Private plunge pools have long been coveted features in luxury hotel rooms, and these days they're easier than ever to come by, particularly in destinations like the Caribbean and Mexico. But some stand out above the rest. We used to be so excited about the idea of a pool just for us that we didn't care if it looked out at a brick wall (well, that may be pushing it a tad far), but these 15 private plunge pools with absolutely stunning views have us totally jaded now. Only overlooking a clear-blue sea will do!
1. Excellence Playa Mujeres
This adults-only luxury resort offers a nice all-inclusive experience with tons of variety -- multiple dining options, several beautiful pools, a gorgeous spa, and dozens of wonderful activities. The rooms here are large and contemporary, with large modern bathrooms, whirlpools, and high-end amenities such as big flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and iPod docks. Some have large rooftop terraces with private plunge pools overlooking the ocean. However, note that the beach is less attractive than others farther south, and that there are no attractions nearby. Still, though, compared with the nearby, similarly luxurious Beloved Hotel, the Excellence has more to offer in terms of options.
2. Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barts
Undoubtedly one of the most prestigious hotels in St. Barts, this exclusive 14-villa luxury resort with a Parisian flair sits amid 42 lush acres of natural hills and beachfront. The private villas are spacious and airy, each with its own large, infinity-edge plunge pool. And the views here are jaw-dropping. The French restaurant is one of the island’s most renowned, one of the many reasons celebrities come here to relax. Rates are nothing to sneeze at, but you'll definitely receive the all-star treatment that should come with such a hefty price tag.
3. The Place Luxury Boutique Villas, Thailand
The Place is a perfect getaway for those looking for a tranquil escape. Hidden in the hills of Koh Tao, it only has nine private villas, each completely separate and surrounded by trees, looking out to the sea. Elegant, rustic-luxe rooms all feature elegant wood floors, kitchen facilities, and large plunge pools on the decks that look out at the ocean. The resort doesn't have any facilities so to speak of, not even a restaurant, but most guests come here for privacy and romance, and are content to spend most of their time lounging on the deck.
4. Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia
Romantic? Undoubtedly. Unique? Absolutely. Expensive? For sure. Through an innovative, open fourth wall, each of Jade's 29 enormous suites overlooks the sea from its chromatherapy-lit whirlpool tub, canopied bed, and private infinity pool. Getting to Jade Mountain can be tedious, even nauseating, but its organic cuisine, doting service, unwavering silence (no TVs, radios, or children), and extraordinary design make the long journey worthwhile.
5. Horned Dorset Primavera, Puerto Rico
The Horned Dorset Primavera feels romantic and exclusive, with a remote location in Rincon and white buildings dotting the lush eight-acre grounds. The suites are adorned with Spanish-Colonial-style decor -- dark wood canopy beds draped with sheer white fabric, lots of marble, big freestanding soaking tubs, and exotic Moroccan touches, like intricate glass-and-bronze light fixtures. Luxurious extras include kitchenettes with stainless steel appliances, decks, and private plunge pools. But there's nothing within walking distance of the property, and some of the facilities are underwhelming for the price -- including the small gym and narrow (though tranquil) beach.
6. andBeyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp, Botswana
This ultra-remote, luxurious safari lodge on an island in Botswana's Okavango Delta isn't a hotel, it's an experience, where everything -- including the excellent food and the guided excursions (game drives, bush walks, river cruises) -- is included in the price of the stay. Guests can get up close to exotic wildlife on both land and water (think: lions and hippos), and even arriving to the property is an adventure, requiring transport by small plane, safari vehicle, and a boat. The nine safari "tents" are fully screened in and thoroughly high-end, with huge soaking tubs, four-poster beds, lots of wood, and private plunge pools that overlook the 672,000-acre wildlife preserve on which the tents are set.
7. Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya
Rosewood Mayakoba is a gorgeous, peaceful retreat within the resort community of Playa Del Carmen, set on a mile-long stretch of beach. Though it features an extensive children's program, the resort largely attracts couples with its serene atmosphere, upscale restaurants, and spa. The 128 suites feature attractive contemporary decor -- picture clean lines, white walls, and rich woods -- as well as high-tech amenities and private outdoor plunge pools. They have an open-air vibe, with many floor-to-ceiling windows, and the overwater lagoon suites have swim-up access from the beach, which the plunge pools overlook. Plus, suites include freebies such as Wi-Fi, fresh fruit, and bottled water. Seaweed debris along the beach keeps the Rosewood from being flawless (although they diligently attempt to keep it clean by sending staffers to rake it away), but otherwise this hotel is top-notch -- for guests willing to pay top dollar.
8. Tadrai Island Resort, Fiji
One of Fiji’s top luxury properties, Tadrai Island Resort -- located on Mana Island -- is an adults-only, all-inclusive where peace and quiet is the focus. Here, guests can choose to participate in a wide variety of water sports, or instead spend most of their time at the spa; it’s also a great spot for diving. Private villas are super luxe and sleek, and many overlook the ocean from expansive porches with plunge pools.
9. Amatara Resort & Wellness, Phuket
Amatara is a five-pearl property overlooking the Panwa Cape on Phuket's quiet southern end. With a breathtaking infinity-edge pool overlooking the Andaman Sea, a private sandy beach, and tricked-out villas and rooms, the Amatara Resort is an ideal spot for couples and families seeking a luxurious tropical vacation with all the trimmings. Fun extras include iPad tablets in the rooms, and a full spa and salon.
10. Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua
Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua's Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools with stunning ocean views. The white-sand beach is secluded and beautiful, the restaurant serves simple but tasty local dishes, and group yoga classes on the ocean-view wooden platform are free.
11. Pavilion Samui Boutique Resort, Thailand
Located right on Lamai Beach, one of Koh Samui's most popular destinations, Pavilion Samui Boutique Resort is a beach hotel surrounded by tropical gardens, with 89 modern rooms and villas, beachfront dining, a private pool, and a full-service spa. Lodgings are spacious and Thai-inflected, all with private patios and soaking tubs, and higher-tier villas include private plunge pools with beachfront views. Children are welcome and there are meeting rooms available, but the resort is predominantly popular with couples, who appreciate the romantic beachfront restaurant and poolside bar, as well as the in-room massages.
12. Pink Sands, Bahamas
With freestanding cottages along a 20-acre bird sanctuary, this hilly resort is one of just a handful of hotels on Harbour Island. Understated sophistication is the vibe here; the grounds are peaceful (except for the roaming roosters), and most guests seem happy to spend their days simply soaking up the sun at Pink Sands Beach -- a beautiful and unspoiled three-mile stretch of sand from which the resort takes its name. Ocean view cottages offer outstanding panoramas from the patios (many with pools) and private walking paths to the beach, but cost almost twice as much as garden view cottages. Room decor mixes modern and tradition, with sleek wooden bed frames, romantic open-style showers, and screened-in windows that allow breezes to float in from all sides (air-conditioning is also available). There's great dining on-site, but guests can take a golf cart to other parts of this charming island for more restaurant choices.
13. Ladera Resort, St. Lucia
This unique luxury resort in St. Lucia is made up of 32 one- and two-bedroom suites, each carefully carved into the surrounding hillside overlooking the island’s iconic twin Pitons. The suites -- which have missing fourth walls, and in most cases, private plunge pools -- are a main draw, as are the spectacular views and lush grounds. The resort also features some fabulous amenities, such as an infinity lagoon pool, a gorgeous open-air restaurant and bar, a (tiny) open-air fitness center, and a lovely spa with black water soaking baths. All of this comes at a price, but Ladera is still significantly cheaper than the ultra-glam Jade Mountain (rates are often around half as much). Ladera is within close range of several of the island’s best tourist destinations -- notable cocoa plantations are within walking distance, the pristine white sands of Jalousie beach are a short drive away, and tourist hot spots like the volcano and Tet-Paul nature trails are both nearby.
14. Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
Sitting on a granite plateau overlooking stunning Petite Anse Bay, the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Seychelles marries elegant interiors with the sweeping grandeur of its natural surroundings. Guests stay in individual treetop-level villas, each with its own private plunge pool, whirlpool, and outdoor shower. There's little in the immediate area, but the resort is jam-packed with five-pearl amenities including a spa with a massive menu, a golf driving range, a fitness center with personal trainers, and a dive shop. Classes in yoga, surfing, Creole cooking, art, hiking, sailing, and more keep guests busy. But the private beach with staff delivering refreshments and attending to guests' needs is the ultimate way to spend a day doing nothing.
15. Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya
With only 90 suites, the Zoetry Paraiso offers a romantic, wellness-centric boutique experience in the Mayan Riviera. Even though the warm, Mediterranean style is a bit different in each of the available room types, all are spacious with comfortable furnishings and Bulgari toiletries. . The pool area and beach are relaxed with double-wide lounge chairs(perfect for couples), and the on-site dining keeps the resort's wellness theme alive with delicious, healthy meals. Included amenities not standard at most all-inclusive resorts, such as a daily bottle of champagne, a one-hour Catamaran sunset sail, three-times-daily maid service, and private chauffeured airport transfers, make this resort a standout among Puerto Morelos' finest properties (though expect the price to reflect that).
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