From bed to beach

Flop, drop and dive in style

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

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:


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:


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: foursea­


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:


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-beach­ho­


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

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