The 10 Newest Beach Hotels to Book This Summer
2019 brings a crop of new and newly renovated beach hotels, from a brand-new entry in The Maldives to a beloved icon in Puerto Rico.
Photo By: Ken Seet/Four Seasons
Photo By: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
Photo By: Read McKendree
Photo By: Thompson Zihuatanejo
Photo By: Alila Villas Koh Russey
Photo By: Rosewood Miramar Beach
Photo By: Daydream Island Resort
Photo By: Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai
Photo By: Caribe Hilton
Photo By: Islas Secas
Come summer, the only thing better than spending a day at the beach is spending an entire vacation at the beach. Bonus points if that involves a hotel with convenient beach access. That said, 2019 brings a crop of new and newly renovated beach hotels, from a brand-new entry in The Maldives to a beloved icon in Puerto Rico. Read on for 10 newcomers that are sure to inspire your next summer getaway.
Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens, Greece
Although just a half hour from Athens International Airport and the heart of the city, Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens feels far more removed. Known as the Athens Riviera, this sandy peninsula started attracting international celebrities in the '60s after the original Astir Beach opened, and continued to do so until its closure in 2016. The hotel has since undergone a $123 million renovation to reopen as a Four Seasons in June. The 303 rooms have been overhauled in neutral tones with pops of blue, while balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows maximize ocean views in many. Some of the suites and bungalows even come equipped with a private pool. Three private beaches connected by a boardwalk tempt guests from rooms, as do three pools and a spa with an aroma steam grotto and hammam. Meanwhile, six dining options span from Greek to Italian, while an old-school cigar bar nods to the original hotel. Inside tip: Ask ahead if you'd like to end a perfect day on a sunset sail.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, Maldives
It's not easy to stand out in Maldives' crowded luxury hotel space, but as of July 1 Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi has done just that. Forget overwater bungalows; here you’ll find sprawling overwater villas, entire entities equipped with an infinity pool, a covered outdoor dining area and swinging daybeds. Actually, the entire resort consists of villas, and the land-based ones are no less luxurious (especially the beachfront villas). But it’s some of the 11 dining options that are generating buzz, especially Terra, a treetop restaurant that provides a private experience in individual bamboo pods (pictured). Also unexpected? The Rock, a "cave" wine cellar specializing in food and wine pairings for 12, and Yasmeen, a traditional Middle Eastern eatery serving fare like mezzes and Saj bread in a village setting. What else? Throw in a water park for kids, overwater spa villas and dive center, making this resort hard to leave. Oh, and guests reach this paradise via a half-hour private yacht ride from Malé International Airport.
Block Island Beach House, RI
As of July, the historic Block Island Surf Hotel has been reborn as Block Island Beach House, a boutique property now under the ownership of Lark Hotels. While retaining its classic New England seaside vibe, the new iteration features 31 rooms and three food and drink options. Unwind with a frosé or dig into the weekly Sunday clambake at the Beach Bar overlooking Crescent Beach; grab a counter seat at Coffee & Cocktails for just that (and lobster rolls); or linger over waterfront meals at The Surf’s porch restaurant. The hotel also makes the most of its status as the only beachfront property on Block Island by offering ocean-facing balcony rooms in The Surf building. All rooms reflect a vintage, minimalist vibe and original artwork (think '60s surfboards and antique rugs). Days are meant for maximizing beach time thanks to free lounge chairs and umbrellas, but it’s also possible to rent surfboards, paddleboards and bikes nearby. For a day trip, the ferry is a five-minute stroll away and gets you to Newport, RI in about an hour.
Thompson Zihuatanejo, Mexico
If you haven’t heard of Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Pacific coast, that’s probably because it’s overshadowed by neighboring Ixtapa, a popular resort area known for its beaches and high-rise hotels. Though not a total secret, Zihuatanejo offers the same smooth, sandy beaches and calm waters, but minus the crowds; it also maintains more connection to its past life as a fishing village. It’s here that Thompson Zihuatanejo opened along Playa La Ropa beach in January, a high-end, Instagram-ready entry with 56 rooms and suites, three outdoor pools and a spa. Two dining options differ from resort norm: besides an all-day menu, Hao holds a beach party every Friday night with freshly grilled meat and seafood, while Saturdays bring all manner of lobster and octopus tacos in handmade tortillas. For something more special, Ceniza serves up locally sourced dinners underneath an open-air palapa. Rooms are equally pleasing, combining Thompson Hotels’ signature mid-century modern design with Mexican decor. Arguably the most desirable rooms offer private plunge pools and direct access to an adults-only pool.
Alila Villas Koh Russey, Cambodia
Cambodia’s beaches have escaped the attention of Western tourists, but that’s slowly changing. More high-end resorts are popping up along what’s been dubbed the Cambodian Riviera, like the new Alila Villas Koh Russey. This is the first Cambodia location for the five-star Alila Hotels and Resorts chain, and it chose a private island in the Koh Rong archipelago to establish 50 modern pavilions and 13 villas. The entire design combines sustainability with Khmer culture, resulting in clean-lined, low-lying structures that blend into the surrounding jungle. Rooms are designed with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, while the overall architecture is inspired by the geometric pattern of local Krama cloth. The minimalist indoor-outdoor setting is a perfect backdrop for languidly enjoying the peaceful island, but don’t worry about being bored. There are yoga classes, movie nights on the beach (during dry season), an intimate spa and French fusion restaurant. Swimming and watersports are always an option, while the concierge can book day trips to a pepper plantation in the Kampot region or Ream Pagoda for a temple blessing.
Rosewood Miramar Beach, CA
Billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso has revived the former Miramar By the Sea Hotel, formerly a low-key beach escape in Southern California that’s been treated to a five-star makeover. Operated by the discerning Rosewood Hotel Group chain, the Rosewood Miramar Beach now involves 124 rooms and 37 suites, with 26 facing the beach. In keeping with the original concept of a quiet seaside retreat, guests will find a throwback ice cream parlor, sophisticated dining options, beach butler and a courtesy Rolls-Royce to chauffeur them within a five-mile radius. But the Montecito-based property isn’t stuck in time, as evidenced by an indoor/outdoor fitness area outfitted with Peloton equipment. The gym even offers trendy H.I.I.T. and TRX classes. And yes, there are kayaks and standup paddleboards for the beach, plus two pools and a spa. Also in keeping with the times, pets are pampered with daily walks and their own menus. For those desiring a change of pace, Santa Barbara is a short drive away.
Daydream Island Resort, Australia
The original Daydream Island Resort, found on tiny Daydream Island among Australia’s pristine Whitsunday Islands, closed in 2017 after taking a direct hit from Cyclone Debbie. It reopened in April to reveal a major update; for starters, the 277 rooms and suites have received modern makeovers, and even the smallest rooms are large enough to accommodate a king-size bed. On the food front are three new restaurants: Inkstone Kitchen & Bar is devoted to all things Australian, Infinity offers Asian fusion and Graze, like it sounds, focuses on international buffet style fare and cooking stations. But not all is brand new. Back by popular demand is an expanded and improved on-site Living Reef, a coral reef lagoon that’s home to stingrays, reef sharks and at least 100 types of fish. Since it’s meant to be educational, an underwater observatory is a new addition. Also new? The ability to snorkel among the reef residents alongside resident marine biologists.
Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai
Combine the words Mandarin Oriental and Dubai and it’s no surprise that the result is over-the-top luxury at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, the brand’s first UAE property as of March. Let’s start with dining: with a dedicated cake shop and caviar bar among the seven food options, both are outdone by chef José Avillez’s first restaurant outside of Portugal: the acclaimed Avillez has earned two Michelin stars for Belcanto in Lisbon. After all of that eating, the 4,000-square-foot fitness center means you’re unlikely to wait for a machine, or take your workout outside for a bootcamp on the private, prime stretch of beach. One of five pools will also get the job done. Mandarin Oriental is known for its spas, and this one doesn’t disappoint, going beyond basic massages and facials to offer hammam treatments, a royal ritual involving saffron and guided sleep therapy. Decompress in one of the 256 rooms and suites that provide unobstructed views of either the Dubai skyline or Arabian Gulf; the smallest is just shy of 600 square feet and includes a walk-in shower.
Caribe Hilton, Puerto Rico
Following a 15 month, $150 million renovation, the iconic Caribe Hilton resort in San Juan is once again open for business as of May following Hurricane Maria’s toll. The original opened in 1946 as the first "international" Hilton outside of the U.S., and its Caribar became known as one of two spots claiming to have invented the piña colada. (The other is nearby Barrachina in Old San Juan.) That debate aside, guests will find that the refresh has resulted in a new spa and fitness center and improved dining options. Despite all of the newness, the legendary Caribar is back, and will be serving both the original, coconut cream-based piña colada along with a newer coconut water-based version. Not least, all of the 652 rooms and suites have also benefited from a makeover, now offering a light and airy color scheme and floor-to-ceiling doors that slide open onto a terrace or balcony.
Islas Secas, Panama
Reaching exclusive Islas Secas isn’t easy, nor does it offer 10 restaurants and synchronized water acrobatics. But keep reading if the idea of two flights and an hour-long boat ride in order to reach an archipelago that’s 20 miles from anywhere is appealing. Because what this property lacks in splashy amenities it makes up for in thoughtful surroundings that accommodate a maximum of 18 guests. Each of its nine casitas possess an abundance of privacy, plus plunge pools, decks and glamping-level decor. In a departure from a typical private island, Islas Secas actually owns 14 islands, meaning that you can spend your barefoot days boating around the chain. Paddleboarding along the coast or snorkeling reefs for parrotfish are other watersport options. For better or worse, this isn’t a true Castaway experience, as fresh, locally-sourced meals (seafood paella, lobster) are provided in an open-air pavilion. And ask and you shall receive beach picnics or barbecues. In keeping with a low-key, high-end beach escape, Islas Secas is committed to sustainability efforts that include recycling all food waste, relying entirely on solar-powered energy and leaving 75 percent of the archipelago undeveloped.