Aerial Snorkeling

Out of the Ordinary

Whether it’s for a special occasion or just for the heck of it, Lydia Bell has pushed the boat out to bring a selection of stunning hotels that are worth booking for a couple of nights to make any trip a holiday you’ll remember forever

Kokomo Private Island Fiji

This dreamy isle set atop the Great Astrolabe Reef in Fiji’s Kadavu Island Group opened last year. Accessed by sea plane or chopper, its aquamarine waters, blinding white beaches and rugged rainforest won’t fail to beguile. Scuba excursions yield black-tipped sharks, eagle rays, dolphins, turtles and a kaleidoscope of healthy soft corals. Sea kayaking, biking, fishing and water-skiing are encouraged, too. The giant ocean-set villas with infinity pools and laid-back interiors are made for R&R. Free nanny services and an amazing kids’ club make it a family- friendly choice. With its huge variety of activities and a food offering that’s perfectly in tune with its surroundings, Kokomo is one of the finest resorts in the South Pacific. Produce comes from an island farm and a small network of local fishermen. Chef Anthony Healy’s take on kokoda (Fijian ceviche) made with coconut milk from the island’s grove is sublime.

Beach Shack By Nighttime

Travel Details

Villas from £1,960.

Amanpuri Thailand

Luxury Thailand was born on Phuket’s jagged coast, with its luscious hilltops and luminous beaches crying out for infinity pools. Celebrating its 30th year, Amanpuri still captivates
– especially after a recent upgrade. Six guest pavilions now have suspended pools, there’s a new beach bar and an Eco Discovery Club delivering batik classes and talks on turtle conservation for kids. There’s also an expanded spa with group retreat offerings, vegan chefs and a new ‘hot spot’ offering rope climbing, skateboarding, and a GoPro studio. Speedboats, surfboards, seabobs and Schiller bikes will keep teens amused. Paradise is found within the villas which gaze out from the coconut grove towards the Andaman Sea. The two-bedroom options make family travel easy and feature private pools and alfresco lounge areas. Group celebrations are second nature here – the resort excels at organising private beach dinners.

Swimming Pool High Res 2723

Travel Details

Pavilions from £823.

Bawah Reserve Indonesia

Bawah Reserve is a pristine new jewel in Indonesia’s Anambas archipelago. After falling in love with the wild, unspoilt spot, Bawah’s British owners spent five years building this sustainable luxury hotel project with Singaporean designer Sim Boon Yang. Bawah offers 300ha of forest, three lagoons and 13 neon-white beaches. Everything – from the bamboo to the teak, the copper and the flotsam furniture – is reclaimed. The divine overwater bungalows are made from recycled wood, and there are garden and beach options, too. The waters offer sailing and diving amid parrotfish and turtles; the land offers hiking, bird watching, and stargazing. Your booking also includes unlimited spa treatments, laundry service, minibar and activities, which helps make this our top pick in Indonesia. Celebrate by booking The Lookout restaurant in the rainforest canopy for lantern-lit privacy and sunset views over fresh and vibrant island cuisine.

Bawah Hd 4475

Travel Details

Suites from £1,395.

Conrad Nui Bora Bora

French Polynesia’s headline opening last year is set on the secluded Motu To’opua atoll and offers unadulterated, luxurious resort living. Polynesia gifted luxury travel the now-much-copied overwater thatch and Conrad delivers in spades, with 86 modern bungalows poised over the lapping waves (and 28 more tucked in the gardens). The pared-down design immerses guests in the lagoon with floor-to-ceiling glass, and many residences have their own pools. However, most choose to flock to the tiered oceanfront pool, which is Bora Bora’s largest. On terra firma you’ll find an Elemis spa, a mini golf course and four restaurants ranging from pan- Chinese to Polynesian served under the cooling shade of a banyan tree. Its location – a 20-minute boat ride from Bora Bora airport – is favourable. It offers perfect isolation, without being too far from connecting flights.

Million Dollar View Exterior

Travel Details

Suites from £700. http://www.conradhotels3.hilto...

Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles

A 264ha granitic outcrop amid the Indian Ocean, Felicité was once a 19th-century coconut plantation. Its boons are natural beauty in the form of smooth granite boulders set in pearlescent sand, world-class diving, forested interiors made for hiking, and an abundance of vanilla orchids, wild mango, palms, bananas and orange trees. With an eye for some of the world’s best locations, Six Senses’ Seychellois debut has the edge over other resorts here, set on this private island that plays host to Ramos National Park and is the largest privately occupied island in the region. Slinking into the landscape, even the grand, jungle-set spa feels like a waking dream. There are 30 villas in total with more private residences hidden in the thicket. Their position affords total privacy, which makes it ideal for couples’ retreats. Menus combine Creole cuisine, local seafood and pan-Asian and Western flavours.

Two Bedroom Pool Villa3 6673 A4 1

Travel Details

Villas from £1,280 per night.

Oberoi Udaivilas India

Encircled by the emerald Aravalli hills and centred on shimmering Lake Pichola, Udaipur is hands down the most romantic city in Rajasthan. It’s a labyrinth of turreted maharajas’ palaces, forts, whitewashed havelis and ghats busy with washers, bathers and preeners. Like any large Indian city, it can be frenetic, which makes a sojourn at Oberoi Udaivilas, one of the city’s grande dames, all the more delicious. Carved out of the palace and 20ha of hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar, the property is one of the finest jewels in the Oberoi crown. Seclusion and beauty abound in its ornate gardens of fountains and reflective pools and large, lavish guestrooms, many with pools, private terraces or courtyards. Consider it your haven for contemplation. The public spaces fold in a spa with its own yoga centre, a glittering pool and restaurants that meld Rajasthani, international, and pan-Indian influences.

Premier Lake View Rooms With Semi Private Pools The Oberoi Udaivilas Udaipur 01

Travel Details

Doubles from £500.

Cuixmala Mexico

The folly of late British tycoon Sir James Goldsmith, Moorish-inspired Cuixmala on Mexico’s wild Costalegre is now one of the country’s most loved hotels. In the Eighties, Goldsmith would bundle Reagan and Kissinger into his private plane and head down. The guest list has remained red hot – Madonna, Mick Jagger, Quentin Tarantino et al have all checked in. Cuixmala retains the pared-back ethos Goldsmith valued – there are no TVs and no air con; the 800ha estate hidden within the 13,140ha Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve is all about nature. Its dry rainforest is home to jaguar, elegant frigatebirds, pink flamingos and river crocodile. It’s worth bearing in mind that car hire is essential to explore the biosphere. This can be arranged at the airport or at the hotel, which has a fleet of smart 4x4s to rent. All meals are charged as a supplement. Breakfast starts from £38pp.


Travel Details

Casitas from £432.

Soneva Jani The Maldives

This two-year-old barefoot Maldivian gem is the on-steroids sister hotel to the original castaway Soneva Fushi. Their parents are the former Six Senses’ hotelier Sonu Shivdasani and his wife Eva Malmström. ‘No shoes, no news’ has always been their motto, and despite the stupendous luxury, a laid-back vibe pervades. It’s not about being on your best behaviour; it’s about lounging in the overwater cinema under the stars, meditating and nurturing yourself with local, organic food. The 24 villas (plus one four-bedroom house) are off the scale, explaining why this resort is among the priciest of the 100-plus in these waters. They have retractable roofs, private pools and well-stocked pantries. Found mostly overwater, some have slides that splash straight into the sea – part of the playfulness the group has always radiated. A giant thatch known as The Gathering is
a village encompassing a restaurant, spa and kids’ clubs.

3958 Soneva Jani Resort Villa Aerial Image

Travel Details

Villas from £1,525.

Qualia Australia

Secluded on the northernmost tip of Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, Qualia is the brainchild of Sandy Oatley, opening in 2007 after a £100m build. Its outstanding location and a privileged sense of place, intimacy and service mark it as the best among the region’s outstanding resorts. The Barrier Reef archipelago, beloved of yachties (Qualia hosts Australia’s largest offshore regatta) and migrating humpbacks, is one of the best spots to scuba and snorkel in the world. With its expansive marina, as well as being the only Whitsunday with a commercial airport, Hamilton is the most developed island and has excellent access. It’s a winning formula of unparalleled locale, deathless views and modern Australian cuisine at its best. Seafood and meat is served simply and with precision. Private pavilions and beach houses have outdoor showers and pools, and spa treatments are inspired by local ingredients.

Qualia Spa Qualia Tranquility Pools 1

Travel Details

Doubles from £700.

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