incentive trip. – Caroline Boey
    Hotel Mecure Danang French Village Bana, Vietnam
    Event venues A grand ballroom and six meeting rooms
    Design story With Danang becoming an attractive destination for business events, AccorHotels pledged to offer something slightly different when it opened Mercure Bana Hills French Village in April 2016. Sitting at 1,480m above sea level in an area that was once popular with French colonialists seeking respite from the heat, it is only accessible via a 5,800m long cable car. Boasting unparalleled views of the surrounding mountainous region of central Vietnam, the village is modelled on 19th Century France and is home to 494 European-style rooms, seven F&B outlets, a fitness centre, spa, indoor pool, golf centre, shopping area and attraction park.

    The village is also home to a range of event facilities, catering for up to 1,000 guests. Private events can also be arranged in the sprawling gardens, the fantasy park or other open areas. A dedicated events team is on standby. – Marissa Carruthers
    The Anam, Nha Trang, Vietnam
    Event venues A conference room, a ballroom and three meeting rooms
    Design story The five-star resort celebrated its grand opening in April 2017. Inspired by Vietnam’s bygone Indochine era, the resort’s romantic design evokes nostalgia with its imperial-style roofs, lanterns, decorative pools, customised mosaic floor tiles and stone pathways. It features 117 villas, 96 rooms and suites and various facilities including a restaurant, a pool bar and beach club, three swimming pools, a Balinese spa, a 3D cinema, a water sports centre, and yoga facilities.

    Understanding that the modern business is seeking a destination that combines top event facilities with culture and breath-taking beauty, The Anam is a paradise tucked away in the northern Cam Ranh peninsula. The Colonial Room can host up to 170 people, while the ballroom caters for up to 250. A dedicated team is tasked with creating one-of-a-kind events, with the stunning ocean-side location making the resort already popular with event planners. – Marissa Carruthers

    The Edison George Town, Penang, Malaysia
    Event venues Two cabanas, each for 12 people
    Design story The building was constructed in 1906 as a residence for a local tycoon named Yeo Wee Gark. It was designed with many of the opulence associated with the wealthy of that era, for instance, generous space planning and the extensive use of metal works imported from the UK.

    After an eight-month-long restoration refurbishment and renovation effort in 2016, The Edison George Town was unveiled, showcasing an interior design that is a quirky take on Penang’s heritage while bringing back the luxurious ambience the mansion once knew.

    While the hotel lacks dedicated meeting rooms, it makes up for this with flexible venues that can be transformed for private events. – S Puvaneswary

    Macalister Mansion, Penang, Malaysia
    Event venues Two private rooms within The Dining Room, one for up to 10 people boardroom-style, the other for up to 20; The Lawn accommodating up to 200 people
    Design story Located along the historic Macalister Road, the eight-room Macalister Mansion is a restored colonial mansion built in the early 1900s and named in honour of Penang’s British governor Norman Macalister who ruled from 1808 to 1810. Numerous references to the historic figure are captured in the host of specially commissioned installation art pieces displayed throughout the premises.

    Guests can expect a dramatic sense of arrival through the generous ground fronting the historic mansion. When viewed along the main road, the Macalister Mansion logo floats above the green hedge and original wrought iron gate, with the elegant mansion in the distance. Entering the hedge-lined driveway, guests are welcomed by an oversized 2.5m high fractal bust of Norman Macalister. Arrival at the reception area is under a turquoise scalloped canopy and through a pair of restored ornate wooden double-leaf doorway.

    The reception is central to the rest of the Macalister Mansion experience and is linked to three F&B outlets and to the eight rooms above.

    The Living Room has its own distinct entry on the southwest side of the building with a pathway connecting it to The Lawn’s pool and pool bar.

    At the pool, a white cannon and series of cannonballs on display are a tongue-in-cheek reference to a legend surrounding Norman Macalister’s days of governing – apparently he incentivised local islanders to aid in the clearing of a piece of forested coastal land by shooting gold coins into the forest.

    The entire mansion can be booked for RM80,000 (US$18,161) nett per day.  – S Puvaneswary


    Jaya House Riverpark, Siem Reap, Cambodia
    Event venues Adaptable space
    Design story Since opening on the outskirts of Siem Reap in October, Jaya House Riverpark has been creating a name for itself. The stunning resort takes in 36 rooms, two swimming pools, a spa and restaurant dotted among tropical gardens and lush trees. Chic modernity dominates, with clean contemporary décor elegantly balanced against Angkorian-influenced carvings, with the hotel’s design based on Kos Ke Temple.

    For private events, the resort can be transformed into a unique venue, from the majestically lit, landscaped gardens to the spacious restaurant, reception area and silver-tiled pool area.

    The brainchild of Christian De Boer, former general manager of the nearby exclusive Shinta Mani hotel, and Kan Rinna, former Shinta Mani F&B manager, service at Jaya House Riverpark is one of the finest to be found in Cambodia’s Temple Town, with dedicated teams on hand to help look after every detail, including organising tailor-made group excursions to the surrounding area. – Marissa Carruthers

    The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore
    Event venues One, for up to 28 guests
    Design story Fancy staying in a meticulously restored spice warehouse dating back to 1895, which also housed an illegal alcohol distillery when the area was a hotbed of secret societies and underground activity, and later a vibrant disco? The Warehouse Hotel in Robertson Quay might be right up your alley.

    The 37-room hotel stays true to the building’s heritage and local culture with features including original industrial beams, high ceilings and historical detailing, that is further enhanced with a contemporary minimalistic design and locally sourced room furnishings. The theme is also carried over to the multipurpose event space, The Den – an extension to the hotel’s lobby – for intimate business events for 28 guests. For non-exclusive events, The Den and the lobby bar can accommodate a larger gathering of up to 80 guests. Meetings can also be catered in the hotel restaurant, Po, which pays tribute to a local favourite snack, popiah, and celebrates the richness of Singaporean dishes and flavours with a modern twist. – Barathi Narayan

    Knai Bang Chatt, Kep, Cambodia
    Event venues One meeting room for up to 40 people
    Design story Understated simplicity is the order of the day at Knai Bang Chatt, a stunning resort in the quaint coastal resort of Kep.

    Knai Bang Chatt beautifully blends old with new, harking back to Cambodia’s Golden Age in the 1950s and 1960s, when Kep was a destination reserved for the rich and famous. Its five villas, which are home to 18 rooms, were built in the 1960s by protégés of revered Cambodian architect, Van Molyvann, who studied under Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. Resort owners worked with French architects to restore them to their former glory, and what stands today is a truly stunning minimalist resort that has an earthy vibe.

    Besides the resort’s dedicated meeting room, less formal private events can also be held at the neighbouring Sailing Club and The Lounge area which comes with sea views. It is also possible for groups to hire the entire resort. – Marissa Carruthers



    Primus Hotel Sydney, Australia
    Event venues Three boardrooms and three multifunction meeting rooms
    Design story The hotel oozes Art Deco charm not just for stylish reasons. It is a salute on a grand scale to a past era, resulting in the meticulous restoration of an old government building that was responsible for Sydney’s sewers from around the 1930s.

    Opened in December 2015, visitors are greeted by 8m-tall red scagliola columns in the lobby restored by Italian master craftsmen flown in for the job. Think cream travertine marble flooring, and a central seating area with plush salmon pink and navy velvet sofas and brown leather armchairs.

    But there’s also much history retained in the walls and windows of the building. The original water bubblers for example, can be seen in places throughout the ground level.

    The geometric influences of the pre-Depression era are dominant in the hotel’s function room. – Adelaine Ng

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