Always Wanted To Book An Exclusive Private Island For Your Vacation? Here’s How
Blame Robinson Crusoe. His 300-year-old story of shipwreck, misery, God, cannibals, slaves and savages has, over the course of time, morphed into a dream castaway experience. The deserted island mirage, with sunny days and balmy nights, swaying palm trees and white-sand beaches, sends the best of us into a trance. Transformative travel may be all the rage, but the restorative power of getting away from it all and doing nothing should not be underestimated. It’s fuelled a boom in private-island resorts, scattered in cays and atolls across the oceans, offering levels of pampering that would make Mr Crusoe weep with joy on his boy Friday’s shoulder.
From Fiji to the Philippines, you’ll find overwater villas, underwater spas, floating bars, infinity pools, celebrity chefs, personal butlers, yoga gurus, glorious sunrises and spectacular sunsets, minus the hoi polloi. The best nurture the mind, body and soul, while newer breeds such as Wa Ale in Myanmar and Bawah Reserve in Indonesia are grounded in conservation and philanthropy. Upping the ante are exclusive-use private islands—the Maldives is a fail-safe place to start: Four Seasons Voavah, the Owner’s Villa at Cheval Blanc Randeli and Ithaafushi Private Island at the Waldorf Astoria are all worth a look. But for the ultimate in exclusivity and privacy, these three islands take it to another level.
What do you get for US$100,000 at Banwa? For a start, it buys you a night at this 6ha slice of paradise in Palawan, a two-hour helicopter or seaplane hop from Manila. On it are six contemporary villas accommodating up to 22 people, with floor-to-ceiling windows, private infinity pools and beach frontage. They’ve also thrown in a short golf course, tennis court, water sports, cocktails and organic meals on demand, as well as unlimited messages. And because it’s within a marine conservation area, look out for Hawksbill turtles, whale sharks, Tabon birds and Mantanani scops owls. Be warned, though, one night is not enough—you’ll want more, many more.
Nukutepipi, French Polynesia
In space, no one can hear you scream, and at Nukutepipi, neither can your neighbours. This micron of an atoll in the Pacific Ocean is some 6,000km from the nearest continental landmass, which means it’s good for a thumping celebration, though its splendid isolation and abundance of nature make it even better for chilling. The vision of Guy Laliberté, co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, the self-sustaining resort took well over a decade to realise. Sixteen villas and bungalows, set among lush vegetation, accommodate up to 52 guests in understated comfort. A host of facilities and activities are available: scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, whale-watching and lagoon tours, to name a few. You’ll never go hungry, with two restaurants serving island-grown produce and ultra-fresh seafood.
Tanzania has lions and elephants, but did you know it has whale sharks and manta rays, too? Overshadowed by its fame as a safari destination, the country’s beaches and islands are also bucket-list worthy. Take Thanda—developed by Swedish philanthropists Dan and Christin Olafson—an 8ha emerald and ivory jewel set in the Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve. The main villa, built in a breezy throwback plantation‑style, sleeps up to 10 adults and nine children, while two traditional open-air bandas house a further four guests. The Swahili feast is a decadent affair that includes curries with hand-squeezed coconut milk, fresh lobster and oysters.