Hua Hin, Thailand
Like much of the sea pinedotted coast within a few hours of Bangkok, Hua Hin started out as a little-known village where the only commuting involved the local fishermen sailing to and fro. Its popularity has grown exponentially as Siamese high society has turned it and the surrounding towns (Cha-am and Pranburi in particular) into the Far East's answer to the Hamptons. Very private and emphasizing clean-lined modern design, a clutch of boutique hotels like Aleenta, Evason Hideaway, and Praseban Resort have debuted in the last few years; top Thai architect Duangrit Bunnag is set to complete a hotel in Cha-am in early 2007. While dining at breezy seaside docks and browsing nightly food markets are absolute musts, new restaurants like Supatra by the Sea have opened to feed the stylish crowds. Getting to Hua Hin is easier than ever with charter flights from Bangkok on SGA, the regional shuttle, but colonial-era railcars are still a timeless way to arrive.
THE FACTS Aleenta 66-2/508-5333; www.aleenta.com; doubles from $162. Evason Hideaway & Six Senses Spa 66-32/618-200; www.sixsenses.com; doubles from $450. Praseban Resort 66-32/630-590; ww.prasebanresort.com; doubles from $152, including breakfast. Supatra by the Sea 66-32/536-5612; dinner for two $25.
More than a year after the devastating tsunami, a multimillion-dollar recovery effort has helped propel Sri Lanka's south-coast beach scene back into action. The fort city of Galle—a three-hour coastal drive from the capital, Colombo—is at the heart of the renaissance.Two resorts on the forefront: Amanwella's 30 minimalist suites, the nation's plushest, and the Fortress, a spa and yoga-centric property from the team behind the Maldives' Huvafen Fushi. For a little local color (and flavor), book a table at Firefly, a Euro-Lankan restaurant and lounge set in a restored colonial mansion. In Galle itself, the tiny boutique Mimimango stocks a colorful selection of clothing from India and Indonesia. The shop's boho-chic sequined or embroidered silk caftans are perfect for beachside lounging.
THE FACTS Amanwella 94-47/224-1096; www.amanwella.com; doubles from $550. The Fortress 800/525-4800; www.the fortress.lk; doubles from $420, including breakfast and dinner. Firefly 94-91/545-1641; dinner for two $35. Mimimango 94-77/751-3473; www.mimimango.com.
A 90-minute flight from Perth, Esperance is the last of Australia's unspoiled beaches and a haven for resort-weary travelers seeking a genuine brush with nature. Kangaroos frolic on the beach at Lucky Bay, a shipwreck makes for excellent diving, and the vistas along the Great Ocean Drive are in a class by themselves. Newfound prosperity in this turquoise oasis on Western Australia's southeast coast has even brought some creature comforts. Coffee devotees congregate at the Onshore Café, a buzzy in-town hangout serving salads and sandwiches, and the beds at Esperance Seaside Apartments are topped with duvets to ward off the evening chill. A more eco-conscious experience can be had at the remote Woody Island, with its back-to-basics canvas tents. Jump ship from a Mackenzie's Island cruise to get there, or stay on board to see the sea lions and dolphins of Recherche Archipelago.
THE FACTS Onshore Café 61-8/9071-2575; lunch for two $34. Esperance Seaside Apartments 61-8/9072-0044; www.esperanceseaside.com; doubles from $113. Woody Island Ecostays Book through Mackenzie's Island Cruises, 61-8/9071-5757; www.woodyisland.com.au; doubles from $27.