There’s taking a vacation and then there’s escaping from the world for a while. It’s easy to do the first, but much harder to do the latter. Sometimes the only answer is jetting off to a resort on a private island, booking the whole island or staying at your own self-contained villa (with staff, of course). Either way, you quickly realize that there’s nothing quite like being the king or queen of your very own piece of tropical paradise.
Peter Island Resort & Spa
Twenty minutes by ferry from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, you’ll find Peter Island Resort & Spa on the 1,800-acre Peter Island. Storied visitors of the past include Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake and Blackbeard (yes, you can still look for treasure, if you like). The resort is the only hotel on the island and, if you feel so inclined, you can rent the whole island for your own use. Barring that, you can also rent a private villa, tucked away from the resort and perched atop a picturesque bluff. Peter Island’s Villa Program ensures each vacation home includes its own personal staff, a chauffeured vehicle, spacious bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens and private pools.
Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort
Another island escape can be found at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, just two miles off the coast of Antigua. The resort, a former sugar plantation, offers a variety of rooms, suites, villas and homes, spread out across the 300-acre private island, which can only be accessed by boat. Big-name celebrities like Mariah Carey and Paul McCartney are among its fans. Since no cars are allowed on the island, the winding bike paths between the white sands are pristinely peaceful. Amenities like beach cruisers, all-inclusive dining, unlimited open bar, water sports gear and impeccable service make it easy to fall in love with the place.
Sunset Key Cottages, A Luxury Collection Resort
Forget the kitschy Key West you may conjure up in your head — Sunset Key Cottages, located 500 yards away from the coast on a secluded 27-acre island, offers nothing but splendor and serenity. Accessed via a 10-minute private ferry, Sunset Key Cottages offers 40 well-appointed units, a spa and the Caribbean restaurant Latitudes. (And there’s no need to worry about breakfast; each morning a basket full of freshly baked muffins is delivered to your cottage porch.) The property has a zero-degree entry saltwater pool, two lighted tennis courts, a half-basketball court and fitness center. If you pine for more interaction with others, the ferry runs 24 hours a day, so you can go barhopping in Key West.
Keemala, located in Phuket, Thailand, isn’t set on its own island. But that won’t matter much once a golf cart whisks you up to your villa. This place is like it’s own little world. Made up of 38 distinctly designed structures (themes include tree house, bird’s nest, clay or tent), the rainforest property where guests get about through a network of jungle walkways is utterly magical. Each villa has its own pool, as well as a personal villa “host,” who serves as your concierge during your stay and will cater to your every need, from bringing you room service to happily introducing you to the local old town markets or arranging for an elephant adventure in nearby national parks. The hotel’s Mala Spa specializes in holistic treatments and offers a delightful escape in its own right.
Parrot Cay by Como
Hop out of your plane and on to a ferry for a 35-minute trip to this Caribbean escape, which is found on a private, l,000-acre island in the Turks and Caicos. Accommodations include guest rooms and beachside villas, plus privately owned three- and five-bedroom houses. There are also larger compounds with multiple homes available for rent. These structures have private sundecks, swimming pools and butler services. The spa, which specializes in Eastern therapies, is not to be missed either. The same can be said for morning yoga classes on the beach or sunset meditation sessions in the rustic open-air pavilion If stars such as Britney Spears and Charlize Theron love its hidden-away charms, you can be assured that you’ve found a worthy escape.
Four Seasons Resort Lana’i
Accessed via a 45-minute ferry ride from Maui (or a quick 30-minute flight from Honolulu), the Hawaiian island of Lana’i is the farthest thing from the hustle and bustle of the big islands. This Four Seasons jewel, set on a cliff overlooking Hulopoe Beach, is putting the finishing touches on a massive renovation that’s slated to be completed in early February. Once it’s finished you can look forward to dining at Nobu Lana’i, featuring renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature new-style Japanese cuisine, lounging in newly redesigned guest rooms and suites, shopping at high-end retail stores and enjoying the addition of a luxury transfer fleet. Even after the makeover, though, the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the resort’s spa both still prove delightful distractions — if you can ever tear yourself away from the stunningly tranquil beach long enough to notice.