Plunge deeper into the world with these eight properties that are long on wonder and no strangers to luxury.
IslandNihi Sumba (formally Nihiwatu), Kuta, Indonesia
These 28 villas are folded seamlessly into 175 pristine hectares of tropical forest and rice terraces. Fronted by a one-mile stretch of protected beachfront, a rare find on Indonesia’s Sumba Island, this is just a 50-minute flight from the crowds of busy Bali. Surfing, SUPing, diving, and horseback riding on the beach are the big draws, but adventure sports and visits to Stone Age archeological sites or tribal treks to witness authentic animist rituals are also available. A beachfront omakase-style sushi bar, a windswept clifftop lounge with a wood-fired clay oven, and a jungle spa shrouded in a cool grove of Pandanus trees offering yoga, meditation, and treatments like Sumbanese lulur exfoliations all remind visitors that the long trip here was absolutely worth it.
DesertThe Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Beach chic meets Bedouin décor in these deluxe desert villas with infinity pools and canopied tents lit by moody Moorish lanterns. Located in the soft bronze sands of the Emirates’ Al Wadi Desert, one hour north of Dubai, there’s no shortage of activities for the whole family—like archery, falcon and owl shows, dune bashing, and birdwatching walks. But enjoying the distraction-free quiet of the desert on your own is just as compelling, particularly while stargazing with a date syrup–sweetened martini at the Moon Bar, or snacking on a fattoush salad on the open rooftop, which is modeled after an Arabian watchtower.
CultureFour Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, Garden City, Egypt
Cleopatra herself would have envied the privileged position of this high-rise. Situated on Cairo’s Corniche, this exceptional location offers views of Zamelek on Gezira Island, the 12th-century citadel, and the minarets pointing skyward along the Nile, which still bustles with traditional wooden sailing boats, called feluccas, just as it did in ancient times. Breezy poolside cabanas and a large luxurious spa, featuring Nefertari massage with warm herbal compresses, deepen the luxe offerings at this 365-key, seven-restaurant property, rooms with triple-glazed windows, deep soaking tubs, and contemporary Egyptian artwork.
SafariBelmond Safaris. Maun, Botswana
Is hippo watching from an infinity pool on your bucket list? How about a walking safari followed by bush dining with a symphony provided by reed frogs? Maybe you’re more of an African-potato-manicure person? Belmond’s constellation of three safari camps provide a unique and authentic experience of Botswana that few can match. Eagle Island Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Savute Elephant Lodge in Chobe National Park, and Khwai River Lodge hidden in a leadwood forest overlooking the vast floodplains, all combine the romance of safari—think copper Victorian tubs, netted four-poster beds, night drives, and sundowners—with 21st-century twists you didn’t know you craved. Move from one camp to the next on a weeklong visit and experience all three iterations of the classic safari.
Far-FlungSoneva Fushi, Baa Atoll, Maldives
This free-spirited, sustainably-minded 61-villa resort on the uninhabited island of Kunfunadhoo coined the phrase “barefoot luxury” when it opened back in 1995 and has been converting tightly-wound urban skeptics into relaxed sunset seekers ever since. Dedicated butlers help you make the most of the property’s “no news, no shoes” concept, including at the open-air beachside cinema, in the complimentary ice cream parlor, and during weekly night-market dinners. Even so, with private tubs and showers nestled in the jungle, along with your own saltwater plunge pools, leaving your villa at all might be a tough choice.
TrekkingWildflower Hall, Shimla, India
With 23 acres of virgin pine and sacred cedar forests located approximately 8,000 feet up in the Indian Himalayas, Wildflower Hall ensures hikers of all levels will find their footing fast. The wood-paneled British colonial resort was once the palace of Lord Kitchener, and still abounds with extravagant extras like paisley-print sofas, canopied beds, and crystal chandeliers. Picnics complete with china, silver, and linen can be arranged in the nearby rolling hills, while at the hotel, massages, yoga sessions, and Ayurvedic treatments at the spa are especially welcome after a day of rugged hiking.
SpaLa Réserve Geneve Hotel, Spa & Villas, Geneva, Switzerland
This 10-acre resort-clinic hybrid is located just five miles from Geneva’s train station, and overlooks the French Alps on the opposite shore of Lake Geneva. The entire retreat is steeped in a retro-safari theme courtesy of Parisian interior designer Jacques Garcia, whose animal print walls and crushed-velvet-topped beds offer a timeless quality that feels both exotic and surreal. But the spas are the primary draw here, with a variety of treatments to choose from including Barbary fig scrubs, Yang seaweed wraps, and La Prairie cellular Swiss Ice Crystal facials. Structured four- and seven-day breaks utilize both holistic and medical science based on the Nescens Better aging program, whose coaches, trainers, nutritionists, and osteopaths are always on hand—while a variety of thermal pools, saunas, fitness equipment, and tennis courts make freestyle wellness just as alluring.
MountainSchloss Elmau Luxury Spa Retreat & Cultural Hideaway, Elmau, Germany
An Art Nouveau castle goes postmodern at this meticulously refurbished wellness sanctuary located in a tranquil corner of Bavaria, about an hour south of Munich by car and just a 25-minute shuttle ride to the ski slopes of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Seefeld, or Zugspitze Glacier (Germany’s highest peak). The eclectic rooms feature a cosmopolitan mix of B&B Italia furniture, antiques from China, Persian carpets, Thai silks and Indian linens, with arresting views of the surrounding snow-carpeted Bavarian Alps. Six spacious spas, including three that are family friendly, ensure a recharge station for every stripe of traveler on a health quest—with yoga classes, a massive hammam, numerous wood-burning fireplaces, and infinity pools that provide soothing soaks for tired post-ski limbs.