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Cap Juluca, Maundays Bay, Anguilla

Best Beach Resorts: Readers' Choice Awards 2016

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Climbing an astonishing 19 places, Cap Juluca in Anguilla returned in force to claim the top spot on the Best Beach Resorts list. Aqualina Resort & Spa in Florida and Four Seasons The Biltmore in Santa Barbara maintained their positions in the top five, and five beach resorts made the list from reader-favorite Hawaii.

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1. Cap Juluca


Maundays Bay, Anguilla — Stylish resort fronting one of the finest beaches in the Caribbean. Whitewashed archways, domes and mock parapets create the look of a fanciful Moorish oasis. Seventy spacious guest quarters are housed in oceanfront villas. Open-air dining venues include Spice (Moroccan lounge) and Pimms (seafood-centric Mediterranean fare).
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2. Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach


Sunny Isles Beach, Florida — Lavish 98-room Mediterranean-style resort within a 51-story tower on four-and-a-half acres fronted by 400 feet of white sand. Rooms and suites have been decorated in a sophisticated style that combines traditional and contemporary elements. Acqualina has three oceanfront restaurants.
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3. Four Seasons Maui at Wailea


Maui, Hawaii — Luxurious resort on 15 oceanfront acres at the south end of Wailea Beach. A U-shaped building contains 380 spacious rooms (75 suites) overlooking landscaped courtyards. Dining venues include Wolfgang Puck’s Spago for Hawaiian/California/Pacific Rim cuisine; DUO, serving steak and seafood. Three 18-hole championship golf courses are adjacent.
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4. Four Seasons Biltmore, Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara, California — Mission-style resort on a 22-acre estate across the street from the public beach. Red tile roofs, lantern-lit brick walkways, courtyard gardens and whitewashed cottages distinguish the 207-room enclave. Bella Vista restaurant serves Italian-influenced California coastal cuisine.
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5. Four Seasons Hualalai


Kailua-Kona, Hawaii — Grand resort on dramatic grounds along a half-mile rocky shoreline on the north Kona Coast. Four lodging crescents house 243 stylishly appointed rooms featuring lanais and lavish baths. The Four Seasons Hualalai spa is the island’s best for alfresco treatments.
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6. Four Seasons Punta Mita


Nayarit, Mexico — The seaside Four Seasons Punta Mita is on a scenic 1,200-acre peninsula with two pretty beaches, 50 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta airport. A dozen casitas contain 173 guest quarters, most sporting a clean, contemporary design, plus furnished terraces providing memorable views of the sea.
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7. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel


Kohala Coast, Hawaii — Renowned 252-room resort founded in 1965 by Laurance S. Rockefeller, overlooking an exquisite white-sand beach on the Kohala Coast. Dining venues include the main restaurant, Manta; the Copper Terrace for pub fare and cocktails; and Hau Tree for casual beachside dining.
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8. Halekulani


Honolulu, Hawaii — Oceanfront 453-room hotel set in a quiet five-acre enclave on Waikiki Beach near the prime shopping district. Generous rooms include twin or king beds, desks, large lanais with chaises longues, and separate sitting areas with love seats, coffee tables and occasional chairs; most offer ocean views.
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9. Esperanza, An Auberge Resort


Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — Luxurious residential resort terraced into Punta Ballena’s panoramic bluffs, overlooking two private coves. Clusters of four-story earth-toned casitas contain 57 rooms. Shades of gray and blue; antiques and baths with spacious showers enhance the renovated interiors, which flow out to sea-facing verandas.
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10. Caneel Bay


St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands — Eco-resort founded by Laurance S. Rockefeller amid 170 verdant acres bordered by seven secluded white-sand beaches. The 166 accommodations feature ceiling fans, air-conditioning and private patios or balconies (no TVs or telephones) with views of the landscaped grounds and the Caribbean Sea.
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11. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa


Little Torch Key, Florida — Tropical retreat occupying lush five-acre Little Torch Key, a half-hour north of Key West. Thirty accommodations in thatched bungalow suites feature vaulted ceilings, whirlpool baths, four-poster canopy beds. A fine restaurant is complemented by a freshwater lagoon pool with a palapa bar.
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12. The Meridian Club, Turks & Caicos


Pine Cay, Turks & Caicos — Delightfully informal resort on an 800-acre private island skirted by a spectacular two-mile deserted white-sand beach. Thirteen shoreline lodgings with king or two twin beds, alcove living areas, indoor/outdoor showers. Caring staff tend to guests’ every need.
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13. Montage Laguna Beach


Laguna Beach, California — Imaginatively conceived resort set amid 30 landscaped acres on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Most of the 248 guest rooms feature seaview balconies and custom appointments evoking California’s arts and crafts movement. The panoramic gourmet Studio restaurant offers California-influenced modern French cuisine.
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14. One&Only Palmilla


San José del Cabo, Mexico — Impressive resort on the tip of the Baja Peninsula, with both a walking beach and a swimmable beach (a rarity in the Baja). All 173 guest rooms have patios or balconies with expansive water views and 24-hour butler service. The sushi restaurant and the steakhouse are overseen by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
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15. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort


Kiawah Island, South Carolina — Beautifully appointed resort set along a 10-mile beach on private Kiawah Island. The four-story hotel contains 255 casually elegant accommodations outfitted with every conceivable amenity. Ocean View units at the end of each wing directly face the sea.
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16. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman


Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands — Lavish 375-room beachfront resort set on 144 landscaped acres of an archipelago of three islands: Cayman Brac, Little Cayman and Grand Cayman. The resort offers five restaurants, a Nick Bollettieri tennis center, Greg Norman-designed golf course and an eco-adventure program by Jean-Michel Cousteau.
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17. Amanpuri


Phuket, Thailand — Renowned and visually striking resort terraced into a palm-shaded hillside above an exquisite white-sand cove on the west coast of Phuket. A maze of walkways and steep stairs provides access to the 40 luxurious lodgings that feature sundecks and dining terraces; some include private pools. In addition, there are 49 two- to nine-bedroom villas.
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18. The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort


Bora Bora, French Polynesia — A 100-suite hotel offering exceptionally spacious accommodations; most overwater villas are enhanced by living rooms, lavish baths and large terraces featuring dining gazebos and steps descending into a deepwater lagoon. Four dining venues include gourmet LAGOON restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
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19. Eden Rock


St. Jean Bay, St. Barths — Chic boutique resort set atop a small rocky promontory and bordered by the pristine white sands of Baie de St-Jean. There are 34 colonial-contemporary rooms, suites and villas and two panoramic seaside restaurants, both under the direction of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
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20. Four Seasons Resort Lanai


Lanai City, Hawaii — Private island retreat overlooking the marine reserve of Hulopo’e Bay, a 25-minute flight from Honolulu or 45-minute ferry ride from Maui. Soaring main hall with Micronesian artifacts and large windows with uninterrupted bay or Pacific Ocean views. The 217 rooms feature wood floors, handwoven rugs and pillows, lanais or balconies.
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Photo Credits: 1. Cap Juluca 2. Acqualina - © Dan Forer 3. Four Seasons at Wailea - © Christian Horan 4. Four Seasons The Biltmore - © Peter Malinowski/Insite 5. Four Seasons Hualalai - © Don Riddle 6. Four Seasons Punta Mita - © Carlos Martín 7. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel 8. Halekulani - © Barbara Kraft 9. Esperanza - © Erhard Pfeiffer 10. Caneel Bay - © Michael Grimm 11. Little Palm Island 12. The Meridian Club 13. Montage Laguna Beach - © Jackie Caradonio 14. One&Only Palmilla - © Nickolas Sargent 15. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort - © Steve Uzzell 16. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman - © Don Riddle 17. Amanpuri - Courtesy of Aman 18. The St. Regis, Bora Bora 19. Eden Rock - © Pierre Carreau 20. Four Seasons Lanai - © Barbara Kraft
Andrew Harper Photo Andrew Harper is the editor of the Hideaway Report, a luxury travel newsletter that first appeared in 1979. He travels anonymously and pays his own expenses in pursuit of unique properties that offer unusually high levels of personal service. Hotels have no idea who he is, so he is treated exactly as you might be.

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