The World's Most Breathtaking Resorts to Add to Your Bucket List
We're all for filling a bucket list with obscure hot spots or off-the-beaten-path experiences, but sometimes a resort is so stunning that it becomes a destination unto itself. From thatched stilted bungalows to private island retreats, these luxury locales are A-lister favorites. Sure, they'll probably put a serious dent in your savings, but a girl can dream, right? Give in to temptation and take a peek at these 15 lust-worthy waterfront resorts. Let the daydreaming begin…
Where: Qualia is situated on the secluded northern tip of Hamilton Island, surrounded by the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. Open the doors of your villa to let the fresh ocean air stream through.
Luxe Feature: If you're fortunate enough to book Qualia's premier villa, The Beach House, you'll never want to leave the bathroom. Pour a glass of wine, run a bath, and enjoy the awe-inspiring Whitsunday views.
Where: Santorini's world-famous caldera often features on travelers' bucket lists, and this luxury hotel is right in the heart of the historic area. Situated among the whitewashed, cubist houses, the views from Katikies Hotel's two stunning infinity pools will give you Instagram material for weeks.
Luxe Feature: The hotel has uninterrupted views of the Aegean Sea and the remains of Therasia, a small volcanic island once connected to the mainland. This is where you want to be for sunset.
Where: Nestled among the swaying palm fronds in the Maldives archipelago, Amilla Fushi boasts the country's first luxury stilted treehouse. If you'd rather be closer to the ocean, there's also a fleet of super-modern white villas that extend over the aqua expanse.
Luxe Feature: The Robinson Crusoe–esque treehouse has got everything you need: a quaint hammock, a family-friendly entertainment area, and a private pool that looks onto the lush forest.
Where: Located on the Greek island of Mykonos, famed as the party capital of the Cyclades, this boutique hotel offers welcome respite from the pulsing nightlife and glitzy bars.
Luxe Feature: The VIP suite can only be reached by private elevator and boasts a secluded Jacuzzi on a veranda with panoramic views of the tranquil Aegean.
Where: If your dream resort consists of tiny thatched-roof villas hovering above the clear sea, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa should be at the top of your list. Picture row upon row of boutique rooms, each connected by fingers of long wooden wharves that extend across the water. Just jump off your balcony to take a dip.
Luxe Feature: If having the ocean at your doorstep isn't enough, the hotel also offers 4x4 safaris or the opportunity to swim with friendly black-tip reef sharks, stingrays, and dolphins.
Where: Perched on a secluded, reef-fringed island in the Philippines, this boutique hotel has views you'll never forget. The décor takes cues from native bahay kubo homes, with high timber beams and thatched roofs. If you're lucky enough to stay at this extravagant abode, be sure to plan your visit during turtle nesting season. Tiny turtles make the voyage to take their very first ocean dip from March to October.
Luxe Feature: Alfresco villas. The two- and four-bedroom bungalows have stunning open-air living and dining pavilions, plus a private chef. Yes, this is the stuff dreams are made of.
Where: Home to over 2000 roaming giant Aldabra tortoises, Frégate Island Private is an island getaway like no other. It's located in Seychelles, a cluster of over 116 islands northeast of Madagascar.
Luxe Feature: Take your pick from seven stunning private beaches. The entire island is operated by Frégate Island Private, so you don't need to stress about fighting the crowds for a patch of sand—it's all yours.
Where: Overlooking the Southern Ocean, this luxurious lodge takes up residence on Kangaroo Island, dubbed Australia's Galapagos. More than one-third of the island is protected land, giving guests a chance to see wild koalas, sea lions, echidnas, fur seals, and, of course, kangaroos.
Luxe Feature: Thanks to the retreat's long design and clifftop location, every single one of its 21 luxury suites has unbeatable views of the coast and surrounding wilderness. Watch the sunset from your glass-walled living room or bird-watch from the bathtub.
Where: We know what you're thinking: This can't be real. Yes, it is, and it's possible to stay on this bobbing villa for a cool $1500 a night. The Underwater Room is exactly that, a submerged aquarium-like bedroom. It's part of The Manta Resort, which sits on Pemba Island off the coast of Africa.
Luxe Feature: At night, lights outside the bedroom window attract squids and octopus, which only come out when fish and other tropical creatures disappear.
Where: Boracay is becoming the Philippines's top luxury hot spot. Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa borrows accents from the island surrounds. Think Abaca weave rugs and accents lights made from local capiz shells.
Luxe Feature: To reach the island, guests are escorted on a 30-minute private speedboat ride from Caticlan.
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Where: Scattered across 25 acres, this A-list retreat is a short stroll from classic Caribbean powder-soft beaches. The newly refurbished resort is gaining accolades for its refined South of France décor in pastel hues.
Luxe Feature: Head straight to Malliouhana's restaurant, helmed by Michelin star–awarded chef Jeremy Bearman. Top items on the menu include sea-to-table fare like squid ink garganelli with spiny lobster and sea urchin butter.
Where: Gili Lankanfushi won the best hotel in the world in the 2015 TripAdvisor awards, which is no easy feat, considering it was pitched against thousands of dreamy high-end resorts. The 45 over-water villas are surrounded by a thriving coral reef in the Maldives, an island country south of India.
Luxe Feature: Take your pick. The hotel features a private butler service, serene hammocks that hang over the water, and even a slide from the top of a villa into the ocean.
Where: Perched on the island nation of St. Lucia in the eastern Caribbean, Sugar Beach is garnering attention for its star-studded guest list and recent awards. One of the resort's biggest fans is Gwyneth Paltrow, who stayed in a luxury villa for New Year's Eve. This year, The Telegraph also named it as one of the top 50 greatest hotels in the world.
Luxe Feature: The doors of the beachfront bungalows open straight onto the dusty, soft sand. Tired of lazing on the beach? Head to the tree house–style spa to round out the experience.
Where: Looking for a remote vacation? Lizard Island sits 17 miles off the coast of far north Queensland and glistens with 24 private beaches. It's a hot spot among divers, thanks to its proximity to the famous Cod Hole, which is a short boat ride away.
Luxe Feature: The hotel is all-inclusive, so everything from your chef-prepared meals and cocktails to picnic hampers and island transportation is covered in your room cost.
Where: Framed by tropical trees, the rainforest retreat of Ponta dos Ganchos sits on its own peninsula in southern Brazil.
Luxe Feature: Its most luxurious room, the Special Emerald Villa Bungalow, lets guests pick their own wines from its cellar and use the private gym and infinity pool. Whales are often visible from the balcony between June and November.