Nothing helps banish the winter blues like staying someplace warm where you can saunter from the outdoor shower back to bed or the poolside chaise without having to cinch tight that robe. Utterly private and au naturel, these hotels and resorts are our top picks for bringing the outside in—and feeling like the world is ours.
Six Senses Fiji
Opened in April 2018 on Malolo Island, Six Senses’ first foray into the Pacific paradise of Fiji is a veritable tribute to indoor-outdoor decadence. The property’s 24 villas and suites front a half-moon of powder-fine sand where tropical fish forage just offshore. And every accommodation has its own private pool and outdoor shower and oversize tub for soaking under the stars.
To really feel at one with the scenery, stay in one of the Six Senses Fiji’s nine private residences, which incorporate things like outdoor living spaces, sunken lounges, and alfresco bathrooms. The four-bedroom Residence 3 is —with an outdoor lounge where you can sip cocktails at a lazy Susan table while gazing at the pool and ocean—is particularly private. When you’re ready to venture beyond your abode, boat trips to the famous nearby surf break, Cloudbreak (a favorite of pros like Kelly Slater) are among the resort’s bespoke recreational offerings.
Mandarin Oriental, Canouan
Several new openings have put the Caribbean island of Canouan on the radar of jet-setters. The best of the lot is the Mandarin Oriental Canouan, whose uber-private Patio Villas are embedded into a hillside overlooking the coral-rich lagoon of Godahl Beach. Natural stone and wood elements have been incorporated into the design thanks to transparent, moveable floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. The result is a seamless segue from the interior spaces to the sprawling deck, where an infinity pool appears to fountain off the edge. The manner in which all seven villas have been positioned on the downward slope of the island and enshrouded with thick tropical vegetation also maximizes privacy.
The “no news, no shoes” motto at Soneva resorts (your shoes are whisked away on arrival) is a good starting point for entrenching in the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. And the Soneva Kiri—located on Koh Kood island in Thailand’s Koh Chang archipelago, a 70-minute flight from Bangkok on the resort’s private charter—does barefoot luxe to perfection. Soneva Kiri’s villas (choose from beach, hill or cliffside) unfurl naturally onto private pools wrapped with the surrounding jungle. Each villa has bicycle at the ready when it’s time to throw on a cover-up and explore further afield.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon
Enormous granite boulders and turquoise waters thick with coral heads and tropical fish define the aesthetic delights of a stay at Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Félicité island in the Seychelles. And while the one and two-bedroom pool villas here are divine, the experience is most connected to nature at the recently unveiled three and four-bedroom residences. Designed by Richard Hywel Evans of Studio RHE in London, the contemporary structures defy the seeming impermeability of the boulder-strewn and vegetation-entangled hillside. The resulting accommodations have uninterrupted Indian Ocean views through floor-to-ceilings windows that can be pushed open to let the outdoors in. Master suites, on the upper floor of the residences, are similarly encased in glass to let in the views. And glass-bottom pools just a few steps from the master bed allow natural light to filter into the living spaces below.
Nizuc Resort & Spa
Each of the rooms inside the 5,380-square-foot Nizuc Villa at the Nizuc Resort & Spa (located 15 miles south of Cancun) opens onto private outdoor spaces where you can frolic as you please. And though you’re smack on Mexico’s mega-developed coast here, Nizuc puts the emphasis on exclusivity and luxury. The villa offers peak privacy and feels almost riad-like with its walled layout, featuring a rooftop sundeck, outdoor patio and infinity pool, and an alfresco shower surrounded by gardens—all for you and yours alone.
Located 25 minutes by speedboat from the Maldivian capital of Malé, the Baros Maldives scores big for exotic indoor-outdoor appeal. For maximum privacy, pass on the overwater bungalows in favor of the totally secluded Baros Suites on the island’s quieter eastern shore. With a classic tropical villa design, they’re surrounded by thick tropical foliage with bedrooms that open onto an infinity pool deck. The highlight of the outdoor living space is a thatched gazebo with a swing where you can sway overlooking the ocean.
W South Beach
Newly unveiled in December 2018, the 2,056-square-foot penthouse at the W South Beach might have you doing the snowbird thing and making for Miami this winter. You won’t be disappointed by the views at this posh, 20th-floor pied-à-terre right near the Bass Museum with two bedrooms, four glass balconies, and one spectacular rooftop garden and plunge pool. The brand’s all-white textured palette defines the penthouse’s interior and keeps the focus on all that blue Atlantic Ocean out the windows. And while a white robe is a perfect match to it all, you could easily go sans.
Four Seasons Maldives Private Island at Voavah
Four Seasons’ Maldivian Private Island had us at this line: “Imagine retreating to a remote, natural wilderness where no one is watching and anything is possible.” Sounds like marketing jargon, yes, but it’s actually true: The seven-bedroom resort on the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere is available for exclusive hire only and is as away as getaways get (which is why we lauded it in our annual Best of the Best list in 2017). The three-bedroom beach villa on the property is the pinnacle of indoor-outdoor decadence, with a sprawling pool patio with direct views on the lagoon, and an alfresco living room and master suite surrounded by three walls of windows with more of those limitless blue views.
Forgive us if we seem a bit hung up on the Maldives, but a nation of more than 1,000 coral islands is bound to have an abundance of private escapes. Coco Privé on North Malé Atoll is just another one of the country’s stunning options—and this one gets a special nod for its ultra-private arrival via luxury yacht. On terra firma, the master Palm Residence and five additional villas all present with spectacular indoor-outdoor spaces that spill outside onto pool decks and verdant outdoor gardens. But the former is the most indulgent thanks to its sheer size and unimpeded Indian Ocean views. A split-level haven, the Palm Residence has soaring wooden ceilings and floor-to-ceiling slide-away windows you can open for direct outdoor access. It also has its own wine cellar and library to cozy up with inside when you’re ready to switch gears from the outdoor excess.
AndBeyond Benguerra Island
Guests arrive by helicopter at the spectacular andBeyond Benguerra Island, located east of the Mozambique mainland in the Bazaruto National Marine Park. It’s a perfect post-safari detente with just 13 accommodations where you can spot for dugongs, flamingos, or humpbacks, or simply mellow out in one of the thatched casinhas outfitted with private pools, swinging daybeds and woven hammocks. The outdoor rain showers decorated with hand-painted tiles will beckon you to bathe outdoors more often than not.
Bluefields Bay Villas
With the same owners for over 35 years, the Bluefields Bay Villas’ collection of six villas near Savanna la Mar on Jamaica’s unspoiled south coast epitomizes the integration of luxury lodging with the island’s natural beauty. Snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking can all be arranged on site; the property’s chefs work with local fishermen and farmers to showcase West Indian cuisine at its best. The Hermitage villa has a particularly grandiose aesthetic that makes you feel close to the outdoors: Jamaican stone, mahogany, and cedar were used in the three-bedroom villa’s traditional design, and the house is positioned to maximize the cooling sea breezes. Relax on the perched pool deck or head down to the villa’s private stretch of waterfront for a swim.
Buffered by rice paddies, rainforest, and a sacred river, the new Capella Ubud invites the lush views into the tented-style lodgings while remaining a far cry from glamping—note the four-poster beds and vintage accessories nodding to Dutch Colonial times—indeed. Each private retreat has its own saltwater plunge pool as well as hammered copper bathtubs inside that give onto a sequestered outdoor shower that feels like a veritable garden of Eden. That no tree was cut down in the resort’s construction is especially noticeable when you relax outside your “tent” and soak in the verdant views.
Smooth as an ice rink and mirroring the contemporary lines of the villa itself, the triple-edge infinity pool at Casa Kimball appears to plunge right off the cliffs on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. This is where you’ll likely spend most of your time relaxing, when you’re not hiking down the private trail to the utterly empty beach below. The eight guest rooms all have windowed walls that open to private balconies and ocean views. Sleeping to the tune of the crashing waves or opting for utter silence instead is entirely up to you.
Calistoga Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection
Outdoor living rooms, a private hot tub beneath a canopy trees, and alfresco dining areas are all part of the indoor-outdoor allure of the two-bedroom suite at Napa Valley’s Calistoga Ranch. Gas fireplaces outside keep you warm on the covered deck, where you can lounge with a book and listen to the twitter of the forest. And when it’s time for a shower, forest bathing takes on a new meaning in the completely open rain showers on the timber deck.
Southern Ocean Lodge
The Antipodes’ summer is an ideal time to pack light and head south to Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia, where one of the world’s most sublime oceanfront lodges beckons. At Southern Ocean Lodge, 21 suites cantilevered across a clifftop come with sandblasted limestone floors that segue from cozy interior spaces to minimalist decks overlooking the bush and rolling surf. Relax outside on a daybed buffered from the ocean breeze or dip into your private plunge spa while scouting the waves for New Zealand sea lions frolicking in the breakers.