Intimate island resorts are the choice for those who want privacy without compromising on luxury
Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, The Maldives
The Maldives has plenty of resorts easier to reach than this – Male, the capital, is 400 kilometres away, and the nearest island another 10 kilometres – but the Jumeirah Dhevanafushi (above) with its unsurpassable level of service makes the extra miles worthwhile. The all-suite resort is split in two parts: the main resort island and over-water villas called Ocean Pearls. While all resort villas have a private pool and private beach access, the Ocean Pearls have private decks leading directly into the ocean. And there are two principle residence types, Revive or Sanctuary; you choose whether to face sunrise or sunset, and to have island or ocean views.
Villa design manifests a less-is-more philosophy, but in surroundings this idyllic the ostentatious has little place. Still, the lavish three-metre beds are allegedly the biggest in the Maldives. Talise, the resort spa, offers both traditional and alternative therapies. A signature feature are treatment rooms for couples that include an over-water platform and jetty where you can sit and enjoy the sunset together. Dining options range from beach grill to fine dining and delicacies prepared to your taste. A first-rate water sports centre ensures you make the most of the island’s aquatic assets. From Male, the resort is a 60-minute flight followed by a 15- minute speedboat ride, or a 105-minute private seaplane flight. Suites from HK$6,550 per night. www.jumeirah.com
Hotel Refugia, Chiloé, Chile
The Refugia lodge is a 12-room hilltop hotel on the Chiloé archipelago in Chile. The beautifully designed wooden lodge overlooks the Corcovado Gulf, and is the ideal base to discover this unique island famed for its stilt houses, spectacular wildlife and 16 Unesco World Heritage Sites. The allinclusive lodge offers sailing, horseback riding, hiking, and rain forest excursions to penguin colonies, and in season, guests can observe the visit of the Chilean flamingo. British naturalist Charles Darwin wrote about the island’s rich biodiversity in the 19th century. The lodge has a boat for guests to explore the archipelago’s fjords and canals. After enjoying a day of discovery take a pre-prandial spa and then feast in the restaurant on fish straight out of the Pacific, along with some Chilean wine. Retire to the reading room, in front of the open fires in the lounge, or take your hot chocolate out on to the terrace overlooking the gulf to the Andean mountain chain. Rooms from US$530 per person per night. www.refugia.cl
Gaya Island Resort, Malaysia
Pulau Gaya is a 15-minute boat ride from Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah. Situated within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Gaya Island Resort blends with the surrounding rainforest and looks out to the dramatic Mount Kinabalu on the horizon. Accommodation is arranged in villas set in the hills built using local materials with elegant contemporary interiors that fuse with the natural environment. The resort is keen to immerse its guests in the environment and the cultural heritage of the region. There are miles of forested trails to explore, guided by a naturalist, revealing the profusion of life under the canopy. Sightings of hornbills, mouse deers, monkeys and bearded pigs are common. The spa’s treatments, made with fresh local ingredients, reflect traditional healing methods used by Sabah’s indigenous people. The resort has the usual array of facilities expected from a five-star resort and enough activities to satisfy those for whom relaxation isn’t really part of their vocabulary. There are four activity paths: Discovery, Vigour, Creativity and Balance, which can be embraced or ignored; you choose your pace. For some, the only path is that to the pristine white beach and the bluest sea. Villas from HK$1,800 per night. www.gayaislandresort.com