Eli Orzessek discovers resorts where even the waves lap in luxury.
This desert hideaway on a private island in the Maldives has a laid-back philosophy of "no news, no shoes" — so you know you'll be operating on island time. Combining luxury with Robinson Crusoe-inspired simplicity, the villas here are hidden among dense foliage, ranging from one to nine bedrooms. The largest villa, the Private Reserve, includes everything from a kids' room and waterslide, to a spa area, sauna and gym.
El Nido Pangulasian Island
A spectacularly unspoiled setting, this luxury eco-resort sits on a 750m white powder beach — and you'll find a marine sanctuary right on the doorstep, making this location a diver's dream come true. The resort offers 42 individual villas in modern Filipino green architecture, with a private balcony, either on the beach, in the forest, or with its own pool. Guests can enjoy a private sunset cruise, a romantic dinner by the beach, or a relaxing spa treatment.
Four Seasons Resort
Experience paradise on this private island resort in the heart of French Polynesia.
Overwater bungalows sit in the shadow of Bora Bora's Mt Otemanu — and you can toast the sunset from your own private plunge pool. The lagoon is teeming with colourful reef fish and coral and the resort offers free guided snorkelling tours to experience it all.
Guests can enjoy kayaking, catamaran cruises, windsurfing and shark feeding. And after a day of activities, there's no better way to unwind than with a bit of pampering at the waterfront day spa.
The resort features four on-site restaurants, offering Polynesian, French and Asian cuisine.
Six Senses Fiji
Located on tropical Malolo Island in the stunning Mamanuca archipelago,
features 24 spacious private pool villas among its inventory of residences. Surrounded by crystal clear waters and white sand beaches, the resort offers plenty of opportunities to get out on the water, with year-round surfing, diving, snorkelling, fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and sailing — as well as nature trails and local villages to explore. Six Senses is also dedicated to sustainability, with programmes in place to conserve energy and use minimal packaging — ensuring the location continues to stay pristine and beautiful.
Not technically beachfront, but close enough . . . and still swoon-worthy
Southern Ocean Lodge
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Billed as Australia's first true luxury lodge, Southern Ocean Lodge offers spectacular ocean, beach and wilderness views from a secluded cliff on the southwest coast of South Australia's Kangaroo Island. The lodge contains 21 organic luxe suites, with bespoke furniture, sunken lounges and outdoor terraces looking over the Southern Ocean. Guests can take part in guided adventures to explore the pristine landscapes and abundant wildlife on the island known as "Australia's Galapagos". If you're in need of rejuvenation, walk along the coastal boardwalk to the Southern Spa, an intimate oasis atop sheer limestone cliffs — tailored treatments feature the Dreamtime-inspired Li'tya spa care range and aboriginal massage techniques.
This unique boutique hotel created using local materials was one of the first hotels on Negril's West End — notable guests in the 1970s included Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. You're bound to have a relaxing, fun and authentically Jamaican experience at this cliffside accommodation, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Ladders and stairs lead from the cliff edge down into the crystal clear waters of the suitably-named Pristine Cove, where you can snorkel among tropical reef fish and colourful dwarf tube sponges. Unwind in the evening at the restaurant and rum bar Pushcart, which features live reggae music and a menu inspired by the best of Jamaican street food.
Dominica, West Indies
Escape every day life at this unspoilt location on the island of Dominica.
is an award-winning boutique resort featuring just six sustainable luxury villages, immersed in tropical rainforest and overlooking the Caribbean waters. The resort offers a number of unique experiences — explore the rainforest on a guided tour, rappel into the depths of the volcanic island on a canyoning adventure, or journey within, with some spa therapy.
InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
This Vietnamese retreat sits high on a lush hillside, with views of a stunning private bay on the Son Tra peninsula. Designed by architect Bill Bensley, the resort is divided into four levels — Heaven, Sky, Earth and Sea — which are linked by a funicular train that climbs the forested slopes. With a world-class spa and acclaimed restaurant, you'll find it hard to leave, but the InterContinental is handily close to cultural and natural must-sees including the Unesco World Heritage sites of Hoi An Ancient Town and Hue Imperial City.
Sitting above St Lucia's southwestern Caribbean coastline,
was designed to work in harmony with the beauty of the area. The villas here are known as "sanctuaries", where the bedroom, living space and private infinity pool glide into each other seamlessly, with panoramic views of the Pitons and the Caribbean Sea. All feature an open fourth wall to take in the views, while offering complete privacy. The estate contains two beautiful beaches, with an abundance of pristine coral reefs, perfect for snorkellers and divers. Jade Mountain guests can also choose from a menu of spa treatments, available in your own private sanctuary or at the boutique spa Kai en Ciel. Complimentary yoga classes are also available.
As the name suggests, this eco-resort is on Tetiaroa atoll, the late Marlon Brando's private island.
seeks to carry out the actor's vision and legacy and is 100 per cent energy independent, supporting a number of research and conservation initiatives. With 35 private villas along the Moto Onetahi coastline, the white sand beaches are frequented by sea turtles, manta rays and exotic birds. The resort offers an abundance of activities from bicycling, snorkelling and bird watching to diving and paddle boarding — or you can simply swim at Mermaid Bay or relax by the pool. Guided tours with researchers and naturalists are also on offer.
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore
Santa Barbara, California
Just a few steps away from one of California's most beautiful beaches, this luxurious resort is set in 22-acres of lush jungle and tranquil gardens. Accommodation includes private bungalows and terraces overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands and there's plenty to do within walking distance of the hotel. Whether you're touring local wineries, lazing on the beach or just chilling by the pool at the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, a stay at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore is sure to be memorable.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
At this world-class resort on the northernmost tip of Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, you'll find yourself right on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef. Qualia is a Latin word meaning "a collection of deeper sensory experiences", which is what the owners and architect envisioned for the resort — creating a private world of sensory perfection. The resort's 60 individually designed pavilions flow through to private sundecks and infinity plunge pools overlooking the Coral Sea and surrounding Whitsunday Islands. The main infinity pool is beachside, with watersports equipment available for guest use. It's VIP treatment all the way here, with a chauffeur service on offer for transport around the island, as well as an electric golf buggy that can be used for independent excursions.
Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea
Indulge in old-world glamour on the Sicilian coast — the Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea has been welcoming guests since the 1950s. Built in the 1830s by an aristocratic family, this hotel sits among lush subtropical gardens and retains all the charm of a private residence — so you'll feel right at home. And when you're ready to do a spot of shopping, a cable car can carry you into the town centre in just three minutes.
Bay of Many Coves
Nestled among rolling hills and native bush in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds, this luxury lodge overlooks a secluded, tranquil bay — the perfect opportunity to get in touch with nature. Immerse yourself in the pristine setting and enjoy the renowned walking tracks and adventure cruises on the doorstep. The hotel includes an award-winning fine dining restaurant, specialising in local flavours.
Experience the timeless beauty of the Amalfi Coast at this historic five star hotel surrounded by olive groves and orchards on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean.
Experience the finest Italian hospitality: guests can use the private elevators to access the exclusive beach club below, featuring a heated salt water pool and sun loungers at the ocean's edge. The centre of the historic marine republic of Amalfi is close by and the location is perfect for day trips and tours of the coast and nearby villages.