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October 2, 2012updated Feb 06, 2013

Pure Decadence: The New Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa Enchants

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Hong Kong, China – Reported by Nick Walton for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

Okinawa has, for decades, been a strictly Japanese destination, a sliver of paradise wreathed by talcum powder sands and coral reefs that they liked to keep off the map. But all things change, and the tiny island chain between Japan and Taiwan has become a regional hot spot, as the rest of Asia discovers this once little-known tropical hideaway. Newcomers now have somewhere equally decadent to stay, with the opening of the lavish new Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa golf and spa resort.

Inspired by the traditional castle guesthouse or gusuku, The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa boasts sweeping views across the East China Sea and adjacent Kise Country Club, and blends traditional Japanese elements, including Shurijo face motifs, distinctive red clay roof tiles, white walls and holy water ponds, with cutting-edge technology and gastronomy.

Be sure to stay in the ILYA Corporation-designed Ritz-Carlton Suite (about US$5,744 a night), a palatial two-bedroom presidential-style retreat that features an expansive terrace with private Jacuzzi and telescope, and a bathroom boasting Asprey amenities, individual rain showers and Yukata robes. In the living room and bedroom you’ll find a 52-inch LCD TV with Dynamic Sound System and an iPod docking station with preloaded apps and music.

The resort is also returning fine dining to the island, with the opening of Chura-Nuhji, an elegant Italian restaurant that will offer al fresco dining, golf course views and the culinary musings of acclaimed Executive Chef Koji Hayakawa. Alternatively Kise, a modern teppanyaki eatery, will serve up locally caught seafood and renowned Okinawan Kuroge Wagyu beef cuts.

The resort also features a Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA nestled in its own enclave overlooking the ancient Yanbaru Forest. The spa touts four treatment suites, four dry rooms and coveted outdoor cabanas for shiatsu and Thai massages. Book ahead for one of two special Retreat Suites, each boasting private decks and stone baths.

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