Each January, Hideaway Report editors look back at their travels from the previous year and highlight the particularly memorable amenities from the hotels and resorts they visited. From beaches and baths to more-unconventional offerings, these are our Editors’ Choice Award winners for Best Amenities.
St. George’s, Grenada, Caribbean
It would take an impressive spa to lure us away from Silversands’ stunning 330-foot infinity pool and the powdery beach to which it extends. But we couldn’t resist spending a few hours beside the spa pool, reclining on one of the daybeds that surround it. A slatted roof allowed Caribbean breezes to waft through the space, causing the many egglike pendant lamps hanging over the heated pool to sway gently. We could also have made use of the sauna and steam room, but we preferred to refresh ourselves in the cool “experience shower” stall and the bracing ice room. Four treatment rooms, including two that can accommodate couples, offer a wide range of massages, facials and scrubs. We recommend the 90-minute Silversands Massage with local nutmeg oil or, if you’ve spent too much time at the beach, the Aftersun Rescue Treatment, a wrap that includes cucumber, yogurt and mint. Silversands’ spa is a gorgeous space in which to indulge in an interlude of self-care.
Can Tho, Vietnam
Adrian Zecha, the hotel guru who created Aman Resorts, was the driving force behind this new resort, which is set on a leafy island, near the city of Can Tho, in the middle of the Mekong Delta. Its focal point is a magnificent 105-foot swimming pool, a serene expanse of turquoise and black tiles surrounded by loungers, which is both a wonderful place to relax and an aesthetic triumph. At either end, two graceful hardwood pavilions house an elegant bar and a stylish Vietnamese restaurant, respectively. Despite being close to a major city, in an area best known to Americans as a place of violence and suffering during the Vietnam War, Azerai Can Tho is a remarkable enclave of grace and tranquility. Reading beside the pool, all we could hear was birdsong and the rustle of the wind in the trees.
Isola di Capo Rizzuto, Italy
Backdropped by parasol pines, this long beach of fine sand is so private and peaceful that it’s a challenge to leave behind one of the broadly spaced white sun beds in order to discover the surrounding Capo Rizzuto region of Calabria. White umbrellas are available for those who prefer shade, and the warm, calm topaz waters of the Ionian Sea make for great swimming. Three rope hammocks set up on stakes in the water are an irresistible invitation to idleness. Just at the edge of the beach, there’s an open-air lounge with sofas piled high with pillows, plus a shaded restaurant that serves sandwiches, salads and other light dishes. Those who ultimately tire of indolence can try sailing, scuba diving and snorkeling.
Glen Ellen, California, United States
Discreetly located in the Sonoma Valley hamlet of Glen Ellen, this 23-room property is nestled within a Zen-like environment comprising towering bamboo, manicured rock gardens and miniature pagodas. All rooms have been decorated in a traditional Japanese style and are stunning in their refined simplicity. But what further elevated our Zen Garden Suite was its spectacularly designed bath. The highlight was an immense freestanding granite tub. Lying back in the foam, we could look out through floor-to-ceiling windows at our room’s private rock garden and listen to its trickling fountain. Yukata robes with obi sashes, zori slippers, polished granite twin sinks and a huge separate shower with dual heads and hinoki wooden bath buckets provided additional grace notes.
Solvang, California, United States
Thanks to the current craze for Instagram-worthy travel experiences, some people (apparently) now even hire “flytographers,” professional photographers who accompany them to record every moment. This is intended to allow them to vacation without having to worry about the ideal focus, flash and filter. Now hotels are starting to cater to this fad. Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort near Santa Barbara offers private photographers to accompany guests throughout their stay. We watched a boy horseback riding with his family and flashing his biggest smile to a photographer jogging alongside. The popular Breakfast Ride excursion, seafood barbecues at the lake and birding hikes can all be documented without lifting a finger. Maybe this allows travelers to actually enjoy where they are, rather than focusing on what pictures to take, but the cynic in us somehow doubts it.