Worth the Splurge
MEXICO La Casa Que Canta
At thatched-roof, terra-cotta El Ensueño, the new villa at La Casa Que Canta on Zihuatanejo Bay, your four-bedroom retreat comes with a private cabana club on La Ropa Beach, blossoms that spell out romantic messages on the bed, and the surf serenading through open windows.
T+L TIP At cocktail hour, ask your personal butler to deliver soursop-nectar daiquiris and tapas to the plunge pool on your patio. Camino Escénico, Zihuatanejo; 888/523-5050; www.lacasaquecanta.com; $4,500, double, all-inclusive.
VERONA Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amistà
Set in the tower of a Baroque villa four miles from Romeo and Juliet's hometown, Mendini's Island Suite is a high-design hideaway for lovers of art, architecture, and romance. Revamped by design guru Alessandro Mendini, the suite has mirrored metal chairs by Philippe Starck, art photographs by Begoña Montalbán, and Mendini's sail-shaped bed.
T+L TIP Take breakfast in the tower's lounge (seats two) overlooking the 1,000-year-old olive trees. 78 Via Cedrare, Corrubbio di Negarine; 39-045/685-5555; www.byblosarthotel.com; suites from $528, double, breakfast included.
SOUTH AFRICA Phinda Getty Lodge
Tara Getty, grandson of John Paul Getty II, built this burnished sandstoneand-thatch lodge on the 44,000-acre Phinda Private Game Reserve for himself and his wife, but when they're "out of town," it's all yours. Comprised of four suites, a living room, a study, and a kitchen, the lodge was conceived as a fantasy of Zulu artifacts, complemented with beanbag seating by Chris Browne, the resident designer of Phinda's ace tour operator, CC Africa.
T+L TIP Visit the dry-sand forest to view suni and red duikers. KwaZulu-Natal; 27-11/809-4300; www.ccafrica.com; $4,420, double, all-inclusive.
MALDIVES Soneva Gili Resort & Spa
A boat is the only way to reach the Private Reserve at Soneva Gili, which stands on pillars beside one of the Maldive archipelago's pristine coral reefs. Six thatched-roof buildings include two master suites, a living pavilion, and a wine cellar. Splash into the turquoise lagoon from a slide on the sundeck or paddle through your own personal water garden while tropical fish glide by.
T+L TIP Try the couples massage in the Reserve's sequestered spa complex. Lankanfushi; 949/640-1198; www.sixsenses.com; $10,000, double.
MONNICKENDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
This fishing enclave was lifted straight from a van Ruisdael landscape; it even has a tiled church spire. It's 20 minutes from Amsterdam; its canals run beside cobblestoned lanes lined with centuries-old smokehouses; and the bell orchestra in the 400-year-old belfry still rings out every Saturday from 11 A.M. until noon, during the morning market.
T+L TIP Check into the Posthoorn, an inn where bespoke English furniture sits beneath 18th-century wooden beams in the five guest rooms, and the restaurant (try the roasted wild duckling with mashed parsley root) is drawing Demeulemeester-clad day-trippers. 43 Noordeinde; 31-29/ 965-4598; www.hotelposthoorn.com; doubles from $123, breakfast included.
Trace the secluded paths of the Route de Vignoble, pausing here to admire the architecture of a church, there at a vineyard for a tasting. Rest your head at La Clé d'Or, an eight-room hotel and restaurant in the heart of the thimble-sized village of Bursinel (population 350).
T+L TIP Visit the neighboring hamlets of Luins, Vinzel, and Bursins and pop into a tiny auberge for a glass of the local Chasselas. 41-21/824-1106; www.cledor.ch; doubles from $115, breakfast included.
With pine-scented air, a shoreline dappled with lemon trees and bougainvillea blooms, and azure waters, the beauty that surrounds the sleepy Basilicata town of Maratea rivals that of the Sorrento Peninsula. There's a small harbor, and built into a slope of 2,000-foot Mount San Biagio is a pristine medieval center: a maze of cobblestoned streets, piazzas, and 44 churches.
T+L TIP Book one of the 29 rooms at La Locanda delle Donne Monache, an 18th-century convent that's been turned into an inn. The sparse rooms (wrought-iron beds, vaulted ceilings) have views of the surrounding peaks and the town's tiled rooftops. 4 Via Carlo Mazzei; 39-973/877-487; www.lalocandadelledonnemonache.it; doubles from $350.
Written by Richard Alleman, Jennifer V. Cole, Kimberly Fay, Anne Glusker, Granville Greene, Jaime Gross, David Kaufman, Pim Kemasingki, Amy Marr, Heidi Sherman Mitchell, Shane Mitchell, Anja Mutic, Clara Ogden, Attila Pelit, Christopher Petkanas, Sarah Maud Powell, Douglas Rogers, Alex Salkever, Kate Sekules, Carol Wallace, Valerie Waterhouse, Freya Williams.