Seven Stunning Island Hotels Opening Around the World in 2023
From Greece to the Seychelles, the luxury island vacation factor just keeps going up.
(Bloomberg) -- Island vacations have staying power, as proved by the sustained demand over the past three years. But in 2023 these trips are getting major upgrades in the form of new hotels and notable reopenings in some of the world’s most beloved tropical locales.
From Zen-focused beach getaways in remote corners of Greece and Hawaii to resorts with their own teeming coral reefs in the Seychelles to suites that neighbor sea lion dens off the coast of Australia, island luxury this year is all about getting deeper in the water—literally and figuratively. Whether it’s through wildlife conservation or activities and design choices that honor cultural legacy, each one aims for an experience that’s a level up from mere relaxation. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
Here’s a look at a handful of promising island hotels opening their doors around the world.
Ikos Odisia, an all-inclusive five-star resort, enjoys a secluded coastline on the north end of Corfu, far from the traditional tourism corridors on the east and south shores of this history-packed island. In the 395 rooms, suites and bungalow villas, neutral-toned interiors contrast against bougainvillea-framed views, either of the Ionian Sea or of the surrounding citrus and olive groves. On-property perks range from 10 indoor and outdoor pools, including adults-only options, to white sand beach access and a seafront Ikos Spa. Although the rates are all-inclusive, that doesn’t mean you’re confined to the resort: Ikos maintains a partnership with several local restaurants that welcome hotel guests at no additional charge, including one taverna on tiny, neighboring Vidos island that’s reachable only by boat. Hop in a complimentary Tesla for a day and drive 25 minutes to enjoy Old Town Corfu, a Unesco World Heritage Site with a beautiful patchwork of Venetian and neoclassical buildings. Bring the kids along or drop them at the kids club.
At the opening of 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay on Feb. 15, the brand’s founder, Barry Sternlicht, made the bold proclamation that “nature is the CEO” here. And indeed, the $300 million renovation of the former St. Regis Princeville puts little emphasis on the man-made. Perched on cliffs overlooking Hanalei Bay’s surfing beach on the north shores of Kauai, it prioritizes the use of natural elements, from native flora throughout the grounds to handwoven light fixtures and local black basalt floors in the 252 rooms and 51 suites. If you’re all about the waves, you can learn to surf with famed Kauai surfer Bill Hamilton, who can work with you before your stay to design a fully customized surfboard for your lesson (and future adventures). Relax in an herbal bath infused with flowers that are considered to be healing in Hawaiian culture; it’s part of a 90-minute plant medicine ritual for couples at the ultramodern, 18,000-square-foot wellness spa.
Rosewood consistently finds a way to raise the bar, even in resort-rich destinations such as Los Cabos, Mexico, and Phuket, Thailand. Now it’s sure to do the same in Hawaii, with the reopening of the former Kona Village Resort this summer. Not much was left of the beloved 1960s resort, which was destroyed in a tsunami in 2011. Now its 81 acres on the Big Island’s rugged Kona coast will welcome 150 spacious, thatch-roofed standalone guest bungalows, each designed to resemble a traditional Hawaiian home, or Also being added: a cultural center and solar power array, two ways the hotel is promising to keep heritage and sustainability in mind.
A half-hour seaplane ride from Velana International Airport is Avani + Fares Maldives Resort, a 30-acre private island surrounded by a turquoise seas. Yes, it’s all about overwater villas in the Maldives—and Avani’s have private infinity pools with jaw-dropping sunset views. But stay in one of the contemporary wood-floored studios or beach villas, and you’ll be mere steps from bed to sand. Bring your snorkel, and you can swim out to a dozen dive sites right off the resort’s beach. Want to venture a bit farther? The surrounding Baa Atoll enjoys a pristine marine ecosystem for sailing alongside wild dolphins or swimming among manta rays.
The Seychelles is, by definition, secluded. But its newest resort, the $100 million Waldorf Astoria, is a true castaway fantasy. In fairness, getting there only means taking an extra 20-minute flight from the main island of Mahé. And yet the logistics of being on an outlying island of the Seychelles makes this hotel’s creation a rare feat; parent company Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. got lucky by acquiring an island that came with its own airstrip. When it’s completed later this year, it will have 50 seafront villas set amid a vibrant landscape of palm forest, lagoon and coral reefs that are home to hawksbill turtles and eagle rays. Each will enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a private pool, plus a dedicated concierge. Bonus: The resort has its own solar field for sustainable power, and an on-site garden will help supply fruits and vegetables to the six restaurants scattered across the island.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
After being destroyed by the 2019 bush fires on Kangaroo Island, the luxurious Southern Ocean Lodge (SOL) is planning a spectacular comeback this year with a $50 million, 25-room rebuild intended to maximize the ocean and wilderness views. SOL’s original architect is behind the transformation of SOL 2.0, set to include a 6,888-square-foot suite with four rooms facing the Southern Ocean from its terrace and pool. Three treatment rooms with bushland views will be part of a new spa, and guided experiences come included in the stay, be it a half-day tour of Flinders Chase National Park or a visit to view endangered Australian sea lions at Seal Bay. The smartest touch? For future resilience, the lodge is adding a perimeter buffer made of fire-retardant succulent plants and native juniper.
Getting to FlockHill lodge is a real-life choose-your-own-adventure book. From Christchurch International Airport, you could chopper it to the Southern Alps, drive 80 minutes down the Great Alpine Highway or take the scenic 2.5-hour route aboard the TranzAlpine train. The destination is a working, 166-year-old sheep farm in verdant Craigieburn Valley, modernized with a striking homestead. (Think of it as a private villa, but with all the amenities of a proper resort.) Floor-to-ceiling views look out to Sugarloaf Mountain and Lake Pearson (Moana Rua) from the four bedrooms, each with en suite baths and living areas. Meals take place in a farmhouse kitchen, staffed by a private chef and attendant. There’s no shortage activities to help pass your days, either. Among the options, you could head out on a farm tour, kayak on Lake Pearson, hike to a nearby waterfall or simply relax in the terrace pool.
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