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or FREECALL 1800 CRUISE
opened to the public in 2000 and boasts more
than 400 guest rooms, as well as 50 suites and
villas. It is one of the world’s largest resorts,
spread over 180 hectares of manicured gardens,
alongside an 18-hole floodlit championship
golf course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, which
overlooks the South China Sea.
The hotel has frequently been voted Asia’s
Best Resort by the international press. And
with its acres of marble, breathtaking antiques,
Baccarat crystal chandeliers, Asprey china
and cutlery, fine Italian silk couches, Belgian
and Italian silk carpets (some woven with gold
thread), beds dressed in Egyptian linen... well,
it’s easy to see why.
From the moment you step into the
impressive, mosaic-marbled foyer, it is a visual
feast. Towering high above you, every surface
in the grand entrance is either clad in marble or
granite, or in beautifully turned wood. Cornices
are gold plated, chairs are silk clad, exquisite
objets d’art, including limited-edition Murano
vases, are scattered about. All this is dominated
by the magnificent Baccarat crystal chandelier
in the entrance, rumoured to have cost more
than US$1m (about A$1.1m).
The foyer also houses one of the hotel’s two
rare Baccarat crystal camels (they stand about
40cm high and there are only four in the world).
In a smaller area, such excess could seem gaudy,
but in this expanse it is luxuriously enthralling.
Unlike the ostentatious Sun City Hotel outside
Johannesburg in South Africa, which appears
obscene when compared with the abject poverty
of the surrounding villagers, The Empire is just
one jewel in the opulent Brunei crown.
Guestrooms are large, the linen divine and
the bathrooms, as you would expect, are marble
from floor to ceiling. The pick of the rooms,
however, has to be the Emperor Suite.
Having had the likes of Charles and Camilla,
and Bill Clinton spend the night, the suite is
666sqm of luxury and has been voted ‘World’s
Best Presidential Suite’ in the World Travel
Awards for three consecutive years. Antiques,
more crystal, two kitchens, a separate lift,
AT A GLANCE
WHY For sheer opulence, a weekend away, a jungle
adventure, a cultural trip back in time or as a stopover on the
way to other Asian destinations, Dubai and London.
WHERE Stay at the Empire Hotel & Country Club www.
theempirehotel.com. Prices $350-$14,000 per night.
WHEN Good any time of the year, but locals say it is better
from April to October. It is hot and humid all year round with
plenty of rainfall. However, the showers are a welcome relief
and mostly don’t last long. It’s very tropical.
GETTING THERE Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) fly direct
from Perth to Brunei five times per week (5.5hr flight time)
with onward connections to most major destinations in Asia;
and daily in the new 777-200ER planes from Brunei to London
via Dubai with daily return flights. For more info, contact the
RBA reservation desk (08) 9321 8757, www.bruneiair.com.
MUST DO Sunshine Borneo Tours (exceptional for day
trips – ask for Tom) www.exploreborneo.com; Ulu Temburong
National Park (see Brunei Tourism site, below) and stay at
Ulu Ulu Resort www.uluuluresort.com. Accommodation also
available via the park headquarters.
MORE INFO Brunei Tourism www.bruneitourism.travel.
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