There are 908 islands scattered around the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast of Australia’s Queensland State.
Of those, 74 islands make up the Whitsunday Archipelago, a national park and one of Australia’s top tourist destinations.
Of those, 11 islands are inhabited.
And, of those, only 1 island has luxury resorts, gourmet restaurants and a sophisticated, yet laid-back, vibe:
Spot Cool Stuff loves a good safari lodge, one that’s inviting and is in tune with its natural surroundings. Somehow candlelit dinners are more romantic when they are on a wood deck overlooking a river with crocodiles and hippos. Cold drinks taste better when drunk while gazing out at lions and giraffes in the heat of the day. Beds are more comfortable when they double as a refuge in the middle of an animal-filled wilderness.
Spot Cool Stuff also loves South Africa, a wondrous country that has more diversity of culture and landscape than most people imagine.
So it was an easy decision to write up two posts that combine our twin passions for South Africa and safari lodges.
In this, the first of our two-part series, we check out seven luxurious safari lodges. If you’re looking for a resort to celebrate a special occasion (or if you have access to an expense account) consider a stay at one of these WOW-inducing digs that combine luxury with some of the best game viewing in Africa. In our next South Africa post we’ll focus on our favorite budget safari lodges. To stay updated on that (and all the other travel goings at Spot Cool Stuff), follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook or subscribe to our RSS feed and get our travel posts delivered to you directly.
And with that, here’s to luxury in the middle of South African wilderness:
Which is the best Sandals resort in Jamaica?
That was the seemingly simple question we set out to answer when we first began to research the review article you are currently reading.
Sandals, as you may know, is a chain of all-inclusive beach resorts with properties in a handful of Caribbean countries including St. Lucia, the Bahamas, Grenada and Antigua. The country with more Sandals resorts than any other — there are seven altogether — is Jamaica.
But which of those seven Sandals should I choose for my vacation? you might be asking.
With that specific question in mind — and with a skeptical view of Sandals in general — Spot Cool Stuff visited all our their all-inclusive resorts on during our last trip to Jamaica. Here’s what we found:
When the likes of Harrison Ford, Scarlett Johansson, Bono and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit photographers visit Jamaica they head to the caves. The Caves Resort, that is, a luxurious-rustic getaway located in Negril—Jamaica’s “capital of casual” famous for its Caribbean sunsets and Seven Mile Beach.
Celebrities are drawn to the Caves Resort partly because it is owned by one of their own, legendary music producer Chris Blackwell (who also hosts the Flashpoint Film Festival here). And partly because, well, it is one cool place to stay.
Bora Bora has only 29 square kilometers of land. Yet, incredibly, the French Polynesian island has 9 outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts. That gives Bora Bora a OCLR/KM (outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts per square kilometer) value of .31, which is surely the highest of any island in the world.
Each of Bora Bora’s nine outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts has its merits. A stay at each is also somewhere between expensive and exorbitant, especially once you account for the cost of food, activities and local transportation, all of which is pricey even before tacking on the 14% national tax. That makes choosing the optimum resort key. And, of course, if you are staying for your honeymoon you want to get it right.
For this overview, we’re listing Bora Bora’s OCLRs in the order of overall resort quality as we judge it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the first resort on our list is the best fit with what you are seeking for your particular trip. Also, while reading our comparison, keep in mind that all these resorts have overwater bungalows. All have service that exceeds that of a typical luxury hotel. And all are set in stunning locations, Bora Bora offering nothing but. In those ways, you can’t go wrong with any of these choices:
The Dhoni has been a central feature of life in the Maldives for nearly as long as there’s been a recorded history of people living there. Traditionally, Dhonis were small sailing vessel built from coconut palm wood. Today, a Dhoni (pronounced: “doh-nee”) comes in a variety of sizes and is as likely to be powered by an engine as it is by the gentle trade winds that grace the Maldives. Travel around that archipelago of tropical islands south of India and you’ll see Dhonis everywhere. People fish in them. Children ride to school in them. Merchants sell their goods from them. And at one hotel, the Cocoa Island Resort, Dhonis have been turned into romantic, idyllic luxury suites.