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THE VACATION REPORT places to exhale

Venture just enough off the path well trodden and discover these pared-back beach hideaways – from Brazil to Zanzibar.

Words by Monica Mendal.

ESENCIA, QUINTANA ROO

Tulum has long been beloved by free-spirited hedonists and the wellness-obsessed. Over the past decade, it has attracted a more varied milieu to its palm-fringed shores: international restaurateurs, chic hoteliers and progressive yogis. On a secluded beach just ahead of the popular beach strip, you’ll find Esencia (hotelesencia.com), an elegant oasis that epitomises everything there is to love about Tulum, minus the crowds. At Esencia, you come for nothing but the hotel and its exclusive beach, one of the most beautiful on the Riviera Maya. Previously the private beach-house hideaway of an Italian duchess, the hotel today is a design lover’s paradise with its whitewashed interiors, sleek furniture and vibrant tropical plants.

Esencia, Quintana Roo, Tulum, Mexico
Esencia, Quintana Roo, Tulum, Mexico
Esencia, Quintana Roo, Tulum, Mexico

UXUA, TRANCOSO

There’s nothing overtly grand about Trancoso, a small fishing town in Bahia, Brazil – but therein lies the draw. Trancoso is cool, relaxed and unrefined, which is exactly how the locals intend to keep it. You won’t find any large chain resorts spoiling their tiny slice of untouched paradise. Rather, Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa (uxua.com), the only upscale property in the area, blends in to the town’s main square, proving that luxury can be completely inconspicuous. In collaboration with local artisans, Dutch fashion designer and co-owner Wilbert Das has designed a retreat within a retreat, making Uxua the ultimate bohemian getaway. All of the renovated casas are rustic and eco-conscious; the spa is a beautifully designed natural oasis; and the beach bar, casual and chic, is the perfect place to unwind during the day.

Uxua, Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil
Uxua, Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil
Uxua, Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil
Uxua, Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil

SAN GIORGIO, MYKONOS

While Mykonos is known for luring European party crowds during its high season, the island’s raw, euphoric beauty still makes it an idyllic escape. San Giorgio (sangiorgio-mykonos.com), a member of the pared-back Design Hotels group, is situated between Paradise and Paranga beaches and provides uninterrupted scenic views that offer tranquil respite from island’s beach club scene. Its refined yet rustic 33 rooms and laid-back communal areas make you feel like you’re in your own bohemian beach retreat. Spend an afternoon poolside or by the hotel’s restaurant for the ultimate day of relaxation.

San Giorgio, Mykonos, Greece
San Giorgio, Mykonos, Greece
San Giorgio, Mykonos, Greece

AMANKILA, BALI

The term ‘barefoot luxury’ was practically coined in Bali. Hotels all over the world have been taking design cues from traditional Balinese aesthetics, mirroring the relaxed approach to luxury that’s rooted in the island’s culture. Hilltop hotel Amankila (aman.com/resorts/amankila), located on Bali’s less tourist-frequented east coast, is one of the oldest luxury properties on the island and has continuously maintained its position as one of the best. By the three infinity pools, you can bask in the beauty of your natural surroundings, while overlooking dramatic views of the Lombok Strait.

Amankila, Bali
Amankila, Bali
Amankila, Bali
Amankila, Bali

KILINDI, ZANZIBAR

Zanzibar has everything you’d want in an exotic beach destination: turquoise waters, vast white sand beaches, and high-end hotels free from crowds. While this island off the coast of Tanzania is not widely known – travellers more commonly opt for the Seychelles –Kilindi Zanzibar (elewanacollection.com/kilindi-zanzibar) is reason alone to book a flight. On a stretch of one of the island’s most pristine beaches, with views of traditional wooden dhows sailing through the Indian Ocean, is this 54-acre property where decompressing is just about your only option. The boutique hotel features 15 rustic villas that include small courtyard gardens, plunge pools, outdoor daybeds and unparalleled views of the beach and sea. What’s more, the sustainability-focused property is almost entirely open-air, exuding a magical, natural elegance.

Kilindi, Zanzibar
Kilindi, Zanzibar
The Style Report
The Style Report
THE STYLE REPORT