Every destination on this issue’s “Wish List” has a dream resort. We polled ISLANDS’ editors and contributors to bring you firsthand testimonials of gorgeous, fit-for-a-king places to stay. See which of these islands you want to check off your wish list in the new year. And for even more of Ashley’s island travel bargains, see her daily deals blog.
Bora Bora The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort“This island is all about two things: the lagoon and Mount Otemanu. Any resort is going to showcase both, but none with as much style as this one. As I ate a specially prepared sushi lunch on the private balcony of my two-bedroom overwater villa, Otemanu towered and the lagoon sparkled. I felt like a movie star on the best vacation ever.” — Adrienne Egolf, Editor
Kauai The St. Regis Princeville Resort“Princeville, renovated under the St. Regis brand, is now even better. Of course, the amazing hilltop setting on Hanalei Bay remains. I love the Hawaiian ambience of the new lobby and the seated check-in. The room decor is exquisite; showers, with windows that switch from opaque to clear, let in the scenery. The view from the lobby bar and the signature bloody mary are epic.” — Ken Leandro, Publisher
Bali Khayangan Estate“When I stayed here, I felt I had been transported back to ancient Indonesia and reborn as royalty. The estate’s six suites, which are carefully restored 150-year-old solid-teak joglos, were originally built for sultans. With 24-hour butler service, a tranquil cliff-top setting and exquisite handcarved wood, the resort is a regal dream come true.” — Cimeron Morrissey, Contributor
British Virgin Islands The Bitter End Yacht Club“Sailors flock to this famous place for the Clubhouse Grille’s fresh seafood, warm pastries from Winston’s Bakery and the English Pub’s top-shelf rum selection. But I simply relished in the hammock outside my treehouse-style bungalow on the beach.” — Tara Bradley, Contributor
St. Lucia Jade Mountain“I took a photo as close as I could to the perfect one on p. 50 of the December 2009 issue. At this iconic resort, your infinity pool is all that sits between you and a sprawling view of St. Lucia’s Pitons. Forget walls and windows. Jade Mountain’s ‘sanctuaries’ — so much more than rooms — are open-air and smartly perched on a hill to ensure privacy. My only reminder that this was real and not another Jade Mountain photo was that my wife was by my side, smiling big.” — Eddy Patricelli, Editor
Japan Kayotei“This is the most serene inn I have ever visited. Each detail is transcendent in this 10-suite hideaway in a small village. Indulge with the robes you wear throughout, martinis shaken by the owner’s wife, hot baths, boutique sake and fresh kaseiki meals served in private rooms. My stay in this inn of blond wood was unforgettable — and so was the Japanese breakfast served in my tatami-matted bedroom.” — Scott Haas, Contributor
MauiRitz-Carlton, Kapalua“Sandwiched between the West Maui mountains and D.T. Fleming Beach, this luxury resort is my perfect piece of secluded paradise. On any given day, I could go hiking in the mountains, then retreat to my private poolside cabana within minutes.” — Lori Barbely, Editor
Venice Gritti Palace “The building was once home to the family of the Doge, and it still feels like you’re walking into a palace: hushed, opulent, a world where it is impossible to need anything that isn’t already there. The Gritti also has the best Grand Canal view of any hotel here — see the Santa Maria della Salute and the Guggenheim. If I ever win the lottery, I’m spending a couple months a year at the Gritti.” — Edward Readicker-Henderson, Contributor
Maldives Banyan Tree Madivaru“This Indian Ocean island is already worthy of a screensaver. Add six safari-style tented villas, and this resort show- cases the good life. I had a private sugar-sand beach, massage room and the pièce de résistance, a bathing pavilion. My villa host arranged massages. The chef let me select my own fish from the catch of the day. and the best part is that it’s all created sustainably.” — Amanda Jones, Contributor
Iceland Hotel Rangá“In southern Iceland, the glaciers, mountains and waterfalls surround you. This log-cabin-with-luxury hotel just off the famed Ring Road is the perfect place to take it all in. After every snowy adventure, Rangá was waiting to warm me up with a glass of red wine and Icelandic lobster. The on-site restaurant’s three glass walls let in panoramic views throughout dinner. If you’re lucky, the northern lights will come out to play afterward while you’re soaking in one of the open-air hot tubs.” — Ashley Fraxedas, Editor
Curaçao Hotel Kura Hulanda“This hotel integrates with its setting better than any resort I know. Walking up a cobblestone street from the water front, between whitewashed walls, past a cafe, past the open door to someone’s well-appointed room, I round a corner and stop fast. Without realizing it, I’ve entered the 5-star Hotel Kura Hulanda. The luxurious accommodations, some with period furniture, once housed Willemstad merchants. The hotel preserves Curaçao’s rich history but adds meticulous service — and really nice sheets.” — Matthew Miller, Editor
New Zealand Eichardt’s Private Hotel“Drawing on 150 years of Kiwi hospitality, this hotel in Queenstown, South Island, was the perfect après-ski treat following my adventure on Coronet Peak. This five-room hotel right on the shore of gorgeous Lake Wakatipu not only has the friendliest staff & most luxurious rooms around — my suite had a super-king bed, a deep soaking tub, heated floors and a fireplace — it’s in the heart of Queenstown’s cafe and restaurant quarter. That’s the best place to be.” — Jad Davenport, Contributor
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