some of the most sought-after pool- and seaside accommodations—complete with over-the-top amenities and killer views
by Nubia DuVall-wilson
When you decide it’s time to take your vacation to the next level, consider a private cabana, either beside the pool or on the beach. All over the world, luxury resorts continue to up their game in these specialty accommodations with extra-luxe amenities, innovative décor, and outstanding services. From contemporary features like hammocks and dining tables to plush linens from trendy fashion lines, these tented chambers are becoming true standouts.
It’s a swimmer’s playground at The Mulia & The Mulia Resort in Bali, where there is no shortage of pools—four to be exact. The Oasis Pool, an infinity design steps from the Indian Ocean, is lined with imposing statues of Balinese women harvesting rice, signifying prosperity and wealth. Private cabanas are equipped with Wi-Fi and oversized daybeds (some have hammocks) and also offer butler service. The seaside Ocean Pool, with Balinese inspired statues, features a swim-up bar and cabanas. The Ladies courtyard, at the resort’s center, is lined with statues of women carrying flowers, a lounge area with tropical gardens, a swim-up bar, and private cabanas. For children three to eight, there’s the Splash Pool, which has water fountains and a splash area.
The Royal Suite is a lavish accommodation perfect for a family or twocouples. It features a master bathroom with a tub overlooking the pool and courtyard, a walk-in wardrobe, balcony with partial ocean views, and a spacious daybed. The Lagoon Suites have private outdoor pools. If you’re looking for more space and privacy, try the Mulia Villas, which come with from one to six bedrooms. All accommodations have ocean views, a private garden, a hydrotherapy swimming pool, and an outdoor pavilion.
The resort includes nine restaurants and bars, including Table8, which offers authentic Cantonese dim sum; the rooftop Sky Bar, where guests can enjoy cocktails, tapas, and spectacular vistas; and nightlife destination ZJ’s Bar & Lounge, where guests dance and drink signature cocktails outside. Off property, Bali offers a wealth of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including diving and snorkeling, bird-watching, visits to Bali’s famous temples, and sunrise treks up Mount Batur, an active volcano.
The 30,000-square-foot rooftop pool at Thompson Playa del Carmen is a playground that offers luxe cabanas, a swim-up bar, sunset views, and a vibrant nightlife. The largest poolside cabanas, which resemble mini suites, are outfitted with lovely artwork, lamps, mirrors, plants, and more. They come equipped with a dedicated wait staff, a flat-screen television, a couch, table and chairs for dining with groups, bottle service, and a gourmet minibar. There are two large cabanas available for $800 and five smaller ones, which can accommodate up to six people, for $400 each.
Guests can spend the entire day on the hotel’s rooftop deck, starting with a breakfast of huevos rancheros at Cinco. Lunch could be local fish tacos or ceviche. (Happy hour at Cinco is the place for drinks and bar menu specials while enjoying the sunset from poolside.) At night, for casual, al fresco dining, go to C-Grill, whose new menu incorporates ingredients from local farmers and fishermen. The authentic Mexican cuisine focuses on wood-oven-fired seafood and vegetables. Try the black seafood aguachile (with charred octopus, scallops, radish, and cucumber) for an appetizer. For entrée time, order the lamb tamal with charred salsa, cauliflower escabeche, and herbs—perfect for sharing.
Accommodations include three suite levels: City View, Panoramic, and Thompson. The Panoramic Junior Suite, in the hotel’s corner, is more than 1,000 square feet and features a separate living area, a private terrace with a daybed, partial sea views, and a cocktail bar.
When you’re not relaxing on property, take the Ultramar Ferry to Cozumel, a mostly underdeveloped island known for incredible scuba diving, or visit Coba, a ruined city of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization. Try the hotel’s new Mayan cooking master class and day trip, where you’ll gain local harvesting knowledge. Its students collect 100 percent organic seasonal fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs from an orchard and then cook a genuine Mayan meal side-by-side with a local family.
For those who prefer sand and sea to pools, a beach cabana at the historic Ocean House, a Forbes Five Diamond resort, will fit the bill. For this summer season, resort wear designer Lilly Pulitzer has outfitted the cabanas with custom accent pillows and towels in special 2017 prints. The property’s eight white tents are nestled in a private section of the beach, adding to their exclusivity, and feature screens and drop-down canvas walls for additional privacy. Amenities include a beverage stand filled with complimentary drinks, fresh fruit, a selection of magazines and newspapers, a dock for an iPod/iPhone, and a dedicated valet to attend to a guests’ every need, including delivering food and drinks from the Dune Cottage.
Cabanas, which are reserved through guest relations, will soon be available directly on the resort’s website. Rates start at $325 per cabana during the weekdays and $375 on the weekend for up to four guests.
An impressive room to book is the Tower Suite, which offers views of the Atlantic Ocean, Napatree Point, Stonington, and Watch Hill. The nautical themed, two-bedroom suite is 2,400 square feet and features three and a half baths, a slate fireplace, a kitchen, a dining area, and a roof deck overlooking the sea. The suite entertains 10 to 20 people and includes a complimentary bar with top-shelf spirits and mixers. Guests also have access to the members-only Club Room restaurant.
This hotel is a place to see and be seen, and its cabanas, by the resort’s temperature-controlled WET pools,are highly sought after. The W offers cabanas with and without TVs starting from $250 to $350, depending on the season. For a truly over-the-top experience, rent the WOW Cabana, starting at $550, which is 2,000 square feet and features personalized service from attendants, a sofa, a flat-screen TV, and six lounge chairs for partying with friends. Order all-natural cocktails, organic cold-pressed juices, and light bites from the WET Bar & Grille.
Although there’s no shortage of luxurious suites at W South Beach, one of the nicest is the two-bedroom Penthouse Ocean View Suite on the 20th floor, which has nine-foot ceilings and a private balcony. The 2,000-square-foot suite also includes a rooftop pool, an outdoor grill, chaise lounges, a Japanese plunge pool, a full kitchen, a dining room, and butler service.
When they’re not at the pool, visitors might join a beach yoga class, rent a bike, or play basketball by the ocean at SWISH or tennis on the rooftop at SWING. (If you need a tennis partner, the concierge team will arrange one—maybe the full-time, in-house tennis pro.) Complimentary beach activities include kite surfing and jet skiing, and there are plenty of children’s beach toys. In the evening, dine at Mr. Chow, a modern Asian restaurant, then grab drinks at Grove, an outdoor lounge set amid lush landscaping.