The Shard, London. Soon to be home to Britain’s first Shangri-La hotel.

It’s that time of year again, when the wrap-ups are wrapped, the forecasts are cast and we all enjoy a little panicking to get it all tied up neatly in time for a beach Christmas. I’m absurdly interested to see Hayman Island’s reincarnation, and, having just arrived back from London, have renewed a love affair with that city and all that’s glitzy and good in it.

SHANGRI-LA,
ENGLAND

The first
Shangri-La hotel in Britain will have London’s best address, at the Shard,
Western Europe’s tallest building, designed by starchitect Renzo Piano. Set in
the London Bridge quarter, each of the 202 rooms come with butlers and
floor-to-ceiling views to St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of
London. Level 52 is the domain of Hong Kong’s darling architect Andre Fu (of
Upper House fame), where you’ll find Gong, London’s highest cocktail bar, and a
sky-high infinity pool. Word on the street is it’s to open summer 2014 but
there’s no official date from the hotel yet and prices are still to be
released. See shangri-la.com.
The much-anticipated Peninsula Paris.

PENINSULA
PARIS, FRANCE

It’s
taken more than four years of work but The Peninsula Paris has finally declared
it will open on August 1, 2014. Expect 200 rooms, a rooftop bar and underground
spa and hey, because this is Paris, a cigar lounge as well. The wraps are now
off the 100-year-old Beaux-Arts building in the fancy 16th arrondissment, with
views to the Arc de Triomphe, as befits the group’s first foray into Europe.
For your gastronomic pleasure there’s Cantonese being dished up inside, French
fare on the roof and a Chinese tea counter. Rates have not yet been released. See
peninsula.com.
SOFITEL
SHANGHAI JING’AN, CHINA
Shanghai’s
already fabulous hotel scene gets a new player when the city’s third Sofitel
opens just off the iconic shopping strip of Nanjing Road. In keeping with most
Chinese hotels, it’s big: we’re talking 503 rooms, with a cocktail bar at the
top of the 68-storey art deco-inspired building and French-meets-Chinese
cuisine being talked up. There’s already been a two-year delay in its launch
but the group is planning a grand opening of what will become the city’s new
flagship Sofitel in September 2014. See sofitel.com.
CROMLIX,
SCOTLAND
Fancy
angling for trout, stalking deer or wearing someone else’s tartan? Wimbledon
champ and local lad Andy Murray has taken over this classic country house and
opening is set for April 1, 2014 (yes, really). Built in 1874, Cromlix has just
15 rooms and suites, each named after a great Scot, and is close to Gleneagles,
which hosts next year’s Ryder Cup. You won’t starve: the kitchen is under the
deft hand of Albert Roux, responsible for Britain’s first three Michelin-star
restaurant. Cromlix is just outside Andy’s home town, Dunblane, and less than
80 kilometres from both Glasgow and Edinburgh. From £200 ($350) a night. See cromlix.com.
Hayman Island’s iconic pool shot.

ONE&ONLY
HAYMAN ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

It was the
talk of the town when it was announced that the uber-luxe hoteliers of
One&Only Resorts, who play in all the best addresses including the Bahamas,
Maldives and Dubai, are taking over the iconic Great Barrier Reef resort.
Thankfully, the pool wing will be carved into new all-suite accommodation
including private pool terraces; that much-photographed lagoon pool will be hit
with cabanas and daybeds and there’s also a new adults-only pool and chill-out
lounge. And forget foreign backpackers spinning up fishy tales, your guides to
the reef will be dive experts and marine biologists. The new Hayman opens April
2014 (actually, make that July 1, 2014: BJ), from $730 a night. See hayman.com.au.
SEA
SENTOSA ECHO BEACH, INDONESIA
It hasn’t
even opened yet and already this Balinese beachfront resort has won world’s
best apartment at London’s International Property Awards. Located just north of
Seminyak on Canggu’s legendary surf beach, the 68-apartment resort features
“living walls” or vertical gardens by French botanist-designer
Patrick Blanc, a lagoon for your front yard and views straight out onto the
Indian Ocean. If looks are anything to go on, its two beach restaurants,
complete with sand beneath your feet, are set to rival those of Ku De Ta and
Potato Head when the resort opens come July 2014. From $175 for a garden
studio. See seasentosa.com.
By Belinda Jackson. This article first featured in the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Traveller