To really escape, set your sights on a private island
The choice is yours: all kinds of islands are available, from a deserted dot to one where a luxurious resort holds a clutch of like-minded souls. Most of the resorts have resisted planning celebrations, but a huge soiree is not why you go to a private island. Not when you can sit alone on the beach, counting the stars.
Lizard Island Lodge
By day, take a dinghy to one of 24 beaches--all yours alone, except for the occasional friendly lizard. Nights revolve around the barefoot Marlin Bar. 800/227-4411 or 61-7/603-999, fax 61-7/603-991; doubles from $740, including all meals.
If you crave little more than sand scattered with conch shells, try Bowe Caye. Fish for dinner; sleep under the stars. It's just one of the 64 islands around the world, from deserted to full-service, rented out by Vladi Private Islands. (They can even sell you one.) If you opt for the $9.99-a-day Robinson Crusoe isle in Chile, pick up Vladi's $385 Island Survival Kit. It provides a bottle and cork, so you can float a message to shore. Bowe Cay: doubles from $749 per week. Robinson Crusoe Island: $9.99 per night. 800/475-3224 or 902/423-3202, fax 902/425-4765.
British Virgin Islands
This 850-acre hideaway calls itself a nature preserve and wildlife sanctuary, but Guana loyalists know the truth: 15 whitewashed stucco cottages and mile upon mile of sybaritic serenity. 800/225-4255 or 809/494-2354, fax 809/495-2900; doubles from $675, including all meals.
Club Med Amoun Hotel
Why float down the Nile?This leafy Club Med getaway is located right in the middle of the river, at Aswan. Have a steamy massage at the hotel's hammam. 800/258-2633 or 20-97/313-800, fax 20-97/317-190; doubles from $128.
Vatulele Island Resort
A grass landing strip, a rickety van, a rocky path to the resort . . . They call this high South Pacific style?Absolutely, as you'll see when you finally reach super-chic Vatulele. Post-dinner, guests are given lanterns for the walk down the beach to their massive bungalows, called bures. (Romantics won't be able to resist a daylong picnic on nearby Nooki Nooki Island.) 800/828-9146 or 679/550-300, fax 679/520-062; doubles from $935, including all meals.
Little Palm Island
Spend your days in a hammock strung between coconut palms; bathe in your private outdoor shower; sleep under clouds of mosquito netting in your thatched-roof hut. 800/343-8567 or 305/872-2524, fax 305/872-4843; five-night minimum; doubles from $1,999, including all meals.
Petit St. Vincent
Stranded at the southern end of the Grenadines, in the Caribbean, is Petit St. Vincent. Also stranded: you, in one of 22 cottages on 113 acres surrounded by white sand. Need room service?Raise the yellow flag outside your door. 800/654-9326 or 513/242-1333, fax 513/242-6951; doubles from $770, including all meals.
Pangkor Laut Resort
If you're lucky enough to snag one of Pangkor Laut's 15 overwater villas for the millennium, you'll have a surreal wake-up call in the year 2000: the sound of waves below the floor. But don't rule out the other 178 rooms at this sexy gem off Malaysia's west coast. 800/525-4800 or 60-5/699-1100, fax 60-5/699-1200; doubles from $190.
With so many choice private-island resorts--Soneva Fushi, Banyan Tree--in the Maldives, an archipelago near southern India, why choose Cocoa?It's merely an S-shaped curve dipped into the clear cerulean sea; its rustic huts have sand floors. Oh, that's why. (Be warned: there's no hot water.) 960/443-713, fax 960/441-919; doubles from $480, including all meals.
An outpost of heaven set on a private island called Pamalican, Amanpulo is one of the exclusive Amanresorts. The rooms--make that pavilions--are Hollywood versions of the local houses on stilts. 800/223-1588 or 63-2/532-4040, fax 63-2/532-4044; doubles from $480.
Bora Bora Lagoon Resort
On Motu Toopua in Bora Bora's lagoon, nature is your television. Survey the scene below your overwater bungalow through a glass-topped coffee table, which slides back for fish feeding. 800/432-2672 or 689/604-000, fax 689/604-003; doubles from $520.