The World’s Most Spectacular Over Water Villas
Forget about bedding down in cloud-piercing skyscrapers and alpine glamping resorts – this year, it’s all about the over water villa, and they’re no longer the preserve of the Maldives. The first over water accommodation in the Caribbean will soon be unveiled, while the Viceroy group has revealed it will open Panama’s first over-water resort in 2019. In the meantime, here are the most spectacular options when it comes to over water living.
Tamara Hinson is a Surrey-based freelance travel journalist who writes for newspapers such as the Telegraph and Guardian, along with in-flight publications and travel websites. She’s especially interested in getting off the beaten track and some of the more unusual destinations she’s visited include North Korea and Benin.
Banner Image Credit: Four Seasons Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Image Credit: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
There are 100 over-water bungalow suites at this beautiful French Polynesian resort. Each has its own private berth for easy access to the crystal clear water, but if that sounds too much like hard work, 15 have private plunge pools. If you tire of the ocean view, head to the resort’s marine life-filled private lagoon, which is also where you’ll find the resort’s marine sanctuary. Run by biologist Oliver Martin, it’s one of the region’s top dive spots as well as a research facility.
From £859 per night
Six Senses Laamu, The Maldives
Image Credit: Six Senses Laamu
There’s no denying that this part of the world has some of the world’s most beautiful over water villas, and Six Senses Laamu is the only resort in the Maldives’ gorgeous southern Laamu Atoll. There are 96 split-level, over-water villas, each with their own spacious patios, complete with day beds, sun loungers and hammocks. The upper decks double as dining areas, allowing you to admire the local fish while trying to forget that you’re probably feasting on their distant relatives. If privacy is a priority opt for one of the Laamu Water Villas, located at the end of the jetties.
From £599 per night
Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor, Malaysia
Image Credit: Pangkor Laut
This private island resort, opened by the late opera singer Pavarotti, has several different types of over-water accommodation. Sea Villas have large decking areas and open-air showers, and the Suria and Purnama suites have huge lounge areas. The Spa Villas have private lap pools and offer direct access to the resort’s spa – perfect if you’re struggling to summon the energy to drag yourself from the sun lounger to the massage table. We particularly love the huge balconies – head there at sunset to take in the views over the Straits of Malacca.
From £150 per night
Gili Lankanfushi, The Maldives
Image Credit: Gili Lankanfushi
There are 45 beautiful over-water villas at this gorgeous resort, along with seven Crusoe Residences, which are only accessible by boat. The luxurious Private Reserve is the pièce de résistance, and it’s located 300 metres from the nearest structure, so privacy is guaranteed. It’s the world’s largest over-water villa and includes a cinema, spa, gym and library. A network of walkways connects the huge pool with the rest of this palatial pad, which has its own private spa. But our favourite bit? The water slide which allows guests to slide from the top deck straight into the ocean.
From £1,073 per night
Song Saa, Cambodia
Image Credit: Justin Mott
The over-water villas on Song Saa private island are all built from sustainable materials, with thatched roofs, rough-hewn timber and drift wood furnishings. Our favourite is the Royal Villa, which comes with a sunken bath, an outdoor terrace and a private jetty – perfect for that James Bond-style speedboat arrival. Song Saa even has its own time zone, referred to as island time. All of the clocks run one hour ahead of the rest of Cambodia to maximise daylight hours and to allow guests to make the most of the spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
From £1,357 per night
Cayo Espanto, Belize
Image Credit: Cayo Espanto
If you’ve got a penchant for over-water living, you’ll need to book early at Cayo Espanto – there’s just one over-water villa, although it’s certainly worth the wait. Casa Ventanas’s location, 45 metres away from the island, means that privacy is guaranteed. You’ll get your very own butler and inside the villa, sections of glass flooring provide unbeatable views of the marine life. In the evening, the underside is lit up, allowing your night time observations to continue once the sun goes down. This particular resort feels more like a home from home, thanks partly to the fact that there are only seven villas, and there will never be more than 18 guests at any one time.
From £1,229 per night
Viceroy Bocas del Toro Panama, Panama
Image Credit: Viceroy Bocas del Toro Panama
There’s a lot of hype about this Panamanian resort, which will open in 2019. Although the owners are keeping their cards close to their chest, it’s known that the 186 accommodations will include 42 over-water villas, each with their own private plunge pool and direct access to the ocean. The villas will be located on a three-mile-long private beach, but if you’re not a diver, don’t panic. Although this stretch of coastline has the region’s most diverse marine life, it’s also a popular bird watching, cycling and hiking destination.
Prices to be confirmed
Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius
Image Credit: Constance Prince Maurice
The stilted suites at this Mauritius resort hover above a beautiful, fish-filled lagoon. And if the direct ocean access doesn’t do it for you, opt for one of the junior suites, which are set back from the main lagoon and surrounded by their own expanse of water. The suites, which are one-bedroom affairs, have beautiful living areas and super-sized Jacuzzi bathtubs. When it’s time for dinner, head to the restaurant – also on stilts – which is connected to the rest of the resort by a meandering wooden walkway which winds through the lush plant life.
From £497 per night
Palafitte, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Image Credit: Palafitte
Turquoise water and tropical fish are overrated. Switzerland probably isn’t the first place you’d expect to find over-water bungalows, but the beautiful lakeside canton of Neuchâtel is where you’ll find Palafitte, which has 26 bungalows built above the water. But the concept isn’t as odd as it might seem, because architect Kurt Hoffmann came up with the idea after discovering that thousands of years ago many of the region’s residents lived in stilted buildings high above the lakes.
From £374 per night
Sandals Royal Caribbean and Offshore Island, Jamaica
Image Credit: Sandals
In December 2016, Sandals will unveil the Caribbean’s first over-water accommodation. The five villas, which will open at the brand’s Royal Caribbean resort, will feature open air showers, private infinity pools and sundecks with direct access to the ocean. The bedroom and sundeck will both have transparent sections of flooring, and if you book a stay in one of the villas, you’ll also enjoy the services of your very own butler – trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers, of course.
Prices to be confirmed