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Travel

8 Surprisingly Luxurious Destinations

By: Sharp Staff|June 25, 2015

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Casa AL, Rio de Janeiro

When Brazilian architecture firm Studio Arthur Casas and their client, a longtime friend of the studio, chose the land on which to build Casa AL, there was no doubt about its most selling feature.



The three-tiered house is perched on a hillside overlooking the ocean, with every aspect of its design focused toward the incredible view. By means of sliding glass panels, the main living spaces on the mid-level open onto the infinity pool and terrace, allowing indoor spaces to flow seamlessly into outdoor ones, and in turn into the panoramic vista beyond.

Casa AL, Rio de Janeiro

The house is clad in regionally-quarried stone and Brazilian teakwood, both of which allow it to blend harmoniously into the hillside. Studio Arthur Casas was also tasked with finishing the home, which they did in a mix of midcentury Brazilian designs and simple contemporary pieces — best, after all, not to try and compete with the scenery.

The Faroe Islands, Scandinavia

Set in the North Atlantic somewhere between Iceland, Northern Scotland and Denmark, there’s a tiny island territory that’s home to 50,000 people, 70,000 sheep and some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat. As the tenets of new Nordic cuisine (fiercely local, seasonal and sustainable) take hold across Scandinavia, the region has become a beacon to adventurous diners from across the globe.



The tiny Faroe Islands, a self-governing territory of Denmark, have lately earned their place on the list of must-visit Nordic destinations thanks to their grass-roofed stone houses, dramatic cliffs and bountiful oceans.

The Faroe Islands, Scandinavia

The top of any hungry traveler’s list is Koks, located in the modern Hotel Foroyar, where chef Poul Andrias Ziska dedicates his prodigious talents to interpreting Faroese ingredients and dishes for contemporary palates. The menu changes frequently, but expect to find mussels, scallops, skate and langoustines — as well as Faroese dried lamb — expertly paired with the delicate flavours of local celeriac, kohlrabi and sea vegetables.



For a place roughly a quarter of the area of Prince Edward Island, the natural beauty and depth of culture of the Faroes relative to its size make it all the more deserving of a visit. The langoustines, however, might be worth the price of the plane ticket alone.

Juvet Landscape Hotel, Norway

The latest buzzword in the hotel realm is ‘landscape.’ For a lesson on how to make that word mean something, consider the Juvet Landscape Hotel in northwest Norway, exhibit A. Rather than focusing on its own architecture, as most solipsism-prone design hotels will do, the Juvet showcases the sublime nature that surrounds it.

Juvet Landscape Hotel, Norway

The hotel consists of seven minimalist buildings made entirely of pine and glass, each with its own exclusive, uninterrupted view of stunning topography, that, as topography does, changes with the season, weather and time of day. Some overlook the Gudbrandsjuvet, a spectacular waterfall in a 20-metre deep gorge.



Others offer more meditative, Zen garden-like views, like the surrounding birch forest or an assemblage of rocks covered in moss. All foundations are laid on steel rods, so the cabins can be removed easily. The hotel, like you, is but a guest in nature.

Fogo Island, Newfoundland

Technically an island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, the remote fishing island’s – population 2,700 – inn (Fogo Island Inn) is local from the inside out.

Fogo Island, Newfoundland

They offer activities and excursions year round but the winter ones include storm watching & wave watching, skating, caribou watching, skidooing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Not so bad for a teeny island.

Kempinski Hotel Dead Sea, Jordan

Designer hotel and luxe spa resorts surround the Dead Sea on both its Jordan and Israel sides, all in close proximity to sites of ancient treasures of art, history and culture. Set along its salty rim, these lavish properties offer extravagant gardens, tented cabanas, swank outdoor lounges, infinity-edge pools and shady al fresco dining spots.



In the evening, light shows and dancing are held poolside or in big billowy tents—a stark contrast to the more sacred feel of Jerusalem’s historic and religious sites.



From Sharp’s sister publication S/ Magazine

Kempinski Hotel Dead Sea, Jordan

The ultra-modern Kempinski Hotel Ishtar sits directly on the shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan, and is just over 30 minutes from the Queen Alia International Airport. The large private villas (where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have allegedly stayed) are one of the draws, but this Kempinski is best known for its Ishtar Spa by Resens.



At 10,000-square metres, it’s the largest spa in the Middle East and houses 20 treatments rooms (six of them individual ones, outdoors), Tepidarium heated lounges, steam rooms, a saltwater pool and the largest hydro pool in the region.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay sits off the northeast coast of Vietnam, a collection of nearly 2,000 limestone islets that was designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994.



Its name roughly translates to “Descending Dragon,” which makes sense when you see its undulant ridges cascading across the South China Sea. It’s like something out a fairytale.



From Sharp’s sister publication S/ Magazine

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

In 2014, more than 7.8 million tourists visited the country, nearly four times the number from 2000. And Ha Long Bay, understandably, has grown into one of the nation’s biggest draws.

Khao Lak ,Thailand

Thinking inside of the box at Casa de La Flora is welcomed. Comprised of 36 rectangular cube-shaped villas, the property rests on the Andaman Sea in Khao Lak, Thailand. The areas serene surroundings—white sand beaches, lush palms, and azure water—are emphasized by the property’s thoughtful design.



VaSLab Architecture, the firm behind the project, was tasked with providing all guests the ability to see the pristine ocean from their room. Low-rise structures were the answer. Glass walls at the front of each villa open up to an unobstructed view of the idyllic Andaman Sea, in addition to a private infinity pool on most terraces.



From Sharp’s sister publication S/ Magazine

Khao Lak ,Thailand

Taking design inspiration from rugged Brutalist architecture movement of the 1960s and ’70s, the property’s aesthetic is unlike anything else that sits along the historic Khao Lak shoreline. The modular concrete structures are minimal, yet purposeful. All of the roofs are covered in a layer of lush grass, and the high contrast of green foliage against the white angular walls emphasizes the regions rich plant life.



Rock walls run alongside the pathways through the property, while chestnut-coloured wood covers the backside of each cube. All details are subtle, yet a highly conscious decision to seamlessly merge contemporary design elements with the region’s unspoiled nature.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland

Who says a winter getaway has to involve a beach and a fruity cocktail? What Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland lacks in vitamin D it makes up for in stunning polar scenery and luxurious amenities. Located 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort offers unequaled views of the northern lights, either from the comfort of your private, glass-roofed igloo or during the course of an overnight dogsled safari. Embrace your inner explorer while being treated like royalty. Plus, they have cocktails, too.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland

The resort is still open in the summer months, in fact the sun doesn’t set between mid-May and August. The weather doesn’t get sweltering, but remains a comfortable temperature for activities like gold panning, mountain biking and taking tours around the area by horseback.

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