Distance by Design: Islands Picks from Remote Lands

The world is seeing a renewed enthusiasm for the isolated and indulgent.

The world is seeing a renewed enthusiasm for the isolated and indulgent. From the One&Only Reethi Rah in turquoise waters of the Maldives to the Palawan treasures of Amanpulo, so many travelers are keen to put their feet in the sand and feel normal again. Asia has no shortage of island getaways — so many in fact that it can be hard to choose from — but whether you’re looking for spa days and plush villas or diving adventures and waterfalls, these properties are the very best of the best.

One&Only Reethi Rah

The Maldives, ever reliant on tourism, was one of the first places in Asia to truly open to travel again, opening up its many island resorts to travelers the world over. But, even in the galaxy of five-star resorts that make up this popular island destination, the One&Only Reethi Rah is a cut above the rest. 

For many, this is the top luxury property in the Maldives: large, glamorous, and classy — more Hermes than Havaianas. The Beach Villas, a Remote Lands favorite, offer private beach access, large verandas with outdoor showers, and a seaside hammock. The palatial Water Villas feature enormous wooden beds, spacious sitting rooms, separate dressing areas, and private decks with hammocks suspended over the crystal clear lagoon. 

From fine dining to tapas, cuisine at Reethi Rah draws upon international influences to cater for its worldwide clientele. At the romantic waterfront Reethi Restaurant, diners will find an eclectic mix of Mediterranean and Asia-Pacific dishes, and overwater pavilions house Tapasake, a contemporary Japanese restaurant with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Meanwhile, nightly tiki torch-lit tables and house music can be had with a sundowner at Fanditha. For a drink by the pool, there’s the airy open pavilion of Rah Bar.

If travelers want to take a break from the 12 beaches and 40 different pools at One&Only Reethi Rah, including a large freeform infinity edge swimming pool by Reethi Restaurant, then they can happily take to The Water Sports Center for power water sports, including parasailing, waterskiing and renting out a speedboat. 

Reethi Rah is home to the only National Geographic Dive Center in the Maldives, providing guests with an opportunity to experience reefs, wrecks, and the protected waters of nearby Rasfari Marine Area. Every day at Reethi Rah is a “choose your own adventure” of activities: water sports, beach activities, state-of-the-art gym, wall-climbing, putting green, pottery classes, art studio, spa, diving, biking — endless.

For the wellbeing minded — and who isn’t these days — beyond the One&Only Reethi Rah’s ESPA are signature fitness programs that include tai chi at the Chi pavilion over the ocean as well as Hatha yoga and Thai boxing.

Soneva Kiri

Take a private plane from Bangkok to Koh Kood in Thailand’s lesser visited eastern islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Upon landing, guests meet their personal assistant (called Friday) who will hand you an old Nokia phone with their number so that you can always contact them. Hop in your golf cart and tear around the nicest resort in the whole of eastern Thailand — bar none.

The resort’s Ocean Villa Suites are an incredible 1,322-square-feet, complete with shaded, plush daybeds and sunloungers surrounded by the private free-form swimming pool — not to mention the suite’s own private beach plot. The master bedroom contains a king-size bed and the expansive outdoor jungle-like bathroom is just as fit for chilling and reading as it is for bathing and listening to the birds.

For the truly decadent, there’s the chocolate room, which is just like it sounds. Just open the door and eat as much of their on-grounds grown chocolate without judgement as can fit inside a human body. Just outside the chocolate room is the sherbert; this reviewer recommends the raspberry. 

There’s an observatory for stargazing, an immaculate beach, and even a private cinema where guests can lounge on cushions in the jungle and watch classic films over a lagoon. But, the resort’s signature Treepod is perhaps the most unique experience to be had at the resort: jungle canopy around you, ocean in front of you, and nothing below but gravity.

The island, too, deserves a mention. Unlike private island getaways like the Maldives, there is so much to see on land on Koh Kood, including the swimmer-friendly Khlong Chao and the colorful boat and culture of the Ao Salad fishing village. 

Amanpulo

Pamalican Island is exclusively home to the opulent Amanpulo Resort. The resort is accessible by an hour-long private luxury flight and designed with the most discerning of travelers in mind. Guests step out of the private airplane and onto a tropical island whose entire 6.5-kilometer perimeter is a powdery white-sand beach.

Wake up in one of the 40 gorgeously designed casitas which are nestled within the hillside or along the beachfront. Guests open large glass doors to greet the day filled with tropical sun and gentle walks along the serene beach. 

As well as the diving and all of the watersports one can imagine at the Sea Sports Hut, the spa is very much a highlight at Amanpulo. From its hilltop position, the Aman Spa looks out toward the sparkling turquoise Sulu Sea and features the best in world-class care; also The open-air Garden and Beach Salas are discreetly secluded and offer holistic body treatments.

Also of note is that the luxury Amanpulo plays an important role in the upcoming Kyoto to Greece Aman Private Jet Journey, which takes jetsetters to six countries for 17 nights in the finest Aman destinations in Asia and Europe.