When it comes to travel wish-lists, we reserve the top spot for an unspoilt private-island retreat. Powder-soft sands, elegant villas and private butlers: we’ve hand-picked six of the very best, in association with American Express.
And while we’re indulging in desert-island fantasies, we’d also swap Shakespeare for Condé Nast and pack an American Express Platinum Card as our little luxury. Why? American Express is exclusively offering Mr & Mrs Smith readers 40,000 Membership Rewards points if they sign up before 16 September 2015 and spend £2,000 in the first three months of card membership. That’s enough for a £200 Smith ecode to put towards a stay at the overwater villa of your dreams – or any other Smith hotel, come to that (terms, taxes and fees apply; the annual fee is £450*).
With its overwater spa, underwater wine cellar, glass-bottomed tubs, speedboats and pool glowing with fibre-optic lights, this lavish retreat can seem a bit of a show off. But a stay here is all about serenity: stroll along the palm-dotted sands, dive from your hammock-strung terrace into the blue sea below and swim with schools of dolphins, turtles and manta rays. Heavenly relaxation is all in the details: foot massages are a standard welcome treat, rooms come with stocked wine coolers, sun cream and waterproof cameras and, should you find yourself unable to leave your ocean-facing swing bed, ‘sunshine butlers’ are at hand with chilled towels and exotic fruit.
Kick off your shoes and embrace Como’s low-key luxury. Inspired by Keralan boathouses, these overwater villas are laid-back and romantic, with calming white-on-white interiors, private sun decks and roll-top bath tubs. Out-of-this world waters mean you’ll spend a lot of time exploring the reefs: borrow free snorkelling gear to stalk parrotfish or head to Cocoa Thila, one of the world’s most spectacular scuba-diving spots, just behind the resort. If you’re after some ‘me time’, the Como Shambhala Retreat is in a league of its own: treat yourself to Ayurvedic therapies, private yoga lessons and guided meditation.
If you’re keen for a castaway island all to yourself, choose one with elegant rooms, white-shell chandeliers, indoor-outdoor bathrooms and a sea-view infinity pool. This exclusive-hire bolthole has rockstar retreat written all over it: just settle in and let the affable Fijian host Dawn Simpson look after your every need. There’s plenty of top-notch diving, snorkelling and sailing, but back on dry land, we fell for the hilltop boudoir on the other side of the island, a net-swathed, lantern-lit affair with a floaty four-poster bed and romantic ocean views to wake up to.
This diminutive, adults-only island packs a whole lot of laid-back charm. Spacious and modern, the villas embrace the outdoors, with louvred roofs, plunge pools, sun decks and sensational lagoon views. Give in to the resort’s hedonistic way of life with freshly baked banana bread on arrival, sunset canapés every evening, weekly beach barbecues and an SOS Emergency Cocktail flag by your sunlounger. Built from sustainable timber, Royal Davui strives for ‘responsible luxury’, with a mindful approach to community support and preserving its marine sanctuary – a fabulous spot to encounter sharks and colourful fish among the unspoilt coral.
Just a half-hour boat ride from the backpacker hangout of Sihanoukville, this eco-luxe resort is a surprising vision in thatch and stone. Dotted around two pristine, jungle-shrouded islands, its villas are effortlessly glamorous, with four-poster beds, polished marble walls and secluded, sea-view plunge pools. Guided kayak tours and snorkelling around the marine reserve are enticing, but both pale in comparison to a night swim in the bioluminescent waters: it’s the ethereal stuff of private-island fantasies.
Circled by calm, translucent waters, this tiny island off the coast of Belize takes bespoke service very seriously. Everything here, from the programme of activities to the music selection in its seven villas, is designed just as you like it – the award-laden chef will even sound out your culinary preferences before you arrive. There’s little left to do but enjoy the 24-hour butler service, private plunge pools and hammocks swaying gently in the breeze.
Need more day-dream inspiration? We’ve scoured the seas for the most breathtaking private-island hotels. To find out more about the Platinum Card exclusive welcome offer, visit American Express.
*Terms and conditions
Annual fee: £450. Apply before 16 September 2015 and 40,000 Membership Rewards bonus points will be awarded onto your Account once you have been approved and you have spent and charged £2,000 within the first three months of card membership. All introductory offers are subject to change, can be withdrawn at any time and are not available if you currently hold or have held any other Membership Rewards enrolled American Express Cards in the past six months. Please note that it can take up to one month for bonus points to be awarded to your account. Membership Rewards points are not earned on interest, fees (including default fees), balance transfers, cash advances (including transactions treated as cash), loading of pre paid Cards, American Express Travellers Cheque purchases or foreign exchange transactions; and any amounts that are subsequently re-credited to your Card Account by way of refunds. Terms and conditions for the Platinum Card can be found here. Applicants must be 18 years old or over. Approval is subject to status and terms and conditions apply. The American Express Platinum Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited, registered office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.