Words by Renae Robinson
Need some pampering? Revive yourself with a villa vacation to some of the most beautiful locations in the world – from the South Pacific to the Arabian peninsula – staying in some of the most beautiful 5-star accommodation around.
Gondwana Game Reserve – Mossel Bay, South Africa
Listen to the lions roar and the elephants trumpet from your bush villa in South Africa’s Gondwana Game Reserve. You can get there in under four hours from Cape Town, driving through the glorious Garden Route. The game reserve offers a “malaria-free safari” (good to know) with free-roaming game such as the Big Five (lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos), as well as herds of giraffe, eland, hippos, cheetah and zebras.
The 12 bush villas, with their thatched roofs and built-in braais (wood barbecues), have three or four bedrooms, expansive decks and uninterrupted views stretching to the Langeberg and Outeniqua Mountain ranges. If you prefer not to bother with cooking, the nearby 5-star Lehele Lodge serves gourmet meals. And if land predators are not enough excitement for you, Gondwana can organise for you to go cage diving with sharks off the nearby coast.
Royal Davui Island Resort, Fiji
Royal Davui Island Resort, in Fiji’s spectacular Beqa Lagoon, has only 16 villas, so you can book the entire island if you like (wedding bells, anyone?). The resort is a 30-minute helicopter flight – with views of jungle, waterfalls and villages – from the capital, Nadi, or via plane and launch.
Take your pick of villas (vales) with lagoon, island, reef or sunset views. Verandas? Beach access? Private plunge pool? Open-air showers? They’re yours for the asking. But if you really want to spoil yourself, go with the Royal Davui Plunge Pool Suite West – with sunrise and sunset views, you won’t want to leave.
If you can drag yourself away from the view, you might look in to the Davui Spa, go diving in the lagoon, go exploring in a sea kayak, take a trip to a local village or arrange to be stranded on a sand cay for secluded picnic. Oh, and it’s adults only. Bliss.
Alila Villas Soori, Bali
Mountain, beach, ocean villas - if one of those doesn’t please you, you can’t be pleased. The Alila Villas Soori in the Tabanan Regency of Bali has a range of one and two-bedroom luxury villas, with private pools, that invite the outdoors in. Gaze upon the World Heritage-listed rice fields that surround the property, stretching towards mystical Mt Batukaru, or feel the volcanic sand between your toes with direct beach access. Ocean views provide a sense of calm, while open-to-the-sky inner courtyards create light and space.
Dine on Balinese flavours under the stars; relax with a Champagne and berry bath in the spa; treat the little ones to a calming massage; try a yoga class; or go exploring with your own chauffeur. The villas have garnered a ridiculous number of accolades, from best resorts for kids to sexiest hotels in the world. Best of all, they’re away from the bustle of Bali’s tourist hot spots but within striking distance of the Tanah Lot temple and the Greg Norman- designed Nirwana Bali Golf Club.
Anantara Kihavah Villas, Maldives
Sleep over the water or dine under the water at Anantara Kihavah Villas in the Maldives’ Baa Atoll archipelago. The resort boasts 79 private pool villas – either over the water with sweeping ocean views or along a private beach. Watch the sun rise over the Indian Ocean as you enjoy breakfast in bed from your beach villa. Or inspect the denizens of the deep (while they inspect you) from your glass-bottomed bathtub in an over-water pool villa.
Dine among the angelfish in the underwater SEA restaurant or reach for the stars at the mellow SKY rooftop bar. While you’re there, you can sail the tropical waters, windsurf on the lagoon, dive into the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, or visit the markets in the capital, Male. You can even adopt some coral to help accelerate the regeneration of coral growth in the atoll reef, and watch its progress online long after your Maldivian escape is but a memory.
Six Senses Zighy Bay – Oman
Choose your private walled villa from among this indigenous village-style accommodation on the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. Stark mountains tower on one side and the 1.6-kilometre sandy beach of Zighy Bay calls to you on the other. Your villa sits behind high, cobblestone walls that conceal your Omani oasis – natural stone, warm woods and cushioned living areas. Relax on the sun lounger by the pool, or dream the day away on your day bed, as you sip on a drop from your private wine cellar, or take some time out in your personal in-villa spa. Opt for a beachfront suite villa for direct beach access. Dine like the Bedouins in the Shua Shack or go for a deep cleanse with a traditional hammam treatment at the spa.
If you do want to get a little more active, enjoy a sunset cruise of Haffa Bay complete with canapes, or take a longer trip on a traditional dhow (fishing boat) through the Musandam Fjords for snorkelling, kayaking and a gourmet lunch. Just can’t get enough? There’s also whale shark watching between January and March.