Little Kulala, NAMIBIA When the sun reflecting off the curvaceous peaks of Namibia's Sossusvlei sand dunes grows too intense, visitors can retire to Little Kulala (Swahili for "resting place"). The eight wood-and-thatch chalets have tiled bathrooms, outdoor showers, and fluffed-up beds protected from the solar glare (and nighttime crawlers). But it's worth trading indoor comfort for a night on the open-air stargazing platform, where the silent desert is illuminated only by the moon.
Doubles from $400, all-inclusive; Sossusvlei; 800/545-1910; www.wilderness-safaris.com/ltkulala.asp
Lizard Island, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA With 24 beaches fringing the Great Barrier Reef, and accommodations for just 40 couples, Lizard Island resort is in a category all its own. Open-plan suites are done up in the blues and whites of the sea, with hammocks and sundecks discreetly hidden from view. Count on sunset cruises, torchlit beach dinners for two, and a staff that will do anything to stoke passion (including, once, hiding a four-carat diamond ring in a seashell to surprise a bride-to-be).
Doubles from $360, suites from $490; 800/225-9849; www.poresorts.com.au
Lugger Hotel, ENGLAND By a rocky cove on the southern Cornish coast, the 17-room Lugger Hotel is the countryside's smartest new spot for an escape. Think minimalist white bedrooms with stone terraces overlooking the sea, tidy lounges with crackling fires, a half-timbered dining room serving Austrian chef Franz Hornegger's rich dishes. Just out the door is the equally enchanting village of Portloe—all tiny stone cottages and gigantic hydrangeas—and the Cornish Coastal Footpath, where you can pretend you're Guinevere and Lancelot while strolling the headlands.
Doubles from $280, including breakfast; Portloe, Truro; 44-1872/501-322; www.luggerhotel.com
Makena's Hills, KENYA Six spacious tents on the edge of the Great Rift Valley are decorated with locally crafted cedar beds, African objets d'art, and hurricane lamps. More than 300 elephants roam the surrounding 100,000-acre private nature conservancy, and big cats and black rhino are not an uncommon sight from the infinity-edged pools. Writer Kuki Gallman (author of I Dreamed of Africa) built the new camp in honor of her daughter, who was married on this spot. Makena means "happy one" in Kikuyu, and guests who spend days on safari and evenings with sundowners feel as though the camp had been named for them.
Doubles from $660 (plus $30 per-person per-day conservation fee);Nairobi; 254-2/522-589; www.mukutan.com
Reported and written by Jeffrey Bauman, Gillian Cullinan, Alice Feiring, Sunshine Flint, Paul French, Serena French, Ron Gluckman, Kendall Hill, Amanda Jones, Ted Katauskas, Heidi Sherman Mitchell, Shane Mitchell, Shari Mycek, Catherine O'Neal, Aiofe O'Riordan, Christopher Petkanas, Mariana Rappaport, Alex Salkever, Kristan Schiller, Emily Stone, Valerie Waterhouse, and Gisela Williams.