Luxury international resorts close to Australia that you can stay at right now

International travel right now seems like taking two steps forward, one step back.

I made a quick foray to Europe in December just as Omicron was taking off, but already it feels like I imagined the whole thing. It was a bit more complicated than pre-COVID travel, but it was manageable. Most of my anxieties – what if I tested positive for COVID while away, for instance - did not come to pass.

Travel always involves a high level of planning, and once I figured out where to get all my testing done, the rest was not much different to 2019 travel, except with masks.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

But so much is in flux right now, including the open-shut tango with the borders of different countries. Despite the WHO's advice that blanket travel bans will not stop the international spread of Omicron, many popular destinations in our region, including Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, have closed their borders to international travellers for now, or are demanding onerous quarantine. We hope that will change soon, but the crystal ball is a bit foggy.

The multi-destination trip seems like it might be a bit complicated for the moment, given the propensity for countries along the route to change their rules at short notice, leaving travellers scrambling to reschedule, but those who are impatient to move from the dreaming phase of travel into the active phase are thinking about destinations in our region that are accessible either by direct flight or a transit in a well-run airport.

After the punishing couple of years we all share, a week or two somewhere exotic to recharge, commune with nature and interact with people of a different culture sounds pretty good. We're lucky in the Asia-Pacific – we have a wealth of beautiful places to visit and some of the world's best resorts, which are also global leaders in sustainability.

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The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia

The Datai, Langkawi. 

Malaysia has opened international travel to Langkawi for fully-vaccinated travellers, with some testing requirements. On my wish list: The Datai (, pictured above), set in an ancient rainforest overlooking Datai Bay, one of Asia's most beautiful beaches. Here, the peace is only disturbed by the chattering of Dusky Langur monkeys. Along with 121 villas and suites, three pools, beach club, spa, restaurants and a spectacular canopy walk, the resort takes its responsibility for its magnificent setting seriously – there's a large nature centre supporting naturalists and marine biologists, and a permaculture garden which supplies produce to the restaurants.

Kokomo Private Island Fiji 

Kokomo Private Island.

Fiji is now open to travellers who are fully vaccinated, with a negative PCR test, COVID insurance and a three-night minimum at a certified hotel. On my wish list: Kokomo Private island (, a 57-hectare oasis surrounded by the Great Astrolab Reef, which features 21 gorgeous pool villas and five residences, all with direct beach access. Everything has been designed with an eye to conserving the natural environment, from the repurposed local cinnamon wood used in construction to the 2.2 hectare edible garden providing produce to the restaurants. Guests support initiatives such as coral restoration, mangrove reforestation and Dock to Dish, a sustainable community-based fishery program.

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Soneva Kiri, Thailand

Treetop dining at Soneva Kiri, Thailand. 

Thailand's Test and Go program is complicated but fully-vaccinated travellers don't need to quarantine for more than one night provided they satisfy a rigorous testing regime, before departure and on arrival. On my wish list: Soneva Kiri, the third resort from pioneering barefoot luxury brand Soneva (, nestled on the unspoiled island of Koh Kood, which has some of the best beaches in the country. The carbon-neutral jungle/beach resort has 35 villas with private infinity pools overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. There's a spa, kids' club, and a treetop dining pod. Restaurants serving Thai and Indian cuisine use ingredients from the organic garden. The Soneva Foundation promotes positive initiatives such as a waste to wealth program and working with local communities.

52 Dream Destinations - Shinta Mani Wild, Bensley Collection, South-west Cambodia
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Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodia.

Cambodia has opened its borders to travellers who have proof of vaccinations and undertake a negative RAT test on arrival. On my wish list: Shinta Mani Wild (, a luxury safari camp in the remote Cardamom National Park, three hours' drive from Phnom Penh. Part of the Bill Bensley Collection, it's a fusion of Bensley's distinctive design, warm hospitality and effective conservation. Fifteen themed tents, as comfortable as villas, are set along the river, with breathtaking views. Naturalists and "adventure butlers" supervise activities that include kayaking, mountain biking, foraging and birdwatching. Thrill-seekers have the choice of arriving at reception by zipline.