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The Calamian Islands in the westPhilippines welcome a new retreat thiswinter, but this one is a departure from theusual island resort. Ariara is the realiseddream of a British couple who wanted tocreate an escape for travellers likethemselves; that is, people who dislike therestrictions and lack of seclusion associatedwith many hotels. The private island retreat took abackbreaking six years to create but now its125 acres accommodate 18 guests inluxuriously appointed and impeccablymanaged beach-front villas. The privacy ofthis island, one of 7,000 in the Calamiangroup, is truly exceptional as guests can hirethe resort for the exclusive use of their party,adapting their daily schedule to suitthemselves and thus ensuring a bespokehospitality experience in what is consideredto be one of the last untouched frontiers ofthis region. www.ariaraisland.comAN ENTICING TASTE OF THE PHILIPPINEStravelnewsWINTER 2012I sea&iI29

30Isea&iIWINTER 2012Raising the bar in BeijingBeijing has its fair share of impressive hotels butthe soon-to-open Hotel Éclat Beijing, part of theParkview Green development in Fangcaodi,Chaoyang district, promises a fresh take onluxury accommodation in China. Modern, lightand wonderfully spacious, the property hascapped its rooms at 100, giving guests generousaccess to its full range of services, which include24-hour butlers, a private pool and a range ofrestaurants. Although 20 of the suites will havetheir own private jet-powered spa pools andterraced gardens, like most hotels there is oneshining star, and for Hotel Éclat it is the presidentialsuite. A vast and inventively decorated space, itcomes with facilities and services that enable itsguests to enjoy boutique-level exclusivity withlarge-hotel panache. BANGKOK'S NEW ARRIVALEven the recent floods can't dampenthe spirits of Thailand's new Siam CityHotel in Bangkok. Promising 'home-awayfrom-home' comfort, it was unaffected bythe disaster and is set to become afavourite with travellers looking forunderstated luxury and extreme comfort.Located in the heart of the city, theproperty is a short walk from temples,museums, markets, parks and restaurants.Colonial-style architecture combines withAsian styling in the rooms and suites, whichprovide a wonderful escape from thehustle of the city. The hotel also has eightdining venues, a fitness centre and a sixth-floor spa opening onto a fantastic roof-top pool.