wa­ter’s edge

Blissed-out beach havens where sea views come as stan­dard – but that’s not all they of­fer. Come on, dive in…

Living Etc - - CONTENTS -

oh, we do like to be be­side the sea­side… es­pe­cially when, as with th­ese get­aways in france, the Mal­dives, Mex­ico and Mi­ami, the waves are, lit­er­ally, a short hop (or a slide) away

Beach hol­i­days seem like the ul­ti­mate no-brainer. You just bag your spot, lie back and re­lax, right? Well… Up to a point. If by day three of a beach break, you tend to get a bit fid­gety on a sun lounger, read on. We’ve sought out the cream of des­ti­na­tions that take you right to the wa­ter’s edge – but have plenty more to of­fer. There’s an ar­chi­tec­tural re­work of a Mi­ami icon that first shot to fame as a Pro­hi­bi­tion-era party den – and doesn’t show any signs of slow­ing down just yet. And a French Riviera hide­away that’s as re­ju­ve­nat­ing as an early morn­ing swim straight off its shore.

Then we head to the Mal­dives for a be­yond-fab­u­lous trop­i­cal es­cape, where eco-lux­ury comes into its own. Alternatively, tag a stay in Tu­lum on to a State­side so­journ to mix a cock­tail of Mex­i­can cool and NYC style.

HÔTEL LES ROCHES ROUGES Saint-raphaël, Côte d’azur, France

The low­down Ruggedly hand­some, with a French ac­cent. Best for Wild swim­mers and na­ture lovers.

F Scott Fitzger­ald’s Ten­der is the Night hero Dick Diver is so in­tent on cre­at­ing the per­fect Riviera beach that he spends af­ter­noons sift­ing peb­bles from the golden sand. If he’d dis­cov­ered this wild spot on the Côte d’azur, he could have set his rake aside and saved him­self a lot of ef­fort. Hôtel Les Roches Rouges pos­i­tively rel­ishes its rugged, rocky po­si­tion and achieves a more dra­matic ver­sion of beach­side per­fec­tion. Days here are all about em­brac­ing the out­doors – one of the re­sort’s pools is cut into the mon­u­men­tal rock and fed from the sea. The ho­tel is se­creted away within a na­ture re­serve; per­fect for the French ap­petite for la vie sportive.

Ex­pect div­ing, hik­ing, sail­ing, yoga and sur­pris­ingly com­pet­i­tive rounds of pé­tanque. Rooms also em­brace na­ture, with hemp, cot­ton and chic rat­tan set against buffed tim­ber.

Book it Dou­ble rooms from £200 (hotellesroches­rouges.com).

Soneva Jani Med­h­u­faru Is­land, Noonu Atoll, Mal­dives

The low­down Your own pri­vate blue la­goon.

Best for Those who dream big.

From above, the over­wa­ter vil­las that fan out from curvy-decked walk­ways look like a fan­tasy doo­dle made af­ter a few mo­ji­tos: ‘Okay, so I want my own pri­vate deck, with a wa­ter slide that goes whoosh into the sea. Ooh, and let’s make the roof open up, so I can see the stars from my bed…’ Touch­ing down on the ground (well, the wa­ter, re­ally, as it’s all built over a serene la­goon), this dream be­comes re­al­ity with con­sum­mate ease. The bleached wood vil­las are es­says in sim­ple el­e­gance, de­signed to feel like you’re on the most beau­ti­ful of yachts – with­out the con­stant rock­ing. But the real beauty of Soneva Jani, the lat­est ad­di­tion to the eco-luxe Soneva sta­ble, is that it goes be­yond the ‘Mal­dives-is-for-hon­ey­moon­ers’ cliché. Yes, blissed-up cou­ples will be in their el­e­ment, but so will fam­i­lies – Lit­tle Livingetc was kept busy learn­ing to snorkel – and in the evening, ev­ery­one pad­dles over to the float­ing Cinema Par­adiso, com­plete with pop­corn, ice cream – and Blue­tooth headphones, so the lo­cal birdlife isn’t dis­turbed. Book it A one-bed­room over­wa­ter villa costs £2,182 per night (soneva.com/soneva-jani).

Casa Malca Tu­lum, Quin­tana Roo, Mex­ico

The low­down A Nyc-style ho­tel… With added sand.

Best for Sun wor­ship­pers with an eye for street art.

Back in the day, Tu­lum – set on Mex­ico’s Caribbean coast (think con­fec­tioner-sugar sands, jade-green wa­ter and balmy breezes) – was where trav­ellers pitched up, tuned out and crashed in a ham­mock for a sum­mer or two. To­day, the chilled vibe has ma­tured into some­thing more so­phis­ti­cated and, at Casa Malca, added cool comes di­rect from the New York art world. It be­longs to NYC art dealer Lio Malca and he’s pep­pered spa­ces with sassy works by Kaws and Kenny Scharf. In the bar, there’s a Keith Har­ing takeover, with pat­terns that dance around the walls in an end­less ki­netic jive. This place has its own colour­ful past: decades ago, it was owned by drug baron Pablo Es­co­bar, be­fore be­ing seized by the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment. But the Break­ing Bad boss’s loss was our gain. Back on the beach, the ham­mocks are still wait­ing, the beach is idyl­lic and the nearby Mayan ru­ins are as spec­tac­u­lar as ever. Book it Dou­ble rooms from ap­prox £400 (de­sign­ho­tels.com).

Mi­ami, Florida, USA

The low­down Old-school Mi­ami, re­mas­tered for 2017. Best for Star-struck lovers of ar­chi­tec­ture.

What do you do with a Thir­ties gem of a ho­tel? En­case it in glass so it can be bet­ter ad­mired. This is, in ef­fect, the re­sult of ar­chi­tect Richard Meier’s mod­ernist re­vival of a Mi­ami icon. Orig­i­nal spa­ces, such as the ball­room and Pea­cock Al­ley log­gia, re­main, but the core is now hugged on three sides by a se­ries of rec­ti­lin­ear glass blocks, bal­conies glit­ter­ing in the Florida sun. So down­stairs you can sip old fash­ioneds, rais­ing a toast to Frank Si­na­tra and Ava Gard­ner, who hon­ey­mooned here. But then re­treat up­stairs to cream, dreamy lux­ury cre­ated by Paris-based ar­chi­tect Joseph Di­rand. Think mar­ble, brass, huge win­dows and fur­ni­ture by Molteni&c and Carl Hansen. In the un­likely event you grow tired of the high-roller life, the beach – and its At­lantic rollers – is the ho­tel’s ‘fourth wall’. Book it Dou­ble rooms from £769 (foursea­sons.com/surf­side).

CLOCK­WISE FROM THIS PIC­TURE Pared-back style in one of Hôtel Les Roches Rouges’ Sea View Su­pe­rior rooms; loungers over­look the 30-me­tre long sea­wa­ter pool; pol­ished­con­crete floors feel cool un­der­foot af­ter a day spent in the sun; and sip on a Provençalin­spired cock­tail at La Ter­race bar

CLOCK­WISE FROM THIS PIC­TURE all of Soneva Jani’s vil­las have a pri­vate pool; or go solo in your own la­goon-based ham­mock; the restau­rant is headed by chef alexan­dre Gef­froy; in­te­ri­ors fea­ture sand­blasted pine and soft or­ganic shapes; and there are dol­phins above as well as be­neath the waves…

CLOCK­WISE FROM THIS PIC­TURE Dive into Casa Malca’s pool and imag­ine swim­ming straight out into the Caribbean; rain­fall show­ers, ar­ti­sanal prod­ucts and orig­i­nal art­work greet guests in the suites; and cel­e­brate Yu­catan cui­sine in the ho­tel’s restau­rant

CLOCK­WISE FROM BE­LOW The bal­cony of one of The Surf Club’s Ocean­front Rooms; un­wind in the luxe sur­round­ings of a City-view Room; the Four Sea­son’s fa­mous Pea­cock Al­ley log­gia; and drinks are on tap in a Pre­mier Room’s mar­ble-clad bar

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