RIO DE JANEIRO
Rio's sensual pleasures satisfy all agendas: those seeking natural beauty, Mid-century architecture buffs, and, of course, anyone looking for the Ultimate Good Time. For a retreat from the chaos, book one of the seven bright rooms at La Suite. They're a short walk down a sandy lane in Rio's swanky Joatinga area—a well-kept secret of local surfers.
T+L TIP See the city from every angle by joining the pilgrimage to the top of Corcovado mountain, strolling through the lush Jardim Botânico, and stepping into the party on Ipanema Beach. 501 Rua Jackson Figueiredo; 55-21/2484-1962; www.chicretreats.com; doubles from $330.
In this former imperial capital, traffic still means three bicycles side by side, or a huddle of motorboats plying the languid Perfume River. Hire one of the latter to take you to the secluded tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty kings, then drift back to the 122-room La Résidence Hôtel & Spa. Each lamp, tile mosaic, and settee was meticulously crafted to flatter the original Art Deco design of the hotel's main building.
T+L TIP Through the arc of louvered windows in La Suite du Resident, you can gaze across the infinity pool and river to the 19th-century Citadel. 5 Le Loi St.; 84- 054/837-475; www.la-residence-hue.com; doubles from $130.
On the Sea
Retrace the old East African spice route on board this luxuriously restored 1910 schooner, which navigates the turquoise waters off the coast of Tanzania. A typical five-day cruise for up to six guests takes in Zanzibar's Stone Town and Pemba Island's exquisite Fundu Lagoon, and you might get a chance to race migrating humpback whales.
T+L TIP If you find you just can't bear to disembark, you can extend your trip all the way up to Lamu Island, off Kenya.www.sailafrica.net; 435/649-4655; from $4,500 per night,all-inclusive.
The Maldives' latest slice of seclusion is an exclusive-use resort that comes with an 86-foot-long luxury ship. Guests spend days cruising to nearby islands, swimming in the eye-dazzling blue waters, then sleeping either in the three-suite villa on the island or, better yet, on the four-bedroom boat itself.
T+L TIP Get scuba certified with the resort's PADI-licensed instructor. 960/ 333-6522; www.raniaexperience.com; $8,000 per night for one couple, all-inclusive, plus $500 per night for each additional person.
AUSTRALIA Barrier Reef Seafaris
Now you can explore the world's largest coral reef aboard the most decadent of yachts. The newly minted 130-foot-long boat comes equipped with a hydrotherapy spa, helipad, movie theater, and your own staff—ready to wait on you hand and foot. Chartered tours through the Great Barrier Reef are tailor-made to fit your fancy, whether that means a helicopter flight over ancient rain forests or tracking sea turtles.
T+L TIP Go spearfishing off one of the reef's 900 islands, then have the yacht's chef whip up dinner from your catch. 61-7/3720-8554; www.epicexpeditions.com; from $112,000 per week.
Meals to Remember
Nearly every ingredient on Chef Matt Weedon's sublime menu can be found in the area surrounding this 19th-century castle on Scotland's winding southwestern coast. Roasted Ballantrae lobsters are caught by fishermen from town. Dense cheeses are produced by local artisans, and the game, beef, and lamb are raised at nearby farms. Share the dessert tastings for two in the all-red dining room, then take your digestifs to one of Glenapp's 17 guest rooms.
T+L TIP Request table No. 4 and savor views of the mist-shrouded sea, the Mull of Kintyre, and the isles beyond. Ballantrae; 44-1465/831-212; www.glenappcastle.com; dinner for two $190.
LONDON Dorchester Grill Room
A Scottish baronial fantasy comes to one of London's grandest hotels. Under a giant mural of Highland guardsmen outfitted in Stewart tartans, waiters carve Aberdeen rib roast and Welsh lamb from a tableside trolley. Even Anglophiles will applaud the Gallic twist new chef Olivier Couillaud gives classics such as Yorkshire pudding and Dover sole.
T+L TIP Save room for the ultimate dessert: sticky toffee pudding with pecan praline ice cream. Parklane; 44-20/ 7317-6336; www.thedorchester.com; dinner for two $200.