Fish swimming underneath an overwater bungalow. A massive suite and outdoor shower where Bradley Cooper possibly showered. A Roman spa on the lower level. Spacious accommodations on the world’s best beach. These are some of the amenities I was lucky enough to experience in some of the most luxurious accommodations across the planet. Here is my pick of the top five accommodations where I’ve plopped down my suitcase, rested my head on high-thread count sheets and counted my lucky stars to be staying there.
I sat on my back deck with a view of a double rainbow over Mount Otemanu and just laughed. As if this resort with its gorgeous overwater bungalow suites needed to be even more beautiful. It’s the only place I’ve been that’s even more gorgeous than the photos.
The Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora has 100 overwater thatched-roof bungalow suites that tower over the shallow impossibly blue turquoise water. Each one has a glass window in the floor to peek at the brightly colored fish swimming underneath, and some come with a private plunge pool.
We paddle boarded and snorkeled in the private lagoon, had spa treatments in the magnificent spa nestled in tropical groves, kayaked around the bungalows, sipped cool island beverages while watching the sunset at Sunset Restaurant & Bar and dined under the stars at Tere Nui.
I am not just fantasizing: I have good reason to believe Bradley Cooper showered naked in our outdoor shower. We stayed in the magnificent Royal Beach Villa. And the cast of “Hangover Two” stayed at Phulay Bay in Krabi, Thailand, for a month when they were filming Stu’s wedding. So, it’s not outside the realm of possibility he stayed (and showered) there.
We felt like stars ourselves on the lushly landscaped property with only 54 one-bedroom pavilions on around 50 acres. After being greeted at an enclosed courtyard with 20-foot-high purple walls, we were transported to our 1,300-square-foot villa. We had a giant bed with a view of the Andaman Sea, our own private infinity pool and verandah with daybed, private gardens, indoor and outdoor showers, and two walk-in closets. Various connecting chambers could be walled off with sliding doors. On a romance scale of 1 to 10, this room was about an 87.
We spent three enchanting days here, lounging by the large pool and enjoying drinks at sunset with our feet in the sand at Chomtawan Bar. Off-resort activities for guests include fishing, diving, snorkeling and kayaking among the limestone cliff formations. Land activities include hiking through mangroves, caves and the jungle, visiting temples, helicopter tours and even elephant trekking.
We opted for a Thai couples’ massage at the spa where we laid down on grass mats in the supplied cotton pajamas and were twisted and stretched all kinds of ways I’d never been stretched before. One evening we enjoyed a private seafood dinner in the Lae Lay Pavilion, surrounded by water and romantically illuminated by traditional hanging lamps.
Yes, it was England so it was raining when we arrived at the Gainsborough Bath Spa in Bath, England. This 87-room property is located directly across from an ancient building Romans constructed in 43 AD to take in the heated thermal waters that made Bath famous.
Originally built in the 1800s, the Gainsborough opened as an 87-room luxury hotel in 2014. My room was beautifully decorated in shades of blue and gold, and warm enough for me to forget the damp, chilly weather outside.
But what really elevates this property is that it has a natural thermal spa located over two of the lower levels. The pools are in a soaring atrium with marble columns, mosaic-tiled walls and flooded with natural light. A circuit here includes the pools, sauna, steam room and an ice alcove. Heavenly.
A delayed flight from Newark meant my time in this magnificent property was cut to a mere 12 hours, hardly enough to truly take in all it had to offer. But at least I got a taste of it, a buffet breakfast in the lovely gardens and a view of the most stunning rooftop pool I’d ever seen.
We were there for just one night prior to leaving the next morning for Rishikesh. We missed our dinner but consoled ourselves after the long journey with a drink and Indian cuisine in the cozy Library Bar. During our tour the next morning we saw Jamavar, the signature Indian restaurant, Megu, (Japanese) and Le Cirque Signature, (fine dining Franco-Italian.) The property has 194 premiere rooms, 42 Royal Club rooms and 18 suites.
Grace Bay has been voted the best beach in the world, and we weren’t disappointed during our recent stay at The Somerset on Turks & Caicos. The 53 units range in size from 1- to 5-bedrooms and come with a continental breakfast, free use of bicycles and free wifi. The views from our large balcony were of pool, sand, sea and sky.
We enjoyed the reverse lap pool, infinity pool, ample cushy seating on the beach, and the weekly beach barbecue with a flaming sword swallower. The location is perfect, within walking distance to restaurants and shopping. One of our few activities other than just chilling was to take a snorkel trip with Island Vibes, hopping on a boat right in front of the resort.