Sunday 23 November 2014

Top ten boutique beach breaks

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1. Castaway chic: Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Australia is blessed with world class surf breaks and white shores that unfurl as far as the eye can see. Perched on the northernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island might well be the country's best-kept secret. This boutique retreat revels in its remoteness, with 24 secluded coves dotted around the pristine private isle. Hotel staff can pack you off with a gourmet picnic for a romantic lunch among the dunes, or kit you out with snorkelling gear, kayaks and motorized dinghies for exploring the dazzling reef.
2. Riviera romance: Cap d'Antibes Beach Hotel, Côte d'Azur, France
More about posing on sunloungers than pursuing aquatic thrills, the French Riviera has long drawn Europe's style set to its pebbled shores. While billionaires and their entourage party on suburb-sized yachts, fashionistas flock to the beachfront eateries of Cannes and Nice to see and be seen. A 25-minute drive away, Cap d'Antibes Beach Hotel offers suitably stylish digs. Once a beachside club for the likes of Sophia Loren and Cary Grant, this striking glass and polished concrete sanctuary is as sparkling as the surrounding sea. Bold bedrooms star a mod-marine theme, and restaurant Les Pêcheurs is famed for its cutting-edge fare.
3. Haute Hawaiian styling: The Modern Honolulu, Honolulu, United States
Whether you want to mix it with the masters on the big breaks of Waikiki or cruise Maui's crests on a long board, Hawaii is heaven for wave-hunters. Breezing onto the local hotel scene in 2011, the Modern Honolulu brings boutique lodgings to a city better known for its big-and-brash resorts. With the surfboard-lined feature wall behind reception, and the ukuleles and sarongs in the guest rooms, the design blends an all-white colour palette with so-quirky-it-works local touches. Four bars, a nightclub, and a Japanese restaurant from Iron Chef Morimoto make this one of the hottest tickets in town.
4. Seaside seduction: The Legian & The Club, Bali, Indonesia
For boutique-shopping, bar-hopping and beach-flopping, it's hard to beat Seminyak, Bali's most style-savvy strip. Place yourself in the centre of the action with a stay at The Legian & The Club, a designer duo right on the oceanfront. Forming one ultra-luxe enclave, the Legian Hotel is home to sleek suites, while sister property The Club sports intimate villas with private swimming pools and a butler service. A two-tiered swimming pool, free yoga sessions and a day spa will have you in holiday mode quicker than you can say "I'll have another Legian Mojito, thanks".
5. Back-to-nature bliss: Qamea Resort & Spa, Fiji Islands, Fiji If barefoot luxury is your bag, then a stay at Qamea Resort & Spa Fiji will have you kicking off your shoes in no time. Traditional thatched bures are dotted among palm trees on Qamea Island, a petite tropical isle in Fiji's lush north-east. Inspired by Fijian village houses, the Beachfront Bures are just a hop from sugar-white sands and glass-clear seas. Scuba fiends will dive right into the PADI programmes on offer here, with world-class dive sites and soft corals just offshore. Sybarites should slip straight into the spa, a canopy-level retreat that employs age-old techniques and local ingredients, such as cane sugar and coconut, to soul-soothing effect.
6. Rustic luxury: Coqui Coqui Tulum, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Banish all thoughts of Cancun Spring Break from your mind - a Mexican beach break needn't be about bikini-clad babes and buckets of booze. Offering dreamy Caribbean coastal views, forested interiors and history-steeped Mayan ruins, the idyllic town of Tulum, 75 miles south-west of Cancun's airport, couldn't be further from that teen scene. The coolly casual seven-room Coqui Coqui Tulum hotel mixes whitewashed walls with lashings of stone and wood for a pared-back setting. Canopied beds, hand-molded bath tubs and sunset margaritas make this a must for romantics, with plenty of hammocks for hanging out in style.
7. Jungle-meets-sea: The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia
So dense is the Langkawi jungle surrounding The Datai that you cannot see the sea for the trees. In fact, you'd think that all of the fun takes place at the adults' pool, a sapphire-blue stunner by the hotel's restaurants. Weave through the rainforest, however, and you'll be rewarded with one of the world's best beaches. Lined with sunloungers and rattan couches, this near-deserted stretch is all powder-soft sands and pure, warm waters, with views to outlying islands. Take a kayak or catamaran out for a spin, order cocktails from the Beach Club, then flag down a golf buggy for the trip back.
8. Font Santa Hotel, Mallorca, Spain
The biggest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca is a heady mix of olive groves, ancient villages, cosmopolitan boutiques and hip galleries. It's also blessed with a slew of sun-kissed beaches, the best of which is home to Font Santa Hotel, an all-natural spa sanctuary overlooking the salt mounds of Es Salobrar. Neutral-toned, light-filled rooms let the wild landscape take centre stage, but the real standout here is the day spa, with three treatment rooms, a sauna, Jacuzzi and thermal pools that have been relaxing weary folk since Roman times. Sashay between spa and sea for a heavenly hit of H2O.
9. Just-remote-enough indulgence: Wanakarn Beach Resort & Spa, Phang Nga, Thailand
To the north of Phuket lies Phang Nga, a beach-toting province that's blissfully off the beaten track. Particularly far-flung is Wanakarn Beach Resort & Spa, an ultra-luxe hideaway with a relaxed, unpolished vibe. While restraint has been employed in the design of the pool villas - all locally sourced timbers and natural fabrics - decadence reigns in the restaurant, with imported truffles, cheeses and champagne on tap. The indulgence doesn't end there, thanks to a swim-up bar, spa and a choice of two beaches: a calm riverside cove and the deserted stretch along the Andaman Sea, reached only by boat.
10. Private-island posing: Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos, Caribbean
Destination du jour for the honeymooning A-list, the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean promise pampering in spades. Set on a pinch-me-I'm-dreaming private isle, Parrot Cay is a serene spa stay from the cultured Como Shambhala team. This effortlessly elegant escape has courted the likes of Bruce Willis and Christie Brinkley, just two names in the little black book of celebrities who own villas here. Along with beautiful Balinese-style lodgings, a day spa and infinity pool, an unspoilt, uninhabited mile-long beach awaits.

From glam coastal getaways to private island escapes, boutique travel advisers Mr & Mrs Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com) have rounded some of up the best beach breaks around the world. Swimming fans, surfers and poolside posers will find much to like in this top 10. Created by Alice Baghdjian. Reuters

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