Your own private Great Barrier Reef

Sleek interiors and contemporary Australian art at The House at Lizard Island
Sleek interiors and contemporary Australian art at The House at Lizard Island © Elise Hassey

Dyiigurra, better known as Lizard Island, has long been home to Australia’s best luxury lodges – as well as a national park since 1937, and its waters have been federally protected since the mid-’70s, a few years before the resort first began operating. The new game here is The House at Lizard Island, comprising a three-bedroom house and one-bedroom cottage – a custom-tailored experience, with not one but three beaches (there are 21 others across Lizard that can be accessed by boat or on foot). Within its elegant shells of timber, polished concrete and glass, The House showcases contemporary Australian talent; works in resin from Louise Olsen and Steve Ormandy’s brilliant Dinosaur Designs sit alongside art by indigenous women from far north Queensland. Guests have a private chef, sommelier and dive guide; they also have full access to the resort’s facilities, including its 56ft motor yacht, Pisces. From A$16,000 a night for full private use (minimum of three nights), thehouseatlizard.com

The House’s contemporary interiors
The House’s contemporary interiors © Elise Hassey
The House is built in an elegant shell of timber, polished concrete and glass
The House is built in an elegant shell of timber, polished concrete and glass

The full Brazilian

The pool at Fasano Trancoso, Brazil
The pool at Fasano Trancoso, Brazil

Trancoso, the Brazilian beach town to be in, has an out-of-time charm recalling the Tulum of 20 years ago. It owes its popularity in no small measure to Uxua, the all-cottage beach hotel created by Wilbert Das that has attracted, among others, Beyoncé and Anderson Cooper (who liked it so much he enlisted Das to build him his own house here). Over the winter, another player arrived on the scene: Rogério Fasano, who opened the Fasano Trancoso in January. It’s a 15-minute drive from Trancoso itself, but design-wise – as would be expected of the tastemaker behind some of Brazil’s most polished hotels and restaurants (he more recently opened on Fifth Avenue in New York) – it’s a world away from the gaily painted stucco houses and rope hammocks of the village’s quadrato. As at his other hotels, here he has partnered with architect Isay Weinfeld on the 40 minimalist bungalows and villas: low, cubic, linked by a long and lovely beach-facing wood deck. As vibes go, it’s probably more enclave than centre of the action; but for sheer style, it hits its mark. From about £392, fasano.com.br

Fasano Praia restaurant on the beach at Fasano Trancoso
Fasano Praia restaurant on the beach at Fasano Trancoso

Colombia’s Agua bonita

The open-sided restaurant at Agua Barú
The open-sided restaurant at Agua Barú

To Colombia, and a different take on the seaside escape, courtesy of Plan South America’s Harry Hastings: Agua Barú, situated on Isla Barú, just 45 minutes from Cartagena by boat. Its six rooms – a villa with three bedrooms, and two cottages – enjoy three pools, and are complemented by a private dock, restaurant, bar and one-suite spa. No beach, but plenty of surrounding sea – and the snorkelling kit, paddleboards, jet skis and more to make the most of it. For maximum leverage, buy the place out after a few days’ disporting in Cartagena’s Old Town. $450 a room, or $4,500 a night for the whole property, plansouthamerica.com

One of three swimming pools at Agua Barú on Isla Barú, Colombia
One of three swimming pools at Agua Barú on Isla Barú, Colombia

Under the radar Cali-chic

Villa Mara, Carmel, designed by Lisa Koch
Villa Mara, Carmel, designed by Lisa Koch © Stephanie Russo

It’s not often Carmel-by-the-Sea gets a noteworthy new hotel – historically, the options worth considering have been few (the exception being the Cypress Inn, which belonged to the late Doris Day, and is still run with the warmth, charm and dog-friendliness she made its hallmarks). So Villa Mara, a 16-room boutique proposition on the spit of land that separates Carmel Beach from Carmel River State Beach (go to the first for your surf or swim, hit the second for views over Point Lobos), seems set to be a win. Besides the location, there’s the hand of Lisa Koch – she of Los Angeles’ Sunset Tower and Miami’s Casa Claridge’s – in the design, which perfectly captures the surf shack-meets-New England cottage aesthetic of all good California beach houses. A cosy sitting room, a jewel-box bar, terraces with water views and the village within walking distance – along Scenic Avenue, past Frank Lloyd Wright’s Della Walker house – round out the picture. From $495, villamaracarmel.com

Contemporary New England style at Villa Mara
Contemporary New England style at Villa Mara © Stephanie Russo

How to spa in Sicily

The pool at Adler Spa Resort Sicilia
The pool at Adler Spa Resort Sicilia

Adler is one of Italy’s best-loved wellness purveyors, from the Dolomites to Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia. Its latest foray is in the deep south, where Adler Spa Resort Sicilia opens this month on the “costa Siculiana” (that’s the architectural site-rich south-west, to you and me – the heart of magna graecia). Here they’ve gone full contemporary, with 74 junior and 16 family suites spread across several low, sleek structures, all concrete, floor-to-ceiling windows and open space. They face the sea, and the beach is an easy 300m stroll down a gentle hillside. For the 15-cabin spa, rounded out with a full thalasso circuit, Adler has created a signature product line, and local botanicals and volcanic mud factor into the treatments. From €264, adler-resorts.com

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