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Last updated: 14 October 2022

Red-hot retreats to add to your winter sun wishlist…

That time of the year has come round again for the Northern Hemisphere, when sun seekers dream of becoming castaways on idyllic islands and hiding out on balmy beaches until the cold, grey months have passed. From rainforest bungalows in Costa Rica, to lagoon-facing villas along Fiji’s palm-fringed shores, these out-of-the-ordinary properties promise tropical tranquillity filled with ‘pinch me’ moments.

1. Rio Perdido, Bagaces – Costa Rica

Hidden in the dwarf forest of Guanacaste in western Costa Rica, the forest bungalows which make up Rio Perdido are dotted across a beautiful 600-acre nature-filled reserve. Taking its name from the mile-long stretch of ‘lost river’ that’s fed by natural hot springs and carves its way through the canyon below, this wellness sanctuary is the true embodiment of Costa Rica’s legendary ‘pura vida’.

Rio Perdido

The mystical setting of this thermal gorge was once a sacred spot for the Cabecar tribes, and great care has been taken to preserve its natural beauty for eco-conscious guests. Soak up the sounds of the leafy canopy above as you swing in your hammock, sipping purified spring water sourced from the hotel grounds before pool-hopping your way across the healing hot springs.

Rio Perdido

2. Kenoa – Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort, Barra de Sao Miguel – Brazil

Sitting between the warm ocean and pristine tropical jungle, life at Kenoa – Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort revolves around the beach. Infinity-edged private plunge pools made from Balinese stone blend with the breaking waves below, while fresh Brazilian flavours with a Santos twist are served with a coastal backdrop at Kaamo restaurant.


Barra de Sao Miguel and its islands are prime scuba diving territory with their colourful coral reefs teeming with marine life, or you can ask the resort about their oyster tours – guests are guided in canoes out into the middle of a lagoon to taste oysters directly from the water. So much more than a gastronomic experience, you can explore the mangroves and get to know the local mud-house village of oyster and honey producers.


3. Amani Boutique Hotel, Zanzibar – Tanzania

Promoting a ‘tropical state of mind’, Amani Boutique Hotel in Zanzibar offers life through a lens of lush technicolour. The bright white of Paje Beach, ranked one of the top 30 island beaches in the world, the intense blues of the Indian Ocean and the fresh greens of the graceful palms are contrasted with cream and pale wood tones in the guest rooms. ‘Amani’ in Swahili means peace and the adagio tempo here allows guests to relax and regenerate – flitting between pool and ocean, ocean and pool by day and spending evenings sampling Zanzibari cuisine to the sound of the waves.

Amani boutique

Kick things up a notch with perfect conditions for kitesurfing, scuba diving and dolphin spotting, or explore Omani architecture, spice markets and labyrinth alleys with beautiful carved doorways in Zanzibar’s atmospheric and UNESCO-listed capital Stone Town.

Amani Boutique

4. La Casa Que Canta, Zihuatanejo – Mexico

An intimate retreat set on a series of terracotta terraces that spill down to Zihuatanejo Bay, ocean-wrapped La Casa Que Canta blends seamlessly into its natural landscape, with a freshwater pool pavilion carved from the rocks above the water.

La Casa Que Canta
La Casa Que Canta

Inspired by traditional Mexican craftmanship, the thatched roof suites are characterful spaces peppered with hand-crafted furnishings – the fresh flower designs are just one of the thoughtful touches. This spirit of attentiveness continues at La Casa Que Canta’s open-air Mar Y Cielo restaurant, putting the bay at your feet and the stars overhead where you’ll get a taste for the just-caught seafood and vibrant flavours of the region. When it’s time to explore, the old cobbled streets and working fishing harbour make Zihuatanejo a buzzing and beautiful retreat.

La casa Que Canta

5. Bluefields Bay Villas, Jamaica – Caribbean

An exclusive collection of six all-inclusive villas, Bluefields Bay Villas is tucked at the base of the Bluefields Mountain in Jamaica’s secluded countryside of Westmoreland, where countryside meets the sea. Expect nothing less than sublime service on arrival as each villa comes with a dedicated butler, maid service and chef, so guests can fully immerse themselves in the breathtaking views and completely switch off.

Bluefields Bay

Each expansive seafront villa ranges from two to six rooms and boasts a private pool and panoramic terraces with all meals and soft drinks included. The family-owned resort is in a world of its own, yet offers authentic Jamaican experiences for guests to enjoy at their leisure – including access to the private beach, paddle boarding, kayaking, glass-bottom boat cruise, rum and cigar tours and hiking.

Bluefields Bay

6. Smiths Beach Resort, Yallingup – Australia

This environmentally-friendly and picturesque resort is set within a National Park, providing the ultimate Australian beachside experience. Smiths Beach Resort’s beautifully furnished Two and Three Bedroom Garden or Ocean View Villas and Three and Four Bedroom Beach Houses make the ideal home-from-home for any larger group gathering.

Perfectly positioned right on the iconic Cape to Cape Track, the resort provides direct access to this picturesque coastal walk. Take a picnic lunch from the Gourmet Deli to the beach, or spend the day drinking wine straight from the vines of just one of the many nearby vineyards the Margaret River region is so well-known for.

7. Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Aitutaki – Cook Islands

Very few places come close to the desert island dream-like quality of the Cook Islands. You can experience lagoon life at the award-winning Pacific Resort Aitutaki, where you’ll have over 19 acres of tropical gardens and 1.5km of pristine white sand to call your own. Rooms come in the form of thatched beachfront bungalows, while days can be spent lounging by the infinity fresh water pool or unwinding at the Polynesian style spa.

Pacific Resort

Feeling in touch with nature here, however, goes further than enjoying beauty treatments on the beach. It even goes beyond cruising around Aitutaki Lagoon and feeding the native electric blue needle fish. This boutique resort is committed to the highest levels of hospitality and environmental initiatives, such as offering oxybenzone-free ‘reef-safe’ sunscreen – a clever invention where any cream not absorbed by the skin doesn’t wash off in the ocean.

Pacific Resort

8. Baros Maldives, Malé – Maldives

Think Maldives and what do you picture? Villas perched over crystalline water, rays scooting through the shallows, white sands and blue seas to the horizon… Baros is all of this in full postcard-worthy perfection. The secluded, sandstone and timber beach villas are sheltered by large banana leaves and palms, while the water villas have a private wooden deck for sunbathing and steps for dipping into the lagoon. You’ll be handed a refreshing ginger tea upon entering the Serenity Spa, where the gentle sound of trickling water accompanies botanical-backed treatments in the Thai sala. Join one of the daily yoga classes which are held in the air-conditioned pavilion, out on the ocean-facing deck, or on a sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Baros Maldives
Baros Maldives

Images courtesy of @barosmaldives

When it comes to dining, guests are utterly spoiled for choice – step aboard a traditional dhoni for a dinner cruise for two, or head to the Piano Deck where your own private chef will rustle up an exclusive gourmet meal. Then there’s The Lighthouse, where you can watch the sunset with cocktails and canapés listening to the mellow tunes of a live band.

Baros Maldives

9. Nanuku Resort, Pacific Harbour – Fiji

From beach bonfires to coral planting, and basket weaving to fire walking, every aspect of Fiji’s rich culture and natural beauty is celebrated at Nanuku Resort, a beautiful, beachfront retreat set in 500 acres of Pacific Ocean paradise. Light-filled suites look out across the waves, villas come with private pools and gardens, while multi-bedroom residences can house the whole family on the beachfront or clifftop. You can dine alfresco on a secluded beach, high up on the cliffside or tucked into the treetops, while island-inspired spa treatments can be enjoyed on a peaceful platform suspended amid the branches of a 70-year-old dilo tree.

Nanuku Resort

Nanuku Resort promises the full private island package, inviting guests to sail along the fringing reefs of Beqa Lagoon to visit the deserted Nanuku Island – here, you can pop bottles of bubbly beneath swaying palms, tuck into a freshly prepared picnic, and soak up the rhythmic lapping of gentle waves as your hammock swings in the breeze. The more adventurous can join a guided snorkelling tour amidst giant clams while learning about Nanuku’s protected reef, paddle board and kayak the serene waters, and cast a line for local snapper.

Nanuku Resort

10. Itz’ana Resort & Residences, Placencia – Belize

An idyllic 21-room beachside resort, Itz’ana Resort & Residences is located in the palm-tree lined Placencia in southeastern Belize, where reef meets rainforest. The privately-placed selection of rooms and villas feature wrap-around terraces, airy indoor living spaces, and endless luxury comforts, decorated in a calming natural palette accented with palm-tree inspired murals. Limilia, Itz’ana Resort’s beachside restaurant, fuses local cuisine with wider Caribbean and Central American influences, making use of fresh locally sourced ingredients caught by the hotel’s own fishermen and farmed in the organic vegetable garden. Its masterfully crafted cocktails have a reputation of their own.

There’s a dizzying amount of wildlife and no shortage of opportunities to catch a glimpse of them with the resort’s extensive range of activities – from exploring the world’s only jaguar reserve with an experienced ranger, to spotting saltwater crocodiles, marine turtles and endangered manatees from a respectful distance on one of the hotel’s water safaris.

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