It’s a good thing there’s over a thousand islands in the Maldives, because it means the explosion of openings here this winter season will result in an excess of choice rather than of crowds. Kicking things off is the St Regis Vommuli in the southerly Dhaalu atoll, featuring beach and water villas layered in rich brass and bronze fittings and awash in aqueous tones of turquoise and ultramarine. To the north, in the Baa atoll, is Milaidhoo, whose 50 villas propose “barefoot informality” – including a restaurant spread across three interconnecting dhoni.
The most eagerly anticipated, however, is the Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, a five acre exclusive-use islet that’s the only one of its kind in a Unesco World Reserve. The luxury of its seven bedrooms and multitude of play spaces (including a games room and 19 metre motor yacht) are nicely complemented by Four Seasons’ decade-long commitment to marine conservation.
In the Seychelles, the buzz is all around the arrival of Six Senses Zil Pasyon, whose villas and residences, numbering 47 in total, line part of the coast of 650 acre Felicité Island – two thirds of which is given over to nature, leaving plenty of room for a 19,000 square feet spa, six restaurants, and three wide sand beaches.
Just to the east, in the Bay of Bengal, yet another flag, this one flying five stars, has been planted in the fast emerging Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Vivanta by Taj at Havelock will be the first full-service luxury beach resort on Havelock island, its 75 villas, designed in the pitch-roofed style of the huts of the indigenous Jarawa people, flush with the edge where thick palm jungle meets powdery sand.
The Bay of Islands, in the lush north of New Zealand’s North Island, has attractions in spades, from its moving Waitangi Treaty Grounds to the faded charm of the seaside town of Russell. Now there’s a Russian billionaire’s vision for luxury living, just a few kilometres away. Helena Bay Lodge, built by steel magnate Alexander Abramov, reportedly to the tune of about £30m, began accepting guests this month. It sleeps up to 20 people across two sparely stylish villas and a main house, built using local wood and stone. There’s enough acreage and coastline here that ensuring privacy won’t be an issue.