Need to beat the UAE’s heat in the next month or two? Here’s where we’re daydreaming about…
When it comes to luxurious vacations, nothing beats a room with a view. The ultimate indulgence? An over-water bungalow.
Here, we’ve selected some of the finest resorts to add to your wish list for the holiday of a lifetime.
St. Regis, Vommuli Island, Maldives
If you love the idea of feeling like you’re on your own private island, the newly opened St. Regis in the Maldives delivers exactly that. Offering 33 on-land and 44 over-water villas, this latest addition to the dream-worthy destination should be at the top of your wish list.
Each of the over-water villas boasts its own private pool and sprawling veranda decked out with comfy day beds, and hammock-style netting – perfect for soaking up the sights, sounds and scents of the Indian Ocean. Inside, refined furnishings and island-inspired design awaits. Every modern feature is taken care of at the touch of a button. Adjust the blinds of the panoramic windows. Control the room temperature, and operate the in-room entertainment system – all from a personalised touchscreen device.
Architecture aficionados, take note. Every inch of the resort has been meticulously designed taking inspiration from the surrounding waters. From the manta ray-style villas and lobster-inspired spa treatment pods to the spiral shell-shaped library roof, each structure sets the tone of this unique Maldivian resort. And the impressive décor doesn’t stop there. Many of the interiors are carefully crafted from recycled coral and seashells, creating eco-friendly, decorative spaces at every corner.
A fully equipped dive and watersports centre offers an assortment of adventures. Partake in a variety of activities such as glass-bottom kayaking, speed boating and deep-sea fishing. Snorkeling is a must (at the house reef, or in the turquoise waters surrounding your bungalow via direct steps from your private veranda). The centre is also recognised as an international dive center by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) enabling scuba and nitrox diving lessons and certification.
The St. Regis also boasts an incredibly opulent spa. Iridium Spa offers a holistic approach to health and rejuvenation with six couples treatment pods providing a refined retreat, set beside the Blue Hole – a must-try hydrotherapy pool. Sliding-glass doors allow guests to admire unfettered sea vistas from their spa bed ensuring the relaxation experience is enhanced by the gentle sounds of waves and fresh ocean breezes.
Guests are encouraged to partake in daily wellness activities such as sunrise yoga and sunset meditation. The definitive highlight? A 75-minute anti-gravity yoga class, one of very few of its kind in the Maldives. The aerial yoga sees guests perform a series of poses inspired by gymnastics and aerial arts combined with stretching, breathing and meditation whilst suspended in a silk hammock – certainly something to write home about.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
The culinary concept is made up of six world-class dining venues offering sophisticated cuisine from around the globe. Tantalise your tastebuds at Alba, the resort’s modern Italian restaurant, while a knowledgeable sommelier is on hand to offer expert guidance on the house vintages. Or indulge in a medley of Asian fare at beachfront venue Orientale, where three unique show kitchens prepare dishes from Pakistan, Japan and Korea.
When it comes to breakfast, foodies take note. Explore the lavish buffet laden with exotic fruits, sweet pastries, artisan breads and gourmet cheeses. And that’s just for starters. A carefully crafted menu offers diners luxurious sensations such as the lobster and Alaskan crab omelette with butternut pumpkin purée, Oscitra caviar and fennel cress. Don’t forget to check out the breakfast beverage and dessert menus for a multi-course dining experience definitely worth waking up for.
THE EXTRA MILE
Thoughtful extras such as stylish straw hats, beach bags and deluxe skincare essentials are available at guests’ disposal, but the utmost extravagance at the St. Regis comes in the form of a round-the-clock personal butler.
For the ultimate indulgence book a place at the 12-seat table at Decanter, the resort’s elegant underground cellar. The specialty dining venue plays host to an intimate, five-course bespoke dinner experience paired with grape and bubbles hand selected by the executive drinks director from an exclusive collection, dating from 1755.
• The resort sits on its own private island on the Dhaalu Atoll, a scenic 45-minute seaplane ride from Malé International Airport
• Over-water villa with pool for two Dhs10,650 per night (time of year dependent)
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, Orlando, Florida
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows deliver the spirit of the South Pacific to create a charming environment for kids young and old, just minutes from the world-famous Walt Disney theme parks in Orlando.
Spacious accommodation awaits your crew in the form of Disney’s first ever over-water bungalows. Inside, finishes and design elements incorporate a variety of natural and organic materials, including distressed wood flooring, cloth-like wall coverings, exposed ceiling beams and lava rock-inspired tiles.
Featuring a private deck, plunge pool and room for up to eight guests, the 20 fully equipped two-bedroom, two-bathroom Bora Bora-inspired over-water bungalows are a must if you’re looking for a luxurious take on the classic theme park holiday. Did we mention the unobstructed views of Cinderella’s Castle? Family vacations don’t come better than this.
Setting all the action of the nearby theme parks aside, the resort has an enormous range of activities for children of all ages. From guided fishing excursions and craft making at the kids club, to campfire sing-alongs and movies (Disney, of course) under the stars. There’s a whole heap of fun to be had at the resort.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
Kick off the day at Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast as Disney characters stop by to sign autographs and pose for a photo over American dishes, influenced by the exotic tastes of Polynesia.
For dinner, indulge in tropical specialties from the South Pacific and Asian-infused dishes at the resort’s twelve dining venues and lounges. Take part in the spellbinding Spirit of Aloha dinner show – a traditional luau feast featuring hula dancing and fire twirlers. Savour an all-you-can-eat island-inspired banquet of pulled pork, beef ribs and roasted vegetables, and don’t skip dessert – the signature pineapple and coconut guava cake is a must!
After a day of fun at the parks, avoid the evening crowds and head back to your bungalow to watch the famous Magic Kingdom fireworks from your private deck. Speakers designed to pipe in music to accompany the must-see show offer a truly enchanting experience you’ll cherish forever.
THE EXTRA MILE
Guests of the resort can enjoy ‘Extra Magic Hours’ at the theme parks. Each day, select attractions are open longer for additional time when other visitors head home.
• Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows sit on the Seven Seas Lagoon within the Magic Kingdom resort area – a 30-minute drive from Orlando International Airport
• Two bedroom over-water bungalow with plunge pool (sleeps up to eight people) Dhs8,300 per night (time of year dependent)
Four Seasons, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Set upon Bora Bora’s surrounding coral atoll away from the hustle and bustle of its mainland, the Four Seasons resort is the epitome of South Pacific style, set beside the towering Mount Otemanu – now that’s a #roomwithaview.
100 over-water bungalow suites and seven beachfront villa estates, all designed with thatched roofs made from locally-grown pandanus tree leaves, make up the resort’s magnificent accommodations.
Rooms are appointed with framed indigenous artifacts, from fishing lures fashioned from mother-of-pearl, to fans made of coconut palms, while large sundecks provide chaise lounges, a covered dining area, plus the all-important ladder to the mesmerising water below. Many suites also boast their own private pool.
The resort itself is at the top of the destination wedding hotlist for many couples, and that’s thanks to its traditional Polynesian wedding ceremony offerings known in Tahitian as the Oroà Faaipoipo Raa. The bride is escorted by Tahitian guides in a ceremonial canoe to her awaiting groom, either on the beach or in the resort’s open air chapel, where vows are exchanged against the backdrop of a sunset over Mount Otemanu. The couple, enveloped in a tifaifai or Polynesian quilt, is then celebrated with traditional dance and song.
Experience the unparalleled beauty of Bora Bora with an exciting guided WaveRunner excursion, or take it at your own pace on a stand up paddleboard. Under the surface, don snorkels and flippers and look on as Tahitian divers hand-feed black-tip reef sharks and bat rays. Don’t forget your underwater camera!
For something a little more relaxing a visit to the award-winning spa and healing centre is a must. Signature therapies utilise the local area’s many natural ingredients such as monoi, tamanu and vanilla.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
The property’s four dining venues serve up a selection of creative culinary experiences, showcasing French, American, Asian and Maohi cuisine. Seafood lovers should dine at
Arii Moana where dishes such as the seared yellow fin tuna and mahi mahi carpaccio are sure to delight.
For large events or wedding celebrations, the resort offers a number of unique feasting options from private beach barbecues to fine dining banquets complete with traditional fire dancing shows.
THE EXTRA MILE
Kids For All Seasons is a complimentary full day programme designed to keep the children busy. Fishing, hermit crab hunts, team sports and island-style fashion shows are just a few of the activities they’ll love.
Order breakfast directly to the private deck of your over-water bungalow via traditional canoe.
• The resort is a 45-minute domestic flight from Faa’a International Airport in Papeete, Tahiti to Bora Bora Mote Mute Airport
• Over-water bungalow suite for two Dhs7,000 per night (time of year dependent)
Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius
Constance Le Prince Maurice is situated on 60 hectares of private and completely unspoilt land on the north-east coast of Mauritius. 89 suites and villas make up the plush accommodation options nestled between lush vegetation, sandy beaches and a breathtaking lagoon. A natural fish reserve adds to the uniqueness and beauty of the resort, providing the perfect spot for the eight thatched-roofed suites and villas on stilts.
Inspired by Feng Shui principles to create the perfect sense of harmony, accommodation is designed to increase the concentration of energy. Each spacious suite is decorated in earthy tones with traditional textiles and soft linens. A private deck allows for spectacular sunset views across the stunning landscape.
Adventure seekers look no further; the resort boasts a land and water sports facility list that’s tough to beat. Tennis courts, a putting green and bicycles are at your disposal as well as windsurfing, waterskiing, scuba diving, parasailing and fly-fishing to name just a few of the activities on offer. If you’d rather keep your feet dry, hop on a glass-bottomed boat or luxury catamaran cruise.
Be sure to make time to visit elegant U Spa, set in a tranquil corner of the gardens and centred around a stone courtyard with beautiful heated pool. Choose from a wonderful range of classic massages, facials and body treatments to wind down after a busy day out on the water.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
Three restaurants, three bars and an open-door cellar presents guests with a delectable choice of dining options. Choose from Asian bites such as sushi, sashimi and dim-sum to Mauritian-influenced gourmet specialties and themed buffets. Our pick? Le Barachois a floating seafood restaurant which overlooks the lagoon with unspoilt views of the mountain range – reserve a table at sunset.
Grape lovers should visit the resort’s cellar, which has a dedicated area for tastings paired with cheese – a favourite among guests.
THE EXTRA MILE
Guests can play free of charge at two 18-hole championship golf courses at sister resort Constance Belle Mare Plage, located five minutes from Le Prince Maurice via a complimentary shuttle service.
Looking to try something new? Book a kite surfing or stand up paddle boarding lesson.
• Constance Le Prince Maurice is 45 minutes from Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport by car
• Junior suite on stilts for two Dhs1,850 per night (time of year dependent)
Anantara The Palm, Dubai, UAE
Whether it’s a quick family getaway or a romantic mini-break, Anantara The Palm has it all. Nestled on the peaceful east side of the Palm Jumeirah crescent, the vast resort transports you to Thailand from the moment you arrive.
293 luxurious rooms and villas sit atop lush lagoons and tropical gardens, but for something extra special, check in to an over-water villa (the only one of its kind in the UAE) stunningly poised over the tranquil waters of the Arabian Gulf, presenting guests with a one-of-a-kind experience on our shores.
Inside each modern and tastefully furnished Asian-inspired villa sits a clear glass viewing panel in the floor for spying on the fish below. Fancy a closer look? Slip into the warm ocean via your private outdoor deck.
An array of leisure activities awaits those that can tear themselves away from the lounge chair. You’ll find a huge variety of family-fun watersports from pedalos to water skiing on offer – perfect for taking in the sights around the iconic Palm Jumeirah. And for those committed to keeping up with their exercise routine, a fully-equipped gym, two tennis courts and beach volleyball will keep you busy while a visit to the spa overlooking the blue lagoon can’t be missed.
For an authentic Thai experience, jump aboard the city’s first ever Thai longtail boat for a scenic trip to Dubai Marina where you can indulge in some retail therapy at the mall and many boutiques.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
Eight restaurants and bars offer a great selection of local and international flavours. Visit Mekong, the resort’s signature dining spot, named after South East Asia’s legendary river for an authentic eastern experience. Savour traditional recipes such as Tom Kah Gai chicken coconut soup and Phad Thai Gong stir fried noodles.
For something a little more cool and casual, lunch at beachfront venue The Beach House is a must. Dine on a selection of Mediterranean cuisine such as tapas, pizza and seafood complimented by signature cocktails and delicious desserts (the Seasonal Strawberry Platter with popping candy is a must). Come sunset, the outdoor deck transforms into a chill-out lounge where guests can enjoy shisha whilst the house DJ creates a laid-back vibe that sets the tone for a memorable evening.
THE EXTRA MILE
In keeping with the resort’s theme, tuk-tuks are on call to whisk you around the grounds in style.
Go on a culinary journey by reserving a spot at Spice Spoons, Anantara’s cooking school. Enjoy a captivating class as you learn to master the unique flavour balance of Thai cuisine under the expert tuition of the house Thai Master Chef.
• Anantara The Palm, Dubai is located on the East Crescent of the Palm Jumeirah, a 45-minute drive from Dubai International Airport
• Over-water villa for two Dhs5,400 per night (time of year dependent)