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Checking In: Seaside Hotels

Here, five hotels that are the latest in seaside luxury: (1) The centerpiece to a resort community on Florida's Gulf Coast, designer David Rockwell's 60-room WaterColor Inn (34 Goldenrod Circle, Seagrove Beach; 866/426-2656 or 850/534-5000; doubles from $275) is a modern take on the region's vernacular architecture. (2) Interior decorator Kathryn Ireland has imbued Santa Barbara's Mission-style Hotel Oceana (202 W. Cabrillo Blvd.; 800/965-9776 or 805/965-4577; doubles from $175) with a Provençal palette. (3) The creators of California's Auberge du Soleil are heading south of the border with the 56-room Esperanza (Carretera Transpeninsular, km 3.5; 866/311-2226 or 52-624/145-6400; doubles from $550), which has two private beaches—a rarity in Cabo San Lucas. (4) Previously the domain of no-frills eco-resorts, the Galápagos now has the luxe Royal Palm Hotel (Isla Santa Cruz; 593-5/527-409; doubles from $370). But the clean-lined, 17-room property still adheres to strict environmental standards. (5) The 265-room JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa (3 Moo, Mai Khao, Talang, Thailand; 66-76/348-300; doubles from $180) is a naturalist's dream, with 27 acres of tropical gardens and 10 miles of beachfront.

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