The Spirited team puts together the latest news in drinks, dining and travel in our part of the world in this June’s edition of Spirited Dispatches, including some of the more exciting hotel openings in Asia.

You know it’s going to be peak travel season when there’s news of multiple new hotel openings all across Asia. We look at some of these properties that have sprouted in some of our favourite travel destinations.

Asia’s vibrant cocktail bar industry is gearing up for the region’s biggest awards with this year’s highly anticipated Asia’s 50 Best Bars list set to be announced during an awards ceremony held in Hong Kong this coming July but two of its ancillary awards have been announced this month.

All these, and other news.

Keith Motsi of Virtù in Four Seasons Tokyo

News & Events

  • Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024: Winners of Altos Bartenders’ Bartender and Michters Art of Hospitality awards named

Two supplementary awards of Asia’s 50 Best Bars – the peer-recognised Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award, and the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award as voted for by Asia’s 50 Best Bars’ 265-member Academy – have been named ahead of the official awards taking place in July. Dohyung Kim of Seoul-based cocktail bar Zest, better known in global cocktail circles as Demie Kim, has been awarded the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award, while Tokyo’s Virtù has been named the winner of the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award. Asia’s newest bartender darling Kim is a cocktail sustainability champion who has been at the forefront of Korea’s bartending scene, while the cognac-centric Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo cocktail lounge (pictured above) drips with faultless classic Japanese hospitality. Worthy winners, both.

  • Ellen Xu crowned winner of Woodford Reserve’s The Wonderful Race 2023

Ellen Xu, owner and bartender of Hangzhou-based cocktail bar Chimney, has walked away as champion of the inaugural The Wonderful Race cocktail competition organised by Woodford Reserve. Xu emerged victorious in the grand finals held in Las Vegas, beating out other regional finalists – including Singapore’s champion Raz Ng from Sugarhall – in a series of challenges with her cocktail creations using ingredients such as osmanthus and sticky rice that showcased her Chinese heritage while paying tribute to the spirit of classic cocktails. The 2024 edition of The Wonderful Race will kickstart this November.

  • Whisky Hammer launches bonded warehouse service in Singapore

UK-based specialist spirits auctioneer Whisky Hammer has introduced a special warehouse bonded service that offers a seamless buying experience for premium whisky collectors in Singapore and the region looking to build their whisky collection. Auction purchases off Whisky Hammer can be securely transported to a bonded warehouse in Singapore, while a “white glove service” is also offered for those wishing to deliver their bottles to those transiting through Changi Airport. For a fee, of course.

Summer Palace at Conrad Singapore Orchard

Drinks & Dining

  • Summer Palace at Conrad Singapore Orchard celebrates grand reopening

Refined Cantonese restaurant Summer Palace at Conrad Singapore Orchard (pictured above) has unveiled its bold transformation, following the hotel’s recently completed refurbishment. The Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant welcomes a new era of contemporary Chinese fine dining that sees Executive Chef Liu Ching Hai offer up elevated classics with a focus on authenticity and tradition paired with an encompassing tea programme, a wine lised curated by Park90, and crafted signature cocktails concocted by the talented bartenders over at award-winning cocktail bar Manhattan.

  • Speakeasy cocktail bar Taylor Adam sews up new Latin America-inspired menu

Taylor Adam – a snazzy cocktail bar hidden behind a faux tailor shop front in One Raffles Place – has launched a brand-new cocktail and food menu. Taking inspiration of the diversity of Latin American cultures, Chapter 7 combines vibrant flavours from across Central and South America with cocktails like the refreshing Caipirinha de Manga and the fruity yet spicy Lichia Samba. There’s its ‘exquisito’ food menu too, divvying up eats like Peruvian-style grilled chicken and steak with chimichurri.

  • Uni Gallery to shut after a seven-year run

Popular Japanese casual fine dining restaurant Uni Gallery at The Plaza has announced that it will be shutting its doors at the end of August. Founder Jason Ong, who started the restaurant to showcase the fresh produce of his seafood import business, will be shifting closing the restaurant to concentrate a new venture in seafood. Famed for its uni sampler sets – which features up to six different types of sea urchin on a platter – Uni Gallery will continue to offer up a summer omakase course in July and a special kaiseki course in August before calling it a day. A shame!

Travel & Lifestyle

  • Emirates adds sparkle to its onboard champagne experience

Dubai-based flag carrier Emirates renews its global airline exclusivity arrangements with LVMH for Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon, which means customers travelling its flights or visiting its lounges will have access to some of the most impressive expressions of these popular champagnes. Which exclusive champagnes, you might ask. Depending on route and class, you might find the likes of the Dom Pérignon Vintage 2013, Dom Pérignon Vintage Rosé 2008, Dom Pérignon Plénitude 2 2004, Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial, Moët & Chandon Imperial Rosé, Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Blanc 2013, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label or Veuve Clicquot Vintage Blanc 2015.

New hotel openings in Asia - Banyan Tree Higashiyama Kyoto


  • Business as usual with Navi Mumbai Marriott Hotel

The bustling business hub of Navi Mumbai – a planned city located right next to Mumbai – gains a new hotel and MICE venue with Navi Mumbai Marriott Hotel. Located on busy Thane Belapur Road in the heart of Navi Mumbai, this prime location offers guests of this 152-key hotel unparalleled access to the airport and a bevy of nearby attractions making it an ideal option for both business and leisure travellers. The hotel offers an entire suite of events spaces, while its flagship restaurant Nazaara pays homage to Northern Indian Awadhi cuisine that you can pair with whisky from its bourbon-centric bar.

  • Courtyard by Marriott Goa Colva opens

Looking for a beachside getaway? Courtyard by Marriott Goa Colva just threw open its doors in the picturesque state of Goa along the southwest coast of India. This Goan-inspired 91-key property offers a cosy retreat full of elevated comfort and inviting experiences in a captivating blend of traditional and contemporary design. Located right near pristine Colva Beach – as well as nearby beaches such as Palolem, Agonda, and the bioluminescent Betalbatim Beach – it is a boon for those who love the sun, sea and sand, and also offers convenient access to the breathtaking Dudhsagar Waterfalls and the iconic Goa Chitra Museum nearby.

  • Cassia Sokcho brings a touch of classy living to Sokcho in South Korea

Cassia Sokcho, a massive seaside resort development spanning a whopping 674 rooms – including rooms, suites and penthouse apartments, all of which come equipped with kitchen facilities, bathtubs, and private balconies – officially opened this June and marking Banyan Group’s debut of its Cassia brand to South Korea. Located between the East Sea and Mount Seorak, this property boasts facilities for every occasion, ranging from a suite of dining options and 8LEMENTS Spa to kid-friendly amenities and a large ballroom for events.

  • Banyan Tree Higashimaya Kyoto opens in historic Japanese city

Another Banyan Group opening? Banyan Tree Higashiyama Kyoto (pictured above), nestled within the renowned Higashiyama district in Japan’s cultural capital on the former site of the esteemed Hotel Ryozen. The 50-room hotel sits within the sacred Royzen site within Higashiyama Mountain and comes complete with a Noh stage that pays tribute to the traditional Japanese performing art, along with two distinctive dining experiences, three gardens and a bamboo grove, on its property. And the signature award-winning Banyan Tree Spa, of course.

New hotel openings in Asia - Wyndham Sun Moon Lake

  • Captivating lake-side resort Wyndham Sun Moon Lake opens in the heart of Taiwan

Among the highly anticipated hotel openings in Asia is Wyndham Sun Moon Lake, a stunning 203-room resort tucked on one edge of Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan’s largest natural lake. The scenic property is nestled alongside serene waters of the lake surrounded by majestic mountains, making it a perfect retreat for those who seeking the luxury within the tranquility of nature. Along with comprehensive facilities such as a fitness centre, two restaurants, two bars as well as a suite of function rooms, the resort is also near to multiple attractions such as Nine Frogs Tower and Man Mo Temple that caters to those looking to immerse in some culture.

  • The Westin Resort & Spa Cam Ranh offers new resort luxury at Cam Ranh, Vietnam

Westin Hotels & Resorts marks its debut in Vietnam with the opening of The Westin Resort & Spa Cam Ranh (main picture) right smack on the edge of the city’s iconic Cam Ranh Bay. This 207-room hotel offers a variety of guest rooms, suites and pool villas perfect for those seeking a tropical getaway, along with a programming focused around a holistic wellness experience. Just a 10-minute drive to Cam Ranh International Airport and a 45-minute drive to the city centre. For those seeking pampering, Heavenly Spa by Westin is on hand for all manner of treatments that will have you freshened and rejuvenated.

  • Kuala Lumpur gains another hotel with opening of Courtyard by Marriott Kuala Lumpur South 

Another newly-opened Courtyard by Marriott is Courtyard by Marriott Kuala Lumpur South, set within the southwestern part of the bustling Malaysian capital towards Puchong. This large 278-room urban property brings the Marriott Bonvoy brand’s signature blend of comfort and convenience for contemporary leisure and business travellers headed to that part of the city. The hotel offers one of the largest ballrooms in the area, covering 1,864 square meters with a capacity of up to 2,100 guests. Recreational facilities include an outdoor swimming pool with a sun deck, a kid’s pool, steam and sauna rooms, and a 24-hour fitness centre.

Glen Grant Glasshouse Collection

Product Releases

  • The Glen Grant announces its new prestige The Glasshouse Collection range of aged whiskies

Speyside single malt Scotch whisky brand The Glen Grant is releasing a new prestige range, The Glen Grant Glasshouse Collection, featuring the oldest aged expressions ever in the distillery’s permanent collection. Comprising The Glen Grant 21-Year-Old, The Glen Grant 25-Year-Old, and The Glen Grant 30-Year-Old, this series of highly desirable single malts is inspired by founder James ‘The Major’ Grant’s glasshouse which housed the exotic flowers and plants he collected from his overseas adventures. Surely a collector’s dream, if you’re a fan of the Speyside distillery.

[Photos courtesy of newsmakers]

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