Given the current situation, many of us are finding ourselves scratching our heads wondering when we’ll be able to travel again, where we’d like to go when the travel-ban is finally lifted, and whether going on holiday will ever be safe again. We’ve never been so in need of some vitamin D.
Well, the good news is that this too shall pass. We can’t put a date on it, but we are confident in saying that, yes, you will be able to travel again and, yes, it will be safe to do so. So why not use this time as an opportunity to plan that trip you’ve always wanted to take, to daydream about the remote island getaway you’ve been dreaming of for years, or to put pen to paper and create an itinerary for that wellness escape that you’ve been meaning to go on but has thus far eluded you?
We have rounded up our pick of the best holiday destinations and island resorts from around the world in order to ignite your wanderlust and give you something to look forward to booking in a few months’ time.
1. Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
For the ultimate romantic getaway with a healthy dose of wellness thrown in, look no further than the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. You’ll be staying in one of 103 huge villas either in the hillside overlooking the Indian Ocean, or on stilts in the ocean itself. Rooms exude grown-up luxury and are enormous; most of the villas feature spiral staircases which, when descended, will deliver you straight onto the beach or directly into the hotel’s freshwater lagoon.
The hotel boasts an ayurvedic-inspired spa, an olympic sized swimming pool, private white sand beaches and a range of wellness activities, our favourite of which has to be the opportunity to take an anti-gravity yoga class in the jungle.
Guests are given the option to have a complimentary ‘dosha’ test by the hotel’s resident ayurvedic practitioner upon arrival, and are offered diet and lifestyle recommendations - and the support required to act on them! - for the duration of their stay.
As with all Four Seasons properties, the design of the resort has been impeccably well thought-out with locally-inspired architecture and interiors taking centre stage. From the welcome jetty and open-air reception area, to the resort’s expansive green open spaces, dining areas and, finally, to the villas - the decor is opulent, impressive and worth paying for.
Wonderfully located for wildlife-lovers too, the hotel is just 35 minutes by seaplane from a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve that plays home to whale sharks and the world's largest gathering of manta rays. Staff can also arrange for a night’s stay on board one of the hotel’s catamarans, or at their sister hotel on neighbouring island, Kuda Huraa.
2. Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort
This stunning Cycladic resort is everything you’ve ever wanted from a Greek-island getaway - and then some. Classically decorated in clean azure and white, and located on Mykonos’s cliffy coastline with panoramic sea views and an infinity pool receding into the ocean, this is where to go if you want to lose yourself in the moment.
Prepare to be mesmerised from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave; the atmosphere here is one of pure bliss.
Bedrooms are bright white stone and floor to ceiling marble, and many have their own steam room or whirlpool (you should request this when booking), and there are a couple of sprawling suites that have access to a private infinity pool, barbecue area and private chef. You’ll pay a premium for this but it’ll be worth it.
Speaking of chefs, the menus at the hotel’s two restaurants have been thoughtfully curated and are a great mix of authentic, healthful and, most importantly, delicious dishes. Greek cuisine is much-loved the world-over in any case, but the kitchen manages to elevate even the simplest of dishes far above what you’d expect even from a hotel of this calibre. The moussaka, for example, is standout, as is their light and fresh take on a traditional Greek salad.
The hotel has two eateries in the main complex - one casual, one a little smarter - and staff can also, with a little bit of notice, rustle you up a stunning picnic complete with nibbles, cheeses, bubbles and dessert to enjoy on the beach below the resort. The wine list is exceptional, covering the length and breadth of Europe and beyond, but you’ll do best to order the bottles by local producers if you want to fully immerse yourself in the spirit of the island.
Staff are attentive, responsive and numerous; they’re always available to attend your needs and will do so with so much apparent joy that it’s almost unnerving.
If you’re looking for peace and quiet, authenticity and a chance to unwind, this is the panacea you’ve been looking for.
3. Como Shambhala Estate, Bali
For those of you with yogic tendencies and a love of feeling wild and free, this gorgeous oasis is an island retreat with a difference that’ll suit you down to a tee. Unlike the others on this list, COMO Shambhala Estate is not within a stone’s throw of open sands and lapping seas, but it does offer something very special.
Tucked away in the hills of Ubud, home to Bali’s largest spiritual and wellbeing community, COMO Shambhala overlooks the luscious Ayung Valley and the meandering river that runs through it, and has long been popular with the travelling elite. COMO Shambhala is in the middle of nowhere which, quite frankly, is the charm of the place, and the zen is tangible - you can’t hear anything save for the crick-crick of the tropical insects and gentle chirrup-chirrup of the jungle birds.
The hotel’s buildings are traditional Balinese-style cabins; think natural materials, woven walls, thatched roofs, and rickety rope bridges connecting one stilted hut to the next. Rather than chopping down the jungle to make way for the hotel, the hotel buildings have been constructed around the trees, preserving nature and keeping the jungle very much alive throughout the property. This has the effect of making you feel that you are at one with the jungle; that you are part of a natural ecosystem. Very relaxing. We love the hot-spring rock pools that are dotted around the estate, too.
Spa treatments are the name of the game here so make sure you check in for an Ayurvedic massage, acupuncture session, foot-spa treatment or colonic during your stay. A schedule of daily yoga classes and meditation can be obtained from reception; there is always something going on. Staff recommend that guests also undergo a digital detox whilst at the resort.
If you want to a) find yourself, b) disconnect from the world and c) feel at one with nature, we’d suggest you book a stay at COMO Shambhala Estate, pronto.
4. Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa, French Polynesia
The Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa is part of the esteemed Relais & Chateaux group, so you just know it’s going to be good. The luxury property near Bora Bora is about as textbook ‘dream holiday’ destination as it gets. This picturesque island has become ever-popular in recent years with social media megastars and celebrities.
The resort takes over the entire island and is stylish, luxurious and traditionally Polynesian; you’ll feel as though you’re dreaming from the minute you land, and you wouldn’t be far off. It really is the stuff of dreams: slap-bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with nothing but turquoise seas to spoil the view in any direction, Le Taha'a Island Resort’s neverending shoreline and overwater bungalows are the stuff of nigh on everybody’s wanderlust bucket lists.
Watersports are big here, think jetskiing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling and stand-up paddle boarding. If you’re feeling like something a little more relaxed, allow the hotel’s friendly staff to charter you a boat to one of the nearby natural pearl farms or perhaps explore another island. Once you’ve sufficiently tired yourself out for the day, treat yourself to a signature spa treatment at the onsite Tāvai Spa. Therapists use Polynesian sourced coconut and flower oils, known locally as Monoi, in massages and facials.
If you consider yourself to be in possession of aesthetic tendencies or - let’s be honest - if you’re doing it ‘for the ‘gram’, then Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa has your name on it.
5. Banyan Tree Samui, Koh Samui, Thailand
The Banyan Tree Samui is located on Koh Samui’s quiet southeast coast. Described as being a ‘garden complex’, The Banyan Tree is built in and above a rocky, tree-covered hillside peninsula overlooking the sea on both sides.
Each of the 88 villas is nestled into the verdant hillside and comes with its own private pool, hot tub and sprawling terrace. Native wildlife is so abundant in the resort that you can be taken on a complimentary half-day nature tour and never even have to leave the hotel.
Activities available include all manner of non-motorised watersports, yoga, pilates, meditation, traditional Muay Thai boxing lessons, tennis, table tennis, swimming and, of course, spa treatments. Treatment wise, we’d recommend a thai massage (how could we not?) or the resort’s signature ‘Rainforest’ treatment which consists of alternating between hot and cold showers, steam rooms and a sauna. The thinking behind the treatment is that, after an hour of repeated and almost incessant temperature shocks to the body, you’ll leave feeling revitalised, rejuvenated and full of energy. Oh, and apparently you’ll look younger, too.
Of all the hotels on our list, Banyan Tree Samui probably has the best culinary offering. From Italian classics and comfort food, to traditional Thai dishes and a lavish international breakfast buffet, they have all bases covered. And it’s not just the sheer variety on offer, the quality of the food is phenomenal across the board.
If you’re planning an island-hopping trip to Thailand for later this year, be sure to incorporate a visit to Banyan Tree into your agenda.
Hopefully you’re feeling inspired and excited for your next overseas adventure, and ready to start planning your dream holiday . In the meantime, while sun-drenched tropical beaches and piña coladas remain but a distant dream, make sure you’re keeping your vitamin D levels topped up . The body cannot make vitamin D itself so it is fundamental that you supplement. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the West as we spend so much of our time indoors, either at home or in the office, and when we aren’t exposed to sunshine our risk of deficiency is further increased. Adequate intake of vitamin D will boost your mood , improve your immunity and keep your body and bones healthy. Vita-Algae D3™ is the most advanced known form of the vitamin and, as formulated at 2,000 i.u. in LYMA, is the perfect daily dose. LYMA is the ultimate supplement for helping you to feel like the best version of yourself, every day.
Originally published Jul 16, 2020.