10 gorgeous luxury lodges around the world
If you’re going to splurge on vacation accommodations, do it in style. These 10 luxury lodges offer unparalleled access to the world’s best natural beauty with an indoor experience to match
Kaya Mawa, Malawi
Completely renovated in 2010, this beachfront lodge prides itself on integration with the local community – the workforce comes from neighbouring villages and is trained on-site, and each room was designed with an island textile workshop aimed at empowering single mothers. Situated on Likoma Island on Lake Malawi, the property’s activities include sailing, kayaking, kite surfing, diving and snorkelling – or you can take your time wandering the 18-sq-km island by foot or by quad bike.
Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia
Modern design meets two national parks and the shore of the Southern Ocean at this beautiful property on Kangaroo Island, offshore from Adelaide in South Australia. Book one of the 21 suites to enjoy the floor-to-ceiling ocean views, locally commissioned artwork and outdoor terrace; if you can manage to leave the comfort of your room, you’ll find endless experiences on “Australia’s Galapagos,” including beach fishing, guided adventure hikes and excursions with a trained naturalist to view the island’s kangaroos, wallabies, sea lions and other wildlife.
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, British Columbia
Across Queen Charlotte Strait from Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island, Nimmo Bay is far from the beaten path: you can only get there by air or water, though if you don’t have a private plane at your disposal, they’ll arrange transportation – say, a 90-minute float plane ride from downtown Vancouver. Once you get there, enjoy the plethora of activities – kayaking, rock climbing, bear watching and snorkelling are just a few on offer – and amenities including a cedar hot tub, floating fire dock, rainforest rain shower, waterfall plunge pool and, in every room, housemade cookies and truffles.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
Drive about half an hour south from Napier on New Zealand’s North Island, along the coast of Hawke’s Bay and past several of its famous wineries, and you’ll come to a nondescript gate and intercom to let you into the huge property, still a working farm, that hosts the world-renowned golf course and lodge as well as spa and restaurant. It’s still 20 more winding minutes to the lodge proper, but keep your eyes peeled for native birds flitting through the bush and sheep crossing the road.
andBeyond Mnemba Island, Tanzania
Zanzibar is romantic enough; Mnemba Island, off Zanzibar’s coast, is even more remote. This “barefoot paradise” welcomes just 20 guests to enjoy its beachfront accommodation, off-the-beach snorkelling, dive tours and gourmet food, all from an island that’s surrounded by coral reefs and the accompanying wildlife. Come between April and August for the best chance of seeing sea turtles laying their eggs, an event that’s carefully monitored by lodge staff; all year round, the local suni antelope can be seen wandering the island, and dolphins might play near snorkellers and divers.
Mahua Kothi, India
In the heart of India, four hours from the nearest airport, you’ll find 12 kutiyas (jungle village huts) at this property in Bandhavgarh National Park. They’re huts in name only, though – each has a private courtyard, ensuite bathroom, air conditioning, even a basket of yoga props. But the real must-do is the wildlife viewing: trained naturalists will take you on four-by-four tours around the park to watch for species including wild board, sloth bears, gaur (Indian bison), hyenas, leopards and – the big prize – tigers.
Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize
Purchased by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola in the early 1980s and used as a private family getaway until 1993, this 20-room property is tucked into the Belizean jungle, within the boundaries of the 107,000-acre Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve west of the city of Dangriga. All cabañas and villas come equipped with handmade soaps, local snacks and beer, an iPod dock and a “shellphone” for getting in touch with reception; the property features a shop selling local handicrafts, stables and horseback riding tours, an organic garden and a spa whose treatments use only locally sourced ingredients.
Ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya
If you’re looking for the quintessential African safari experience, this is the place: alongside the often elusive “big five” – that’s lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo – you’re sure to spot giraffes, cheetahs, oryx and more, all in an exclusive, uncrowded environment that lets you traverse the property on foot, bicycle or horseback as well as the classic four-wheel drive. And if you ever need a break from the wildlife, there’s plenty to do back at the lodge: spend the afternoon in the infinity pool, book a private dinner in your villa or enjoy a drink around the outdoor fireplace before heading to sleep in your rooftop “star bed.”
Crans Luxury Lodges, Switzerland
These five private chalets in French-speaking Switzerland sit in view of the gondola that will whisk you away to year-round Alpine excursions: in winter, try skiing, paragliding, luge and snowshoeing; in summer, head out for golf, hiking, cycling, climbing and more. Three of the chalets include a private spa with sauna and hot tub; all include a personal ski room, concierge and catering service and on-demand access to the region’s best offerings (a personal shopping trip, perhaps?).
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
The minimalist contemporary look of this rainforest lodge is designed to offer a comfortable, modern experience while letting guests focus on the spectacular setting, not the colour of the drapes. The cloudforest views from bed through the floor-to-ceiling windows will have you craving room service; instead, head to the two-story dining room for the expertly prepared Ecuadorian cuisine featuring indigenous herbs and spices, forest ingredients and regional fruit. Outside, head for a walk on the nature trails; at night, let guides direct your eyes to the abundance of flora and fauna, from insects and amphibians to rodents, birds, even fungus.