Recently Audley has added several beach properties to our collection, from sophisticated, secluded hotels that are in keeping with their natural surroundings to private island resorts only accessible by boat. Whether you’re looking for the best spa in Mauritius, a family-friendly hotel in the Caribbean or your own private yoga deck in the Andaman Islands, Audley specialists have selected the properties that transform beach breaks into elegant stays.
Sitting on the island’s wilder southern coast, just past fields of sugarcane, Shanti Maurice feels pleasantly cut off from the world (and the more developed parts of Mauritius) without being marooned. This is helped by its oceanfront location: it’s right opposite a natural offshore surf break, so you look out over a curve of white sand and electric blue, placid shallows to a ruffle of white waves.
There’s a relaxing informality about the place which extends to the restaurant and bar offerings. You can dine barefoot on the sand, while enjoying Mauritian barbecue specialities at the beachside Fish Shack, and sample the island’s signature tipple at the cheerfully rustic Rum Shed. Alternatively, tuck into hearty Creole home cooking at La Kaze Mama (Grandma’s kitchen), which uses herbs from the hotel’s own gardens.
But the crowning glory is the spa, a sprawling sanctuary with around 30 treatment rooms and enveloped by tropical gardens. The treatment menu is extensive, with ayurvedic and Balinese offerings. If in doubt, you could plump for the four-hand full-body massage, delivered by two therapists in synchrony.
This isn’t just a beach hotel: it’s a small private island, with a greenery-covered hill at one end, an interior of thick tropical vegetation, and a perimeter of floury white-sand beaches.
Instead of rooms there are cottages, all set in their own secluded pocket on a hillside, cliff top, or bordering a beach. And instead of phones, you simply place a note in your personal letterbox and use a flag system to alert the ever-attentive staff, who patrol the island in golf buggies (there are no cars) attending with breezy efficiency to everyone’s whims. With no clocks, mobile phone signal, TVs or Wi-Fi (save in one corner of the island), it feels like a true escape from all the trappings of modern life.
The diving is also a reason to go: the island has its own coral reef and dive site just offshore, and its dive school was founded by none other than Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of scuba pioneer Jacques-Yves. The school runs all kinds of dives and PADI courses, including ones for beginners, and the island’s underwater menagerie is populated by sea turtles and enormous eagle rays, among other creatures.
The arc of white-sand beach that forms part of this resort is often completely empty, though that’s no reflection on its quality. It’s because your fellow guests are most likely contentedly cocooned in their villas which flank the hillside above the beach. It’s the type of place where you need hardly leave your villa at all, enjoying the in-room dining service and sitting in your private infinity pool, admiring the sweeping views over the beach and Anse Louis Bay.
Each villa is separated from the others by an artful tangle of mature indigenous native plants, from heliconia to elephant ears, so the sense of privacy and exclusivity is immediate. This is only compounded by the fact that each villa is assigned its own private butler. They offer a discreet service and seem to anticipate just what you need at any given moment, whether that’s stocking your room with cool drinks and nibbles or scattering flower petals in your pool.
Technically, Jalakara isn’t a beach hotel. But it’s arguably one of the best places from which to enjoy the Andaman’s long ribbons of beach. You might not be able to roll from bed to beach, but you can relax in off-grid luxury within a secluded corner of rainforest, with views across jungle-clad hills from the infinity pool.
On arrival you’re welcomed by host Shruti and ushered to one of only seven rooms. The Jalakara has eschewed the traditional beach resort concept, instead aiming for an exclusive private-villa feel. Each room is large enough to feel like your own private home — the private villa has its own plunge pool and yoga deck — and opens out onto a secluded garden or veranda.
The hotel sits on Havelock Island, one of the few islands on the archipelago that’s open to visitors. The nearest beach is just 2 km away (1.2 miles), accessed by foot, bike, scooter or, more authentically, the island’s bus service (it’s worth the effort). Few hotels or restaurants clutter the island’s wild coastline. Instead, you’ll find white stretches of sand flanked by a thick rainforest canopy.
This large grand-dame of a beach resort sits at the northern end of sheltered Pinney’s Beach which stretches for 3 miles (4.8 km) along the island’s west coast. Its décor is smart and international, its furnishings fresh and modern. Its 196 rooms and suites are spread out over a vast area of verdant gardens, with views of either the Caribbean or the brooding, cloud-smudged Nevis Peak.
It’s especially great for children. There’s a huge range of activities on offer, including non-motorised watersports, an on-site playground and basketball court, and opportunities to learn about sea turtles — not to mention the gelato bike which regularly makes it way around the resort’s grounds.
Golfers can enjoy direct access to the island’s celebrated course (just watch out for the resident macaques interfering in your game). But perhaps one of the nicest ways to spend a day here is to wander down Pinney’s Beach, where Nevis residents gather to relax and play volleyball come the weekend. There are also a number of good beach bars within walking distance of the resort, including Sunshine’s, which serves delicious but potent rum cocktails known as ‘Killer Bees.’
Anantara may be a global brand, but the Kandyan drumming and king coconut drink you’ll receive on arrival at the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort are thoroughly Sri Lankan. Perched on an outcrop on Sri Lanka’s south coast, the resort sits in a huge coconut plantation overlooking a crescent of rose-gold sand. Situated between the Dutch Fortress of Galle and Yala National park, the hotel is well located if you’re looking to explore more of Sri Lanka.
The main body of the hotel has a selection of spacious rooms, but off to one side you’ll find a cluster of individual villas. Each villa has its own plunge pool and suite of rooms, attended to by your own villa host. Since the Anantara opened its doors 18 months ago, the staff have settled in, the service is now satisfyingly efficient, and the tropical gardens have flourished: now is the time to visit.
Imagine having your own tropical kingdom, which you share with only 30 or so other people. That’s the total number of guests that can stay on private Guana Island, a resort that also happens to be a wildlife sanctuary, reached via a ten-minute boat ride from Tortola’s Beef Island Airport.
You can wander through different forest trails, admiring the riot of flora: Turk’s cap cacti, frangipani trees, bougainvillea and even a rare type of bromeliad only found on the island. Fat iguana loll on the paths. Alternatively, stretch out on one of seven pristine beaches. Or swim and snorkel on thriving offshore reefs, where you might spy pufferfish, turtles, stingrays and barracudas. Or try a combination of them all —perhaps the greatest luxury of Guana is space, and a feeling of unparalleled seclusion. There’s no marina here, and no day-visitors.
Rooms are built into the hillsides, so you can open the doors onto your own private terrace, and drink in the unobstructed views over the sapphire Caribbean. And should you begin to yearn to socialise, in the evenings guests gather to mix cocktails, before dinner is served on a sunset terrace.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.