In case you missed the memo, it's winter. Don't get us wrong, we love donning stylish scarfs and coats, but can you blame us if we drift into a little beach daydream while trudging through the cold snaps? For every chilly puddle we step in, we imagine our toes sinking into soft sand. And every time we wrap ourselves in a scarf, we pretend it's a beach towel. If you're feeling frigid, we feel you. That's why we put together this list of 10 luxurious beach hotels, from the Maldives to Miami Beach.
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Faena Hotel Miami Beach is as much of a visual experience as it is a physical one. The hotel -- decorated in deep reds, golds, blues, and lots of garden imagery and plants -- has a sort of rich, utopian feel. It's a stunner, from the floor-to-ceiling murals at the entrance, to the gilded wooly mammoth skeleton by Damien Hirst, to the half-skinned golden unicorn in one of the restaurants, to the subtle Art Deco design at the pool and beach. It feels like a high-brow hotel for folks who appreciate style and art as much as a good cocktail. Guests can expect 178 well-decorated rooms with desks and quality toiletries, plus most have furnished balconies and lovely vistas. Some suites have kitchenettes, butler service, and tubs and separate showers. Other notable features include two chef-led restaurants, four bars, and well-serviced pool and beach spaces. A kids' club and large spa with immersive treatments are also on-site.
Located on stunning, secluded Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, Qualia Resort is a luxury property with 60 high-end waterside pavilions. Each room has sleek wooden decor, a private terrace, and a huge bathroom. Property highlights include a private beach and two infinity pools with breathtaking views over the Coral Sea. Also expect a range of low-key activities, such as free yoga, and more adventurous excursions to the Great Barrier Reef dive and snorkel sites. The two restaurants on-site provide top-notch cuisine, though it's easy to empty your wallet while filling your stomach here.
Everyone knows that Thailand is home to some of the best beaches in the world, and the eco-chic Racha on Ko Racha Yai in the Andaman Sea is one beach hotel that's currently on our minds. A quick 35-minute boat ride from Phuket will get you to the resort's whitewashed villas, ATVs, water toys, tennis courts, spa, and more. Villas are clean and comfortable with minimal decor and teak wood; some have private pools and spacious outdoor bathrooms. The only downside is that you'll have to share the stunning sandy beach with tourist boats from Phuket and other day-trippers. Still, we can almost feel ourselves rocking back and forth on one of their hammocks while listening to the waves roll in.
You might be surprised to learn that we're dreaming of a beach hotel in Georgia, but we love the romance of the salty ocean air mixing with the green marsh grounds over at The Cloister at Sea Island. This historic luxury resort was built to evoke a cross between a Mediterranean estate and an English manor. It's part of a large, grandiose property consisting of three parts: a hotel centered around a network of golf courses, a central complex that houses a spa and gym, and a cluster of semi-private units that can take on various configurations. This beautiful beach resort proves that you don't have to hit the tropics to get your beach fix. You can also go golfing, enjoy horseback riding, or get pampered at the spa. No wonder it's frequented by politicians and celebrities!
Hotel Xcaret Mexico is a Garden-of-Eden-like all-inclusive resort with a whopping 900 rooms, though the smart layout means you won't really feel it. Expansive grounds house several pools, stunning architecture utilizing natural rock, 10 restaurants, eight bars, a kids' club, and a luxe grotto-style spa. The lounger-equipped beach is lovely (though it's more rock than sand), and kayaks are available to weave through the property's lagoon. Rooms are just as gorgeous as the grounds, thanks to thoughtful local decor elements, contemporary design, and hammocks on the terrace. Buffet and a la carte dining covers Mexican, Asian, and international cuisines, but a few are exclusive to certain guests or require an extra fee.
That vision of the Maldives you've got floating around in your head? Kandohlu Maldives makes it a reality. With pristine white sand, crystal clear waters and tall palm trees, this 30-villa luxury resort is a screensaver come to life. Like most Maldivian resorts, it's on its own island -- one of the smaller ones, in fact. Surrounded by a fish-filled house reef and close to good dive spots, it's a good option for underwater lovers. There are also four a la carte restaurants, a relaxing beachside bar, spa, dive center, library lounge and state-of-the-art gym. Upscale and contemporary styled rooms are outfitted with all the trimmings -- from fluffy towels to wine fridges -- and can feature outdoor bathrooms, private beach areas and personal dipping pools. All villas come with private sundecks and sea views.
The luxurious, 260-room Le Blanc Spa Resort stands out for its gorgeous white-sand beach, decadent spa (guests get free access to the hydrotherapy area), stunning pools (two with swim-up bars), and its pampering service, from the butlers who will unpack your clothes to the pool attendants who will provide cool towels for your eyes. It has a hip, gorgeous aesthetic throughout, and the modern, bright rooms have two-person whirlpool tubs; most have either ocean or lagoon views. The chic restaurants have great food and don't require reservations (aside from the stunningly designed Lumiere). The fitness offering also impresses, and there are multiple daily classes, including aqua spinning and Pilates.
Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort is situated on the outskirts of Manuel Antonio National Park. This remarkable location is combined with impressive eco-conscious practices and upscale amenities. One of our favorite things is that it's almost impossible not to spot exotic wildlife while dining at one of the resort's restaurants or lounging by the pools. Not only is it one of the few hotels in the area located on the beach, it has access to two different beaches. The resort's 38 guest rooms are subtly stylish, offering minibars stocked with generous supplies of Costa Rican treats. Meet us at the airport?
One & Only Palmilla is easily one of Mexico's most luxurious properties -- and it's got one of the only swimmable beaches in Los Cabos. The velvet-gloved treatment includes personal concierges, butlers, aromatherapy turndown service, and some of Cabo's best dining. The 173 rooms and villas blend classic Mexican design with contemporary accents like Venetian stucco and walls of windows to create bright, elegant spaces. All have terraces, many with direct ocean views, and some include private pools. Dining includes Asian-Mexican fusion and Mediterranean options, plus a steakhouse by acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. There's also an elegant spa and two gorgeous pools -- and the manicured jungle setting doesn't hurt either.
The 21-room GoldenEye is one of Jamaica's hippest and most luxurious resorts. It's also one of the island's most historic, as the former home of Ian Fleming, and the hideaway at which the author scribed all 14 of his James Bond novels. Today, the property includes stunning cottages and villas overlooking a private beach and lagoon, as well as two happening restaurants, two pools, a treehouse spa, and an extensive roster of on-site activities. The rates might cause some to flinch, but those who can afford it will find little cause for complaint.
(Editor's note: Oyster.com is an independent hotel review site that does not have any financial arrangement with the individual hotels reviewed.)