Como Maalifushi // © 2016 Ksenia Novikova
Feature image (above): Montana Magica Lodge // © 2016 Ksenia Novikova
All too often, our reasons for traveling are compulsory — we’re off to attend business trips, conventions, weddings or family events. But, every so often, we feel the need to truly escape to someplace extraordinary. These six hotels from around the globe are destinations within themselves, where savvy travelers are sure to enjoy a uniquely grand experience.
Como Maalifushi in Thaa Atoll, the Maldives
Those seeking a blissful sense of remove without having to sacrifice even an ounce of luxury should head to the Maldives’ Como Maalifushi.
The property is the first and only luxury resort to open in the remote Thaa Atoll. Miles away from anything else man-made, the private resort can only be reached by seaplane transfer from the Maldives’ main airport in Male.
Como Maalifushi exemplifies the notion of “barefoot chic,” drawing couples and families alike through its combination of understated opulence and unsurpassed natural splendor. Opportunities abound for sailing, snorkeling, diving, surfing, fishing and other watersports, and expert staff members are always available for assistance.
The dedicated Maalifushi Dive Centre even has a resident marine biologist to take visitors on aqua safaris or aid them in coordinating their own underwater explorations. Boat excursions take guests to swim among the area’s giant manta rays and gentle whale sharks.
On shore, world-class facilities include three gourmet dining options; a fitness center; an air-conditioned yoga studio and open-air yoga pavilion; and pool and spa facilities.
Gora Kadan in Hakone, Japan
Folded into the lush, forested foothills of Mount Fuji, Gora Kadan is located on land that once served as the personal retreat of Imperial Prince Kanin-no-miya. The grounds still incorporate two natural mineral hot springs, whose therapeutic waters feed the traditional Japanese ryokan’s exceptional open-air and indoor baths.
Designers here have achieved a tranquil elegance, pairing a clean linear style of construction with the rich earthen elements of the surrounding landscape. Almost everywhere, Gora Kadan’s interior and exterior spaces incorporate natural stone, hardwood and water features and enfold the area’s existing foliage into their own design.
The hotel’s 39 rooms and suites are furnished with traditional comforts such as soft, woven tatami-mat floors; futon bedding; silken linens; and delicate rice paper walls, combined with every modern amenity. Each guestroom also features its own garden and personal soaking tub, creating a space for ultimate serenity and solitude.
Katikies Hotel in Santorini, Greece
Considered to be the grande dame of Santorini’s boutique luxury lodging, Katikies Hotel appears as a gleaming alabaster edifice embedded into the island’s iconic caldera cliffside. The freeform flow of its classically Cycladic architecture makes this collection of cave cottages, solid bridges and outdoor stairways seem to spill down the face of the ancient volcanic rock, thus affording every guestroom an unobstructed, panoramic view of the sparkling sapphire Aegean Sea.
Interiors are done in a spare, sophisticated style — luxurious cotton linens and a refined selection of furnishings exude a sense of simplicity, ease and elegance. Katikies’ 34 rooms and suites feature private verandas, some with personal pools and open-air hot tubs. Guests also enjoy a sprawling sundeck with open-air dining, three infinity-edge pools and access to the spa at Kirini Suites & Spa, its sister hotel.
Montana Magica Lodge in Panguipulli, Chile
Tucked away in the heart of the Chilean rainforest lies Montana Magica Lodge — an unexpectedly luxurious eco-hotel built to resemble a volcano, which erupts into a man-made waterfall that cascades down its foliage-laden facade.
As part of the south-Andean Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, the lodge was designed to mirror the raw wilderness of its surroundings and was constructed entirely from natural materials, including locally sourced timber and stone. Native artisans handcrafted its impressive interior elements, fixtures and furnishings, which are fashioned from ancient tree trunks.
Each of Montana Magica’s nine guestrooms include an en-suite bathroom and feature rough-hewn interiors with rustic touches, softened by cozy seating, warm lighting and plush bedding. Some rooms even open onto private terraces with open-air hot tubs that use water heated geothermally within the park.
Still, the best part of the hotel’s design might just be the wooden suspension bridge that guests must cross to get to the lobby.
Son Brull Hotel & Spa in Mallorca, Spain
Mallorca’s exquisite five-star Son Brull Hotel & Spa represents a perfect synthesis of the old and the new. Converted from an 18th-century monastery, the building’s historic stonework walls now belie an ultra-chic aesthetic inside. Its 23 spacious guestrooms overlook Son Brull’s own working vineyard, its 300-year-old olive orchard and groves of orange, lemon and almond trees. Guests can also enjoy a large outdoor pool, an extensive holistic spa and a fitness center.
Son Brull’s rural hillside location affords views of the beautiful bay of Pollenca and places it in proximity to the best beaches on the island. The property also encompasses 40 acres of adjoining farmland, from which Son Brull cultivates its own organic produce to stock its kitchen at on-site alfresco restaurant 3/65. Additionally, the hotel’s centuries-old olive mill now houses a trendy tapas and cocktail bar.
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta, Norway
Those who aspire to an authentic, if unconventional, Arctic adventure will find a perfect fit at Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, the world’s northernmost ice lodge and Norway’s largest, at nearly 27,000 square feet.
From the guest beds to the glassware in the bar, absolutely everything is made of snow and ice at this seasonal hotel, which is rebuilt featuring a different theme each year. But not to worry, an adjoining service building has necessary modern conveniences, including a heated lounge area, a restaurant, bathrooms with warm showers and even an area for charging electronics. There is also an indoor sauna and an outdoor hot tub for personal defrosting.
Expert guides lead visitors on a variety of frozen excursions and activities, such as reindeer-sleighing, dog mushing, snowmobile safaris, toboggan runs, snowshoeing, ice fishing and trekking out to witness astounding views of the Aurora Borealis.