There's a solid argument to be made that the modern hotel industry was born in Asia-in particular Hong Kong and Bali, where the nuts and bolts of hospitality were thoroughly reworked in the early 1980s.
It's not like the Mandarin Oriental in the middle of Hong Kong's frenetic Central District or Amandari in the mellowed-out Balinese highlands were doing anything that hadn't been done before-at least not if you were a prince or prime minister. What cutting-edge Asian hotels did at that time was make these heavenly experiences available to ordinary travelers. Or at least to those with a bit of coin in their pockets.
In retrospect, their formula was rather simple: create hip, design-savvy hotels in exotic locations with fabulous food and ever-present yet discreet service. And they were custom-made, not mass produced; direct affronts to the drab, modern cookie-cutter hotels that had swept the globe after World War Two. Out of this humble beginning came the whole boutique hotel craze, a total remake of the American hospitality scene and many of the hotels that feature on the Forbes Traveler 400 list of Asia's Best Hotels.