Looking for the ultimate luxurious summer getaway will throw up many considerations: everything from five-star service to getting away from the crowds, not to mention fine dining, stunning beaches and a sprinkling of excess. It can be a difficult decision to make. We’ve scoured the world for some of the most incredible, inspiring escapes. Here are our favourite, unashamedly superior summer holiday locations:
1. The best eco retreat: Laucala Island in Fiji
Set amid lush coconut plantations, this complex of 25 villas set on the northern coast of a Fijian island is available to hire in its entirety, should you wish. Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, converted Laucala into a lavish escape for the very rich and famous, and was keen to incorporate as many of the island’s natural elements as possible into its construction, operation and even the menu. His responsible, yet stylish approach resulted in the creation of a secluded, sustainable paradise.
Accessed only by private jet, the no-expense-spared resort’s philosophy is to ‘unite dramatic rainforest landscapes and white sandy beaches with unparalleled levels of luxury and privacy’. Offering golf, a wellness spa and bespoke dining options, not to mention opulent accommodation, this ecological haven is definitely a slice of guilt-free indulgence. www.laucala.com
2. The best beach: Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
If it’s a beach with the wow factor you want, head to Providenciales, one of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Here, you will find Grace Bay, where the endless sky meets the oh-so inviting sapphire sea as it crashes on to five miles of sandy shore. Though it’s attracted greater numbers of holiday makers in recent years, many of whom enjoy the spectacular diving, it remains a stunning beach.
Naturally there is plenty of high-end accommodation available, including the magnificent Grace Bay Club, a five-star resort which offers both hotel rooms and multi-million dollar private Oceanside villas – you don’t need to compromise on luxury just because you’re on holiday.
The beach, however, is the main attraction, and rightly so. You will be spellbound; believe us, the photos don’t do it justice. www.gracebayresorts.com
3. The best private island: Pamalican, Philippines
The fact that most people have never heard of Pamalican simply adds to its off-the-grid allure. Situated in the Sulo Sea and part of the Cuyo archipelago, the island measures just 2.5km in length and with crystal clear waters, pure white sand and that fringe of palm trees, it offers everything you dream of in a private island paradise.
Guests stay at the Amanpulo resort, living in either twin-roofed casitas which boast sumptuous marble bathtubs and secluded hammock bowers, or villas that have their own grand living and dining pavilions. Opulence is the word here; you can even enjoy your own butler and private chef. The resort is renowned for its attentive service; the island, for its simply breath-taking beauty. www.aman.com
4. The best for culture: Amalfi Coast, Italy
Say ‘culture’ and Italy probably springs to mind – the music, the architecture, the literature – the whole ambience of the country. You could find something inspiring to see or do in just about any part of Italy, but for its unique beauty, we love the Amalfi Coast.
Encompassing Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, the place just oozes sophistication and glamour. You’ll recognise that view of the fairy-tale brick dwellings which climb up the mountainside and the winding coast roads that just beg for you to hire a classic car and live out all your movie star fantasies. You can take a private tour of Amalfi’s best bits: visiting the Villa Cimbrone Gardens, exploring the Duomo di Sant’Andrea Apostolo and rambling through the Valle delle Ferriere state reserve.
Being such a refined and elegant destination, you can rest, literally, assured of some high class accommodation, too. The stunning, mountaintop Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello and hillside Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi will leave you breathless. La dolce vita? Si grazie! www.amalficoast.com
5. The best for luxury hotels: Dubai
Some of the world’s most incredible hotels are situated in Dubai, so fantastic that they had to add extra stars to the rating scale. For those who expect the very highest standards and the ultimate in luxury, this is the place to be.
There’s Raffles Dubai, a classy option which is favoured by the international business elite; the magical Atlantis, The Palm with its themed suites and the peaceful and scenic Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf. All offer levels of service and luxury that is difficult to surpass. However, top of the list for sheer extravagance and widely regarded as one of the world’s, not just Dubai’s, most lavish hotels, is the seven-star (yes, seven) Burj Al Arab. This incredible hotel offers its guests chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce airport transfers to their gold-leaf enshrined, butler-serviced, two-floor suite. If you like your summer vacations with an over-abundance of magnificence, then you couldn’t possibly do any better. www.luxos.com/dubai
The locations mentioned above are a mere drop in the ocean when it comes to the height of luxury; to use a cliché, there’s a great big, wide world out there and if you have the means to explore it in fabulous style, then why not?