W Retreat & Spa – Maldives
North Ari Atoll, Maldives
To arrive at the thatched-roof bungalows of the W Retreat and Spa in the Maldives, it takes some effort. It’s a 19-hour flight from New York City to the tiny island nation’s capitol, Malé. The seaplane flight you’ll have to take right after isn’t that bad, considering the entire country is only roughly twice the area of Washington, D.C. But once you arrive to the Ari Atoll, you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the white-sand beaches and turquoise lagoon. Don’t feel like sharing paradise? No problem: You get your own infinity pool, wraparound sundeck, BBQ grill, and wine fridge, plus intimate views of wild manta rays, sea turtles, and starfish through your glass-paneled living room floor. Our favorite feature is the private, open-roofed shower, which we’d be willing to share. The resort offers nearly a dozen diving courses, plus sailboat rides to tank wrecks and reefs. When you’re finally ready to rejoin society, swim over to Wet, a cocktail bar surrounded by water, or venture to 15 Below, an underground nightclub with 95 varieties of vodka—does anyone need that many varieties? Probably not! Try as many as you can anyway. But don’t feel bad if you never make it out of your bungalow; we wouldn’t leave either.
By Alyson Sheppard and Ernie Monteiro