YOU’LL FIND SUN, SEA AND SAND IN MANY PLACES — BUT THESE ONES ARE THE BEST
BANYAN TREE KOH SAMUI, THAILAND
If you want your beach with a bit of a buzz, Koh Samui is the place for you. The third largest island in Thailand, Samui has also become one of the most sophisticated, with an impressive choice of luxe hotels, fashionable restaurants and bars at white-sand beaches. But you’ll find it hard to venture out once you’ve checked into Banyan Tree Koh Samui, hugging the cliffs of Lamai Bay. Chic villas range from a healthy 130sq m to the massive 316sq m Presidential Suite — all with their own infinity pool and plenty of privacy. Zippy golf buggies are at your disposal to whisk you from the breakfast buffet to the beach (the only private one on Samui) and from the spa to the Thai restaurant, Saffron. If you do head out, the resort gives you a mobile phone with a personal assistant on speed-dial for recommendations and taxis.
GO The Turquoise Holiday Company (turquoiseholidays.co.uk) offers seven nights from £1,995 per person, B&B. Includes flights, trantransfers, a champagne breakfast and a 60-minute hydrotherapy spa experience.
CARLISLE BAY, ANTIGUA your idea of honeymoon hell is a beach with nothing to do, read on, because Carlisle Bay has a tempting menu of activities. Snorkelling, naturally, is a must, but as well as gorgeous coral reefs, you’ve got the option of trekking through rainforest-covered hills, where your guide will unearth a dreamscape of tropical flora and fauna. There’s also sunset yoga, private tennis coaching, yachts to sail and kayaks to paddle. After all this, you’ll have earned your cocktail on the beach, and the palm-lined shore is just the place to sip a rum punch. Carlisle Bay is the epitome of Caribbean cool, with its whitewashed wooden floors, luxurious silks and crisp white linen. Food is another big plus — don’t miss the heavenly combo of plantains, crispy bacon and avocado for breakfast with fresh watermelon juice on tap.
WOW FACTOR Three gourmet meals a day not enough? Then top up with complimentary fruit kebabs at 1 lam and afternoon tea at 4pm.
GO Elegant Resorts (elegantresorts.co.uk) offers seven nights in a Garden Suite from £2,880 per person, all-inclusive. Includes flights and transfers.
PANGKOR LAUT RESORT, MALAYSIA
It’s not just the Maldives that has private-island resorts with stilted villas over the perfect blue ocean. Just off the west coast of Malaysia, Pangkor Laut is a secluded retreat where everything-you-need luxury meets a deserted-island paradise. There’s something magical about knowing that hotel guests and staff are the only people on the island — although the rainforest is teeming with life. Honeymooners should bag a stilted Sea or Spa Villa in Emerald Bay, or a Hill Villa (pictured) for rainforest views, and then decamp to the award-winning spa village (all four acres of it) for a heavenly Lupus-Lupus herbal wrap followed by a soothing Malay massage. End the day with a sunset cruise on an antique junk boat before dining at one of the seven restaurants.
WOW FACTOR The vast range of spa treatments.
GO The Turquoise Holiday Company (turquoiseholidays.co.uk) offers seven nights in a Hill Villa from £1,525 per person, B&B. Includes flights, transfers, a complimentary dinner and 20% off all couples’ spa treatments.
ANANTARA MUI NE, VIETNAM
If you like your beaches with a side helping of culture, we highly recommend Vietnam, which combines pristine sand with fishing villages and a rich history. For the best weather in the country, head to Mui Ne and Anantara, which is situated on one of the most unspoilt beaches in southeast Asia. The 20 villas are set in tropical gardens, with outdoor bathrooms and private swimming pools (pictured). Make sure you visit the Red Sand Dunes and hike up Та Cu Mountain to see the 49m-long Reclining Buddha. After a day spent sightseeing, head to the spa, which uses local ingredients such as dragon fruit and vanilla-infused oils.
WOW FACTOR Shopping at the local food market with French-Vietnamese chef Alain Nguyen. The Alain Ducasse-trained chef will then take you back to the resort armed with live seafood for a cookery class at his beach restaurant, Thung.
GO Western & Oriental (wandotravel.com) offers seven nights, including one night at Caravelle, Ho Chi Minh City, B&B, and six nights at Anantara Mui Ne, B&B, from £1,579 per person. Also includes flights and transfers.