Bespoke experiences have been the go-to term in travel for a while now. With the trend showing no signs of fading away, on the contrary only gaining strength with time, we decided to curate a list of the best independent hotels one can visit this season. “One area where the independent hospitality space has been able to differentiate itself is that it’s definitely more experience enriched than a large part of the hard branded space,” says Saurabh Rai, Executive Vice President, Preferred Hotels & Resorts.
Preferred Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest portfolio of independent hotels, ensuring quality standards through yearly anonymous on-site inspections. Their ‘I Prefer’ loyalty programme holds about three million members – a continuously expanding number. For over 50 years they’ve been pioneers in this segment in the business world, and the upcoming strategy focuses on being more approachable to patrons directly.
“As opposed to 20 years ago, when travel had an underlying sense of caution and only recognised brands were preferred for psychological security. Today thanks to the internet, one can seek all the information about a place of stay, and thus, the sense of security is self-generated,” he shares. As more and more people go for standalone properties, here are the top five independent hotels that are a must visit.
Opening this month, the Lelewatu resort on Sumba island of Indonesia’s archipelago sits on a cliffside and has uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean and a private lagoon. A sprawling 10 acres allows for activities such as horse-riding, trekking, and exploring water bodies amongst the regulars like spa and yoga. They’ve got 27 villas, furnished with private pools, marble baths, Sumbanese wood interiors, ikat prints, and more. This warm vibe is punctuated with food and drinks at their two restaurants offering local as well as international cuisine, and an extensive list of cocktails and wines.
Minimalist luxury is what you can expect at Shreyas Retreat. The world renowned yoga retreat focuses on de-stressing and pampering for the mind, body, and soul with their organic farming, cultural tours, and massages. A small number of rooms and limited people help further the de-cluttering of oneself, as does the vegetarian fare and no-alcohol policy. If you’re looking for a cleanse and peace, this is the place to visit.
Close to the Palma de Mallorca harbour, Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden was opened just three months back. 24 distinctly designed suites inhabit this renovated medieval mansion, with frescos, goth elements, and a secret garden bringing out the beauty of this property. Freestanding bathtubs, velvet curtains, and large beds take you back to olden times where royalty lived in splendour. Al fresco dining in the garden and local cuisine with a modern touch await you at the supper table.
Only four villas across the Sindhudhurg coastline in Maharashtra make up the Coco Shambala Villas. In sync with nature, the villas are set on steel stilts to avoid disrupting it, and allow ample sunlight in to being you closer to open fields even when indoors. An infinity pool overlooking the sun rising and setting on sea and the fresh catch of the day make for an indulgent experience. Immersing in nature, outside and within, is channeled best at this stay.
With Costa Rica rising up the ranks of being the preferred destination for Indians, it only fits to include a hotel from the country. Santarena defines adventure and eco-friendly travel in Central America. Las Catalinas is flanked by a tropical dry forest on one end, and a long coastline on the other. A car-free region, it has lush natural diversity, which helps with the hotel’s farm-to-fork culinary preparations. Other than a focus on sustainability, you can look forward to a rooftop lounge and pool. When not relaxing, you can also channel the adventurer in you with activities such as hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and scuba diving.
Images: Courtesy hotels.