Playa Cativo, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
The July-opened Playa Cativo is all about eco-friendly exclusivity. The beachfront boutique resort, set on a 1,000-acre private rainforest surrounded by a national park, is accessible only by boat. The eco-lodge is all-inclusive and — with single, double and triple rooms — caters to solo travelers, couples, families and groups; Playa Cativo’s lush setting will no doubt make it a popular wedding destination. The focus at El Gavilán Restaurant is on seasonal, organic produce from the onsite farm, organic poultry, grass-fed Costa Rican beef and locally and responsibly caught seafood. Unique activities include the Off the Grid Alternative Energy Tour, which shows you first-hand how Playa Cativo runs on 100 percent off-grid hydroelectric and solar power, and the Organic Farm-to-Table Experience, where you’ll see how the resort’s food and beverage program is run and pick fruits, vegetables and herbs from its farm.
Halekulani’s name means “house befitting heaven” and after a day lazing on its stretch of Waikiki Beach, you’ll certainly agree with the descriptor. The 412-room, 41-suite Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel has three restaurants and the superb SpaHalekulani; the Four-Star spa has partnered with Dr. Jurgen Klein, founder of organic skincare company Jurlique, to create the exclusive Euphoria facial. When you get hungry, you likely won’t stray from the property, since it’s home to Five-Star La Mer, a fine-dining option, and Four-Star Orchids, which offers GMO- and gluten-free dishes such as ahi crudo, with horseradish, daikon and a sake-lemon dressing. The resort is within walking distance of Ala Wai Golf Course and Diamond Head, whose somewhat strenuous mile hike rewards trekkers with sweeping views.
The Betsy Hotel, Miami
An oceanfront boutique hotel with architectural cred — it’s the last Florida Georgian-style hotel remaining on Ocean Drive — Four-Star The Betsy is a world away from its neon neighbors. The 61 guest rooms (sporting black walnut hardwood floors and custom-built, two-post beds), rooftop deck and an alfresco midnight couples massage pack in locals on staycations and in-the-know out-of-towners who come ready to tuck into prime cuts at in-house restaurant BLT Steak by Laurent Tourondel. The hotel is free of the loud party atmosphere that can pervade nearby properties but offers easy access to anyone who fancies a night on the town. The Betsy brings its own unique blend of culture with its Writer’s Room, which hosts rotating writers-in-residence. Additionally, the hotel actively participates in a number of philanthropic programs, including Zara’s Center, which supports AIDS-impacted children in Zimbabwe.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, North Malé Atoll, Maldives
The surroundings here are unbelievable — as picture perfect as you can get. Perched on a private atoll, the resort has just 96 bungalows and suites with sweeping views and amenities such as private plunge pools. Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa is extremely popular with couples, but the hotel does a great job accommodating families, with two types of bungalows just for those with kids. Diving, swimming, sunning and snorkeling are the main activities, but what sets this resort apart is its amazing seaplane surfing safari. Hop aboard a tiny seaplane and fly high above the islands until you see your wave. Swoop down and ride the pristine waves before enjoying refreshments on board.
Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia
Unbeatable ocean views is the big draw at secluded St. Lucia’s Sugar Beach. The 11 guest rooms, all of which have private walled gardens and plunge pools, are closest to the main building and restaurants, the pool and its private stretch of sand on Anse des Pitons. The 59 stand-alone villas, from which you can hitch a ride to the main building, overlook either the Anse des Pitons or the gorgeous Pitons (a pair of volcanic plugs). Right on Sugar Beach are the eight spacious bungalows, two of which have the option for two bedrooms. Sip sundowners at The Late Night Bar, or tuck into tender, ultra-fresh mahi mahi. Though a favorite of honeymooners, Sugar Beach is quite family friendly, with a kids’ menu that includes favorites such as sliders and special all-ages programming, such as treasure hunts and coconut bowling.