Imagine having an island resort—or an entire private island—all to yourself. Its warm and inviting seaside sundecks await, and its elegant spas and pools beckon. The deluxe bedrooms and ensuites are yours to enjoy every beautiful evening.
The most exceptional island properties make this level of luxury an everyday reality, with amenities for recreation, relaxation, and wellness that look like an itinerary for the jet set. Here are three such homes, and the fabulously laissez-faire lifestyle they afford.
Luxuriate in the Sun and Surf on Virgin Gorda
Of all the various isles and cays that comprise the British Virgin Islands, it’s perhaps Virgin Gorda that has the greatest hold on the popular imagination. The otherworldly granite grottoes of The Baths bring visitors to lively Spanish Town, as do scenic, sheltered harbors—such as Devil’s Bay and Little Dix Bay—that nestle along its curving coasts, boasting white-sand beaches and shimmering turquoise waters.
Situated snugly in the hills above Little Dix Bay is Villa Katsura
, a vast estate consisting of three distinct pavilions, along with an expanse of pristine land that descends to the beaches below. Connected by gorgeous stone walkways and bamboo groves—which encompass three koi ponds, 11 serene water features, and a Zen garden—it’s easy to forget that this is a private residence rather than a refuge for royals and celebrities.
At first glance, the spectacular pool terrace looks almost like a natural formation, set organically among the rocks, but its carefully placed fire pits, steam room, and heated therapeutic spa are intentionally designed for those seeking a refined outdoor space. As if that weren’t enough, the owner of Villa Katsura is by default an honored guest of Little Dix Bay Resort, with access to the resort’s gym, tennis courts, hiking trails, and equipment for sailing and snorkeling the Caribbean Sea.
Retreat, Rest, and Rejuvenate at Lake Norman
The coastal plains of North Carolina may be known for the sand-strewn barrier islands of its Outer Banks, but some of its most magnificent islands are actually located inland, on the shores of Lake Norman. The area is a hub of natural beauty and biodiversity, despite being just 20 miles north of Charlotte and home to its own thriving scene of boutiques and restaurants.
One of Lake Norman’s most picturesque islands—Merancas Island, located conveniently on the southern shore within 30 minutes of Charlotte—is actually part of a private parcel of land that includes this majestic home
. With tropical trails, sculpture gardens, and tennis courts—as well as a two-bedroom guesthouse—it feels like the sort of sanctuary where modern aristocracy would head for a holiday.
But it’s at the water’s edge where this property truly shines, with a launch ramp for kayaks and paddleboards, as well as a covered boat dock—the perfect place to start a day of sightseeing along Lake Norman’s 520-mile shoreline. And for those who’d prefer to stay closer to home, the gazebo dock is an ideal place to dine, recline, and watch the sun go down over the water.
Indulge the Five Star Lifestyle at Dorado Beach
As far as island living goes, Puerto Rico’s now-legendary Dorado Beach is the gold standard. Originally demarcated by the noted developer, financier, and conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller on the site of a former plantation, the area was subsequently fashioned into one of the Caribbean’s premier luxury destinations. Today it sports state-of-the-art amenities while preserving authentic architecture that integrates splendidly with the native palms that surround it.
While most people who vacation at Dorado Beach are visitors, a very fortunate few actually own the exclusive villas in East Beach—an oasis of lush vegetation spanning some 1,400 acres. This home
shows how indoor-outdoor living achieves its pinnacle here, with floor-to-ceiling windows creating seamless continuity with the covered patio, barbecue, infinity pool, and hot tub, as well as the nearby golf course just beyond.
Speaking of golf courses, there are two here—and both are accessible to residents of this property, along with all the other amenities of the Ritz-Carlton, which now operates Dorado Beach. That includes a fitness and wellness center, aquatic parks, and fine dining.
A private escape on a personal island property is exceptional, even for those accustomed to luxury experiences. The water is a place of inspiration, exploration, tranquility, and wonder—and to have access to it every day, everywhere, is to have access to a life of true, elevated leisure.