In this post Covid, lockdown world, travel really is the hot ticket obsession but life is too short for mediocre accommodation so to help with your global jaunts we have scoured the planet for some of the world’s most enchanting resorts, where luxury is defined not just by opulence but by a profound sense of history, a dedication to sustainability, and a unique character that sets each destination apart. In this exploration, we’re not merely showcasing places to stay; we’re revealing havens that offer a deeper connection to their surroundings, embracing their cultural heritage and championing eco-conscious living.
From the untouched beauty of secluded islands to the timeless elegance of ancient cities, from hidden gems in the urban jungle to serene escapes amidst nature, each destination we’ve chosen is unique. These resorts don’t just offer a break from the everyday; they provide an immersive experience that connects you with the essence of the location, its past, and its future.
In the heart of Marrakech, where the air is scented with mystery and a hint of mint tea, stands La Mamounia. This legendary hotel is as much a part of Morocco’s heritage as tagines and overly enthusiastic carpet sellers. A mere 15 minutes from Marrakech Menara Airport, it’s the go-to haven for those who believe a holiday isn’t a holiday unless it’s steeped in history and a healthy dose of luxury.
The design of La Mamounia is like a love letter to Moroccan architecture, written in a flourish of mosaics, lush gardens, and opulent interiors. It’s a place where every corner whispers a story, and every room feels like a chapter from ‘A Thousand and One Nights’, except with Wi-Fi and air conditioning.
When it comes to amenities, La Mamounia is not mucking about. The spa is a haven of relaxation, offering traditional Moroccan treatments that will make you feel reborn, or at the very least, less guilty about that third helping of couscous. The dining options are a culinary journey through Morocco’s rich flavors, where each dish is an Instagram post waiting to happen.
Located within the old city walls, the resort is a stone’s throw from the vibrant Jemaa el-Fnaa Square, a place that’s as chaotic as a Black Friday sale, but infinitely more interesting. It’s an ideal base for those who want to explore the city’s bustling souks, historic sites, and the occasional snake charmer.
Lake Como, Italy
Set along the serene shores of Lake Como, Passalacqua, a name that rolls off the tongue as smoothly as a vintage Italian wine, stands as a testament to the fact that money can indeed buy happiness, or at least rent it for a weekend. The resort, which is a mere stone’s throw from Milan’s Malpensa Airport, offers an escape for the well-heeled and the well-travelled.
Built in the 18th century, Passalacqua was once the haunt of famous composers and aristocrats who presumably had nothing better to do than pen operas and lounge by the lake. Today, it has been transformed into a luxury resort that combines historic charm with modern amenities.
The design of Passalacqua is a delightful mishmash of eras and styles, much like a well-curated vintage store. Each room in the resort is unique, featuring antique furnishings that are probably worth more than your car. It’s the sort of place where you could accidentally lean against a 17th-century fresco while taking a selfie.
The true gem of Passalacqua, however, is its location. Lake Como, known for its dramatic scenery, luxury villas, and occasional celebrity sightings, is the perfect backdrop for those who like their nature served with a side of opulence.
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
One&Only Mandarina, located in the lush, untamed landscapes of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, is a luxurious testament to the fact that nature and opulence can indeed coexist, albeit at a cost. Just an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta International Airport, this resort is for those who like their wilderness with a side of extravagance.
The design of One&Only Mandarina is a love affair between modern architecture and natural beauty. The resort seamlessly blends into its surrounding jungle, offering treehouses and villas that are so discreetly luxurious, you’d almost expect them to apologize for their opulence. Each accommodation is a private sanctuary, complete with pools that reflect the sky and views that stretch beyond the horizon.
Amenities at One&Only Mandarina range from a spa that offers treatments as rejuvenating as finding a forgotten bottle of vintage wine, to a kids’ club that makes you wish you were five again, the resort covers all bases. The dining experiences are a culinary journey, ranging from farm-to-table freshness to beachside grills where the dress code is ‘barefoot luxury.’ The resort’s location in Riviera Nayarit means you’re also surrounded by some of Mexico’s most breathtaking landscapes.
Soneva Fushi, cradled in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Maldives, is the epitome of an island paradise — for those who believe paradise should come with a personal butler and a no-shoes policy. This resort is a short seaplane ride from Malé International Airport, a journey that’s as breathtaking as the resort’s price tag.
The design of Soneva Fushi is Robinson Crusoe meets Silicon Valley tycoon. The villas, camouflaged amongst lush vegetation, are a lesson in sustainable luxury. They’re so spacious and private, you could easily forget there are other people on the island, which is probably the point. Each villa comes with its own stretch of beach, because sharing is so last century.
When it comes to amenities, Soneva Fushi pulls out all the stops. There’s an open-air cinema, for those who can’t enjoy a movie without the sound of waves in the background. The spa offers treatments that promise to detox the city out of you, and the observatory is there to remind you that no matter how important you are, you’re just a tiny speck in the universe.
Dining at Soneva Fushi is an adventure in itself, with options ranging from treetop dining to a cheese room that’s a dream for anyone who takes their cheese seriously.
Chablé Yucatán, hidden in the heart of the Mexican jungle near Chocholá, merges the mystique of ancient Mayan culture with the kind of luxury that would make even a Mayan king feel a bit modest. Just a 25-minute drive from Mérida International Airport, this resort is perfect for those who like their ancient ruins with a side of five-star service.
The design of Chablé Yucatán is a love letter to Mayan architecture, with a contemporary twist. The resort is sprawled across a lush landscape, where each casita and villa is discreetly tucked away, offering privacy and luxury in equal measure. Here, you can sleep amidst the trees and wake up to the sounds of the jungle, all while enjoying the comforts of modern living.
Amenities at Chablé Yucatán are as abundant as the surrounding flora. The spa, built around a natural cenote, offers treatments that are more rejuvenating than discovering a long-lost civilization. The dining experiences are a tribute to local cuisine, where every meal is a celebration of traditional flavors and modern culinary techniques.
Located in the Yucatán Peninsula, the resort is surrounded by a landscape rich in history and natural beauty. It’s the ideal base for exploring ancient Mayan ruins, diving into cenotes, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the jungle.
Tetiaroa Island – French Polynesia
The Brando, perched on the private island of Tetiaroa in French Polynesia, isn’t just a resort; it’s what happens when an A-list actor’s dream of paradise turns into a reality. This is where luxury and sustainability not only coexist but flourish together, in an island so exclusive, even the GPS has to ask for directions.
Every villa here is a blend of Polynesian charm and contemporary luxury, offering privacy with a front-row seat to a slice of Pacific paradise. The design, respectful of the environment and local culture, creates a haven of relaxation that Marlon Brando himself envisioned.
A short private plane ride from Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport, the design of The Brando is a lesson in sustainable luxury. The resort is built with minimal impact on the environment, proving that eco-friendliness and opulence can indeed share a beachfront villa. Each villa is a private sanctuary, offering views of the lagoon that are so stunning, you’ll want to write a thank you note to Mother Nature.
Aman Venice, based in a 16th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal, is Venice’s answer to the question, “How opulent can a hotel be?” A stone’s throw away from Venice Marco Polo Airport by water taxi – because in Venice, even the taxis are romantic – this hotel is for those who think a city on water is best enjoyed with a side of unparalleled luxury.
The design of Aman Venice is a blend of Renaissance grandeur and contemporary chic, where historic frescoes and modern comforts coexist in an elegant embrace. Each room is a love letter to Venetian opulence, boasting views of the canal where gondolas glide as gracefully as a socialite at a gala.
Amenities at Aman Venice are as exquisite as a glass sculpture from Murano. The spa offers a sanctuary of serenity in a city buzzing with tourists, and the dining experiences are as sumptuous as the surroundings, offering a taste of Italy that’s as rich as its history.
Situated on the Grand Canal, the resort is enveloped by the timeless charm of Venice. It’s a hop, skip, and a gondola ride away from iconic landmarks like St. Mark’s Basilica and the Rialto Bridge. It’s the perfect base for those who want to explore the city’s winding alleys and hidden gems.
Kruger National Park – South Africa
Singita Lodges, set within the world-renowned Kruger National Park in South Africa, offers an experience where wildlife and luxury coexist with an elegance that even the most discerning gazelles would appreciate. A flight to the nearest airstrip from Johannesburg or Cape Town, followed by a short drive, brings you to this haven for those who believe safaris should be experienced with a champagne flute in hand.
The design of Singita Lodges is a homage to African heritage fused with modern luxury. Each lodge within the reserve is uniquely themed, offering an exclusive window to the wild. From the contemporary Singita Lebombo Lodge, which looks like it’s straight out of an architectural digest, to the more traditional Singita Sweni Lodge, every detail is curated to enhance your connection with nature, while ensuring you’re as comfortable as a lion basking in the sun.
Amenities at Singita Lodges are as diverse as the wildlife roaming outside. The spa treatments use local ingredients, ensuring you’re as rejuvenated as the rain after a dry spell. The gourmet cuisine is a celebration of African flavors with a twist, paired with a wine selection that could make a sommelier weep with joy.
Located in one of Africa’s most iconic wildlife reserves, the lodges offer an unrivalled safari experience. Here, the Big Five are your neighbours, and the savannah your playground. It’s the ultimate destination for those who want to whisper sweet nothings to a giraffe or exchange a knowing look with a wise old elephant.
Wharekauhau Country Estate
Wairarapa, New Zealand
Wharekauhau Country Estate, set in the pastoral elegance of Wairarapa, New Zealand, offers a retreat for those who fancy a slice of bucolic bliss without forgoing any of the luxuries they’re accustomed to.
The design of Wharekauhau is a nod to Edwardian grandeur, mixed with the rugged charm of a New Zealand sheep farm. The cottages are spaced far enough apart to give the impression you’re the only person for miles, which is quite possible given the size of the estate. Each cottage is a haven of comfort, with views of rolling hills and sheep that are far more photogenic than any you’ll find on Instagram.
Amenities at Wharekauhau are as bountiful as the estate’s pastures. The spa treatments are as rejuvenating as the fresh country air, and the farm-to-table dining experience is a gastronomic journey that celebrates local produce and fine wine – because nothing complements a stunning view like a perfectly aged Pinot Noir.
Located in the heart of a working farm, the estate offers a range of outdoor activities. You can explore the rugged coastline, partake in a sheep-shearing demonstration, or simply wander the vast estate and ponder the simpler things in life.
The Calile Hotel, situated in the trendy James Street precinct of Brisbane, is where sophistication lounges by the pool sipping a cocktail. A brief 20-minute drive from Brisbane Airport, this urban resort a getaway without being a getaway.
The design of The Calile is a masterclass in subtlety. It’s all clean lines, pastel tones, and a minimalist aesthetic that whispers ‘elegance’ so softly, it could be mistaken for the breeze. Each room and suite is a haven of calm, with balconies that offer views of the cityscape, perfect for people-watching or contemplating life’s more profound questions, like which rooftop bar to hit next.
Situated in one of Brisbane’s most fashionable districts, The Calile is a stone’s throw from boutiques, eateries, and bars that are as hip as they are eclectic. It’s the ideal spot for those who like their holidays with a side of urban exploration.