In a year where very few of us are travelling much outside a few miles of our home, V&VPR is honoured to see 12 of our clients ranking among the top hotels in the Condé Nast Traveler 2020 Reader’s Choice Awards – and there is one very good reason why these properties were amongst the chosen few.
With travel planning off the cards, this year has been a time for the industry to pause and reset, evaluating what is truly important. Despite a tumultuous 2020, the teams at Capella Hotels and Resorts, Singita, and Swire Hotels have each made a conscious effort to better their local and international communities, through a range of initiatives designed to make the post-pandemic world a slightly better place.
Capella Hotels and Resorts: Properties within the Capella Hotels and Resorts portfolio launched a number of CSR initiatives, such as a ‘Solitude in Nature’ experience at Capella Ubud – a portion of the funds from which were donated to local families in the Keliki village who had been impacted by the pandemic – and complimentary stays for healthcare professionals at Capella Shanghai.
- Capella Sanya – #21 Top 30 Resorts in Asia
- Capella Shanghai – #16 Top 20 Hotels in China
- Capella Singapore – #2 Top 20 Hotels in Singapore
- Capella Ubud – #16 Top 20 Resorts in Indonesia list
Singita: Sadly, the halt in tourism is having a devastating ripple effect on conservation efforts across Africa. Throughout this period, Singita’s conservation teams and partners are ensuring their ongoing conservation and community programmes continue to thrive, making sure that areas, animals and surrounding community are happy and safe, with anti-poaching canine units and fundraising efforts for the relocation of endangered rhinos.
- Singita Sasakwa Lodge – #1 Best Hotels and Resorts in Africa
- Singita Pamushana Lodge – #5 Best Hotels and Resorts in Africa
- Singita Boulders Lodge – #2 Best Hotels and Resorts in South Africa
Swire Hotels: Continuing their CSR efforts this year, Swire Hotels launched several new initiatives; The Upper House worked with Foodlink Foundation to help reduce hunger as well as the pressure on Hong Kong’s landfills, whilst The Opposite House launched a ‘Top Sanlitun Picks’ initiative to shine a spotlight on local independent businesses during these trying times.
- The Temple House, Chengdu – #3 Top 20 Hotels in China
- The Opposite House, Beijing – #4 Top 20 Hotels in China
- The Middle House, Shanghai – #17 Top 20 Hotels in China
- The Upper House – #5 Top 10 Hotels in Hong Kong
- EAST, Hong Kong – #8 Top 10 Hotels in Hong Kong
The awards are compiled by Condé Nast Traveler readers, who rate each property according to their personal experiences. Particularly in 2020, the awards highlight the restorative and transformative power of travel.
We cannot wait to return to these wonderful properties.
The full Condé Nast Traveler 2020 Reader’s Choice Awards Results can be found here.
Staycations are the new vacations, and we’ve seen an influx in locals taking ‘Singapolidays’ right in our backyard. As guests are spending more time within the resort during their staycation, Capella Singapore has created a holistic and comprehensive program of activities that will allow guests to try something new every day. Each activity encapsulates the unparalleled ‘Capella Hospitality’ and serves to truly make guests’ stay unforgettable.
Designed by the dedicated Capella Culturist team, the series of programmes and rituals celebrate heritage, arts, gastronomy and wellness – there’s something for every type of staycationer. Ranging from Family Yoga to a Boba Milk Tea building workshop, each experience is specially tailored to allow you to discover another side of Singapore.
Parents looking for a family-friendly staycation will be delighted at the host of activities for their little ones at Capella Singapore. From scavenger hunts to arts and craft workshops such as canvas painting and Peranakan pattern handicraft, these activities will allow the entire family to unleash their creativity while spending quality time together. On Sunday, families can join the Revitalising Yoga Class, led by the resident yoga expert. Budding chefs can also take part in the Little Stars Culinary Workshop, with the choice between making cake pops and decorating cookies and cupcakes.
Highlighting the property’s extensive culinary offerings, the Capella Culturist team have crafted immersive experiences for foodies such as the unique Build Your Own Boba class; guests will get the chance to recreate a delicious brown sugar bubble milk tea, complete with Capella Singapore’s own bespoke Navegante tea. Those looking for a more refined experience can indulge in the Tea Time at The Living Room, where a selection of afternoon tea treats and beverages await or the Rum Appreciation session, where the team at Bob’s Bar will showcase the age-old history of rum, its importance to seafarers and introduce the spirit’s distinctive characteristics.
The new programming also features a host of creative and cultural activities, aimed to allow locals to delve deeper into Capella Singapore’s rich history. The Heritage and Art Tour takes guests around the majestic bungalows built in the 1880s for British officers of the Royal Artillery, highlighting the riveting stories behind the art pieces displayed throughout the resort as well as the five heritage trees within the resort’s compound that are over a hundred years old. Led by the floral craftsmen that have overseen the arrangements for countless of iconic Capella Singapore weddings, the Floral Styling Workshop takes guests through the basics of creating the ideal bouquet, tapping onto each individual’s creative flair.
For more information about Capella Singapore, you can visit https://www.capellahotels.com/en/capella-singapore
Capella Singapore is dedicated to maintaining the highest hygiene standards to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their guests. To learn more about their commitment to safety practices, please visit their website.
Circuit breaker has seemed to help us unearth our secret talents, with many flourishing into bakers, baristas and bartenders overnight. Now that we’ve slowly but surely emerged out of lockdown, most of us are more than happy to hand the baton back to the experts. While most bakeries and cafes remained open for takeaway, what we’ve missed most is an artfully crafted cocktail, shaken or stirred right before our eyes. Though bars in Singapore haven’t technically been given the green light to reopen yet, the V&VPR team have put together a list of places where you can already treat yourself to a well-deserved celebratory drink, while staying responsible of course! We’ve also included a few stellar delivery options for those who aren’t ready to venture out just yet.
For the Design & Ambience
Known for its impressive gin tower and Gatsby-esque interiors, ATLAS is a clear winner if you’re looking to treat yourself. You’ll be whisked away on a sensorial journey from the moment you step into the Art Deco bar; stunning champagne-hued drapery, striking gold and bronze balconies, and, of course, the intricately crafted gin cocktails. Said to own the most diverse collection of gin in the world, with over 1,000 bottles of the spirit, this is a far cry from your personal circuit breaker stash. Fret not if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed — all you have to do is tell the team your favourite gin and flavours, and they’ll recommend a concoction made just for you.
No attention to detail and design was spared with Barbary Coast. Inspired by the district in San Francisco of the same name during the mid-1800s, the dual-concept bar spans two floors of three historic shophouses. Designed by award-winning hospitality design and branding studio EDG Design, the establishment holds two unique concepts under one roof – The Ballroom and The DeadFall – bringing to life both the grit and glory of the gold mining era. While the lush Ballroom on the second floor remains closed for now, immerse yourself in the rough, ready and rustic vibes of The Deadfall. New must-try cocktails from their refreshed menu include the French Highball with Remy Martin Cognac and Soda, as well as Tommy’s Margarita with Mezcal, Lime and Agave.
For the Fresh Air
Inspired by Havana’s glory days and Capella Singapore‘s distinctive old world charm, Bob’s Bar is the ultimate tropical escape to get your dose of fresh air. Step outdoors to the Terrace and unwind on plush daybeds with a magnificent view of the lush foliage. There’s no other place we would rather be to celebrate our new-found freedom, soaking in sweeping sea views while sipping on bespoke cocktails on the breezy terrace. V&VPR tip: Bob’s Bar is offering a special cocktail from now until 31st July so make a date with your mates and nab an al fresco spot (limited to groups of five of course)! Capella Singapore is also reopened for staycations, so make yourself a room reservation if you want direct access to this Havana haven all day long.
Instagrammable neon sign? Check. Spacious open-air seating? Check. Fusion bar grub and delicious cocktails? Check and check. Although one of Singapore’s first rooftop bars, Loof seems to have been designed especially for our new normal, with all the elements needed for a good time, while still abiding to safety and social distancing measures. We’ve missed indulging in their iconic chili crab waffle fries and their BCM grilled cheese paired with a medley of Southeast Asian inspired cocktails. We’ll be having a Lychee Bubble Tea cocktail please, to make up for the months of being bubble tea-free.
For the Adventurous
Departing from its previous digs in Boat Quay, Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall reopens on Haji Lane, just in time for phase 2. Retaining its distinctly local flair, the cocktails here focus on classics that are embellished and reimagined with a nod to well-loved Singaporean drinks. The menu ranks the drinks on a sliding scale of lethal-ness and bitterness, taking reference from kopitiam words po (Hokkien for ‘thin’ or ‘weak’) to gao (‘thick’). On the po side, there’s the Gin Fizz; for something in the mid-range, try the Blood & Sand, or go all-out gao with the rye whisky-based Old Pal.
Ranking No. 6 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2020, Native has been a true trailblazer. Led by Vijay Mudaliar, the bar takes its inspiration from the local and regional landscape, serving cocktails with foraged ingredients, from jasmine blossom to turmeric leaves. Perhaps most well-known for its weird and wonderful cocktail Antz (featuring ants scavenged from around Ann Siang Hill), this award-winning establishment is for the adventurous among us.
For the Homebodies
Homebound Happy Hours are ideal for those of us who are still reticent about going out and about. LAIBA is Asia’s first premium bottled cocktail brand, bringing signature cocktails to your doorstep expertly curated by award-winning mixologist Michael Chen, considered one of the best in Asia. The cocktails come perfectly premade in sleek bottles so you don’t have to worry about the ratios and recipes. We love the refreshing Passion De-Light with cucumber vodka, lemon and passion fruit, as well as the Twisted Negroni with strawberry and rosemary infused gin, Campari, Cinzano Rosso and Punt e Mes.
This cocktail delivery brand has absolutely nailed its design – we would order from them just to get our hands on their kitschy bottles. Their cocktails live up to the hype – choose from six different options, from Kiki’s Osmanthus Yuzu Gin to Kiki’s Sangria. They’ve also launched an exclusive travel range, inspired by cities such as Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo. This one’s perfect for all those getting cabin fever to get a taste of wanderlust without having to leave your couch.
Nowadays, there is an increasing demand for authentic and immersive experiences, and the search for spiritual travel is also growing. This concept allows guests to focus on their inner exploration to examine themselves, and self-reflect.
We’ve outlined a list of our favourite itineraries that will allow active travellers to embark on an eye-opening off-the-beaten-track journey of self-discovery this year.
Walk Japan’s Kumano Kodo Pilgramage
The Kumano Kodō is a series of ancient pilgrimage routes that crisscross the Kii Hantō, the largest peninsula of Japan. The routes are registered as UNESCO World Heritage and played an integral part of the pilgrimage process, as pilgrims undertook rigorous religious rites of worship and purification. Walking the sacred Kumano Kodo is a fantastic way to experience the unique cultural landscape of Kumano’s spiritual countryside, offering an immersion into more than a thousand years of Buddhist history.
Capella Ubud’s Confined to Quarters
Committed to maintaining excellence in the craft of hospitality, Capella Hotels & Resorts have launched Capella Curates. The series has been carefully cultivated by the expert team in each locale, to offer exclusive adventures, meeting interesting characters, experiencing whimsical traditions, and the opportunity to hone unexplored skills.
Capella Ubud’s Confined to Quarters is a life-changing Capella Curates experience, whereby couples can escape the humdrum of daily life with 24-hours spent in total solitude within their uniquely styled tent. The day begins with a traditional Balinese blessing ritual and yoga session, enabling guests to reconnect with one another and refocus. After a restful night’s sleep, made possible by the day spent in solitude, guests can take part in a sunrise purification ritual at the property’s Wos River Temple – a profoundly spiritual process designed to leave a lasting feeling of calm and positivity.
Scott Dunn’s itineraries to Bhutan capture the pure energy and spirituality of one of the last true unspoilt countries on earth. As a Himalayan Kingdom of stunning natural beauty, travellers will discover the awe-inspiring sights – from lush-green rice paddies running alongside fast-flowing glacial rivers to the endless forested-mountains and the snow-capped peaks beyond.
Bhutan carefully manages the numbers of tourists to the country in order to preserve its unique culture and traditions, and so a trip to Bhutan ensures a remarkable vacation with a first-hand, intimate look into the secrets of this extraordinary country. A Week in Bhutan introduces the spiritual and cultural highlights, from experiencing the fascinating capital of Thimphu, home to Bhutan’s national animal in the Takin Preserve, to trekking towards Taktsang Goemba or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro. Tailored to travellers who wish to be accompanied, all itineraries in Bhutan are escorted by a driver and specialist guide.
Conscious tourism is taking root globally, with travellers more aware than ever of the impact that their holiday can have on the environment and local communities. Brands are doing their part in refocusing their guest experiences, and leading the charge is Capella Hotels and Resorts, who are recognised for offering meaningful hospitality experiences, curated for the curious mind.
Committed to the craft of the stay, Capella Ubud, Bali — as part of their ongoing efforts to contribute to a more sustainable future and environment — has pledged to donate 1% of the total room revenue that is generated from all of the bookings that are made through its website for stays from 1-31 December 2019 to Trash Hero Indonesia, a national chapter of Trash Hero World.
Trash Hero World is a global voluntary movement made up of non-profit, community-based organisations with the mission to bring communities together to clean the environment. The movement aims to reduce waste through trash clean-ups, educational workshops on the environmental impact of trash, and long-term sustainable programmes that empower communities to better reduce and manage waste.
The proceeds from Capella Ubud’s month-long promotion will be specifically utilised to support the Trash Hero Kids program, the Trash Hero Learning Center and the upcoming publication of the Trash Hero Kids Book, intended to educate the younger generation on waste management.
Capella Ubud luxury tented camp is set in the heart of a verdant rainforest, bringing the rich heritage of Bali to life in a truly remarkable natural setting. Inspired by the first Europeans to settle in Bali in the 1800’s, celebrated architect and designer, Bill Bensley, has created the stunning rainforest camp as a tribute to their spirit of adventure, while preserving the local flora and fauna through the conscious idea of ‘minimal intervention,’ meaning that all trees and local plants were left untouched and protected throughout the build process. This one-of-a-kind hidden sanctuary offers an authentic insight into the way of life in Bali, combined with today’s modern conveniences and technology.