These new beach resorts are just the ticket for when you are craving a little peace, privacy and sunshine. Located on pristine remote islands, along the coast, or smack on the beach, they take five-star tropical holidays to the next level with their outstanding design details, thoughtfully presented rooms and suites, and first-rate hospitality.
The tiny island of Milaidhoo is just a half-hour seaplane flight from Male international airport. Set in the heart of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Baa Atoll region of the Maldives, this luxury resort encourages a return to barefoot living. There are 30 over-water villas and 20 beach villas to choose from, each made from custom materials and designed by local architect Mohamed Shafeeq. All villas feature large, private freshwater swimming pools and an island host to attend to your every whim.
During the day, swim or snorkel in the protected marine area, home to dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays. Fishing, diving, water-sports, and cultural excursions to nearby islands and sandbanks are also available. The island’s spa is another welcome respite from the afternoon heat – the treatment suites are set on stilts, allowing you to take in the gorgeous lagoon views.
The resort’s signature restaurant is over water and shaped like three traditional Maldivian sailing boats. Here, guests can expect to dine on a modern interpretation of island-influenced cuisine such as Maldivian tuna cake with young banana salad, coconut shell seafood soup, and tuna cheek curry. www.milaidhoo.com
Anantara Kalutara, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s most famous architect, the late Geoffrey Bawa designed the main building of the resort, which fuses natural luxury with Dutch colonial and Sri Lankan artistry (the resort’s wings were finished by Channa Daswatte from MICD Associates after Bawa’s passing). The 141 guest rooms, suites and pool villas offer magnificent views of either the lush gardens, the ocean or the lagoon. The One Bedroom Presidential Suite boasts a private plunge pool and sundeck, and the One and Two Bedroom Villas feature an enclosed garden terrace offering seclusion while swimming in the private pool, sunbathing on the deck and dining al fresco.
The three on-site restaurants serve a variety of cuisines, from spicy Sri Lankan to exotic Thai and refined Italian. For leisure, there are spa treatments, water sports like jet skiing and banana boat rides, beach activities, and a library dedicated to Geoffrey Bawa that showcases his drawings and favourite designs. The surrounding ancient caves, waterfalls, spice gardens, tea plantations, and lush virgin rainforests are also worth exploring.
Set along Sri Lanka’s ruggedly beautiful southwest coast, in between the Indian Ocean and the Kalu River, this resort is just 10 minutes from the town of Kalutara and an hour from Colombo. www.anantara.com
Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles
The private island of Félicité is home to this tranquil resort, which occupies one-third of the total land area. Félicité is about 55km northeast of the Seychelles International Airport, which is located on the main island of Mahé.
The resort was designed to blend seamlessly with the picturesque landscape, with villa exteriors made from balau timber and wooden shingle roofs. Tropical vegetation envelops each villa, ensuring complete privacy. In addition to several private residences, the property is made up of 28 one-bedroom pool villas and two two-bedroom pool villas.
Food-wise, guests can tuck into local Seychellois home cooking such as fish grilled in banana leaf, crab curry, palm heart salad with crayfish, and sticky twice-cooked pork belly. The resort also has a restaurant called Ocean Kitchen, which does not serve meat, but instead, offers local seafood and dishes made from fruit, vegetables and seeds found on the island. To relax and recharge, facilities include the Six Senses Spa, with its selection of signature therapies, a yoga and meditation pavilion, and saltwater pool. The resort’s Experience Center has all the equipment you need for dive excursions and other exhilarating water activities. Staff can also arrange private fishing trips and visits to neighbouring islands by boat. www.sixsenses.com
The Anam, Vietnam
The Anam is located close to Nha Trang, one of Vietnam’s iconic beach destinations, and about a 90-minute flight from Hanoi. It is fronted by a 300m stretch of beach and offers amazing views of the South China Sea and surrounding islands.
The villas complement the seaside location with their natural stone and sustainably harvested timber features. Each room provides views of either the sea, the oceanfront, the garden or the pool. For even greater seclusion, book the Spa Villa, which is tucked away on hillside land within the Spa grounds. This villa gives you access to your private pool and is connected to the exclusive spa therapy area. Like the resort, the luxurious Sri Mara Spa embodies an Indochine philosophy and offers a range of Balinese beauty and wellness treatments.
The resort’s ocean setting is perfect for the many water activities that are available at the resort, like surfing and wakeboarding. After an afternoon in the sun, wind down with a cool drink and then enjoy a fine dinner at the hotel’s signature IndoChine café, which offers a variety of European and Asian cuisines prepared in the show kitchens. www.theanam.com
W Punta de Mita, Mexico
Set on Mexico’s stunning Pacific coast, W Punta de Mita was designed to reflect the local Bohemian surf culture throughout the areas of Banderas Bay, and Sayulita, a hidden fishing and surfing town near the resort. Inside the hotel, expect to see plenty of bright colours, traditional patterns of the local Huichol people, beautiful handicrafts, eye-catching murals, and Mexican cultural motifs, from candy skulls to wrestling masks.
The bright blue and green Camino Huichol walkway leads guests to the beach for Instagram-worthy views of the ocean or setting sun as well as the pool area, also called the WET deck. Both the beach and WET deck are equipped with colourful cabanas, each containing a flat-screen TV, fully stocked mini bar and personal shower. The 119 guest villas and suites are equally lavish, featuring private balconies or patios, artisanal tiled floors, and headboards fashioned from surfboards or punctured tin, another traditional Mexican design.
Dining options are aplenty, from a seven-course tasting menu at Mesa1, situated on an island in the middle of a lake, to authentic Mexican cuisine at Venazu. The resort’s AWAY Spa is designed to feel like a cave but allows for views of the treetops and sky. www.wpuntademita.com
Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, Morocco
A few hours’ drive or less from vibrant Tangiers, archaeologically fascinating Ceuta, beautiful “Blue Town” Chefchaouen, and UNESCO World Heritage Site Tetouan sits Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, a luxurious new seaside hideaway for travellers seeking respite from the everyday. Interposed between the magnificent Rif Mountains and the storied Mediterranean Sea, the resort offers its guests the unique experience of being in a secluded yet conveniently accessible sanctuary.
This exotic haven’s 92 Moroccan-style villas each has its own landscaped garden and private pool, so you can elect to simply not leave your accommodation at all if you wish. Some of the villas have direct access to the resort’s beach, where a wide variety of water sports, from wakeboarding to whale watching, will entertain and thrill adventure loving guests. If you prefer not to get wet, you can opt to enjoy golfing, hiking, or horseback riding, or even take cooking classes.
Dining options at the resort will not disappoint, either. With four restaurants and a 24-hour kitchen serving up Moroccan specialities, Mediterranean-style seafood and international favourites to anywhere on the property, it’s probably safe to say that every visitor is guaranteed his or her particular gastronomic pleasure.
Finally, even the most jaded of guests is sure to be soothed and restored by the many invigorating treatments available at The Rainforest, Banyan Tree Spa’s signature hydrothermal wellness experience. www.banyantree.com/en/em-morocco-tamouda-bay
Cempedak Island is all about what owner and developer Andrew Dixon terms “elemental luxury” — the understanding that true luxury isn’t about the latest five-star amenities but is, essentially, the enjoyment of space, privacy, and aesthetically pleasing raw materials. And this tiny islet, bearing a mere 20 villas (guests must be 17 and above), boasts that in spades. Nestled in lush greenery and topped with alang-alang grass roofs, their first floors’ open decks leading into private plunge pools just steps from the pristine seashore, each villa drifts its own little world of tranquillity.
You will not find modern technology or distractions on Cempedak. There are no TVs, for one thing, and the villas are designed to facilitate airflow, making the ceiling fans sufficient stand-ins for air-conditioning. The island is a true retreat from everyday city life—even the food served here is locally sourced and seasonal in nature.
The villas here are all-bamboo affairs, from their structural foundations to the spiral staircases, the floors and even the handcrafted dowels. This makes them uniquely rustic, yet sleekly artistic. The use of bamboo also contributed hugely to the fantastic design of the roof interiors, but it wasn’t chosen only for its aesthetic appeal. Dixon chose bamboo because it is the quintessential environmentally friendly material. He has made sure that even the bathrooms and pools are built with natural and sustainable materials, and the resort’s proceeds support The Island Foundation, which works with local communities.
This lovely island refuge (set to open in March 2017) is just two and a half hours from Singapore, but its exclusivity is guaranteed by the fact that it is accessible only by speedboat from a private jetty on Bintan. www.cempedak.com