Why does this hotel look like it’s made of giant Jenga blocks?

While doing a lazy backstroke in the lagoon pool, my eyes gravitate to the constellation of lights reflected in the mirrored ceiling five storeys above.

All that’s on my mind is relaxation and the illuminated eye candy – not thoughts of hallmark sustainability, biophilic design, or carbon sequestering.

 

But, I will eventually wrap my head around all the eco coolness of this design hotel of all design hotels – the Pan Pacific Orchard in Singapore.

To be honest, my wife, Kerry, and I chose to stay at the Pan Pacific Orchard because it’s uniquely beautiful and luxurious, not because it has a bio-digester that transforms food waste into water that can be used for cleaning.

After all, the 23-storey, 347-room hotel, which opened in June 2023, is an architectural wonder resembling a tower constructed of giant Jenga blocks. Its most marvelous features are four, 22-metre-tall terraces scooped out of its vertical facade.

The second-floor Forest Terrace is for the open-air lobby and bar; the fifth-floor Beach Terrace for the lagoon pool; the 11th-floor Garden Terrace for the cabana lawn and patios of the Pacific Club Lounge and Florette Champagne & Oyster Bar; and the 18th-floor Cloud Terrace for the outdoor convention space.

Each guest room overlooks one of the terraces and the balcony of each room juts into the terrace’s air space.

“It creates four vertical, curated, themed and symmetrical ecosystems,” said Pan Pacific Orchard director of communications Teresa Koh as she showed my wife and I around.

“We’re very proud to be a luxury hotel that at its core is all about responsible sustainability.”

It doesn’t hurt that all this environmental consciousness is uber-chic and eye-catching.

The two exposed support columns either side of the hotel are covered in vines that are now creeping across the building and dripping from the terraces.

More than 100 other species of plants, shrubs and trees, including all those palms on the pool terrace, end up covering 300% of the hotel’s base land area in lush foliage. The greenery and the terrace’s designs result in self-shading, that aforementioned natural cross ventilation, carbon sequestering and air purification. Singapore-based WOHA Architects, a biophilic specialist, designed the hotel to be an iconic slice of nature in an otherwise largely concrete-and-glass megatropolis.

The Green Mark Platinum Certification was awarded for solar panels on the roof that power all common areas, collected rainwater keeping the terrace ecosystems lush, the previously mentioned bio digester and Swisspro water filtration systems in every room eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles.

All in all, it makes Pan Pacific Orchard the new prototype for high rise tropical hospitality.

Guest rooms are compact and well-designed with comfy beds and high-end linens and that balcony that juts out into the terrace air space. We lounge at the lagoon pool; sip signature cocktails called Cloud and Forest (in a nod to the terrace themes) at Florette; eat crispy pork at Mosella restaurant; and take breakfast, afternoon tea and happy hour in Pacific Club Lounge on the garden terrace.

Pan Pacific has 50 hotels and resorts in 30 cities in Asia, Europe and North America under the Pan Pacific, Parkroyal and Parkroyal Collection banners, including Pan Pacifics in Vancouver, Whistler and Toronto

In April, Air Canada started flying four times a week between Vancouver and Singapore, the only non-stops connecting Canada with the multicultural, Asian city state of six million people. In fact, it’s the longest flight Air Canada operates at 16 hours and 10 minutes Vancouver-Singapore. One-way fares on the quick, quiet and comfortable Boeing Dreamliner 787 start at $734.

Hotel rates for Pan Orchard start at around SG$440.

For more information, visit www.aircanada.com and www.panpacific.com.

—STORY BY: STEVE MACNAULL

Hyatt is bringing new luxury hot spring brand ATONA to Japan

Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Kiraku, Inc. are opening properties in Yufu, Yakushima, and Hakone under the modern hot spring ryokan (Japanese-style inn) brand, ATONA.

The ATONA brand was announced in 2022 under a joint venture between a Hyatt affiliate and Kiraku, a Japanese company dedicated to preserving valuable assets for future generations. The first ATONA ryokans are slated to open in 2026 across some of Japan’s top hot spring destinations and areas of natural beauty.

“Hyatt is a leading global hospitality company that is synonymous with elevated contemporary luxury. Aside from reaching valuable guests through World of Hyatt, the industry’s fastest growing loyalty program, this collaboration enables us to leverage Hyatt’s global expertise to deliver high operational efficiency and exceptional guest experience and focus on long-term capital appreciation and substantial investor returns,” said Kou Sundberg, founder and chief executive officer of Kiraku. “We are delighted to have identified prime locations for the first ATONA ryokans and successfully secured funding for the Atona Impact Fund. Having already partnered with Takenaka Corporation to restore a heritage sake brewery in Nagano, we are excited to expand our collaboration with more regional revitalization projects.”

“Through the ATONA brand, we look forward to introducing Japan’s hot springs and new destinations to our World of Hyatt members, and international and domestic travellers alike. With Kiraku’s expertise in deal sourcing, asset management and business development, the ATONA brand is poised to meet the rising demand for high-end ryokans,” said Sam Sakamura, Hyatt’s vice-president, Japan and Micronesia. “At Hyatt, we believe business is personal. We are excited to work with Kiraku and are grateful for the trust from Takenaka Corporation, with whom we have nurtured a long-standing relationship through various global projects, as we introduce fresh hospitality experiences to Japan.”

Air Canada just added extra summer flights to Asia and Europe

Air Canada customers have a wide range of exciting options across Europe and Asia this summer, along with a choice of 120 destinations in North America, to fulfill their summer travel plans.

Alongside new and enhanced international routes to SingaporeMadridStockholm, Osaka and Seoul, the carrier’s Summer 2024 international capacity is growing by 30 per cent into Asia-Pacific and 25 per cent to key leisure destinations in Southern Europe compared to last summer.

Air Canada’s Atlantic schedule will provide the most non-stop service between Canada and Europe of any carrier. From Montreal and Toronto, Air Canada is launching new non-stop routes to Stockholm, and will increase frequencies to Rome and Athens. From Montreal, the carrier will also launch year-round service to Madrid, increase flights to Paris to up to three-times daily during the summer peak, and restore service to Lyon.

From Toronto, service will increase to Copenhagen and will commence Edinburgh and Brussels earlier in the season.

A gateway to the Pacific

Across the Pacific, Air Canada continues to build its Vancouver hub as the gateway to the Pacific.  

The carrier recently started year-round service to Singapore from Vancouver, and will increase capacity to Hong KongOsaka and Seoul. On the East Coast, the airline is excited to start seasonal service from Toronto to Osaka and increase capacity to Tokyo, while from Montreal, Air Canada will begin seasonal service to Seoul, complementing enhanced capacity to Tokyo.

In North America, new routes will be offered from Toronto and Montreal to Tulum, from Toronto to Charleston, and from Montreal to St. LouisAustin and New Orleans. Within CanadaOttawaCalgary and HalifaxVancouver flights will resume, and there will be frequency or capacity increases, including between Toronto and SaskatoonReginaVictoriaSydney and Gander, as well as between Montreal and Regina, Saskatoon, Victoria, Edmonton, Moncton, Fredericton and Deer Lake.  

Air Canada is increasing its international network capacity by 8 per cent for summer 2024 compared to summer 2023. The airline is also boosting service to North America, with an increase of four per cent in available daily seats in 2024, with 518 flights to 120 destinations.

 

Contiki launches island-hopping trip to the Philippines

Contiki recently launched its first trip to the Philippines.

The new nine-day and 13-day Island Hopping tour visits some of the country’s most famous tourist hotspots and unique hidden gems on the Palawan Island. 

The nine-day version goes to Puerto Princesa, Port Barton, and El Nido, and includes many island adventures. Some of these include a boat ride through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Subterranean River National Park, an island-hopping day trip in Port Barton, a Jeepney ride to Nacpan Beach, and a unique Special Stay and Make Travel Matter Experience at the Isla Experience in Daracoton Island – which directly contributes to the welfare of the locals.

Among the included experiences is a Filipino-classic tricycle ride to Las Cabanas for a beach sunset, and a traditional boodle fight. Travellers will also have a chance to visit a local’s house for an authentic locally-grown Filipino meal.

The 13-day version includes a 4-day boat expedition, that takes travellers to some of the undiscovered gems in the Philippines, including Palawan Calamian’s Group of Islands (Northern Palawan archipelago) and famous attractions such as Coron islands, Cullion and Linapacan. It includes a private boat, the chance to go snorkeling in Coral Garden, seaside camping in Coron, and a visit to Turtle Islands.

For more information about the new Philippines Island Hopper trip, click here.

You can now fly directly to Osaka, Japan from Toronto

Air Canada has unveiled a new seasonal, direct service between Toronto and Osaka.

Flights between Pearson International Airport and Kansai International Airport will run three times a week from June 17 to Oct. 25, 2024, onboard the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Paired with increased frequency on their popular Vancouver-Osaka flight, this will more than double Air Canada’s capacity to Osaka, compared to the previous summer.

Direct service to Japan

Japan continues to be an expanding market for the airline, which has steadily increased both their capacity and number of direct routes to accommodate the demand.

During peak summer season this year, Air Canada will offer more than 12,000 seats a week between Canada and Japan, resulting in an overall capacity increase of approximately 20 per cent compared with last summer.

Air Canada currently runs direct flights between:

  • Toronto-Osaka (KIX) *Seasonal
  • Toronto-Tokyo (HND)
  • Toronto-Tokyo (NRT)
  • Montreal-Tokyo (NRT)
  • Vancouver-Osaka (KIX) *Seasonal
  • Vancouver-Tokyo (NRT)

A vibrant city

Thanks to its continual growth and development, Japan is now more accessible than ever for Canadian tourists, opening a direct gateway for visitors to experience the land of the rising sun for themselves.

Osaka is a vibrant city best known for its food, fun and nightlife.  A convenient 30-minute train ride from Kansai International Airport, it is a gateway not only to the Kansai region but to the rest of Western Japan, with convenient access to the many attractions in Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Nagasaki and beyond.

Four Seasons is opening a second luxury hotel in China

The bustling downtown core of Hangzhou, China, will soon welcome a Four Seasons hotel as part of the highly anticipated Hangzhou Centre mixed-use development project.

Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at Hangzhou Centre will offer a luxury hospitality experience inspired by the timeless elegance of the city’s natural landscape. Characterized by Hangzhou’s islands, historic temples, expansive parkland, freshwater lakes and rolling hills, the hotel will provide a peaceful contrast to the city’s busy downtown district. The 150,000 square metre (1.6M square foot) complex consists of two 130 metre (426 feet) towers and 8,500 square metres (91,493 square feet) of vibrant outdoor green space throughout.

About Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou

The new hotel features 214 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites with river and West Lake views ranging from 54 to 300 square metres (581 to 3,229 square feet).

Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at Hangzhou Centre will feature an array of restaurant, lounge and event spaces. With panoramic city views, the culinary offerings will include a signature Chinese restaurant with five private dining rooms; a glamorous rooftop bar with gardens to enjoy whiskey and artfully crafted beverages; a garden tea pavilion for serene afternoon refreshments and an all-day dining outlet featuring a globally inspired menu with an interactive hot pot experience with live stations for seafood, butchery and snacks.

our Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at Hangzhou Centre will be joining the existing Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake as well as a growing collection of properties throughout China including the upcoming Four Seasons Hotel Dalian, Four Seasons Hotel Suzhou and Four Seasons Hotel Xi’an.

Cruise line adds 10 new Asian countries for 2024-2025 sailings

Holland America Line’s 2024-2025 Asia season includes departures from Hong Kong, China; Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan; and Singapore to some of the most exciting cities across 10 countries, with a strong focus on Japan.

Noordam will sail a series of nine different 14-day itineraries that travel around Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The cruises showcase the diversity of the countries while celebrating their unique histories.

Late departures and overnight ports allow extra time for sampling the nightlife, cuisine and culture of the region.

Westerdam also heads to Asia on a new 53-day “Majestic Japan” Legendary Voyage roundtrip from Seattle. Travelers can visit the Far East with a convenient North American flight, easy embarkation and jetlag-free journey spanning several time zones.

Longer voyages 

  • LEGENDARY VOYAGE: New 53- or 52-Day “Majestic Japan” aboard Westerdam departing Sept. 1 or 2, 2024, either roundtrip Seattle, Washington, or between Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle. Featuring 21 total ports, 13 calls throughout Japan and overnights at Yokohama (Tokyo) and Kobe, Japan, and Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • LEGENDARY VOYAGE: New 28-Day “Coral Triangle, Volcanoes and The Great Barrier Reef” departing Jan. 5, 2025, roundtrip from Singapore aboard Noordam that explores 10 ports in five countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines, with scenic cruising in the famed Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait, and past the Kumba and Krakatau volcanoes.

Highlights of the 2024-2025 Asia season

  • Noordam explores Asia from September 2024 through April 2025.
  • Overnight calls include Yokohama (Tokyo) and Kobe (Osaka); Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand; and Da Nang, Vietnam.
  • The cruises visit a combined 49 ports in the region, including 24 in Japan.
  • “North Pacific Crossing” between Vancouver and Yokohama:
    • 13 days, departing Sept. 29, 2024, Vancouver to Yokohama, including calls at Sitka and Kodiak, Alaska, and Kushiro, Japan.
    • 15 days, departing April 27, 2025, Yokohama to Vancouver, including Kushiro, and Alaska’s Kodiak, Juneau, Ketchikan and Glacier Bay.
  • “Circle Japan” — 14 days, roundtrip from Yokohama. Three itineraries:
    • Osaka (Kobe), Kochi, Fukuoka, Sakaiminato, Niigata, Aomori, Otaru (Sapporo) and Hakodate, all in Japan, as well as Sokcho, South Korea.
    • Kochi, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Kanazawa, Niigate, Otaru, Aomori and Hakodate, all in Japan, as well as Busan(Pusan), South Korea.
    • Shimizu, Kobe, Kochi, Hiroshima, Sakaiminato, Tsuruga, Toyama, Akita, Hakodate and Miyako, all in Japan; as well as Sokcho.
  • Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines” — 14 days, between Yokohama and Singapore. Calls at Osaka (overnight), Nahaand Ishigaki, Japan; Keelung (Taipei) and Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Manila, Boracay and Puerto Princesa, Philippines.
  • “Far East Discovery” — 14 days, between Hong Kong and Singapore. Calls at Halong Bay, Da Nang (Hue), Nha Trangand Phu My, Vietnam; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; and Laem Chabang (Bangkok, overnight) and Nathon (Koh Samui), Thailand.
  • “Far East Discovery Holiday” — 14 days, roundtrip from Singapore. Thailand: Nathon (Koh Samui) and Laem Chabang (Bangkok, overnight). Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Phu My, Halong Bay and Da Nang (overnight).
  • “Indonesian Discovery” — 14 days, roundtrip from Singapore. All calls are in Indonesia and include Probolinggo and Semarang, Java; Celukan Bawang and Benoa (Denpasar), Bali; Komodo Island; Lembar, Lombok; and Tanjung Priok, Jakarta. Scenic cruising by the active Krakatau Volcano.
  • Japan and Taiwan” — 14 days, roundtrip from Yokohama. Japan: Amami (Naze), Naha, Ishigaki Island, Nagasaki, Abruatsu, Kochi and Kobe. Taiwan: Hualien and Keelung (Taipei).
  • Japan and South Korea Discovery” — 14 days, roundtrip from Yokohama. Japan: Kobe (overnight), Kochi, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kagoshima. South Korea: Sokocho, Busan, Jeju City (Cheju) and Incheon (Seoul).

This Canadian airline is now flying non-stop from Vancouver to Singapore

Air Canada has added non-stop flights between its trans-Pacific hub at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Singapore’s Changi International Airport (SIN).

The new route will operate four times weekly beginning April 3, 2024*, onboard Air Canada’s flagship Dreamliner fleet. Seats are available for purchase now at aircanada.com, via the Air Canada App, Air Canada’s Contact Centres, and travel agents.

Flight schedule

Flights will be operated with Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft featuring three cabins of service for customers to choose from, including Signature Class with lie-flat seats, Premium Economy and Economy Class.

The schedule has been built to conveniently connect to and from destinations across North America via Air Canada’s hub at YVR and, in Singapore to and from destinations across Southeast Asia, South India and Western Australia with Star Alliance and codeshare partner Singapore Airlines.

A new luxurious clamping experience just opened in Tibet

Songtsam, a collection of boutique luxury Hotels, Resorts & Destination Management Company in the Tibet & Yunnan Provinces of China, announced the official opening of Songtsam Glamping Palpa, its first glamping property in Tibet.

Located in Baiba Village (home to just 37 houses) situated on the Niyang River in Nyingchi, the glamping property provides guests with a luxury outdoor camping experience, where they are surrounded by snow-capped mountains, forests and pastures.

Accommodations 

Songtsam Glamping Palpa has 30 accommodation tents, four dining tents and 1 public leisure tent. All tents in the camp are made of Tentipi, the top outdoor brand in Nordic. Tentipi tents have a unique patented ventilation design which features an opening and closing of the top ventilation cap that can also be adjusted according to the weather conditions, the wind resistant level can reach to level nine.

Accommodation tents

Aurum33 is a Swedish-made tent that reaches 33m² (approx. 355ft²), which ensures that guests never feel constrained inside. 

Each tent is equipped with an outdoor table and two outdoor chairs on the balcony outside the tent, a private bathroom, 24 hours of continuous hot water, an exquisite copper wash basin, and the toilet not only automatically flushes, but also has heating and other functions.

Each tent is also equipped with a camping night light on the bedside table, a B&O portable Bluetooth speaker, multiple charging sockets, textured brass switches, matcha-colored soft leather sofas, Lhasa handmade wool carpets, and cozy bedding. 

Dining tents

The four dining tents in Songtsam Glamping Palpa are the first four S72 (Stratus 72) tents in all of China. The S72 can accommodate up to 72 people dining at the same time. When the S72 is stretched open, it looks like a witch hat, earning the nickname “witch hat”.

The “witch hat” is known for its flexibility, allowing several tents to be set up together. The dishes served by the restaurant are all freshly prepared locally Tibetan ingredients including: fresh yak meat served with wild bamboo shoots and spices and local wild agera leaves; the steaming yak meat hot pot and the yak meat sashimi.

The camp also provides free afternoon tea, and welcomes guests to sit under a hawthorn tree, while tasting well-paired snacks and refreshments. 

Activities

Songtsam Glamping Palpa has unique natural conditions and provides rich soil for adventurous outdoor activities.

Most of the villagers living in Baiba Village are Gongbu Tibetans. Guests are able to learn how to shoot a Gongbu sound arrow, and experience the daily life of “Gongbu people”, which has lasted for thousands of years.

In Tibet, horses are the locals’ inseparable companions. Under the guidance of professional coaches, guests can learn how to saddle and mount a horse, step by step. After proficiency in these steps, guests can also try the “Forest Ride” and explore the secrets depths of the Tibetan forest. About a 10 minute walk from Songtsam Glamping Palpa, guests will reach a flat river valley pasture where cattle graze leisurely. At dusk, guests may even encounter herdsmen milking cows.

In the coming months, more outdoor activities will be available at Songtsam Glamping Palpa, including the construction of a via ferrata (a protected climbing route), which will be the first via ferrata experience in Tibet. Other outdoor adventures soon to be added will include: rock climbing, ziplines, rafting, mountain biking, and off-road motorcycles.

A luxury Thai hotel offering custom wellness programs just opened in Chiang Mai

Allen Retreat Chiang May officially opened on April 6 in northern Thailand.

This is the third property under the Aleenta brand from Thailand-based luxury boutique hotel specialist AKARYN Hotel Group. Offering 44 rooms and suites, a restaurant, bar, spa and wellness centre featuring tailor-made wellness programs and retreats, the resort manifests Akaryn Hotel Group’s ongoing dedication to providing authentic, premium, sustainable experiences. 

About the rooms

The spacious rooms, one-and-two-bedroom pool residences and a four-bedroom teak villa with a private swimming pool merge traditional Thai design with a soothing palette of natural hues, sophisticated furnishings and tech-savvy facilities.

The four-bedroom Teak Villa is made from antique golden teak that was collected by the owner before being restored and carefully reassembled into a new structure that welcomes groups of family and friends to enjoy a traditional Thai living experience with modern comforts.

Signature wellness centre

Embracing its spiritual location in the ancient city of Chiang Mai the resort is home to one of the brand’s signature Ayurah Wellness Centers.

Alongside complementary daily yoga, Qi Gong, meditation and mindfulness classes, the menu of holistic wellness retreats and tailor-made programs include:

  • Mind Balance (5 nights from $342 per night) combining natural healing and Thai Holistic Medicine.
  • Detoxification (5 nights from $325 per night) to address the symptoms and underlying causes of burnout.
  • Total Immersion Yoga (7 nights from $352 per night) incorporating movement, mindfulness and coherence.
  • Healthy Living (from $360 per night) for those living with diabetes or who may have a tendency to develop the symptoms.  
  • Self Love (3, 5, 7, 14 or 21 nights from $350 per night) to overcome personal barriers through coaching, breathing, balancing and guided meditation.
  • Mindful Vipassana Meditation (3 nights from $304 per night) trains the mind to improve emotion, awareness, concentration and happiness. There is also an option to practise this retreat at the nearby temple, Wat Ram Poeng. 

Cooking classes & more

Retreats are enriched by healthy cuisine and a Wellness cooking class, as well as bespoke nutritionist-led plans with full plant-based options. Aleenta Retreat Chiang Mai enables clients to work with a resident ‘master healer’, doctor, nurse and nutritionist to achieve optimum wellness and balance in this tranquil environment. 

Elevated gastronomy is available at the resort’s restaurant ‘The Garden’ which offers breakfast, lunch and a refined menu in the evening to both nourish and spoil. Menus have been curated to provide nutritious dishes that preserve the flavors of traditional Northern Thai Lanna cuisine alongside Western cuisine with a Lanna twist.

The Garden refrains from using imported products and focuses on sourcing Thailand’s highest quality produce with plant-based, keto and low sugar/carb options also available.

At the 1892 Bar guests can relax on the balcony overlooking the resort’s spiritual blessing garden while enjoying a distinctive selection of specially curated snacks including vegan Khao Soi Gyoza and Wild Boar Teriyaki.  

Sustainable focus

Aleenta, which means ‘a rewarding life’, has served as the hotel collection’s manifesto since its launch in 2006. Each resort is anchored upon spacious accommodations, premium design, exceptional F&B, first-class facilities, holistic retreat programs and a long-term commitment to sustainability.

As the first hotel group in Thailand to go single-use plastic free in 2018, Aleenta Retreat Chiang Mai continues this commitment to responsible hospitality. The resort was designed from reclaimed wood as a low-rise property, built to protect the local ecosystem, topography and maximize natural features.

There are many initiatives in place to source locally, recycle, conserve freshwater supplies, reduce their use of carbon-based electricity and engage with the community. Aleenta continues to seek and develop ways to further improve and support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals across the brand.