DESERT PEARL INN IN UTAH
A river—the Virgin River—runs through the grounds of the Desert Pearl, just next door to Zion National Park. The lodge is an utterly natural expression of this place, timbered in historic trestlewood with rooms that open to views of towering red rock and the tree-lined river. And the stargazing is astonishing in the transparent nighttime sky. We love the Desert Pearl for how it brings a day in sun and sandstone to a cool, casual close. It’s a perfect oasis in the gorgeous western desert.
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HOTEL RIO SAGRADO IN PERU
You’ll feel why the Incas held this valley sacred. There’s the rush of the Urubamba River, as it cuts through fertile fields at the edge of Hotel Rio Sagrado. The luxury accommodations are crafted of local materials in a simple tribute to an Andean village. From rooms nestled into the rising wall of the valley, you can’t see any other human structure or any of the hotel’s other rooms. You’ve been to Cusco already. Machu Picchu is yet to come. But in this peaceful place, it’s just you and nature.
THE OBEROI AMARVILAS IN INDIA
Prepare for The Gasp. It’s unavoidable as you realize, “This is my private terrace, and that vision before me is the Taj Mahal.” Quite simply, this is the view every traveler dreams of and that only a precious few ever see. Anywhere else, the cascading fountains, terraced lawns and pavilions would be attraction enough. But as the only hotel in Agra to offer uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal from each room, this princely hotel is a wonder in its own right.
HOTEL VILLA ATHENA IN SICILY
The mega-star of this 5-star hotel in Agrigento is the 2,500-year-old Temple of Concordia. Just a few hundred feet away from the former 18th century mansion, it dominates the view. At al fresco breakfast, its columns gleam white. After dusk, the amber-lit temple casts a romantic glow on the UNESCO World Heritage Site where the hotel is located. Roam the sculpted gardens, slip into the pool, try to concentrate on a glass of Etna Rosso, but the temple won’t let go of your eye. Villa Athena is one of the most remarkably sited hotels anywhere.
NAYARA HOTEL SPA & GARDEN
If there is a soundtrack for falling in love, it might very well be the relaxing and exotic sounds of the Costa Rican rainforest that surrounds…no, nearly swallows the Nayara hotel. As your hammock sways on the deck of your private casita, you’re serenaded by exotic birds and gentle, tropical breezes. There is no telling where the lush green hotel grounds end and the rainforest begins. From almost every spot on the property, you can look up to see the Arenal volcano that despite its imposing size and proximity has a way of bringing a sense of calm serenity to this beautiful place.
RAFFLES GRAND HOTEL D’ANGKOR
The doorman is wearing orange pants, which means it must be Monday at the Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor, one time a Royal Palace. As they did when Cambodian kings resided here, the lobby staff wear a different color trouser each day of the week. At every turn you feel the strong pull of tradition and custom throughout the stately hotel, itself just a few miles from the legendary Angkor Wat temple complex. Uncluttered, minimalistic Art Deco décor accented with Cambodian art and artifacts throughout the common spaces and guest rooms make the hotel—and the people who stay here—feel downright noble.
IGUANA CROSSING BOUTIQUE HOTEL
What an odd name for a hotel, you think…until you arrive and see the marine iguanas from the nearby wetlands perched along the rocky path that separates the hotel from the Sea of Isabela. Surrounded by a ring of six shield volcanoes and constructed with native materials, Iguana Crossing feels as though it is an extension of its natural surroundings. Ocean-view rooms and a rooftop Jacuzzi are among the amenities that make leaving the hotel so difficult. Thankfully, just beyond the property are miles of isolated beaches, mangrove lagoons and wildlife more diverse than any corner of the globe, calling you to play and explore the island paradise.