Top Ten Luxury Resorts - Page 2

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Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya
POETIC TROPICS: Mexico’s Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya  (courtesy, Mandarin Oriental)

5. Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Kangaroo Island, off the coast of the island continent's south-central state of South Australia, has been called the Galapagos of the Land Down Under for its unique species of wildlife. Now this remote, pristine wilderness can be explored in extreme luxury, with the opening of the latest in the chain of Baillie Lodges, Southern Ocean Lodge.

Perched atop a secluded cliff on a rugged stretch of coast, the resort offers 21 suites with panoramic sea views that can be enjoyed from the lavishly appointed sunken lounges, the outdoor terraces with daybeds, and even the glass-walled bathrooms. The kitchen—and diners—benefit from the island's proximity to the fresh bounty of South Australia's rich farmland and celebrated wine country. The Spa Retreat offers signature services, using the Li'Tya range of spa products, enhanced by the natural inhalation of crisp Antarctic air, hyper-oxygenated by the pounding surf and spray.

4. Indigo Bay Island Resort and Spa in Mozambique Unspoiled is a word bandied about a lot these days, but Mozambique's Bazaruto Island, part of the zealously protected Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, truly lives up to the designation. There is not a single shop on the island: only dazzling white-sand beaches and dunes, a few freshwater lakes, and 180 species of birds, butterflies, mammals, and reptiles. The island's coral reefs teem with a resplendent variety of marine life, including the largest population of the rare dugong on the African continent, making Bazaruto one of the top diving and snorkeling destinations in the Indian Ocean.

The Indigo Bay Island Resort is one of only a handful of resorts bearing the Rani name, which has become a symbol of excellence in southern Africa. Guests stay in either Bay View Villas or Beach Chalets, and when not participating in one of the wide variety of land and water activities, can lounge by a choice of pools. Or, surrender to the blandishments of the brand-new Sanctuary Spa, which specializes in indigenous treatments sure to induce relaxation with a difference.

3. Wildflower Hall in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India
Rising majestically from a Himalayan mountaintop into blue skies over dark green forests is Wildflower Hall, the refurbished former residence of Lord Kitchener and now an Oberoi luxury resort. The air is evergreen fresh and the weather surprisingly agreeable all year round, with daytime temperatures in the high 70s in the summer and mid-50s in the winter, when a glorious dusting of white snow lends an elegant mantle to the surrounding woods. The guest rooms, restaurants, Calvary Bar, and even the Jacuzzi all afford stunning views of hills and valleys carpeted with fragrant pine and cedar trees.

The hotel's colonial heritage is reflected everywhere, from the teak floors, hand-knotted rugs and marble baths of the rooms and suites to the rich furnishings of the welcoming bar. The restaurant serves dishes inspired by the cuisines of Asia, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent, while the spa treatments also find their roots in these traditions (including Ayurvedic therapies). For the outdoor enthusiast, whitewater rafting in the cold, clear rapids of the Sutlej River presents a bracing adventure.

2. Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya in Mexico
The Mandarin Oriental chain brings its distinctive Asian attention to service and devotion to pampering to the incomparable beauty, romance, and legend of Mexico's Maya country. Set in its own 36 acres of tropical forest and Caribbean beachfront, the hotel is an easy drive to the archaeological wonders of the Yucatan Peninsula, including Chichen Itza, recently voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

East meets West in the spa as well, where Asian-influenced therapies such as Rasul and Watsu are offered alongside the pre-Hispanic Temazcal experience of Mayan Central America. Guests have an impressive choice of accommodations: two-story and bungalow–style villas housing deluxe and premier rooms, quarters adjacent to the spa for those who have come primarily for holistic treatments, and suites and casitas with private pools. Most rooms have water views, either of the cenote, the lagoon and its tributaries, or the waves of the Caribbean. The region's influence is also evident in the rainforest showers, outdoor stone bathtubs, and white courtyards. No fewer than four restaurants and three bars/lounges cater to desires for food and libation.

1. Amandari in Bali
No one does Indonesia like Aman, whose five resorts are all located in that tropical island nation. Physically and spiritually, Amandari is located in central Bali, at a remove from the touristed beaches and just minutes away from Ubud, Bali's creative, artistic, and cultural center. In tribute to graceful Balinese architecture, the open-air lobby, 30 free-standing suites, and the Amandari Villa employ Javanese marble, volcanic stone, and local teak and coconut wood as recurring motifs, while river-stone walkways link the thatched-roofed suites and all common areas. Each single-storey or duplex suite comes with private garden courtyard and sunken tub open to the sky and framed by large stone planters of ferns and heliconia. The duplexes have four–poster beds with beautifully woven canopies.

The resort's restaurant, open to cooling breezes, as well as its signature 32-meter swimming pool, both overlook the Ayung Valley, with its sweep of fertile rice terraces. Amandari's spa, meanwhile, imparts a deep sense of tranquility, derived both from its setting amidst a peaceful lotus pond and its soothing and healing treatments, administered in an open-walled bale overlooking the gorge.

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