Close your eyes and imagine paradise: Perhaps you see a deserted tropical island or even a snowy peak, but what about an overwater bungalow? Elevated over the ocean, these hotel rooms on stilts are most often found in the Maldives and the South Pacific, but they also crop up in unexpected places such as Switzerland, Belize or Malaysia.
Hotels that are within the St. Regis chain net a high rate of respect, and the Bora Bora is a shining example of why. The wonders of the South Pacific are literally right below your feet as you spend the days in one of their spacious villas above a private lagoon – some even have glass areas of the floor to take in all of the wondrous sea life below.
You’ll have a butler on call for your needs, and there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the resort (obv). A fun activity suggestion for you and the crew? A group snorkeling session or the daily sunset cruise.
Opulence is the key here with this 5-star resort nestled atop the Huvadhu Atoll. In the southernmost part of the island nation, luxury begins with your arrival to the resort in a private speedboat from the airport.
Out of the 133 villas available, 50 are specifically over-the-water and not only come equipped with a full private outdoor deck, but also an ocean hammock and a private pool with an uninterrupted view of the exquisite waters of the Indian Ocean. To enhance your stay, get the gang together for a bit of banana boat riding or keep it chill with a catamaran cruise around the resort.
Vahine Island, French Polynesia
As a crown jewel of the South Pacific, Tahiti boasts some of the most stunning oceanic views on Earth. At Vahine Island, the emphasis is on exclusivity – so much that there are only nine villas available. Three of those are over-the-water, and are located right above the lagoon.
The bungalows also come with a specially crafted table that allows you to check out all of the aquatic citizens below. One of the most recommended activities is a tour of a nearby vanilla plantation. Why? You’re literally on the “Vanilla Island”.
Situated on a private island in the Straits of Malacca just off of Malaysia’s coast, Pangkor Laut is pure tropical tranquility. The luxury resort’s Sea Villas are set upon stilts above Emerald Bay, and are connected by walkways to the beachfront.
Each villa boasts an outdoor terrace with lounger chairs and a shower that opens onto the sea. And if you plan ahead, you can also snag complimentary spa treatments for each night of your stay for everyone in your party.
The sole entry on our list in the Caribbean, the Cayo Espanto resort sits on a private island three miles off the Belizean coast. Aim for the Casa Ventanas, their sole overwater bungalow surrounded on three sides by the incandescent turquoise of the ocean.
Guests are treated to an elaborate daily menu based on their dining preferences. Indulge further by arranging one of their deserted beach picnics for your group, or if you’re adventurous, take in a scuba diving experience on the nearby reef (it’s the second largest on the globe, no big deal).
This resort is stunning and offers the most options in terms of bungalows you and your party can occupy atop the ocean, but you’ll want to go with the Sunset Water Villa as your pick. Why? For starters, you can take the private boardwalk to enter or arrive by jet-boat.
The villa also has a glass floor in the living room so you can view the sea life 24/7, and your very own infinity pool as part of a vast terrace. While here, you and the crew need to visit Ithaa Restaurant, the world’s only undersea restaurant completely enclosed by glass and dine as you watch manta rays swim past.
The only hotel in Europe built on stilts, the Palafitte enjoys an exceptional setting. To put one foot into this unique and unusual establishment is to dive into a cocooning and relaxing environment. This is a complete and instant change of scenery.
The architecture has been carefully designed to enhance the breathtaking surrounding view from any point in the room! The hotel was constructed more than 10 years ago as part of the National Expo 2002.