25 Great Island Escapes

By Cerentha Harris and Megan Anderson

Travel + Leisure has scoured the world for the best new island escapes – from a rustic homestead on the Russian island of Olkhon to Japan's extraordinary Tadao Ando-designed hotel, Fiji's first over-the-water bures and (the anything but bookish) Library on Koh Samui. In compiling this list we consulted specialist travel agents – experts who make it their job to go beyond the hype and get to really know these delectable places. What did we discover? Read on; we'd be surprised if you weren't reaching for your fl ippers and your Factor 15 before you get to the end of the list – if only in your dreams.


1. MALLORCA, SPAIN

Why here, why now? L'Avenida, a tiny colonial mansion, opened in the old town of Sóller in March. The hotel is surrounded by orange groves and has just eight rooms, all fitted out in a drop-dead-chic palette of browns and whites. Also worth a look is Orient-Express Hotel's latest contribution to luxury getaways at La Residencia at Deia, called simply The Villa.

T+L Tip At L'Avenida ask for a room with a view of the awe-inspiring Tramuntana mountains.

The Facts L'Avenida, +34 971 634 075; www.avenida-hotel.com; doubles from $287. The Villa, +34 971 63 6 046; www.hotellaresidencia.com; from $6894 a week.


2. NAOSHIMA, JAPAN

Why here, why now? This eight-square-kilometre island in the Seto Inland Sea is 13km north of Takamatsu City. This is your chance to stay in an extraordinary hotel designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Guests choose between four buildings, one of which is also a working museum. Most of the rooms are decorated with original contemporary artwork.

T+L Tip Opt for the amazing Oval building, which sits above the rest of the complex and offers a bit of privacy from the artseeking public.

The Facts Benesse House, +81 87 892 2030; www.naoshima-is.co.jp; doubles from $317.


3. OLKHON, RUSSIA

Why here, why now? This is the largest island in Lake Baikal and a true travel hot spot. The place to stay is Nikita’s Homestead. It’s an environmentally friendly rustic guesthouse in the largest settlement of Khuzhir and is run by Nikita Bencharov, a former Russian table tennis champion, and his wife, Natasha. And yes, there is a chance to play table tennis.

T+L Tip Try one of the luxury Mongolian yurts for something a bit different.

The Facts Nikita’s Homestead, +7 914 895 7865; www.olkhon.info/en; doubles from $54 including meals.


4. LE TAHA’A, FRENCH POLYNESIA

Why here, why now? Following recent renovations, the Le Taha’a Private Island & Spa now has larger two-room villas that are great for families. If you’re looking for the latest and greatest slice of tropical luxury, you can’t go past St Regis on Bora Bora, with its two-bedroom over-the-water bungalows complete with private pools, in case you don’t feel like stepping from your bure into the sea.

T+L Tip A good option for families who are looking for a relatively short fl ight and childfriendly luxury.

The Facts Le Taha’a, +689 508 445; www.letahaa.com; suites from $1089. St Regis, +689 607 888; www.starwoodhotels.com; suites from $1200.


5. PANTELLERIA, ITALY

Why here, why now? Pantelleria is a windswept island off Sicily and 70km from the coast of Tunisia. Giorgio Armani has a holiday house here and the island has always attracted a highbrow fashion and art crowd keen to escape the more wellknown islands. Santa Teresa Resort recently opened about 10 kilometres from the island’s harbour. The resort is unusual in its design – you’ll fi nd 18 chic Moorish stone cottages set in four mini-villages on a 40- hectare olive farm. The sparse whitewashed interiors owe as much to Africa as they do to Italy.

T+L Tip The island is famous for its warm mineral springs. Try a mud bath at the Lake of Venus.

The Facts Santa Teresa Resort, 0011 800 3746 8357; www.designhotels.com; doubles from $164.


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