Monday, November 18, 2013


Fivelements Puri Ahimsa, Abiansemal, Indonesia

Fivelements Puri Ahimsa Ubud

Banjar Adat Baturning, Mambal, Bali, Indonesia

AFAR Contributor

It took three years to realize this passion project: a spa retreat built mainly of bamboo. Book a riverfront suite, or the hotel can arrange a stay in a rural family’s home.
From $475. 62/(0) 36-146-9206. Image by Djuna Ivereigh/Fivelements. 

Rosewood Mayakoba, Xelha, Mexico

Rosewood Mayakoba

Carretera Federal Cancún Playa del Carmen KM. 298
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

AFAR Editor


On Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the Rosewood Mayakoba features 128 suites as well as an overwater spa that specializes in Mayan health rituals. The spa’s Temazcal Ritual draws on ancient customs for producing heat and steam. Mayan history weaves through archaeologist- led tours of Yucatán temples.
From $750. 52/(0) 984-875-8000. Photo courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba. 

Village Taipu, Brazil, Barra, Brazil

Village Taipu, Brazil

Barra - Bahia, Brazil

A few years ago I stayed in this off the beaten path beach in Brazil called Taipu de Fora. From Bahia (Salvador), you have to take a local ferry, a local bus, and then a speedboat to get to the village of Barra Grande. Allow 1 day for travel. Barra is in the south coast of Bahia. Once you get to this quiet, small village, a local truck will take you into the village to the other side.
As our truck navigated over several potholes, I started to wonder what the heck we had got ourselves into. Everyone whom I had mentioned this beach to had no clue what I was talking about.
Finally we came upon a small clearing and our hotel - Village Taipu. A small, cute, no frills hotel, it had AC to shield us from the heat, a lovely hammock outside in the balcony and a comfortable bathroom and bed. From our room, you could see glimpses of the sea. You just had to walk a few steps and you'd soon be on the beach, with plenty of shade and chairs to relax in. Taipu de Fora has miles and miles of beaches framed by coconut palms with hardly any tourists in site. It was magical. We saw tide pools, rode horses and relaxed. Click on this url to book this hotel.

Alila Villas Soori, Kerambitan, Indonesia

Alila Villas Soori

Banjar Dukuh
Desa Kelating, Kerambitan, Tabanan, Indonesia

AFAR Contributor

At Bali’s newest Alila hotel, villas are sandwiched between emerald rice terraces and a black-sand beach. The spa, a temple of lava rock and marble, offers traditional Balinese massage.
From $510. 62/(0) 36-1894-6388.

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Carmel Valley, California

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

39171 Tassajara Road, Carmel Valley, CA, United States

AFAR Editor

At first you might regret your decision to drive to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, tucked deep into the Santa Lucia Mountains east of Big Sur. The dirt road from Carmel Valley is only 14 miles, but it climbs and falls, bumps and winds enough to make the trip last at least one harrowing hour. Luckily, the minute I walked across the wooden bridge and set foot on the property, my drive-induced anxiety trickled away like the creek beneath my feet.
In 1967, Tassajara (already a storied hot springs resort) became the first Zen monastery outside Japan. Run by the San Francisco Zen Center, the monastery is open to the public from May through September and closed the rest of the year for monastic study. I just came for the day and enjoyed a delicious vegetarian lunch (the center has put out several acclaimed cookbooks) and a dip in the Japanese hot springs. For my next visit, though, I'll stay overnight in a lantern-lit cabin to experience true silence. Oh, and I'll take Tassajara's shuttle.
The only vehicle access to Tassajara is via a 14-mile dirt road that starts in Carmel Valley. Those without four-wheel drive should arrange for shuttle pick-up. For more information, or to book a visit call (888) 743-9362 or visit

Villa Pattono, Costigliole d'Asti, Italy

Villa Pattono

Frazione Annunziata - Strada Comunale Serra 1
Costigliole D'asti, Italia

AFAR Editor

Winemaker Renato Ratti recently opened to the public his family’s 18th-century, 13-room villa in the Piedmont countryside.
An old cellar stores decades’ worth of Ratti wines. Guided tastings can be arranged upon request, and bottles can be shipped home for guests.
The owners may open a restaurant in the next two years. For now, they direct guests to La Luna nel Pozzo, in the nearby village of Neive. The tiny family-run spot serves excellent homemade pastas paired with local wines.
The villa’s old tower has been turned into a three-floor deluxe suite with hardwood floors, frescoed walls, and a Turkish bath. Each floor has 360-degree vineyard views.
From $185. 39/0140-962-021. Image courtesy of Villa Pattono.

The Caves, West End, Jamaica

The Caves

An Island Outpost Destina
Negril, Jamaica


The cottages at this secluded resort sit atop steep cave-strewn cliffs, where you can dine in a private grotto or take in the scene at the candlelit Cave Rum and Cigar Bar. —Amy Cortese
The Caves, (800) 688-7678, alll-inclusive rates start at $798 for double rooms during high season (December 23–April 20). Photo courtesy of The Caves.

Peninsula De Osa, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Peninsula De Osa

Costa Rica

AFAR Editor

Located on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific Coast, the Osa Peninsula is covered by one of the largest lowland tropical rain forests in the Americas.
The new Kurà Design Villas are ideal for exploring the region. The vision of an architect and a biologist, the six villas are near several parks and reserves. Kurà can organize snorkeling and diving trips to Caño Island Biological Reserve and whale-watching trips to Ballena National Marine Park.
Photo courtesy of Kurà Design Villas.

Peninsula De Osa, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Post Ranch Inn

47900 State Highway 1
Big Sur, CA, United States

AFAR Editor

The oceanview cottages and cliff-edge infinity pools here are the stuff of dream honeymoons. At the Sierra Mar restaurant, chef John Cox recently debuted a Taste of Big Sur menu that celebrates the coast with dishes such as red abalone marinated in kelp.
From $675. (831) 667-2200. Photo courtesy of Kodiak Greenwood.

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