Naladhu Private Island Maldives, South Malé Atoll
With only 19 expansive guest quarters in South Malé Atoll, this intimate resort provides a level of privacy and personal attention impressive even in the Maldives. Weathered-wood accommodations come with a private garden and an infinity pool, high-ceilinged interiors decorated in cane and tropical hues, and an open-air bathroom with L’Occitane products and a sea-facing tub for two. The Living Room’s dining spaces range from tables set around the all-glass wine cellar to cushioned Indian daybeds under the stars, and a fleet of dhonis adds onboard private dinners. Dedicated butlers, or VGCs (very good chaps), exceed expectations with quiet, smiling service. With a location only 30 minutes from Malé’s international airport by the hotel’s speedboat, Naladhu represents the Maldives’ most convenient exclusive destination yet.
Sanctuary Olonana, Masai Mara, Kenya
This camp, named for a Masai warrior, sits on acacia-dotted plains and prides itself on its eco-friendliness, using solar power and recycled water. Watch hippos wallow in the Mara River from one of 14 luxury tents with canopied beds, writing tables, screened windows, and verandas with daybeds. For meals, expect dishes such as Malindi sole, prepared with ingredients picked directly from the camp’s garden and served on the main deck—or book a picnic meal in the bush. Available activities include game drives in specially designed jeeps that offer 360-degree views of the savannah (and its inhabitants), visits to a local Masai village, and hot air balloon rides over the plains for a bird’s-eye view of the migrating herds.
Bahia Vik José Ignacio & Playa Vik José Ignacio, Uruguay
Want to book a room with a view? Start at one of the 11 unique stand-alone bungalows at Bahia Vik—with two or three bedrooms each and filled with site-specific art—or one of 10 suites in the central building. With views of the sand dunes of Uruguay’s eastern coast, the resort offers a library, a games room (with ping pong), a spa, and gym, all thanks to art-collecting and wine-making power couple Alex and Carrie Vik. Sister property, Playa, directly next door was designed by Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, and the beach property contrasts startlingly with José Ignacio’s modest, whitewashed cottages: Six light-filled two- and three-bedroom casitas, walled in glass and roofed with sea grasses, surround a titanium-and-glass main building. There you’ll find an additional four suites, a Zaha Hadid–designed molded acrylic bench, and a wall of pulsating light from artist James Turrell in a dining area overlooking the beach.
Niyama Private Islands Maldives, Dhaalu Atoll
Booking at Niyama Private Island Maldives is the first step toward doing the Maldives right, as it's the perfect resort for a honeymoon—but surprisingly great for families, too. Privacy is the operative word here, as the resort spans two islands, named "Play" and "Chill." On Play, you'll find water-based activities like zooming through the lagoon on an underwater rocket, or land-based ones, like a kid's Zumba. On Chill, you'll find incredible spa treatments and soothing, over-water studios. You don't have to choose just one island, however, so hopping between is encouraged.
Jumby Bay Island, Antigua
Reopened in October 2017 as an Oetker Collection member (formally a Rosewood resort), Jumby Bay Island is accessible only by boat, with not a car in sight. With 40 villas off the coast of Antigua, there’s no need to worry about getting off the all-inclusive island. You’ll be plenty busy on one of the resort’s three tennis courts, two pools, more than four miles of beach, and kids’ club, for when you want to be anything but busy.
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, WY
Consistently rated the best resort in the U.S. by our readers, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch—set on 30,000 acres amid the Sierra Madres—executes the luxury dude ranch concept with skill and style. Think spotted cowhide chairs in the lounge, fur throws at the edge of knotty wooden king-sized beds, and yurts decked out with antler chandeliers and leather couches. For an upscale group getaway, book the nine cabins that make up the Magee Homestead—it comes with its own concierge service.
L'Horizon Resort & Spa, Palm Springs, CA
“There were a lot of fun hotels in Palm Springs, but there weren’t any great ones, and I wanted to change this.” So says Steve Hermann, the L.A.–based residential designer who spent two years (and millions of dollars) turning the historic William F. Cody–designed L’Horizon into a luxurious boutique hotel. Hermann didn’t alter the footprint much—the main house and most of the 25 bungalows were built in 1952 as a vacation spot for Hollywood producer Jack Wrather (Lassie; The Lone Ranger)—but he added an open-air spa and an alfresco restaurant and gut-renovated the interiors.
Anantara Hua Hin Resort, Thailand
Just south of Bangkok, the Anantara Hua Hin Resort, set in a sleepy seaside town once frequented by Thai royals as their summer playground, still looks the regal part. Rooms have hand-crafted wooden armoires, luxurious silk accents, and the occasional private terrace that overlooks either the tropical gardens or the Gulf of Thailand. The roughly 14-acre garden dreamt up by architect and landscape designer Bill Bensley is designed to resemble an ancient Thai village, and water features like lagoons and lotus ponds fill the deeply lush property. With nine restaurants and lounges, there's a lot to choose from: Readers recommend Rim Nam for Thai and fusion cuisines, or Spice Spoons, to school you in the art of perfectly balanced curries.
Cuixmala, Costalegre, Mexico
Cuixmala, a private estate south of Puerto Vallarta with four suites, six bungalows, three private villas, and 10 casitas, sits on a private beach backed by a 25,000-acre nature preserve. It doesn’t have a kids’ club, but who needs one when the whole family can go horseback riding and fishing, and watch sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach?