The default lure from any hotel is usually dangling for women, what with spa specials and shopping sprees and romance packages. And the men? Well, there in the corner’s a second fiddle: You go play that. Hotels know from Adam. They understand that 80 percent of all decisions about holidays are usually made by women. But they also understand that giving an apple or two to Adam may also help win Eve. Across Asia, a number of properties from Vietnam to Indonesia are currying favor with the less-fair sex with bar-cum-man caves, wartime air raid shelters, voyeuristic bathrooms and Cuban-style cigar bars.
Hanoi: In 2011, in the midst of excavating the foundation for a new bar in its inner courtyard, The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi struck concrete, which turned out to be pure gold from a public relations standpoint. That concrete was the roof of a wartime air raid shelter, a warren of seven subterranean rooms now open to guests on a Path of History Tour every late afternoon. The rooms are close, poorly lit and eerie, especially when the guide plays Joan Baez singing a song that she actually recorded in this space during the Christmas bombings in 1972.
Saigon: This one actually cuts both ways, since both men and women can resort to the strategically based porter chair in the Romance Suite’s bath at The Reverie Saigon. But if women indulge baths more frequently than men (and who doesn’t think this is true?) then that red velvet porter chair with a view of the deep soaking tub and the wooden stand for a glass of something is catering to a male prerogative. But they do think of everything at The Reverie Saigon, for in the men’s spa facilities only, there is an ice fountain.
Tokyo: While every hotel stirs up a bar or two for guests, not every hotel offers a bar as dark, moody and smoldering as Palace Hotel Tokyo’s Royal Bar, where the whisky should be brooded over and then drunk and where the head bartender is, quite literally, the best in the world. A few years back, Manabu Ohtake bested 10,000 competitors for the ‘World’s Best Bartender’ crown in a Diageo contest. Ohtake’s bar is a place where they monitor the temperature of their ice… so you don’t have to.
Bintan Island: Sailing on water’s nice, eh, but a little passé and, dare we say it, a tad boring. Sailing on sand, now that’s another story altogether and one where the adrenaline rush is de rigueur. The action takes place on the hard-packed sands of The Sanchaya’s private stretch of beach on Bintan Island off Singapore, where wind-powered, three-wheeled contraptions called Blokarts dart here and there at speeds nearing 60 kph, sometimes flying one of the three wheels just for fun. If the wind’s a dead letter, the resort rolls out the OneWheel motorized skateboards a la Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
Cam Ranh Bay: Henry David Thoreau once said that landing a fish wasn’t really what a fisherman was after. True enough, that, but it is kind of nice to the land the freakin’ fish, especially if you’re at what has been dubbed one of the world’s most stunning bays. The Anam, overlooking pristine Cam Ranh, organizes fishing excursions amid nearby Nha Trang’s islands and islets, where the waters teem with parrot fish, flounder and goldband goatfish. Regardless of whether you snare the catch of the day or not for lunch, you’ll no doubt see local fishermen sail past in iconic bowl-shaped basket “coracle” boats, plying the waters as they have done for centuries.
Taipei: Decorated in a classic Cuban setting with mahogany paneling, swanky leather club chairs, flatscreen televisions, and a private humidor, Grand Hyatt Taipei’s cigar shop and lounge, La Casa Del Habano, is the ultimate man cave. The shop boasts one of the largest Cuban cigar selections in Taipei, including Pardron 1926, Opus X, La Gloria Cubana Serie R, Arturo Fuente Rosado, Rocky Patel 1961, Camacho Triple Maduro just to name a few. The glass-enclosed lounge at the back is the ideal spot for smoking aficionados to mingle, while enjoying drinks and snacks from the hotel’s restaurant and bar, Cheers, and a fine cigar.