The siren call of a private beach has always been all but irresistible, but this year it’s stronger than ever. While it’s still too soon to jet off to paradise right away, many travelers are already planning their autumn and winter vacations. It’s no surprise that secluded beaches are at the top of many of their wish lists.
At least that has been the case among the clients of the luxury travel operator Black Tomato, which recently shared some predictions for travel in late 2020 and 2021. Co-founder Tom Marchant put “the freedom of unlimited space” at the top of his list, given the fact that many of us have spent months indoors lately and are rightly wary of getting too close to anyone.
Some of the world’s best unlimited space, of course, comes with soft sand below, blue sky above, and the sound of lapping waves—even if that means traveling far from home.
Flexibility is key in the coming months, says Marchant, acknowledging that we don’t know what will happen with travel restrictions. “We mitigate this risk by assessing and reviewing governmental guidelines in tandem with constant contact with our partners on the ground, every day,” he says, “to determine where people can go and what can be done, with a deep understanding of flight routes and private travel and charters.
“It’s not simply working with hotels and airlines for international and internal transfers,” he continues, “but also adapting to ever-changing scenarios with a hyperlocal knowledge of roads, infrastructure and airports. It’s a gigantic undertaking to take on all the moving parts of a trip on your own, especially when things have to change and pivot.” In worst-case scenarios, that can include private helicopter, air or boat transfers to get travelers home at a moment’s notice. “We’re also able to work on the back end to negotiate more favorable booking conditions, cancellation policies and flexibility with local suppliers and hotels. And we offer 24/7 support.”
“We’ve seen a notable increase in bookings in the Maldives, and one of the best secluded beach respites is COMO Maalifushi, a pioneer in reimagining truly authentic wellness travel,” explains Marchant. The in-house surf instructors take guests to the nearby deserted reefs for private sessions on the best waves in the Maldives, and the dive masters do the same under the surface. And right now a relaxing treatment at the overwater Shambhala Spa sounds pretty heavenly. “Eight private treatment pavilions float above the water, and it is truly heaven on earth set against a backdrop of one of the most inspiring settings I can imagine.”
Greece is planning to be one of the first European countries to welcome travelers again. Since this could make some islands busier and more crowded than some travelers are comfortable with, “we are advising clients to consider smaller, more remote islands that can be accessed by private transport instead of public ferries,” says Marchant. “One of our favorite little islands is Folegandros and the boutique Anemi Hotel, which blends seamlessly with the landscape and is enveloped by fragrant, perfumed gardens. The closest beach is just steps away, with sugar-white sands and sapphire water and utterly quiet and secluded.” Alternatively, there’s the smaller island of Sifnos and what Marchant calls his best-kept secret, Elies Resort, a place to experience authentic Greek island life. Or the untouristed island of Spetses, where “the Poseidonion Grand Hotel is a longtime favorite of the glitterati (including the Kennedy family) and offers the best of Greece but with discretion and privacy.” Or forget about the islands and head to the Peloponnesian coast, where “Amanzoe oozes tranquillity and seclusion—each guest has their own private pool and private beach access, all surrounded by undulating olive groves.”
“We fell in love with Chablé’s signature property in the Yúcatan, but this beach enclave on the Riviera Maya has stirred wanderlust within us,” says Marchant. “Chablé Maroma is renowned not only for its wellness offerings but also for its culinary ingenuity. The private casitas are luxurious, refined and designed to have plenty of space with private plunge pools. There is so much white sand beach that every guest is said to have roughly 400 square feet of it to themselves. That’s certainly enough to be socially distant.”
Black Tomato has seen a notable interest in Sri Lanka. The country “took a serious hit in tourist numbers due to the devastating attacks last year, but it has been resilient and is showing many signs of recovery,” says Marchant. “A secluded beach trip here would be ideal, with tourist numbers still lower than ever before. Amanwella, on the southern tip of the island, is a sublime retreat hidden among coconut groves on a hill that overlooks one of the country’s most beautiful and peaceful bays. The suites are exceptional, private and nestled on the sides of the hill facing the bay, with uninterrupted views across the palm-studded beach.” Another excellent, small-scale and secluded choice is Cape Weligama, a member of Relais & Châteaux.
“With international travel still uncertain for Americans, the islands of Hawaii are a perfect setting for a shot of tropical beach,” says Marchant. “For ultimate seclusion, we recommend the Four Seasons Lanai, situated on a tiny island off of Maui with a population of only around 3,000. Consider combining this with a few days on the Big Island at the utterly beautiful Auberge Mauna Lani and stay in one of the very discreet ocean view or oceanfront bungalows. These would be exceptional for the family who is ready to travel but still seeking seclusion and world-class service in an inspiring tropical setting.”
“We love Kasiiya,” notes Marchant. “With only five secluded tents on 123 acres along a remote surf beach, this is the ultimate castaway location with serious desert island vibes. This tropical paradise harmoniously brings nature in to all its furnishings, and the setting is absolutely out of this world. The food is inspired, hyper fresh and based on the natural resources at hand with a strong commitment to sustainability and wellness.”
“It’s hard to find a more exceptional place than the completely self-contained private island oasis of Jumby Bay,” says Marchant. The 300-acre island is replete with many private, pristine beaches and stunning villas that are ideal for a family or a group of friends to finally reconnect with no one else in sight. And while many private islands involve various boat rides and transfers, this oasis is just ten minutes away from the north coast of Antigua, and I keeps a strict policy of allowing only hotel guests, staff and residents on the island.
British Virgin Islands
“The Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the BVI’s Virgin Gorda is high up there for secluded beach time,” Marchant explains. “The property was once owned by Laurence Rockefeller, who left strict instructions to maintain the island’s integrity and ecology. Following an extraordinary renovation post-hurricane, Rosewood would have made Rockefeller proud. The island still has one of the most stunning stretches of serene and private beaches the world over.”