The optimists among us have much to look forward to, with a slew of interesting hotels opening around the world, from New Mexico to Norway to the Maldives. (They’ll still be set up for social distancing and deep-diving into the sanity-soothing power of nature.) Some are a single entrepreneur’s passion project, while others are large-scale moves by the big brands. What they share is a painstaking attention to detail, a willingness to rewrite the rules and—in quite a few cases—genuine attention paid to sustainability. Whenever we can travel again, they will be waiting.
Aurora Lodge, Norway
The Lyngen Alps are unfettered and extremely remote, with the natural world’s wonders are on full display. Scientists have weighed in that this year will be one of the best ever to see the Northern Lights. The region used to be a challenging place to visit, but the launch this winter of Black Tomato’s fully staffed Aurora Lodge is making it much more accessible. Reached via helicopter from Tromsø, the eco-conscious lodge is high on design and luxurious; tastemaker Antonio Lupi designed the interiors, which include AXOR showers and beds by Hästens.
Immerso, Ericeira, Portugal
Ericeira is a cute beach town less than an hour from Lisbon. Until recently, it had some cute boho-chic surfer hotels, but no proper luxury place to stay. That will change this summer with the opening of Immerso, a five-star hotel with 37 rooms, a fine dining restaurant from Michelin-star chef Alexandre Silva, a pool and bar, a vegetable garden, an own beer and a surfboard production studio. Nature is the greatest inspiration, and the choice of decorative materials leans heavily toward the natural and the organic, with textures of land and sea.
Maslina Resort, Hvar, Croatia
This sustainability-forward resort opened on Hvar last summer with 33 rooms, 17 suites and 3 villas that are heavy on local, natural materials. The non-intrusive architecture blends into the olive groves and terraced vineyards, with excellent views of the Adriatic Sea. An organic garden supplies the restaurant and beach bar, which are overseen by American Top Master Chef contender Patricia Yeo. There’s also a “garden to skin” menu at the spa.
Ca’ di Dio, Venice
Not far from Piazza San Marco, this new gem from architect Patricia Urquiola will have 66 rooms, 57 of which are suites. It’s the flagship of the new V Retreats, a collection of palaces and other outstanding abodes across Italy. In this case, that means a traditional “Venetian house” that is deeply linked to the history of the city through its materials, colors, finishes and craftsmanship from the hands of passionate artisans.
La Maison Tatin, Loire Valley, France
Early this year, a new hotel-restaurant will debut in the Loire Valley in the place of the historic Hôtel Tatin, where the famous tart of the same name was accidentally created by the Tatin sister. Ths new hotel will have a 19th-century atmosphere with the staff in period costume, a history exhibition and a spa. You can guess what’s for dessert.
Canyon Madness Ranch, New Mexico
Not to be confused with that spa in Arizona, Canyon Madness will be an outdoor luxury adventure playground on 14,000 acres in northeastern New Mexico, between the Enciero Canyon and the red sandstone cliffs of the Canadian River Canyon. It will have plenty of outdoor pursuits, such as equestrian sports, shooting clays and other wilderness activities. Guests will stay in the eight-suite Teepee Lodge, designed by Mexican architect Alejandro Uribe, who is well known for luxury and resort residential housing in Cabo San Lucas. Part of it is cantilevered over the river 800 feet below.
Six Senses Botanique, Mantiqueira, Brazil
The super-sustainable Asian brand Six Senses is finally arriving in the Americas with this stunner in the Mantiqueira Mountains, about three hours from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. The construction is with indigenous materials and the design is meant to respect the region’s topography. It will have 13 villas and 7 suites at first, with branded residences and more villas in the works. There will be a spa that uses Brazilian botanicals, a farm-to-table restaurant with “living drinks,” mountain pursuits and locally accented activities such as capoeira.
Zannier Hotels Bai San Ho, Central Vietnam
This new resort sits on 245 acres of rice paddies, lush green hilltops, palm and bamboo groves and a private kilometer-long coral reef bay. It combines relaxation, cultural discovery and adventure. The architecture is infused with vernacular tradition, with Vietnamese artifacts, paintings and local silk prints. The accommodations are in 71 standalone pool villas, and three restaurants serve traditional and contemporary cuisine, with a strong emphasis on fish and seafood. The experiences range from harvesting oysters and dining on long boats to receiving temple blessings at Quy Nhon.
Treeful Treehouse EcoResort, Okinawa
Located in Nago city, in the north of Okinawa island, this resort follows an ethos of sustainable luxury. Operated partly by solar power, the sleek, design-forward tree houses are integrated with nature. One is completely suspended, with 360-degrees views and contemporary interior design, built on the side of Genka River, considered one of the clearest waters in Japan. The development included initiatives with Okinawa locals such as removing concrete to restore the natural landscape and rebuilding a watermill, in an effort to improve their area environmentally, culturally and economically.
The newest project from architect Bill Bensley, the Capella Hanoi is meant to be celebration of opera. Occupying a palace just steps away from the Hanoi Opera House, it’s been conjured up to be the rendezvous spot for artists, singers, composers, stage and costume designers after the final curtain call in the glittering 1920s. Each of the 49 suites presents a symphonic composition—using some of the hotel’s collection of more than 1,000 pieces of original memorabilia—trumpeting the tales of the mischievous opera society that could have passed through their doors over the past 150 years.
Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
The inaugural flagship property from Capella’s new lifestyle brand Patina Hotels & Resorts was designed by Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan of Studio MK27. It has 90 contemporary one- to three-bedroom pool villas, alongside 20 studios, all of which embody a harmony of sanctuary and stimulation. There are tailor-made wellness journeys, interactive music programs, a variety of culinary experiences and opportunities to bask in the light-filled James Turrell Skyspace Pavilion.
The Pavilions Anana Krabi, Thailand
This new 59-room resort is surrounded by limestone cliffs and greenery on the southwest coast of Phang-Nga bay. It focuses on wellness, sustainability and eco-conscious life. At its heart is a large kitchen garden that uses regenerative principles of composting and water conservation to produce for the farm-to-table restaurant, a farm café and a vegan cooking school. The activity possibilities include a solar-powered long tail boat to discover local mangrove rivers, and the yoga and wellness center is complimented by a 35-meter pool of mineral-rich local volcanic mountain water.
Jack’s Camp, Botswana
The 25th-anniversary celebrations were delayed for obvious reasons at this iconic camp in the Makgadikgadi Pan, which first opened in 1995 and just underwent a complete rebuild. Now set to open next month, the camp still pays homage to the 1940s campaign style. The new Jack’s Camp will have ten spacious safari tents, almost twice the size of the old ones, with an interior floor area of 130 square meters. They’re furnished with antiques that have been passed down through generations of founder and owner Ralph Bousfield’s family. Each one has a cabinet of curiosities that’s almost a miniature natural history museum, with artifacts like stone tools and fossils, all collected by Bousfield himself.
Azura Marlin Beach, Mozambique
On a kilometer-long stretch of white sand beach on the southwest of Benguerra Island, there’s the third hotel in Azura’s Mozambican portfolio. It has a more modern, relaxed vibe—and a lower price point—than the flagship, but it shares the same attention to quality and excellent views over the Indian Ocean. It has ten villas with all sorts of creature comforts and assistance from a butler-host. Activites include snorkeling and diving on the house reef, dhow tours, deep sea fishing and picnics on remote sandbars.
Inara Camp, Morocco
Just 30 minutes from the Marrakech airport, this desert camp has 18 luxury tents, a pool, and diversions like camp rides, horseback riding, mountain biking, trekking and heading out on desert safaris. It was conceptualized by Vincent Jaquet, the initiator of the first luxury camp in the dunes of the Sahara in Morocco, back in 2004.There are two dining experiences and daily activities like Moroccan tea ceremonies, dance performances, henna tattoos and more.
Flynn by the Crystalbrook Collection, Cairns
Opposite the Cairns Esplanade boardwalk, the new Flynn has two glass pools overlooking the Coral Sea, 311 stylish rooms and suites, three levels of restaurants and bars, the Eléme Day Spa and a 24-hour gym. It embraces its parent company’s mantra of “responsible luxury,” embracing environmental change to enhance, not compromise, the quality of guest experiences.