BOUNDARY PUSHING RESORTS AROUND THE WORLD THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO TANTALIZE THE SENSES
BY AMANDA MCCOY
THE MURAKA RESIDENCE AT THE CONRAD, Maldives
On the surface, this one emerges as a sprawling overwater villa, floating tranquilly above the calm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. And while the expansive open air deck, infinity pool, and oversized two bedroom layout certainly provide a covetable space, the true phenomenon is what’s waiting below. Descend the spiral staircase or private elevator to find the master suite, fully submerged 16 feet under the ocean’s surface. A 180 degree curved acrylic dome offers a sweeping panorama of life under the sea. Watch as schools of colorful fish, rays, and sharks glide overhead as you cuddle up on high thread count sheets in your private aquarium. The master bathroom is also blanketed in floor to ceiling windows, and there’s a dedicated tunnel viewing theater for clinking cocktails against views of butterfly fish, yellow in tuna, and barracuda.
Back above sea level, the Muraka offers every modern luxury needed for an all-inclusive paradise. Catch a Maldivian sunset from the terrace, dotted with several lounge chairs, an open air shower, and infinity lap pool. Enjoy a meal prepared by your private chef in the formal dining room, meditate in the stone soaking tub overlooking the ocean, or work up a sweat in your private sun drenched gym. Muraka guests also enjoy dedicated 24 hour butler service, private jet skis, and on call fitness trainers and massage therapists. For those traveling with kiddos, the staff will set up a children’s teepee in the underwater suite replete with flashlights, a pillow fort, and an assortment of treats so the little ones can glamp with the fishes as well.
Rates for the Muraka Residence start at $9,500 per night. conradmaldives.com/ stay/the muraka
Singita’s Sweni Lodge, South Africa
Buried deep in the South African bush, nestled among dense thickets and untamed growth, lies this futuristic hideaway seamlessly blending into the Sub Saharan wild. Set on a particularly feral swath of Kruger lion country that stretches across 33,000 acres, Singita’s Sweni Lodge places its guests in the heart of the action. Its seven suites practically get lost in the canopy of the trees, dotting the banks of the Sweni River. Beds are perched on the open air terraces, cocooned by ivory mosquito lace, so visitors can fall asleep to the melody of Africa’s nights. Come morning, watch herds of elephants saunter around the watering hole, where hippos sling mud onto their backs and a regular rotation of fauna approaches to drink or bathe in the river.
The rules of luxury accommodation are reimagined here. Each suite is wrapped in floor to ceiling windows to offer the perception of being fully outdoors and immersed in the wild. Soak in the artisan crafted wooden tub, completely open to the elements, as you watch a lioness and her cubs at play. Enjoy an aromatherapy massage with Terres d’Afrique products made from botanicals hand harvested from wild growth plants under the trees on your private deck. Find respite from the South African sun in the main lodge’s infinity pool, located only mere feet from the river and its regular animal guests. For oenophiles, wine is also a signature of the Singita experience, and the lodge houses one of the country’s rarest and most diverse collections of private reserves, including exclusive releases, limited single vineyards, and auction wines.
Summer rates start around $2,200 per person for two nights. singita.com/lodge/sweni lodge
BÜRGENSTOCK HOTEL, Switzerland
Welcome to the former home of Audrey Hepburn, an alpine chic retreat set high in the clouds overlooking Lake Lucerne and the dramatic mountain scape. The original hotel was erected in 1873 and was only accessible by funicular (cable driven cars along a steep incline). Its privacy and exclusivity made it one of Europe’s most illustrious hideaways for the rich and famous throughout the mid-20th century.
Once new ownership took over in 2007, the Burgen stock underwent a massive $600 million renovation over ten years, reopening in 2017 with gravity defying, jaw dropping modernity that pays homage to its glitterati past. The chapel where Hepburn said “I do” still stands, juxtaposed now by futuristic edifices sparkling in the sun. The flagship hotel features 102 guestrooms and suites each with uninterrupted lake vistas with exquisite amenities like deep soaking tubs flanked by double sided replaces on one side and a floor to ceiling window overlooking the lake on the other, plus private rooftop terraces and en suite steam baths with star ceilings (depending on room type). The presidential suite features a grand piano, walnut floors, and a private loggia.
The Alpine Spa was designed to make guests feel as if they are floating between the water and sky, suspended high in the air with an infinity edge outdoor pool that’s heated to 95 degrees. Several treatment rooms, a leafy outdoor garden with a Roman pavilion, heated indoor pool, salt baths and saunas, and a serene silent area are also on site.
Summer weekend rates start around $2,200 per night for a Panorama Bay Suite. burgenstockresort.com
SONEVA KIRI, Thailand
It’s a couple hours before sunset, and you’re famished from an exhilarating day diving among the resort’s man made solar reef garden and trekking through the jungle to a towering waterfall. At dinnertime, a handmade bamboo pod lifts you up into the tropical foliage of the millennia old rainforest, inviting you to feast on fresh fish and dumplings while suspended in the canopy overlooking wildlife and waves crashing below. Your servers double as fearless acrobats as they zipline in with appetizers, main courses, desserts, and wine in tow. Welcome to Soneva Kiri’s treepod gastronomy experience, taking culinary adventure to entirely new heights.
Thirty four luxury villas comprise the beachfront eco retreat, each room clinging to either the hillside, clifftop, or sand overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. Opened in 2009, the resort is famed for its boundary pushing experiences. In addition to treepod dining, guests can feast on a five course mushroom centric lunch in the resort’s Mushroom Hut, view constellations in the high tech Observatory, or catch an old Hollywood classic in the outdoor theater on the water. When it’s time to retreat to the room, expansive villas with contemporary amenities like retractable roofs and water slides await. Even the smallest villa is over 4,000 square feet (the largest is a staggering 31,500!) and all feature plush king beds, private plunge pools, and chic outdoor bathrooms. If traveling with kids, don’t miss the mammoth manta ray shaped bamboo playground, inviting young explorers to unleash their imaginations through painting stations, Thai instruments, and larger than life art.
Rates start around $700 per night. soneva.com/resorts/soneva kiri