Just because you’re vacationing in the middle of a Southeast Asian rainforest or on the side of a Caribbean cliff doesn’t mean you can’t be afforded the nicer things in life. At these seven rustic-luxe tropical getaways, modern comforts and killer natural surroundings go hand in hand.
Keemala, Phuket, Thailand
Just a 10- to 30-minute drive from some of Phuket’s most popular western coast beaches (think: Kata and Patong), all-villa Keemala sprawls out against a jungle and rubber plantation backdrop. Despite its proximity to the city’s infamous nightlife, the resort is an intimate oasis overlooking Kamala Village and the Andaman Sea. All accommodations—including Clay pool cottages, tent pool villas, tree pool houses, and bird’s nest pool villas—architecturally reflect the lifestyle of one of four fictional Phuket tribes: the Pa-Ta-Pea (earth clan), Khon-Jorn (wanderer clan), We-ha (sky clan), and Rung Nok (nest clan). Between the four styles, you’ll find monsoon showers, canopied beds, cocoon-like hanging chairs, and private plunge pools.
Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor, Malaysia
Three miles off the western coast of Malaysia, along the Straits of Malacca, Pangkor Laut calls a 300-acre private island home. Despite its remote locale, the resort’s accommodations are nothing if not sumptuous. Between garden, hill, beach, sea, and spa villas you’ll find romantic Southeast Asian decor, large sea-facing balconies, oversized tubs, and luxe linens. If you’re looking to revel in nature but aren’t sure what to do beyond the beach, sign up for the signature Raja Sehari experience. The all-day affair includes breakfast and a tree planting ceremony at Emerald Bay; a private jungle walk led by the resort’s resident naturalist; a three-hour couples massage at the Belian Spa Pavilion;and a private Malay-themed dinner at The Straits.
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Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand
File the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle under once-in-a-lifetime glamping trips you just have to take. The exotic escape starts with a pretty stellar location: Chiang Rai, in the northern corner of Thailand, where the borders of Myanmar and Laos also meet. Perched high above the Ruak and Mekong rivers, the resort’s 15 tented digs are the definition of rustic romanticism. Hand-hammered copper tubs, leather-and-hardwood bush chairs, and outdoor rain showers meet creature comforts like WiFi, air conditioning, and minibars. Oh, and the highlight of any trip done right? Bonding with the resort’s family of Asian elephants over shared sunsets, breakfast buffets, and bath rituals.
Hotel Escondido, Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Surfer-chic, rustic-luxe, laid-back bohemian—Hotel Escondido hits every one of these nails on the head. The Oaxacan retreat lets simplicity and setting reign as palapa-style bungalows feature sliding walls, hammock-ed terraces, and private plunge pools—all prime points from which to drink in the beautiful white beaches, surreal cactus gardens, lush papaya farms, and commanding Sierra Madre del Sur mountains that lie just beyond the property. Indoors—in guestrooms and common spaces—things get a little funkier, think: geometrically-patterned wooden floors, folding papasan chairs, and a soundproof underground nightclub (yeah, that's for real).
Soneva Kiri, Koh Kut, Thailand
Now hear us out on this one: Koh Kut’s Soneva Kiri may be a bonafide splurge, but just where else can you dine in a suspended treetop pod where waiters deliver your meal via zipline? Barefoot luxury is the name of the game here as teak, bamboo and acacia-constructed villas thrive off of a less-is-more scheme, lending guests’ attention to sprawling private patios, plunge pools, outdoor dining areas, and open-air bathrooms. We know it's tough, but be sure to steal away from your villa once or twice to indulge in some treats from the complementary chocolate and ice cream parlours or to catch a film at outdoor Cinema Paradiso.
Secret Bay, Dominica
Pairing “unspoilt” and “Caribbean” may seem oxymoronic, but Dominica has long flown under the sun-seeking holidaymakers’ radar. An hour from the island’s capital of Roseau, Secret Bay is a collection of eight sustainable villas and bungalows that blend seamlessly into their wild forested cliff surroundings with locally-crafted furniture, raised decks, high ceilings, and bi-folded wooden doors. While you can easily enjoy views of Secret Beach, Prince Rupert Bay, TiBay Beach, and the Cario River from the vantage of your own room (depending on where you’re located), it’s also worth checking out the Gommier Meditation Deck. Whether you’re a regular meditator or not, close your eyes and take a moment to let the sound of the crashing waves below wash over you before tucking into one of the sofas with a good book.
Ka’ana Resort, San Ignacio, Belize
Man oh man do we love bespoke, no-fuss luxury, and in western Belize, Ka’ana Resort knows how to deliver. Nights spent in private pool villas and hacienda-style suites are followed by mornings of invigorating green juices with chaya, ginger, pineapple, honey, and lime—all sourced from the onsite organic garden. Lax days are best spent between the shamanistic treatments a the Ka’ana Spa and classes in ancient cooking techniques at the resort’s traditional Mayan kitchen. But if you're looking for something a little more adventurous, you can always arrange visits to the Tikal Maya Ruins, snorkeling trips to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, or horseback riding through the Xunantunich archaeological site.