I’ve long had a soft spot for Victoria House on Ambergris Caye. True, the Casita accommodations are average — I only recommend the Infinity Suites, the Rainforest Suite and the deluxe units in three beachfront villas — and because of the closeness of the Belize Barrier Reef, the shoreline is choked with turtlegrass. But the resort’s gardens are so tranquil, the view of the Caribbean is so hypnotic and the staff are so friendly that I have returned on numerous occasions. What the place lacked most conspicuously was a spa. Now this omission has been remedied with the recent debut of a 3,500-square-foot facility. Three of the rooms have private patios for outdoor massages, and the menu features 36 different treatments, which employ Belizean essential oils and natural products whenever possible.
I have long recommended the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, located about 11 miles northeast of the international airport at Malé. The group also offers a second property at Landaa Giraavaru, 90 miles north of Malé (a 30-minute transfer by seaplane), and the Four Seasons Explorer, a three-deck catamaran that cruises between the two resorts (and which is also available for private charter for up to 22 passengers). Last December, Maldives Private Island at Voavah became the latest addition to the Four Seasons portfolio. The five-acre, seven-bedroom exclusive hideaway comes with its own 62-foot motor yacht, plus a private dive center and spa. From June to November, the waters surrounding Voavah are one of the best places in the world to swim with large shoals of manta rays.
Most of Shanghai’s best hotels are clustered along the Bund, the city’s famous waterfront, or just across the Huangpu River in Pudong. However, March will see the opening of Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li in the Xuhui District, a cultural preservation zone and formerly a part of the French Concession. This all-villa resort will be housed within a number of shikumen buildings. Usually, shikumens are two- or three-story structures that resemble Western terrace houses or townhouses, distinguished by high brick walls enclosing a narrow front yard. Those on the Jian Ye Li estate were built in the 1930s for the French real estate company Foncière et Immobilière de Chine. In addition to the 55 villas (and 40 residences), the resort will offer a French brasserie, a library, an Auriga spa and a retail gallery of niche brands.