Best of the Beach

9 Top Luxury Beach Hotels


By Jason Oliver Nixon

From the perfect spot to watch the sun set, to the best seaside cocktail, to where to rekindle your romance, here’s our little black book of beaches with benefits. 

Caribbean Chic
Viceroy Anguilla

Don a low-cut swimsuit, a Pucci pareo, and a stack of bangles as you soak up the style-setting scene at this Kelly Wearstler-designed, glass-wrapped escape. And don’t forget the oversize shades as you enjoy a languid picnic lunch on Meads Bay’s white sands. We love the attentive, intuitive service as well as the people-watching: The bright young things who frequent this high-style 166-room retreat seem plucked from the pages of a glossy magazine. More Details

To Rekindle Romance
Las Ventanas al Paraíso, Los Cabos, Mexico

One of our favorite South-of-the-Border retreats serves up an entire menu of romantic offerings, from a horse-drawn carriage ride through the desert at sunset to sleeping under the stars. Don’t miss a massage for two at this 71-room hotel’s newly expanded spa. More Details

Bossa Nova, Barry Manilow, and You
Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Throw on that itsy-bitsy bikini and hightail it to the Esther Williams-worthy swimming pool. Or soak up the theater that unfolds along Copacabana Beach’s golden strands just across the street. When night falls, live it up at the 243-room hotel’s gilt-and-glam Bar do Copa while sipping cocktails and shimmying to the DJ-driven beat. More Details

Retreat Like a Rock Star
Eden Rock, Saint Bart’s

Book the 16,000-square-foot Villa Rockstar, with a metallic-tiled bathroom, fully equipped gym, whiskey bar, recording studio, and screening room. After touring the grounds of the 34-room hotel with your entourage, hit the beach and beckon your private butler to spritz and cosset you as needed. More Details

A Sublime Stroll
La Samanna, Saint Martin

Enjoy a long walk on Baie Longue’s private shore-line, then kick back in a Balinese-crafted beach cabana with a crisp white from the cellar’s 12,000 bottles. More Details

Technicolor Sunsets
Qualia, Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Hop a helicopter to stunning Whitehaven Beach for a picnic lunch or enjoy a private charter aboard the 60-room resort’s custom cruiser. Come sunset, toast the day’s end with a libation in the Long Pavilion, where you can recline on oversize lounges and watch the neighboring islands change from yellow to red to orange. More Details

Best Butler
St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point, California

We love the bespoke services at this 400-room St. Regis: Witness the surf butler, who will outfit you with a wet suit and long board before taking you out for a lesson. And there’s no better beach to test your skills than Monarch, a private sanctuary surrounded by coastal cliffs and bluffs. More Details

Seaside Splurge
Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

This over-the-top, 202-room resort set the standard for Dubai’s glam factor. Arrive via the rooftop helipad, then take the private elevator to a palatial 25th-floor Royal Suite (complete with marble-and-gold staircase). Explore the emirate via Rolls-Royce for megawatt shopping, then return to a beachside dinner with views of the Arabian Sea. More Details

Robinson Crusoe for Grown-Ups
Viceroy Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Turn to the newly rebranded 41-room Viceroy Riviera Maya for castaway-style cool, courtesy of secluded, thatched villas with private plunge pools, open-air showers, and hammocks tucked into lush vegetation. And then there’s the powdery white beach with its palapa-style cabanas. It’s like a deserted island, albeit with cocktails at your beck and call. More Details

Most Creative Cocktail
Sandy Lane, Barbados

Laden with mango rum, pineapple juice, and banana liqueur, the signature libation of this gracious 112-room resort is a small slice of heaven, served up with a straw. More Details

Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, March 2012.

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