From bed to beach
Flop, drop and dive in style
AMILLA FUSHI, THE MALDIVES: On Baa Atoll, a biosphere reserve listed by UNESCO, the tropical dream has arrived and it is writ brightly in marine blue and white. Climb a ladder from the private deck of your overwater accommodation into the fish-filled lagoon or stride a few sandy steps from a seaside bungalow to the gently lapping Indian Ocean. This Australian-run resort (with food at its signature restaurant, Lonu, overseen by Luke Mangan) is supremely chic in a floaty, fun way, and it’s only the treehouse accommodation (private and luxurious, nonetheless) that (obviously) fails the roll-out-ofbed-and-swim test. If you don’t want to brave even a tiny metal ladder, then opt for the one-bedroom Beach House category and walk (crawl?) across sugar-white sand for a plunge into salty water so improbably clear and vivid it looks as if it’s been manipulated by one of those clever colourising apps. All accommodation comes with private pools (even the treehouses offer dips in cleverly suspended pools) and the bath-tubs, too, are spacious enough for a jolly hippo wallow. That Beach House will also have a courtyard with perfectly positioned hammocks and a katheeb (butler) on call for “home delivery”, known at more prosaic places as room service. Sunset cocktails served in the shallows, anyone? More: amilla.mv.
BANYAN TREE LANG CO, VIETNAM: Sitting on my bed, cup of tea in hand, sliding glass doors open on three sides of beach villa number 109, I’m listening to the rain pitterpatter on my private pool and the ocean beyond. This is one of a string of luxury villas along an unspoiled, 3km beach fronting the East Sea in the foothills of Central Vietnam’s Truong Son mountains. Tucked behind low dunes or cosseted within tropical gardens, these villas offer absolute privacy and the ultimate luxury of a little piece of beachfront of one’s own. A short stroll away, past the pool and along a private dune path laced with tropical vines, and I’m standing on one of the best beaches in Vietnam. Those villas nearer the main resort building (119 and 120) are even closer to the sand. But I wouldn’t trade that little walk, through a small gate at the bottom of my garden where a large ceramic urn filled with water and topped with flower petals stands ready so I can rinse the sand from my feet when I return. There’s even a chap who pops by every day to ensure the temperature of the Jacuzzi is just so. Banyan Tree has 49 pool villas, some hillside, others beside a lagoon and if you can be bothered tearing yourself away, the ancient cities of Hue and Hoi An are within easy driving distance. More: banyantree.com.
FOUR SEASONS LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA: As you rub your eyes, stretch and yawn, another day in paradise awaits. Four Seasons Langkawi provides very few obstacles between your Beach Villa bed, private plunge pool and the soft sand of the long beach. But first, fling aside the curtains and slide open the french doors. Next, tiptoe out onto your deck and entertaining area to see where the local macaque monkeys may have deposited your slippers overnight. Saunter past your private pool, giving it a see-you-later look. Finally, that 60-second ordeal is over and only deckchairs and the prospect of pina coladas could separate you from an early morning dip, afternoon paddle or twilight cocktails by the shore. After a hard day’s sun bathing it’s time to enjoy your exclusive massage room, followed by a dip in the Jacuzzi and then back to the sandy beach for a private and romantic lobster dinner for two under the stars, complete with marshmallows and a bonfire to finish off the evening. This isn’t just a holiday near the beach; it is on, and of, the beach. More: fourseasons.com.
RAMADA ECO BEACH RESORT, WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Guests can bus, boat or drive to Ramada Eco Beach Resort, 130km south of Broome, but to fast-track a remote Kimberley getaway hop a helicopter from Broome airport. The resort is spectacularly perched on sand dunes next to the blood-red cliffs of Cape Villaret. There are two beach houses, 30 safari-style tents or 25 air-conditioned eco-villas connected via raised walkways that protect the fragile dunes. Early risers might glimpse wallabies nibbling the grass right outside their door or migratory birds wheeling along the shoreline. As the day heats up, cool down in the resort’s photogenic infinity pool or head off on an excursion. Anglers can try to snare an elusive barramundi in nearby Jack’s Creek or cruise the Indian Ocean to do battle with Spanish mackerel and giant trevally. Head off on a guided cultural tour, dive into the day spa for a hot-stone massage or try the DIY “mud and bubbles” beauty treatment — sand exfoliation, a slathering of mangrove mud scooped from Jack’s Creek, and a glass of sparkling wine. Eco Beach opened in 1996 but Cyclone Rosita wiped it off the map just four years later. The new and improved cyclone-proof resort reopened in 2009. More: ecobeach.com.au.
CAP D’ANTIBES BEACH HOTEL, FRANCE: A hop from Antibes, a skip from Cannes, and a jump from every charming Provencal hill town you care to mention — but the fact is, once over the threshold of this cool, sleek and uber-comfortable hotel, you won’t be going anywhere. After morning croissants on your terrace, overlooking the bobbing yachts of the Mediterranean, it is an arduous journey of about 20 flat steps from your guestroom to the hotel’s private beach, where your lounger awaits. And there you will stay, reading under the parasol, occasionally plopping yourself into the balmy, translucent sea, and ordering cold wine and hot french fries to be brought as needed. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, there is a breezy massage tent a few metres yonder, by the pool or, for a change of scene, the informal beach restaurant is behind you on the decking. If you’re feeling really active, then throw a dress over your swimsuit and head up one set of stairs to the Michelin-starred restaurant Les Pecheurs, from where you can watch the sun set in bright pinks over the water. After a shower, a digestif, and a look up at the clear sky of stars, you’ll have to prepare yourself to do it all again tomorrow. More: ca-beachhotel.com.
CASTAWAY ISLAND, FIJI: There may well be a raft of resorts in Fiji where you can wake up to the sound of waves lapping outside your thatch-roofed bure but how many allow you to not only go from bed to beach but, at the end of the day, beach to bed? No need to slip on pesky footwear for dinner at Castaway Island’s 1808 Restaurant; chef Lance Seeto, a local celebrity with a television cooking show, will whip up Fijian Asian fusion cuisine served at tables secured in the sand. Twice awarded Best Restaurant at the Fiji Tourism Awards, at 1808 the ingredients are strictly local with Seeto sourcing from organic farms. There are three other restaurants onsite or all the fixings for a secluded sunset beach picnic can be delivered to you. Choose to stay in one of Castaway’s stand-alone beach bures and the only obstacle between your patio and the calm turquoise waters is a hammock hoisted between two palms. The resort, which was acquired by Out-
Song Saa comes over all Robinson Crusoe, if Rob had had the good fortune to be marooned with full staff, a spa, infinity pools and an excellent wine cellar
Beach Villa at Four Seasons Langkawi, Malaysia, above; St Regis Bora Bora in Tahiti, left; Beach Pool Villa, Banyan Tree Lang Co, Vietnam, below