There are few more serene settings than the beach. Though the view may differ from location to location, the simple pleasures remain the same: waves rhythmically crashing onto the shore; the light breeze gently blowing through the trees; the sun warming your skin; and the sand molding to your every move. It tends to be the first place we jet off to in an effort to leave life’s stresses behind and succumb to the purity of our natural surroundings. The beauty of the beach is that it invites guests to relish in its tropical tranquility any time of the year. And with so many beach destinations in and around the U.S. beckoning to be indulged, even the impending winter is not an excuse.
Just as important as the chosen locale is the hotel. Finding one that provides attentive but not overbearing service, preferred proximity to nightlife or sightseeing, impressive on-site dining, and a plethora of amenities that will surprise and satisfy is no easy feat. We took the guesswork out of this daunting task by scouring reviews, accolades and amenities to pick our favorite beach destination hotels in the U.S., Mexico and Caribbean.
Having been a prominent figure on Waikiki Beach for over 100 years, guests are treated to the best in Hawaiian hospitality at Halekulani. Upon entering the property, you are immediately lured out toward the beach where sail boats glide through the seemingly endless ocean and laughter echoes from fellow hotel guests enjoying themselves by the pool. The rooms’ décor is sophisticated, but subtle enough to ensure the island’s beauty remains the focus. Modern amenities you would expect to see, like a large flat screen TV and MP3 player, are accounted for, and the spacious bathrooms are complete with a brightly lit marble vanity, glass shower and deep soaking tub.
The property has three different dining venues and a cocktail lounge. The best spot for brunch hands-down is Orchids. Honolulu Magazine aptly named it “Oahu’s Best Brunch” and you'll see why when you're presented with the most elaborate spread of every possible breakfast and lunch item imaginable, along with a tempting table of desserts. For lunch or dinner, House Without a Key offers outdoor seating overlooking the Pacific as a three piece band plays the soothing sounds of the island and beautiful Hawaiian dancers charm the audience with their graceful movements. French inspired La Mer is Hawaii's longest consecutively ranked AAA Five Diamond Restaurant. It offers a more romantic atmosphere than the hotel’s other venues, with windows that perfectly frame Diamond Head in the distance. Downstairs, Lewers Lounge is a great place for an after dinner drink and live jazz music.
Laguna Beach is the place to immerse yourself in the notoriously laid back, “life’s a beach” vibe that is so very Southern California. Located midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, set atop an oceanfront bluff is the elegant Montage Laguna Beach. There is a real sense of community at this luxurious property and it welcomes guests to be a part of it—from extremely friendly, personalized service, to sustainability practices and supporting local artists, to opportunities to own a piece of the property.
The resort’s crisp and clean Craftsman-style design reflects the height of the California Arts & Crafts movement of the early 1900s in details like crown molding, a shingle-style roof, dark wood and subdued colors throughout. In keeping with this art-inspired theme, the property proudly displays murals, sculptures and paintings from well-known and regional artists in the guest rooms and around the grounds.
Within the 30 acres that comprise the Montage Laguna Beach are amenities like the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, five restaurants and lounges, three pools, Paintbox children’s club, a museum-quality fine art gallery, and one-of-a-kind specialty boutiques at The Shops at Montage. If just staying in a guest room for a couple nights isn’t enough, you can also consider the Montage’s private residences, available for rent or purchase. The 3,000-square-foot properties nestled in the heart of Laguna Beach can be your home away from home whenever the mood for peace and quiet strikes.
While there are many gorgeous hotels on Collins and Ocean Ave., when in South Beach, we like to experience the Zen-like ambiance of The Setai Miami Beach. The hotel offers secluded serenity but is still close enough to some of the best shopping, restaurants, museums, historical sites and nightlife in the area. The Asian theme is evident throughout the property, with soothing music, tropical gardens, antiques from Chinese markets adorning the walls, and simplistically chic décor with a calming color scheme.
Two separate structures contain various accommodation options that highlight the inspired design. Each room is arranged with a clever use of space to create the right balance between place and purpose. The Art Deco Building contains 45 contemporary studio suites and a one-bedroom suite, while The Tower features 85 one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites along with two-bedroom specialty suites and a 10,000-square-foot penthouse. The bathrooms come stocked with Asprey bath products to be used under the rainfall shower or black granite soaking tub, and Duxiana beds are lined with sateen Fischbacher linens. During your stay, expect to be pampered with little treats like chocolate truffles, brownie bites and complimentary wine.
Around the pool is where you will find most guests lounging, soaking up the sun and sipping a refreshing drink or eating a light snack. There are three separate pools set to three different temperatures. Should you need to cool off but don’t want to take a dip, allow the concierge to come gently spray you with Evian water. If you find yourself still lying by the pool when the sun is going down, take the short walk over to the Pool & Beach Bar from 5-7 p.m. for complimentary tapas while you watch the sun set on another day in paradise.