Friends often ask me about resorts I have gone to that are truly worth the trip. One of the best things about my job has been seeing exactly that kind of spot–the perfect mix of locale, design and isolation that makes a place truly unique. It seems that many of the best spots involve more than one flight and a good effort to get there, but maybe that’s exactly what keeps them so off the map. And while I have been lucky enough to visit many hotels that fit the bill, here are five resorts that really stood out over time, and ticked off all the boxes on my list.

A view of Dedon's pool and hanging "nest" chair
A view of Dedon’s pool and hanging “nest” chair.

1. Dedon, Siragao.

Opened by the furniture company of the same name, this resort in the Philippines was a revelation not only in terms of the design–every single detail was beautifully but naturally curated–but also as a gateway to an incredibly beautiful island, with a wonderful surf culture and gorgeous white-sand beaches. Getting there involved two flights from Manila, and a jeepney ride, but I would go back there in a hot second.  You can read more about the island and Dedon in this piece I wrote for the New York Times.

The new hotel of Tierra Patagonia
The new hotel of Tierra Patagonia.

2. Tierra Patagonia, Chile

Patagonia had been on my wish list for decades and I finally got there two winters ago. I still dream about the landscapes I saw, and the standout architecture of the Tierra Patagonia resort. Every window looked onto the mighty mountains of Torres del Paine, and the way the sky and sunlight constantly changed was almost surreal–I also thought the way the sweeping building hugged the land was the perfect example of groundbreaking and sustainable building. (My hiking adventures are chronicled here).

I still remember my bed surrounded by white mosquito net.
I still remember my bed surrounded by white mosquito net at Vamizi.

3. Vamizi resort, Mozambique

A few years ago Conde Nast Traveler sent me to Mozambique to see the progress from a country ravaged by civil war to one of the most alluring new destinations in Africa. The whole country was a revelation but this property in particular remains one of my top destinations ever. Simple but utterly luxurious, the resort was completely committed to the island’s preservation, and the diving, beaches, and landscape were some of the most pristine settings I have ever seen. I even got to fly a prop plane over the archipelago! Read more about Mozambique in my piece for Conde Nast Traveler.

Daybeds at Capofaro tempt guests to spend the whole day poolside.
Daybeds at Capofaro tempt guests to spend the whole day poolside.

4. Capofaro, Salina

Not to knock Amalfi or Capri, but for me the Aeolians islands off Sicily remain a much less touristy and authentic Italian destination. Only accessible by ferry, each one of the seven islands has its own particular flavor but Salina, with its Malvasia vineyards and vistas onto the still active volcano of Stromboli, is my favorite. Sometimes I take the somewhat long journey there just to be completely quiet: When I really in need to recharge I just sack out at the pool overlooking the Mediterranean, and enjoy the wonderful seafood restaurant alongside. Read more about reinvented Sicily in my piece for Conde Nast Traveler.

Hotelito's palapas on the Pacific
Hotelito’s palapas on the Pacific.

5. Hotelito Desconocido, Mexico

A few years ago I wrote a story about surfing on the Pacific Coast of Mexico and some of the resorts along its beautiful coastline. This part of Mexico is somewhere I have gone probably over a dozen times and I am completely in love with the mix of hotels, surf culture, and simple but amazing food. One of my very favorite resorts there is this spot about two hours from Puerto Vallarta on its own secluded cove right by a wildlife reserve. There is no electricity, the place is lit by candles at night, and the only way to get to the beachside villas is by boat. Barefoot chic, unplugged relaxation, and the perfect romantic setting. Can’t get much better than that. My Pacific surf journey is chronicled here.