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Ten Unexpected Ways to Explore the World’s Best Hotel

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In announcing Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan as the winner of its annual readers’ survey, Travel + Leisure highlighted the resort’s “sense of calm” combined with “innovative and modern” new experiences awaiting guests.

“Obviously, to be named No. 1 a hotel must be consistently excellent across the board,” said the magazine’s editor-in-chief Nathan Lump. “It’s got to have good bones, yes, and it needs to have great people who can build on those bones to transform the place into an experience. At the Four Seasons I especially appreciated how often I was surprised by something I saw or tasted or did, which reminded me that the most memorable hotels and resorts are also about creativity, experimentation, and innovation.”

Here are just ten of the innovative experiences available at Four Seasons Sayan, for our guests to connect to the heart and soul of Bali:

LEARN YOURSELF, OR LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS: Challenge your other half to a cook-off at Bali’s first custom-designed riverside cooking school, Sokasi. Under the guidance of Chef Suta, take a tour of the local markets and the resort’s own vegetable gardens. Learn to make all-time Balinese favourites or opt for a plant-based menu, in keeping with Ubud’s heritage as the island’s wellbeing hub. If you would rather leave the local cuisine to the experts, join the exclusive Chef’s Table Dinner and savour a 7-course menu including 12-hour roast duck and 4-hour suckling pig cooked just for you at Sokasi.

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? If so, hop into our open-air vintage VW to visit a secluded water temple, far from the selfie crowds. Bathe in the cool, blessed spring water and refresh your body and soul with a Balinese water purification ritual. Guests are asked to resist the temptation to tag/name this temple on social media, out of respect for the village’s wish to preserve its tranquility.

TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: Another way to get off the beaten track and meet the locals is with complimentary guided tours like the 60-minute Sayan Village Walk or Cycling experience. For a bigger challenge, sign up for the exclusive Bongkasa Cycling Tour through a pristine and rarely-visited rice farming village.

LAUGH THOSE WORRIES AWAY: A great way to release any stress or tension you’ve been bottling up is by laughing your heart out with Putu Purnama at Laughter Yoga. Because laughter fixes everything. Don’t believe us? Give it a try!

I BELIEVE YOU CAN FLY: It’s also true that you can fly! Bali’s only certified AntiGravity Yoga will have you swaying and swinging through the air to deeply stretch muscles and release happy hormones. A pure silk hammock strong enough to support a baby elephant will safely help you into inverted poses even from your first lesson. The benefits may even see you walk out a little taller.

FLOAT AWAY DOWN THE RIVER: Navigate your way along Bali’s longest river, the Ayung, which is a main source of the UNESCO Heritage-listed subak irrigation system for traditional rice farming. The Four Seasons Private Rafting experience is as scenic as it is fun; there’s even a part where you can hop out and float on your back down the river, looking up into the forest canopy above. The experience conveniently lands directly at Riverside Pool, where a hearty lunch awaits you.

ROOF-TOP DINING: Enjoy the dramatic views high above the treetops from the elliptical rooftop lotus pond with a Private Romantic Dinner, or even a Sunrise Canopy Breakfast. Definitely worth waking up early for – even while on holiday – to catch the first light of day from this stunning vantage point.

ROCK-A-BYE BABY: Don’t remember being rocked to sleep as a baby? Let yourself be taken back to this nurturing childhood ritual with a Sacred Nap by Ibu Fera, immersed in the tranquility of the Sayan Valley. For families, if the little ones refuse to take a rest, let them burn off their energy at Pici Pici Kids Club while you enjoy the luxury of an afternoon nap.

RE-BALANCE YOUR ENERGY: Embrace the healing energy of the Sayan Valley with chakra rebalancing spa treatments. Our seven signature Chakra Ceremonies each have a corresponding Chakra Yoga class to further enhance the benefits. Take a private consultation with our wellness experts to find out which of your energy wheels may need an adjustment, and learn which yoga poses are recommended for your specific needs, to help protect yourself against negative energy forces in future.

LET’S DANCE: Marvel at the beautiful costumes and incredible skill on display at a Balinese dance performance in the Lobby, against a backdrop of the lush valley. Even if you’ve seen a performance before, it is definitely worth seeing one here. The dance troupe from the local village is accompanied by a full gamelan orchestra, and it is an amazing spectacle. The dancers will happily pose for photos afterwards and even teach you a few steps!

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Hotels & Resorts

Hyatt Announces Plans for its First Hotel in Cyprus

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Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced today that a Hyatt affiliate has entered into a management agreement with Anolia Holdings Limited for the first Hyatt hotel on the island of Cyprus, Grand Hyatt Limassol. The 300-room luxury resort is expected to open in 2025 and signifies Hyatt’s continued growth into Europe’s leading travel destinations.

The new-build beachfront resort will be situated at a Blue Flag beach east of Limassol, one of the island’s most cosmopolitan cities. With a prime beachfront location on the southern coast of the island and 300 bold, light-filled rooms offering sea views, Grand Hyatt Limassol will be a captivating destination within a destination featuring a stunning 43,000-square-foot (4,000 square meter) beach club including premium spa and fitness facilities as well as an indoor pool and two outdoor pools. The resort will additionally offer five elevated food and beverage concepts as well as 15,000 square feet (1,400 square meters) of event space. Furthermore, Grand Hyatt Limassol will be a key element of Zaria Resort, a mixed-use luxury development, comprised of residential apartments and private villas totaling more than 861,100 square feet (80,000 square meters). 

“We’re delighted to work with Anolia Holdings Limited to bring the Grand Hyatt brand, known for its access to iconic locales, to the island of Cyprus, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe,” said Takuya Aoyama, vice president development for Europe and Africa, Hyatt. “Grand Hyatt Limassol represents a key element of our growth strategy in Europe as we continue to seek opportunities to extend our resort footprint in the Mediterranean.”

Only a 30-minute drive from Larnaca International Airport, the hotel will bring with it the exceptional brand of luxury and vibrant design that the Grand Hyatt brand delivers to guests worldwide. Arriving guests will drive past the lush greenery of the hotel’s 150,000-square-foot (14,000-square-meter) public garden and promenades and enjoy a spectacular view of the Mediterranean. The resort promises to be a celebration of all the exquisite details of Cypriot culture, offering guests a stay beyond the ordinary through magnificent moments of more and superior service.

“We are thrilled to team-up with Hyatt on this development,” said Alexander Iakovlev, director of Anolia Holdings “The Grand Hyatt brand is synonymous with luxury and creating unique experiences for guests which remain authentic to the destination itself. In addition, given Limassol’s status as a financial capital of Cyprus, the hotel will not only attract leisure guests but may also prove popular for business travelers, conference-goers and event attendees. We are eager to see Grand Hyatt Limassol become the heart of the Zaria Resort development.”

The announcement of Grand Hyatt Limassol follows a significant expansion in Hyatt’s brand footprint in Europe over the last 12 months. Nine new hotels including Great Scotland Yard, Hyatt Centric Dublin, Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere, Hyatt Regency Chantilly and more opened in the region in 2019, with four more additions in Barcelona, Manchester and Frankfurt this year. These plans for a hotel in Cyprus represent a key opportunity in Europe as it builds upon Hyatt’s existing and upcoming portfolio in Malta, Athens Thessaloniki and Izmir. The island has furthermore proven to attract travelers from Hyatt’s key strategic markets including the UK, Russia, Greece, Germany and the Middle East.

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Expansive Gaylord Hotels Re-Open Marking a Positive Return for the Hospitality Industry

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Today marks a significant milestone in the return to business of the U.S. hotel industry, as three sprawling resorts reopen their doors. Ready to welcome back travelers this summer, Gaylord Rockies in Colorado, Gaylord Palms in Florida and Gaylord Opryland in Tennessee join the recently opened Gaylord Texan to offer four hotel and entertainment destinations that provide a multitude of experiences within acres of indoor space as well as outdoor pool play. Diverse summer programming includes family-friendly activities and live entertainment for all ages while socially distanced; the hallmarks of what consumers need from a summer escape in today’s travel environment.

In accordance with Marriott’s “Commitment to Clean” protocols, the resorts will provide enhanced cleaning technology, hospital-grade disinfectants, attendants dedicated to sanitizing frequently throughout the day, new social distancing protocols, and hundreds of new cleaning processes to take care of guests while they enjoy the resorts’ amenities. Additionally, the Gaylord Hotels ownership group, Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. selected Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a leader in medical research, as its official wellness advisor. These combined efforts will further support the multi-phased health and sanitation plans, procedures, and employee training.

Frequent guests of Gaylord Hotels also know the brand to have phenomenal convention and meeting space. As the meetings industry focuses on the right way back to business, Gaylord Hotels have taken the opportunity to introduce new processes that will help meeting planners understand and navigate what business gatherings could look like in the months ahead. Each property has 400,000 square feet or more of meeting space, and as events reschedule, the hotels are working with groups to embrace and incorporate new technology such as live streamingand contactless options. Marriott’s Meeting Services App allows meeting planners to request meeting room adjustments like temperature, set up and audio visual services, as well as review billing, and Marriott Bonvoy Members can access Mobile Check-In via the Marriott Bonvoy app. Gaylord Hotels’ new meeting and event protocols include changes to banquet guidelines and meeting space. Banquet food and beverage standard updates include the elimination of self-service buffets and reduced seating at dining tables from 10 persons to six. Meeting space guideline changes include reduced capacity, adding chair space for theater style set ups, and additional sanitization of all meeting room touch points, hard services and chairs.

“The reopening of the Gaylord Hotels marks a key moment for the industry. These remarkable hotels have customized programming for guests, plenty of space and are innovating with technology appropriate for the times,” said Mike Stengel, Senior Vice President of Gaylord Hotels at Marriott International.

Providing “everything in one place” for visitors, Gaylord Hotels are delivering re-imagined summer experiences and amenities to meet the demand of drive-market leisure travelers. Highlights of these summer offerings include:

Gaylord Rockies – Aurora, CO

Visitors will experience a summer escape full of adventure, from a Colorado Explorer Scavenger Hunt where children and adults alike become real-life explorers, to the Grand Lodge featuring a winding walkway, tranquil lake and bubbling rapids. The resort’s water experience, Arapahoe Springs, features indoor and outdoor pools, three waterslides, and a 720-foot long lazy river.

Gaylord Palms – Kissimmee, FL

Guests can relax and soak up the Florida sun at Cypress Springs Water Park featuring a zero-entry swimming pool, multi-level water playground, racing slides, drop slide and FlowRider® surf simulator. In addition to spaced pool seating, guests can rent private cabanas that include shaded seating, flat-screen televisions, refrigerators and snacks. Premium guaranteed pool seating will also be available for purchase.

Gaylord Opryland – Nashville, TN

Visitors of the “Music City” resort will be entertained by live musical performances, fountain and light shows, indoor flatboat rides, garden tours, scavenger hunts, and golf at Gaylord Springs Golf Links. Guests can also book packages that include access into SoundWaves™ Water Attraction, a 4-acre upscale indoor/outdoor resort water attraction featuring a wave pool with 37-foot video screen, double FlowRider® surf stimulator, multi-level play structures, lazy rivers, multiple winding waterslides and adults-only exclusive pools and bars.

Gaylord Texan – Grapevine, TX

Guests can splash into Texas-size fun at Paradise Springs, a 10-acre outdoor pool complex offering a 600-foot long lazy river, 6,000-square-foot family lagoon, multi-level water playground, zip-lining, multiple winding waterslides, and plush private cabanas for rent. Summer activities include canvas painting, morning yoga, live music performances, scavenger hunts and more.

In addition to the family-friendly events and outdoor pools, each of the four reopened Gaylord Hotels provide acres of airy indoor atriums under soaring glass ceilings, kept at a comfortable 72 degrees, where visitors can roam, play, and discover lush gardens and waterfalls – all while supporting social distancing protocols.

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The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko Opens its Doors Amidst a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan

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The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C today announced the opening of the latest hotel to join its luxury Asia Pacific portfolio, The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko. The property – set amidst a UNESCO World Heritage Site – introduces a new level of luxury to the destination, with an experience marked by an emphasis on immersing oneself in the majestic natural surroundings.

Ideally located in the Northern Kanto region of Japan, The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko is set two and a half hours north of Tokyo, accessible by rail or car, and is a true oasis promising access to a breadth of outdoor activities and cultural experiences. It features many natural treasures including the Kegon Falls and an array of famous Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Nikko, and the surrounding area, has long been known as a holy place and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the cultural, religious, and architectural significance of its richly decorated shrines and temples. Perched along Lake Chuzenji and Mount Nantai, guests can easily access prominent scenic attractions, such as Nikko National Park, where the hotel is located, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage designated area.

“Following much anticipation surrounding its debut, we are thrilled to finally open the doors to The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko and to continue the growth of the luxury segment in Japan,” said Rajeev Menon, President Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China), Marriott International. “Today marks an extremely monumental day for our brand and the entire company as we set the bar in luxury travel, embracing the new normal, while consistently instilling confidence in travel amongst all of our guests.”

Taking cues from its picturesque surroundings, the hotel articulates graceful Japanese design through a modern lens to bring the natural beauty of Nikko indoors. Earthy materials such as woods and stones permeate the property and are enhanced by streaming natural light. The hotel’s 94 spacious guest rooms and suites all feature a private balcony that flows seamlessly with an engawa lounge area, offering an expanded space for guests to take in the striking scenery surrounding the hotel.

Though nature takes center stage at The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, Japanese tradition and craftsmanship guide the property’s four distinct dining experiences: The Japanese Restaurant offers all-day dining and showcases the vibrant elements of Japanese cuisine; Lakehouse uses fresh, local ingredients to create imaginative Western dishes in a tranquil setting; The Bar, is a sophisticated haven of relaxation where local ingredients are highlighted in original cocktails celebrating the culture, nature and spirituality of the ancient city; and The Lobby Lounge is the ideal place to unwind, where visitors can enjoy light bites and Afternoon Tea overlooking a picturesque garden. Ingredients from local purveyors find their way onto plates and into glasses, with every dish and drink a reflection of the culture’s appreciation for beauty and design. This acknowledgement is further showcased by exclusively crafted pottery by the well-established Mashiko pottery artists, GENDO, or by traditional wood carving motifs created by the first female wood carving artists in the 400-year history of the shrines and temples.

An urban sanctuary of wellness, the Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko showcases treatments inspired by the abundance of natural revitalizing elements and the rich heritage of the Nikko region within four specialized treatment rooms. The hotel is the first Ritz-Carlton property to feature an authentic hot-springs experience in the Japanese onsen tradition. Guests are invited to enjoy the spacious indoor and open-air hot spring baths, where therapeutic thermal waters drawn from the springs of nearby Yumoto Onsen will rejuvenate their body and mind. The onsen experience promises the ultimate holistic journey, with a secluded tension-melting soak before any of the supremely relaxing and personalized treatments.

Guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko will feel embraced by the traditions and practices of the local culture and surrounding natural environment, and enjoy the highly tailored and authentic service for which the brand is known. Further enhancing the hotel’s meditative and spiritual setting, guests are invited to participate in a nightly meditation. Every day at dusk, the lobby area will be transformed into a place of spiritual respite, offering a moment to reset and appreciate the day that has passed. Upon departure, guests will receive a sacred omamori (Japanese amulet), their own keepsake memento and a wish for safe travel.

Taking full advantage of its location within Nikko National Park, a destination revered for its scenic beauty as well as the splendid architecture of its UNESCO-designated Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, the hotel offers a wide selection of activities that showcase the unique offerings of its highland setting. Visitors can choose from a collection of unforgettable excursions ranging from cycling through protected wetlands, to strolling through the precincts of centuries-old sanctuaries, meditating under waterfalls, ascending their frozen cascades in winter, and more. Entwined with local culture, the hotel also offers guests the opportunity to master the Japanese skill of furoshiki wrapping, witness a mystical temple fire ceremony or enjoy the sounds of drums and Japanese flute music at a sacred ritual ceremonial dance. Spanning nature, culture, spirituality, and Ritz-Kids programming categories, there is something for curious explorers, thrill-seekers and everyone in between.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer an elevated level of luxury and the first of its kind to be located in the sublime mountain region of Nikko,” said Jennie Toh, Vice President, Brand, Asia Pacific, Marriott International. “Our Ladies and Gentlemen at The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko are looking forward to welcoming guests and providing enriching, authentic experiences that truly embrace the local culture and destination.”

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