Bucket List Worthy
There are two types of travel. There are the trips that involve tasting your first chocolate-covered cricket in Cambodia or riding a cramped and sweaty (but authentic) train to your beachside shack in Sri Lanka. And there are the trips that involve lounging under a palapa, reading Oprah’s latest recommendation and ordering drinks from a sun-tanned server.
While there’s no doubt the first type of travel — we’ll call it adventure travel — is essential to understanding other cultures and learning the endless amount of lifelong lessons associated with globetrotting, the second kind — the resort kind — is the one that truly feels like vacation. It’s how we recharge our batteries when they’ve been drained by work, school or the stresses of daily life.
These seven resorts, deemed as some of the travel industry’s best-kept secrets, are places where you’ll be pampered with top-notch service, award-winning eats, sumptuous accommodations and natural scenery you’d only expect to see in a magazine. Be warned — you may never want to experience the first type of travel again.
The term “barefoot luxury” is given an entirely new meaning at the Wakatobi Resort. The idyllic eco-friendly beach resort includes lavish Indonesian-style oceanfront villas and palm-grove-nestled bungalows steps from the crystal clear sea and a coral reef. Wakatobi, home to more than 40 world-class dive and snorkel sites, is known as one of the world’s top snorkel and dive destinations, but the reef isn’t the resort’s only great asset.
Wakatobi brings high-end luxury to a remote Indonesian island, which means guests enjoy gourmet dining, phone and internet connectivity, spa services, private dive and snorkel guides, access to boat outings and resort grounds that encourage complete relaxation. The resort’s exclusive departure lounge at Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport is just one more way this Wakatobi sets itself apart from the countless other luxury retreats in Indonesia and around the world.
Roughly 2 million people visit the Great Barrier Reef every year, but most of them are missing out on one of the area’s best hidden secrets — Haggerstone Island. This all-inclusive (excluding alcohol) boutique resort introduces guests to the countless wonders of the barrier reef while combining the rustic charm of the island with lavish accommodations to create a once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The main building’s high thatched roof, heavy beams and outdoor stone fireplace invites guests to experience the raw, natural beauty of the island, the ocean and the world that lies beneath.
The resort includes just four (soon to be five) huts, which means guests experience unbeatable, personalized service, whether they’re lounging on the beach, watching the sunset from the jetty, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, dining on freshly-caught seafood or enjoying any of the resort’s long list of other activities and amenities.
You don’t have to venture around the world to enjoy an over-the-top escape in a postcard-worthy setting. Located in Washington’s San Juan Islands, the Roche Harbor Resort encourages guests to interact with the natural beauty around them while escaping from the tiring demands of daily life. Whether it’s a last-minute weekend getaway or a week-long escape with the entire family, Roche Harbor Resort offers the five-star services and lavish accommodations that make every visit a memorable one.
The resort’s cafe makes homemade donuts and gourmet coffee every morning, and the luxurious spa changes every guest’s idea of seaside relaxation. Rooms are located directly on the shoreline, which means there are no roads or vehicles separating guests from the serenity in front of them.
The British Virgin Islands are known for the picture-perfect, tree-covered peaks that descend seamlessly into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. While every destination in the “BVIs” is bucket list worthy, there’s no luxury quite like venturing to one of the area’s most deserted islands and enjoying the powder sand beaches all to yourself. The intimate Anegada Beach Club includes nine uniquely designed raised tents, offering rustic luxury above the sand where salty ocean breezes blow.
For those who prefer more traditional luxury accommodations, the Beach Club also offers 16 hotel rooms overlooking a Caribbean-style swimming pool and restaurant. This resort invites you to relax on the beach, by the pool, or at the beach bar. Lounge in a hammock, snorkel in the crystal clear waters or take an adventure-filled kitesurfing lesson — this resort encourages guests to create the vacation of their dreams.
When you’re searching for a resort that is guaranteed to create an unforgettable vacation, there’s no better place to look than Stann Creek, Belize. The Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort has been praised by USA Today, The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, TripAdvisor and a long list of additional travel industry experts as one of the top eco-friendly boutique resorts in the world.
Located on the coastal mainland of Belize, minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Belize Barrier Reef, this environmentally-friendly resort offers 28 casual but elegant accommodation options, including everything from beachfront rooms to private, sustainable tree houses. The tropical grounds, private Caribbean beach and on-site Adventure Center create every opportunity for relaxation or adventure.
The Small Hope Bay Lodge was founded in 1960 by Dick Birch, a Canadian traveler searching for the perfect way to move his family to the Bahamas. What began solely as a dive resort has expanded into the ultimate place to escape from it all, and thankfully, it has retained much of its 1960s charm. Home to just 17 cabins, all facing the Caribbean Sea, this resort offers a more personalized experience without leaving out the big resort perks. All-inclusive packages include all meals, drinks, snacks, use of the beach-front hot tub and access to a number of watercraft.
The uniquely intimate atmosphere of the Small Hope Bay Lodge is what makes it so special, and the fact that 60- to 70-percent of the guests are repeat customers or referrals is a testament to how unforgettable this off-the-beaten-path Bahamas resort really is.
Many of the world’s best resorts have modest roots, and the Nihi Watu Lodge is one of them. Once an off-beat surfer’s enclave known for its private wave, this resort has been reimagined and expanded into a must-visit luxury resort on Indonesia’s picture-perfect Sumba Island. Located at the “edge of wildness,” this resort combines lush unspoiled landscapes, an award-winning spa, high-end villas with individual plunge pools and the infectious kindness and hospitality of the Sumbanese people.
Submerged in a sea of nature, the Nihi Watu Lodge encourages visitors to spend day soaking in their personal pools or venture to hidden waterfalls and swimming holes just a short distance away. A tribute to the bygone days of raw beauty and rich culture, this resort transports guests to an entirely different time and place.