Kisawa bungalow exterior

Hot Properties - Beach Retreats

A sandy-toed hideaway can offer desert island isolation, thrill-packed shoreline adventures and tropical gastronomic temptations. Lucy Kehoe heads to blue waters.


Straddling a 300ha sprawl of forest, beach and dune on the remote Benguerra Island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, just off the coast of Mozambique, this unique sanctuary feels like an organic extension of its otherworldly surrounds. Guests stay in seed-pod- like, thatched bungalows, each with its own pool: these are Africa’s first 3D-printed buildings, set among towering sand dunes only metres from the sea. Fresh, modern African cuisine is served at four on-site restaurants, while the hive-like spa structure – a cluster of curving huts – specialises in holistic wellness. The highlight, though, is the access to state-of-the-art reef mapping from the hotel’s sister research station, BCSS, which ensures first- class scuba diving opportunities in the surrounding archipelago. Add to this the circus of weird and wonderful wildlife that call this secluded Mozambique island home (both under the waves and scampering past your bedroom door), which is supported by BCSS scientists with chances to support their research work, ensures Kisawa excels in the unexpected: you’re more likelyto encounter pink-fluffed flamingos, steely-eyed reptiles and, out in the waves, marlin and manta rays, than fellow guests.

Kisawa bungalow exterior highres

Travel Details

Doubles from £3,115. 00 971 4 875 2323,


Only accessible by private charter plane, Como’s 12sq km private island resort promises guests a secluded stay in remotest Melanesia. On arrival at Laucala, the sense of far-flung isolation begins. Different styles of self-contained residence come with private pools and living spaces decked out in native wood, either perched on a black-rock clifftop, nestled deep in thrumming jungle foliage or floating above the emerald-hued lagoon. The resort’s ultra-luxe booking, though, is one of the plantation villas: six spacious properties on a sequestered private beach of startlingly bright sands. Here, there’s no need to move far from the shoreline: breakfast, lunch and dinner can be ordered to your villa, and treatments from the Fijian-focused spa – including bobo massages, a local technique that utilises the therapist’s hands, feet and arms – are administered within your private idyll. Venturing out, experiences might include low-tide horseback riding and sunset cruises on a Seventies classic sailing boat. As the sun dips below the horizon, re-join civilisation at the Rock Lounge. Set above basalt cliffs and surrounded by swaying palms, this sea- gazing bar comes into its own at dusk. Coconut bellini, anyone?


Travel Details

Doubles from £4,600. 00 679 888 0077,


Travellers with an inquisitive itch will find Banyan Tree Lang Co’s multi-faceted offering a welcome twist to a fly-and-flop beach retreat. Equidistant between the ancient archways and ornate castles of Hue and Hoi An’s mustard-yellow merchants’ houses and floating food markets, access from Lang Co to the Unesco World Heritage towns is a doddle – although once there, you may be tempted to pass on the country’s kaleidoscope of cultural highlights. Stretched along Chan May Bay in Vietnam’s Phu Loc region, this South Asian resort’s 62 villas – all with private pools – are threaded like a necklace along winding pathways that connect a central, 3.2km muscovado-coloured beach to the rising folds of flora-cloaked hills. You’ll want to borrow a bike to get around – or wait a few minutes beside the meandering watercourse that snakes through the resort for one of the purring private shuttle boats that will deliver you to your destination of fancy, be it yoga pavilion, spa or one of three resort restaurants. Hilltop Saffron is the best, with a modern Thai menu including warmly spiced curries, crisp sweetcorn fritters and native mushrooms doused in a light coconut broth.

Banyan Tree Lang Co Accommodation Beach Wellbeing Pool Villa Exterior

Travel Details

Doubles from £249. 00. 84 234 3695 888, banyan


Teetering on coal-coloured cliffs, the striking design at Soori is inspired by its darkly seductive Balinese surroundings – its moody hues match the colour of the shimmering black sand beach that sits beneath it. Tucked between mist-shrouded traditional villages, the sky-tickling spires of ancient temples and steeply terraced rice paddies, Soori may be far-flung but it brings an urban design edge to a destination better known for its barefoot boho charms. Curated by architect Soo K Chan, 56 monochromatic villas offer a masterclass in sultry minimalism: all clean lines, onyx plunge pools, and dark decking. The contemporary Asian style juxtaposes the retreat’s more verdant fringes and the hotel’s slate black infinity pool is crowned by manicured ficus trees. Best of all, though, is the spa. The award- winning oasis blends eastern and western methodologies, with Balinese massage techniques and spiritual blessing ceremonies sitting alongside warm stone massages and botanical facials. The east-west marriage continues in the kitchens: plate-perfect Indonesian fare makes up the menu at beachside Cotta, while sea-facing Ombak serves elegant, western-leaning plates.

Soori Delxe Ocean Pool Villa

Travel Details

Doubles from £787. 00 62 361 894 6388,


Fronted by an 11km streak of crystal white sand dotted with lazily nodding palm trees, this Khao Lak resort in Thailand’s Phang Nga province is the archetypical island fantasy. You may recognise the pool set-up: those oh-so-enticing white-curtained cabana beds floating above an infinity pool are the regular cover stars of glossy fashion magazines. Luckily, the Thai resort is a case study of style with substance. Check into one of 56 teak- floored luxury residences tucked between the banana palms, and you’ll find you spend as much of your time under the waves as you do lazily gazing out at them, a frozen mango mojito in hand. Access to the dive sanctuaries of Similan and Surin Islands national marine parks, plus the vast Phang Nga Bay national marine park – with its limestone islands and sea caves – ensure guests can enjoy both beach views and adventures straight from The Sarojin’s shoreline. (Wet-)suited and booted divers are a common sight from the beach, as are bobbing sea canoes and cruising private charters, but if you’re more of a terra firma type, ask for dinner on a private sand bar to be shipped out for a star-lit, fine-dining experience atop a sliver of sea-lapped sand.

EX5 swimming pool

Travel Details

Doubles from £342. 00 66 76 427 9000,


Experience a taste of Crusoe-living at this northern Palawan

retreat; marooned on the shifting powdery shores of a diminutive islet in the Cuyo Archipelago, Aman’s Philippines outpost is a gilded Treasure Island retreat – if Crusoe had arrived by private plane and found a personal butler waiting. One-, two-, three- and four-bedroom beachside villas pair modern styling with old-school service. The forest-nestled casitas are smaller but no less luxurious – all residences come with a pool. Daily snorkelling trips straight off the beach, a scheduled wellness class and afternoon teas are all included in a stay, and there’s an on-site PADI dive centre prepped to
take divers out to the pristine coral reefs some 300m offshore. Dining, meanwhile, promises far more glamour than a castaway’s foraged fare. Locally caught seafood and island-grown fresh produce feature on Japanese, Mediterranean, Filipino and Italian menus at four restaurants. Those seeking a real desert-island experience can also opt to bed down beneath celestial skies: Amanpulo offers a cushion-plumped beach tepee beside a driftwood fire to those adventurous enough to drift off beachside.

Villa1 Pool High Res 13863

Travel Details

Doubles from £1,216. 00 65 3165 4865,


Strung along the pearly-hued sands of Con Don, one of 16 islands in southern Vietnam’s Con Dao Archipelago, with the quiet waters of the Marine Ramsar Convention preservation zone on one side, and the steamy foliage of a protected national park on the other, this village-like resort delivers what the Six Senses brand does best: an ultra-luxe escape with a sustainable heart. Designed to mimic the aesthetics of a local fishing village, the hotel’s 50 private villas, two restaurants and award-winning spa sit parallel to the curving crescent of sand, so close that you’ll likely encounter a resident crab lurking beside your private villa pool. Aquatic experiences are the draw here: conservation-focused excursions to see hatching green sea turtles, snorkelling trips through waters as clear as the local corn wine, and even clam collecting – in the local way – at low tide are on offer. Even the golfing has an eco edge – as you practise your swing into the waves using the resort’s uniquely designed golf balls, you’ll be feeding fish: the balls dissolve within 48 hours, providing dinner for hungry mouths beneath the waves.

Six Senses Spa2 7414 ORIGINAL

Travel Details

Doubles from £819. 00 84 28 3823 2229,


Spy the candy-coloured bows of traditional Sri Lankan oruwa boats moored up neatly along Mawella Beach: they’re pretty much the only thing that disrupts the near-endless sprawl of golden sand. Limited development along Tangalle’s Mawella Bay has left this stretch of Sri Lankan coastline beautifully secluded, with just a few former fishermen’s cottages keeping the Last House company. The final project of renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, this five-bedroom, colonial-style stay blurs the boundaries between outdoors and indoors – open-walled walkways take guests between buildings, dining spaces flow out into elegant, frangipani tree-lined gardens and bedrooms have fully rotating windows that bring the chattering of native birds to your bedside. There are bikes, body boards and cricket kits to borrow (with staff on hand to field a team for a beach match), plus a pool and, of course, the Indian Ocean to dip into. A highlight is the food: local produce comes to the fore in crab curries and grilled market fish.

Sri lanka

Travel Details

Doubles from £274. 00 94 112 333861,


Long-winded descriptions of this Caribbean resort aren’t necessary: it’s all in the name. Tucked between St Lucia’s iconic Piton peaks on a former sugar plantation, there are few more memorable coastal hotels in the region than Sugar Beach.
A total of 96 bedrooms, cottages and villas offer elegant minimalism, all with airy interiors and private pools. Those wishing to keep their toes firmly in the sand should opt for a beachfront bungalow: you’ll have direct access to the honey- hued shoreline, and a chance to be the first to nab one of the breezy hammocks slung between palms for all-day lounging. The focus here is on alfresco experiences, whether that be breakfasts at The Terrace, promising a traditional Creole offering of Johnny cakes, fried plantain and stewed saltfish; or lunch at the stylish Bonté Restaurant, which serves loaded flatbreads and veg-filled pasta plates under whitewashed eaves. Meanwhile, at Jalousie Grill, diners sit on the beach under a shady natural canopy of trees, sampling banana-leaf-wrapped mahi mahi and jerk chicken cooked over fire.

St lucia

Travel Details

Doubles from £799. 00 1 758 456 8000,


Sustainability and style are the twin pillars of this new island retreat in the Dominican Republic. The Samaná Bay resort, located on a 100ha islet 10 minutes’ boat ride from the country’s northern coast, has put protecting the delicate ecosystem it sits within at the core of its ethos. The sole resort here, its looks are entirely au naturel: buildings housing its 219 rooms, including 12 stand-alone villas, spring unexpectedly from an otherwise untouched natural landscape. Interiors, designed by local boy Ramón Emilio Jiménez, utilise native materials like guayacan wood, while a soft colour palette draws inspiration from nearby flora. At the resort’s five restaurants, island-grown produce reigns supreme – a seven-course tasting menu at Senda offers a journey through the country’s larder. During the day, its bars are frequented by rum-loving local day-trippers visiting the only public beach on the island. Guests have access to two further castaway-worthy privates beaches. In winter, the surrounding waters host thousands of migrating humpback whales – book a boat tour with a biologist to commune with these gentle sea giants.

Dominican republic beach

Travel Details

Doubles from £533. 00 1 809 538 3232,

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