Thailand’s 500-million-year-old limestone ranges finally score global cred.
While Phuket is seen as the star of Thailand’s south, it appears the rest of the region merits more of our attention: Satun province has just been crowned a UNESCO Global Geopark. It’s little wonder, as the region, tucked between Trang and Langkawi, is packed with destinations and activities for the natureseeker: wander through colossal Phu Pha Pet, Thailand’s biggest cave; find tropical paradise among Satun’s Andaman islands—dive the reefs of Koh Lipe, search for trilobite fossils in the national marine park on Koh Tarutao, find the sunken beach at Koh Khao Yai; and meet the Semung, Maniq and Urak Lawoi ethnic communities, who have lived in harmony for centuries. satun-geopark.com.
The only black gravel beach in Thailand can be found at Ko Hin Ngam, Tarutao National Park. ©Satun Geopark/Niruth Tangsiri.
Swell news from Bali: surfing with the stars.
The beaches of Bali draw surfers from around the world, which means finding an empty wave can be an impossible task. Surf retreat Komune rides to the rescue with its nighttime surfing sessions on the shores of the resort. From 7 p.m. to midnight and 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., the powerful Karamas break is awash in floodlights, offering groups of up to six private moonlit barrel rides. komuneresorts.com; doubles from US$118; night surfing sessions US$20.
Owning the Keramas break in the dark of the night. Courtesy of Tony Cannon/Komune Resort.
Gorilla trekking is taking off in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
With Rwandan permits now pricier than ever—an hour with gorillas will run you US $1,500—outfitters are doubling down on their offerings in the more affordable Democratic Republic of the Congo. The population of mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park has quadrupled in recent decades, the result of increased security and environmental measures. Deeper Africa adds the Call of the Congo itinerary (deeperafrica.com; eight-day tours from US$7,499) to the park beginning in July, with stays on an island in Lake Kivu and visits with a canine anti-poaching unit. Or book a custom itinerary with Journeys by Design (instagram.com/jbd_africa; prices on request) that includes excursions to the Nyiragongo Volcano’s lava lake and the Senkwekwe Center gorilla orphanage. The 7,700-square-kilometer park is the continent’s most biodiverse protected area, with ecosystems that range from savannas to active volcanoes, so between gorilla treks you can spot chimpanzees, okapi, and some of the 700-odd bird species that make the park their home. —JEN SALERNO
A female gorilla nurses her baby in Virunga National Park. Eric Baccega/GettyImages.
There’s a spa in Macau to help you shine bright like a diamond.
In case you were wondering exactly how much gilt you could possibly drench yourself in when visiting Macau, The Spa at Wynn Palace has the illuminating answer: a slew of diamond-enriched cleanses and creams along with some 24-karat magic. A 90-minute Midas touch, The Diamond Life Infusion Facial uses precious metals and minerals plus light- and magnet-therapies to renew and redefine the skin. Though it might seem easy to dismiss this as a just bling-tastic marketing pitch, the science stands as firm as my cheeks felt after my treatment. The active ingredients in the Natura Bisse products they use hitch a ride with diamond minerals, which can penetrate your skin deeper and therefore better hydrate you. Gold extract boosts collagen growth. A 24-karat-gold facial massager contains two magnets, which help balance your energy, stimulate circulation, activate metabolism and oxygenate the muscles. Two masks straight out of a Hollywood sci-fi round out this relaxation romp. A totally Tron LED mask emits blue, red and infrared light to help the products do their work, reduce lines and impurities, and increase collagen and brightness. Meanwhile, you’ll look like you were touched by Goldfinger (I know because I made my therapist take photos) in the golden mask, which firms the skin and adds a little oomph to its natural cell-regeneration cycle, Bondgirl-style. Yep, diamonds are still a girl’s best friend, but gold is running a pretty close second. Wynn Palace Cotai Resort: wynnpalace.com; doubles from MOP1,599; Diamond Life Infusion Facial MOP3,300. – JENINNE LEE-ST. JOHN
Guests get the golden treatment at the Spa at Wynn Palace Cotai Resort. Courtesy of Wynn Palace Cotai Resort.
Pack your fur-babies on your next luxury getaway.
Beyond fancy feasts and red envelopes, hotels are celebrating the Year of the Dog a little more literally. Here are three retreats ready to pamper your pooch.
|MANDARIN ORIENTAL, GUANGZHOU
Pups rule at the Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou (mandarinoriental.com; doubles from RMB1,530; pet-friendly rooms an additional RMB800), where they’ll get a sleeping cushion and bowl, but also a tailor-made menu by executive chef Jonathan Shea, a welcome cake and a bespoke engraved fan collar tag.
|BELMOND HOTEL SPLENDIDO, PORTOFINO
Among the seaside splendor of the Italian Riviera, Belmond Hotel Splendido (belmond.com; rooms from €930; dog massages from €44) treats dogs to individually crafted wellbeing sessions and petsized dressing gowns, while trained pet therapists offer Swedish massages overlooking Portofino Bay.
|MANDARIN ORIENTAL, PARIS
For classy canines in the French capital, the Mandarin Oriental, Paris (mandarinoriental.com; doubles from €1,025) welcomes dogs for free and dishes out a menu by Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx. Dog-walkers can take your pooch to the Tuileries Garden, or shop boutiques for designer leashes and collars.
Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou takes doggy treats to the next level. Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou.
A groundbreaking cultural center is shaking up the Paris art scene.
It’s less than three months old, but Lafayette Anticipations (lafayetteanticipations.com), the new institution created by department store Galeries Lafayette, is fast becoming one of Paris’s most innovative art spaces. Rem Koolhaas’s OMA firm renovated the 19th-century warehouse in the Marais, adding a steel-and-glass exhibition tower with retractable floors that allow for 49 configurations, making it possible to adapt to works of all shapes and sizes. With the inaugural Lutz Bacher installation a hit and new workshops and live performances soon to come, it joins the ranks of La Place, Fondation Louis Vuitton, and other centers that are giving the city’s art world an edge. — SIOBHAN REID