Top 10 Luxury Tropical Escapes

Warm sunshine, lush vegetation, turquoise seas and pristine sandy beaches fringed by gently waving palm trees all spring to mind when you think of tropical destinations. Combine these with excellent customer service in a quality hotel designed to provide ultimate holiday experience and you have the perfect luxury tropical escape.

Social Media Manager and Silver Tier Writer Carole Tidball lists her favourite luxury tropical escapes:


James Bond Island, Phuket, Thailand

The Land of Smiles delivers a warm welcome to visitors, with its bustling capital city, Bangkok, stunning palaces, lush jungles and idyllic beaches. This year-round destination enjoys average daytime temperatures in the 30s, and low rainfall in December through to February make Thailand an ideal winter escape for sun-starved Western Europeans. Phuket and the paradise islands of Koh Samui, Phi Phi and Krabi are particular favourites.

For the perfect beach holiday, choose from the fabulous collection of luxurious 4 and 5-star hotels in idyllic locations. Many overlook glittering seas and have direct access to stretches of unspoilt sand, such as the 11k Mai Khao beach in Phuket. Spend your days lazing beside the pool whilst attentive staff bring refreshing drinks and cooling towels or choose your spot on the deserted beach. Treat yourself to a relaxing Thai massage and savour tasty cuisine such as Tom Yum Goong – the traditional spicy shrimp soup – followed by Pad Thai.

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Costa Rica

Red-eyed tree frog, Costa Rica With coastlines on the Caribbean and the Pacific, rain forests, cloud forests and mangroves, Costa Rica is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Awake to the call of howler monkeys, catch glimpses of brightly coloured toucans and watch a mother and baby sloth gently moving through the trees. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities to trek through cloud forests and across rope bridges spotting shimmering hummingbirds sipping nectar from vivid tropical blooms; take a zipline across the canopy for a bird’s eye view or tackle the rivers in a whitewater rafting expedition.

An escorted tour is great way to see the world’s happiest country with its fabulous wildlife and friendly people who greet you with “Pura vida!” Arrive in the capital city of San Jose and travel to La Fortuna with its hot springs and volcano, visit one of the cloud forests and end your stay relaxing by the beach in luxury hotel accommodation on the Pacific coast near Manual Antonio National Park. From your beach hammock watch pelicans dive into the ocean to catch their dinner and crabs scuttling across the shoreline. Treat yourself to a cocktail as the setting sun slips into the sea casting orange and purple hues.

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Jungle and creek, Mauritius Nestling in the Indian Ocean, and fringed with pure white sand beaches, Mauritius epitomises pure luxury. Expect hotels with first class facilities, pampering spas, and fine dining. In popular locations such as Le Morne and Flic en Flac on the west coast, there are fabulous opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling in the warm, clear seas and coral-filled lagoons. The weather is warm all year round with April to November being the humid summer months when daytime temperatures average 28 to 30.

If you can pull yourself away from the pool, you’ll find rain forests, sugar estates and distilleries to visit, golf courses to play. The island’s mountainous interior includes Black River Gorges National Park containing a large rainforest with hiking trails past tumbling waterfalls and wildlife like the flying fox. The Sir Seewoosagure Ramglooon Botanical Garden is worth a visit to see the giant water lilies and other exotic plants.

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God of Winds Temple, Tulum, Mexico Be awestruck by the Mayan ruins that abound in Mexico’s Yucatan region. Fly in to Cancun, the popular party destination beloved by North American Spring breakers, and travel a short distance along the Caribbean coast to find luxury 5-star hotels in peaceful beachfront locations. A short ferry ride takes you to the paradise island of Cozumel with beautiful beaches and coral reefs – a dream destination for diving and snorkeling. Temperatures peak in April to June averaging in the high 20s.

Most of the luxury hotels along this stretch are all-inclusive so you can relax by the pool knowing everything is prepaid as the waiter tops up your daiquiris. Your package typically allows you to enjoy gourmet dining with unlimited drinks, access to daytime and evening entertainments and a well-stocked minibar in your room. You’ll just need some cash to explore the area – visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum or Chichen Itza and the ecological park at Xcaret.  

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Old Havana, Cuba Whether you fly into Havana to experience its awesome yet slightly faded architecture and lively culture or head straight to the white sand beaches of Varadero, there’s a choice of luxury hotels to make your base. Start a two-centre holiday with a stay in Havana at 5-star Iberostar Parque Central with rooftop pools – the perfect place to unwind with a mojito after a busy day spent exploring this vibrant city. Stroll along the Malecón, visit the John Lennon Park, learn about Cuba’s revolutionary past and pose next to a pastel coloured 50s Cadillac or Chevy.

Then head to powdery white sands of Varadero, a narrow peninsula stretching out into the Atlantic lined with high-quality all-inclusive hotels. Spend lazy days by the pool or on the beach; examine the underwater life through a glass-bottom boat or on a snorkelling trip. It’s no wonder that in the 1930s Varadero was popular with American stars such as Cary Grant and Ava Gardner. It is even rumoured that Al Capone used to escape here to spend time in a coral stone beach cottage.

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Barbados This Caribbean Island is a wonderful mix of British and West Indian charm. Regular flights from the UK make it a popular destination year-round for holidaymakers tempted by its breathtaking beaches, lush green interior and tasty cuisine. If you’re feeling active, the island also boasts some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean. Out on the crystal-clear waters, why not join the locals at their favourite pastime of paddle boarding.

Head to the West Coast, known as the Platinum Coast, for some of the best beaches, or travel down south for lively nightlife around St Lawrence Gap. With direct direct access to gorgeous sugar sand beaches and attractive pool areas, many of the luxury hotels have lush tropical gardens so you wake up to the sounds of tropical bird song and the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore. 

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Englishman's Bay, Tobago Bird watchers and fans of Sir David Attenborough’s ‘The Trials of Life’ will enjoy a visit to Tobago. This Caribbean island, smaller sister of Trinidad, offers a slower pace of life and little in the way of commercialisation. Visit in February when the island is gripped with carnival fever. During this time, roads close for parades of locals wearing colourful costumes and the air is filled with the sound of steel bands.  One of the best-known luxury resorts, the Coco Reef Resort, has its own private beach and is just a short drive from the airport.

Nature lovers will find the drive to Batteaux Bay on the north of the island well worth the 80-minute trip from the airport. Here the 3-star Blue Waters Inn delivers a friendly 4 star service in a 5 star location. The hotel’s private beach is straight out of a Robinson Crusoe film and the grounds are rainforests full of tropical birds like the colourful mot mot. Take a boat trip from the hotel’s private jetty in a glass bottom across to Little Tobago Island – a protected bird sanctuary where some of Trials of Life was filmed. Here you can view the magnificent frigate birds, red billed and white-tailed tropic birds, and brown boobies, to name a few.

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Koala with baby, Hordern Vale, Australia Australia is well known for its Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, the Outback, and vibrant cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Not so many people are aware of its rainforests and Whitsundays, a chain of 74 stunning islands off the tropical coast of Queensland, and the luxury hotels of the Gold Coast, an area that features on TV’s “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!”

An East Coast Adventure tour includes a visit to the Kuranda rainforest on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway as well as a snorkelling visit to the Great Barrier reef, time spent in the chic resort of Noosa and stays on Fraser Island and Hamilton Island. For the ultimate luxury, stay at the Lizard Island Resort in the Great Barrier Reef with just 40 luxurious rooms and suites and lavish amenities. For a very special occasion treat yourself to their Signature Beachside Dining Experience with a seven -course tasting menu paired with wines, or a gourmet picnic on a deserted beach.

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The Maldives

Maldives This collection of low-lying atolls and islands in the Indian Ocean is truly paradise on Earth. Direct flights from Gatwick and Heathrow airports get you to Male in around 11 hours and a boat or seaplane transports you to your final destination. Thatch-rooved bungalows on stilts look out over crystal clear waters. Snorkel over coral reefs full of brightly coloured tropical fish, relax in the sun. Most of the resorts are designed to offer guests a peaceful escape for the hurly burly of everyday life with many offering extensive spa treatments. If you do fancy something slightly more active, the luxurious Shangri La Villingili Resort & Spa has a nine-hole golf course and the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Resort offers yoga sessions and cookery lessons while the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu has tennis, volleyball and badminton courts.

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Bali rice terrace, Indonesia There is something for every type of traveller in Bali. Stretches of white sandy beaches, green hills and forested mountains, more than 20,000 temples, colourful festivals and a warm, welcoming people. Opt for a twin centre holiday and combine a relaxing beach stay in Bali with a visit to Ubud – the cultural heart of Bali, or the less visited resorts of Lombok and the Gili Isles.  You can now fly direct from Heathrow to Bali with the Indonesian National Airline Garuda, although there is no direct return flight.

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