Right, where are we all off to, then? The world is reopening – well, most of it – and a return to Hong Kong is gradually becoming more feasible for many. So, beyond journeys to reunite with family and friends not seen for many long months, the world is again an oyster for those with the means to take advantage. And there are many resorts and hotels out there desperate for the custom. But which do you choose? And does your choice of hotel dictate the destination you head for, or vice versa? Those in the former camp may like to be led by Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards for Hotels, released this month. “The 2022 Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards are based on the quality and quantity of traveller reviews and ratings posted on Tripadvisor over the 12-month period from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021,” explains the online travel company, so that precludes many a splendid property that had to close for all or most of that period due to Covid-19 restrictions. But that still leaves a pretty impressive field, even if many of their paying guests would have been domestic visitors. And among the 11 subcategories of accommodation in this year’s awards are three new ones: Out of the Ordinary Hotels; Hotels on the Water; and Mountain Resorts & Lodges. Given these are anything but ordinary times, the first of those subcategories is the one that caught the eye of Destinations Known . So where are these places less ordinary? Just three of the top 25 are in East Asia: Our Jungle House (at No 21) and The Slate (No 17), both in Thailand, and South Korea’s Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Incheon Associated with Accor (No 12). Opened more than 30 years ago, Our Jungle House provides treehouse accommodation in the ancient rainforest of the Khao Sok National Park, north of Phuket. If being “cocooned in natural leafy surrounds” (as the website has it) is your thing, then this could be for you. Jungle trekking, river cruising and birdwatching are some of the activities that keep guests busy during the day. Just 2.5 hours by taxi south of Khao Sok (if you fancy including both in the same trip) is The Slate. With a name and design referencing the island’s tin-mining past, this 177-room Bill Bensley creation promises to be “Your own secret world within Phuket”. According to the website, the beachside property isn’t just a reimagining “of Phuket’s rich elemental history”; it’s a “REIMAGINING” of that history. For all the talk of this being a “fantastical world”, though, the offered experiences are pretty standard: cooking classes, snorkelling and diving, a kids club, Thai boxing. Floral art classes are a little unusual, however, and the spa looks pretty special. Oh, and pooches are promised a pampering, too. Traditional Korean architecture is the appeal at the ponderously named Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Incheon Blah Blah Blah. Korean Ondol floor heating and Korean-style beds are among the unique selling points at this city hotel, which is convenient for the Central Park, water taxis and shopping at the NC Cube mall. Visit on your birthday and they will treat you to a traditional Korean breakfast. Essentially, if “traditional Korean” is prominent on your mood map, this is the place for you. Farther afield, the top seven “out-of-the-ordinary” hotels, according to the Tripadvisor-verse, are, in ascending order: Pousada Villa D’Amore, Brazil; one for the lovers, this a romantic stay in Monte Verde, itself considered a romantic destination in the Mantiqueira Mountains. Ayada Maldives; this resort looks fantastic but we are struggling to see how it qualifies as “unusual”, private pools, personal butlers and luxury detailing hardly being unique in the Maldives. Perhaps the gardens and tropical greenery the resort is noted for, according to Tripadvisor, set it apart. Villa Makassar, Marrakech, Morocco; an art deco boutique property that transports residents back to the 1920s, if guest reviews are to be believed. Maison Souquet, Paris, France; this hotel is described as a reimagining of the bawdiness that once defined the area around Montmartre in a building that used to be “a pleasure house”. If only these walls could talk – or blush. Hotel Aires Bacalar, Mexico; this property was built to take advantage of the nearby Seven Colours Lagoon and the Mayan town that sits on its shore. Hammocks on each room’s private terrace are a nice touch. Cases Noves, Alicante, Spain; a rural hotel in the shadow of the medieval Castell de Guadalest, this property is a million miles (but only 20 minutes by car) away from the heaving beaches of Benidorm. Kayakapi Premium Caves – Cappadocia, Turkey; rubbing shoulders with the 10th century Cave Church, a mosque dating back to the Seljuk Empire (1037-1194) and the House of St John the Russian (died 1730), these plushly decked out historical cave homes no doubt deserve the No 1 spot on this list. So there you are; some inspiration for those looking for the unusual. Stay in all 10 listed above before December 31, and Destinations Known will present you with its much desired Gold Star Traveller Award. Japan’s return to tourism too slow for some China is looking more and more like the odd man out, even in the Asia-Pacific region, where Laos became, on May 9, one of the last Southeast Asian nations to reopen its borders to leisure travellers, New Zealand has announced the complete reopening of its borders from the end of July and Japan is making serious moves to let back in the tourist masses. Fumio Kishida has announced Japan is aiming to reopen to international tourists next month. The prime minister says the country will reopen in stages, with the government monitoring the impact of the “golden week” holiday (April 29 to May 5) before making a firm decision. News agency Reuters reports that the country will start conducting “test tourism” in the form of limited package tours this month. There is also talk of the current cap of 10,000 arrivals per day being doubled. However, tourism officials are becoming impatient, according to a recent article in Time Out Tokyo : “On May 12, a group of officials from the Japanese tourism industry submitted a formal request to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to reopen Japan’s borders to foreign tourists. According to NHK, the groups presenting the written request included the Japan Association of Travel Agents, the Japan Hotel Association and JR Group, along with other major transport companies. “In their written request, the parties call for Japan to scrap its daily entry cap altogether […] The document also highlights that Japan is one of the few countries in the world that remains closed to tourists and that allowing the entry ban to drag on could cause travellers to lose interest in ever visiting Japan.” Destinations Known is not so sure, forbidden fruit always been the sweetest and all that.