Seaventures Dive Rig, Malaysia
An oil rig, decommissioned in 1985 and left abandoned in a Singapore shipyard, found a new lease of life
in 1997, as a quirky hotel for scuba divers. It is located 1km off the shore of Sabah’s Mabul Island, in the heart of the Coral Triangle.
Rooms & Amenities – There are 27 rooms, including twins, doubles and four-berth dormitories. Up on deck, there’s
a day area with hammocks and panoramic views of the Celebes Sea.
Eat – Meals are a buffet affair, with a mix of Asian and Western cuisine. There is also a weekly barbecue with live music courtesy of the dive master’s band, The Sea Gypsies.
Diving – A lift lowers divers directly into the reef below. There are also daily boat excursions further afield.
Best for – Dive enthusiasts
Kumbuk River, Sri Lanka
The highlight of this eco resort on the edge of Yala National Park is its 40-foot-high elephant-shaped villa. Built with trees from land cleared as a result of slash-and-burn farming, it required the skills of more than 70 local craftsmen.
Rooms & Amenities – Upstairs in the belly of the beast, there are two huge bedrooms and a lobby area that sleeps up to 10, while downstairs holds a living and dining room, shower area and plunge pool. The villa is decorated with sustainably sourced local fabrics and furniture made on-site.
Eat – Traditional Sri Lankan fare, such as string hoppers, curry and dhal, with ingredients sourced from the nearby market town of Buttala.
See & Do – The resort offers guided fishing and cycling trips. You can also do day tours to Yala National Park to see elephants, leopard and buffaloes.
Best for – Families with a taste for adventure.
Pengheng Space Capsules Hotel, China
Opened in 2013 in Shenzhen’s Bao’an District, the sci-fi-esque hotel hit headlines for being the first capsule hotel to be run almost completely by robots. Instead of a typical human receptionist and bartender, here you have robots manning the front desk and serving drinks.
Rooms & Amenities – Its single-occupancy LED-lit capsules feature a bed, lockable safe and (in some) a TV and work desk. The lounge area has free-to-use PCs.
Eat – Western dishes can be ordered via the tablets supplied in the communal lounge.
See & Do – Uniwalk, the largest shopping mall in Shenzhen, is just down the road, as is the Bao’an stadium with its swimming pool complex. Stretch your legs at Bao’an Park, which has walking paths and a central “peak”, which offers sweeping views of the city.
Best for – Business travellers and tech- loving backpackers.
700,000 Heures, Cambodia
It calls itself the world’s first “wandering” hotel. Launching in September this year, the membership-based hotel will change locations every few months.
Rooms – Its first home will be a four- bedroom, 19th-century palazzo in Gagliano del Capo, southern Italy. The hotel will open for nine weeks, before moving on to Siem Reap, Cambodia in November. Guests will stay in a series of locations, among them a floating wooden village and the grounds of a Buddhist temple. The hotel then moves to Brazil.
Eat – The focus will be on traditional dishes made with local produce.
See & Do – Visit temples that are not open to the public and train with acrobats at the Phare Cambodian Circus.
Best for – Solo travellers who enjoy a surprise.
3 questions with Thierry Teyssier (founder of 700,000 Heures)
Why call it 700,000 Heures?
Humans [in the developed world] spend an average of 700,000 hours on earth. My question is simple: what are you doing with your hours? My goal is to be your host, and I will do my best to extend time for you and make every moment exceptional.
What can guests expect?
It’s not about having guides with you all day, talking about history – we don’t care about that; we are not going to remember it. The feelings and emotions you experience sitting in front of a temple alone at sunrise – that’s what is interesting for me.
How do you think the definition of a hotel has changed recently?
In the past, a hotel had four walls, a roof and a number of keys. That’s an outdated concept. Hotels can no longer just compete to have the most luxurious swimming pool, or the biggest rooms. People want experiences, something money can’t buy. A hotel is a point on a map. Look around that point: what can I offer in that area to convince my guests to visit?
This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of Silkwinds magazine.