Editor’s Note: Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that spotlights some of the most fascinating topics in the travel world. In November, we’re checking into the world of hotels and resorts.
With most of the world fully open again, we’re all more than ready for a big, celebratory, this-pandemic-is-finally-easing-up trip.
From tropical island escapes in the Maldives and Hawaii to glamorous urban getaways in Sydney, Hollywood and Singapore, we’re dreaming of – and saving for – these hotel splurges.
Starting rates are in US dollars per night.
The Brando, French Polynesia
If you’re after an over-the-top, bucket-list splurge, you can’t beat The Brando, Marlon Brando’s ultraluxurious private island resort on Tetiaroa, 30 miles north of Tahiti.
The far-flung resort is a favorite of celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres. Former President Barack Obama also famously escaped to the island to write his memoir there after he left office in 2017. (More recently, Kim Kardashian hosted her lavish 40th birthday party on the island in October 2020.)
It’s got just 35 thatched-roof villas, each one decked out with a private infinity pool, outdoor dining area and all the creature comforts you might expect to enjoy at a five-star hotel in London or New York.
But the biggest luxury of all? Your own private stretch of powder-white sand and turquoise ocean, mere steps from your bedroom.
The Brando, Tetiaroa private island, French Polynesia. Rates start at $3,200.
Matakauri Lodge, New Zealand
The views alone are worth the splurge here. With mountains rising behind serene Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge boasts a stunning setting in New Zealand’s South Island.
Located just outside Queenstown, the 12-suite, lakeside lodge looks out at Cecil and Walter peaks and the aptly named mountain range The Remarkables.
Excursions include bungy jumping, skydiving, rafting, canyoning and wine tours, but with scenery like this, pandemic-weary travelers might just want to book treatments in the full-service spa with uninterrupted views of the lake and towering 1,978-meter (6,490-foot) Cecil Peak.
Matakauri Lodge, Farrycroft Row, 569 Glenorchy Road, Queenstown, New Zealand. Low-season rates from $1,130 for double occupancy lodge rooms. Gourmet meals leaning heavily on local produce are included.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, Lanai, Hawaii
This adults-only wellness retreat is the epitome of post-pandemic luxury. For starters, it’s located on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, which is so peaceful and secluded it feels like you’re on your own private island.
Then there are the plush suites, hidden so discreetly amongst Lanai’s jungle-filled, mist-covered mountains you’ll barely notice the other guests.
Finally, you get a personalized wellness itinerary crafted by your own Sensei Guide, which sets you up with spa treatments and wellness activities – everything from morning meditation to sound baths – aimed at melting away any lingering stress or anxiety.
Sensei Lanai, 1 Keomoku Highway, Lanai City, Hawaii. Rates start at $1,320 single occupancy / $1,760 double occupancy, including $600 per person in Wellness Experience credits (room-only rates from $880, single or double occupancy).
Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé, France
Tucked away in France’s bucolic Loire Valley, this serene 18th-century château feels a million miles away from the rest of the world – even though it’s just 55 minutes from Paris by train.
Its 17 sprawling, sun-filled suites, each one adorned with hand-painted murals, crystal chandeliers and antique Louis XV furniture, make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. (Most opulent is the Le Grand-Lucé Suite, which boasts sweeping views of the gardens and a lovely claw-foot soaking tub).
Outside, there are 80 acres of mazes, lakes and rose gardens to enjoy, as well as a beautiful stone-rimmed swimming pool – the perfect countryside escape.
Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé, 9 Place de la République, 72150 Le Grand-Lucé, France. Rates from $828.
Jack’s Camp, Botswana
If you’re after an ultra-exclusive escape, it doesn’t get much more secluded than Jack’s, a luxury safari camp tucked away inside a million-acre private wildlife reserve in the Kalahari Desert. (There are only two other camps in the reserve).
The legendary camp, which opened in 1993, was closed for renovation in 2019 and reopened in early 2021 with nine enormous luxury guest tents (more than double the size of the original tents) outfitted with plush four-poster beds, gorgeous Old World safari decor and private plunge pools looking out over the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
There’s also a library, billiards room, bar and a sumptuous tea tent strewn with Persian rugs and plush cushions – the perfect place to unwind with a glass of iced tea after a long, hot day out on safari.
Jack’s Camp, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Kalahari, Botswana. Rates from $1,450 per person, per night for double occupancy (includes game drives, meals, beverages and more).
1 Hotel West Hollywood, Los Angeles
If a glamorous city escape is more your style, it doesn’t get much better than this sleek urban oasis on Sunset Boulevard.
Opened in 2019 – just months before the pandemic hit – the rooms at 1 Hotel West Hollywood are some of the largest and most luxurious in all of Los Angeles, boasting earthy, minimalist-chic decor, sumptuous marble bathrooms and unparalleled vistas over the Hollywood Hills.
Then there’s the daybed and cabana-flanked pool, a veritable sanctuary of calm and tranquility high above LA’s busy, palm-lined streets.
But most impressive of all is the brand’s sustainability-centered ethos, seen everywhere from the design (furniture is made using reclaimed California wood) to the dining (an onsite organic garden supplies restaurants with herbs and veggies).
The entire hotel is also plastic- and (nearly) paper-free, and guests can join a loyalty program that allows them to reduce their carbon footprint with every stay – touches that make all the difference as we move into a post-pandemic world.
1 Hotel West Hollywood, 8490 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, California. Rates from $500.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Italy
With Europe once again a popular destination for international travelers, your first stop should be the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, an iconic Art Nouveau hotel perched on the banks of Lake Como.
Its 90 rooms are all individually decorated, outfitted with indulgent details such as sprawling balconies, terraces and whirlpool tubs. Though it’s worth every euro to splurge on the lake-view rooms, the garden-view rooms overlooking the beautifully manicured grounds also offer a tranquil oasis.
Outside, you’ll find three swimming pools, including one that floats directly atop the lake.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Via Antica Regina, 8, 22016 Tremezzina, Italy. Rates from about $760 for garden view rooms, including breakfast for two.
Soneva Jani, Maldives
If you want to treat your family to a post-lockdown vacation that’ll blow their mind, Soneva Jani is it. Its overwater villas come outfitted with private infinity pools and waterslides that will transport you down to the glittering turquoise ocean below.
Other family-friendly attractions include an overwater cinema, a star-gazing observatory and an ice-cream and chocolate room. Each villa also comes with a retractable roof so kids can doze off beneath the stars.
For parents: a sumptuous spa, an expansive wine cellar, multiple dining options ranging from sashimi to Spanish tapas and sunset cruises (you can even bring the kids – if you like).
Soneva Jani, Medhufaru Island, Manadhoo, Maldives. Rates from $3,352.
If you want to splurge big – say, “Crazy Rich Asians” big – then you can’t beat Singapore’s iconic Raffles. It’s one of the world’s grande dame hotels and the benchmark for many other five-star hotels across the world today.
The 135-year-old property is the definition of luxury, from its recently updated suites (boasting the same old world Colonial charm as always, but with subtle contemporary touches) to its elegant Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented in 1915.
Every guest is assigned their own butler, who offers a rare kind of service that is intuitive and thoughtful, yet discreet – perhaps the greatest luxury of all.
Raffles Singapore, 1 Beach Road, Singapore. Rates from $960.
Crown Sydney, Australia
Soaring gracefully over the Sydney skyline, the Crown Sydney opened at the end of 2020 after four years of construction and a whopping $1.7 billion.
Billing itself as a six-star hotel, the glittering, petal-shaped skyscraper boasts 14 restaurants and bars (including the world-renowned Nobu), an infinity pool overlooking Sydney Harbor and 349 guest rooms outfitted with deep-soak marble baths and floor-to-ceiling windows offering vistas over the city.
The decadent spa features yoga and meditation terraces, relaxation rooms, infrared saunas and a separate hydrotherapy retreat inspired by a Roman bathhouse – the perfect spot to wash away worries.
Crown Sydney, 1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo, New South Wales, Australia. Rates start at $850.
Silversands Grenada boasts the longest pool in the Caribbean at 100 meters (328 feet), a full-service spa and two restaurants. The sleek resort is located on the unspoiled “Spice Island” of Grenada, which lifted all of its Covid-19 travel restrictions earlier this year.
Located on Grand Anse Beach, the resort has 43 rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, plus beachfront and hillside villas.
The two-mile stretch of powdery sand invites visitors to bask, stroll or jump right in the water. The resort offers water sports.
Silversands Grenada, Grand Anse Main Road, Grand Anse, Grenada. Rates start at $900 in low season.
andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge, Tanzania
This luxury lodge from andBeyond recently reopened after an April 2020 flood sparked a total overhaul.
Rebuilt from the ground up, the new Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge is be more luxurious and contemporary with a design blending into the landscape and making the most of its location on a tributary of the Grumeti River.
New guest suites are more than double in size, with deep baths and indoor showers as well as outdoor decks with private plunge pools. There’s also a lodge pool with views of the hippo-filled river and a new gym.
Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Rates from $1,080 per person, per night for double occupancy (game drives, meals, beverages and more included).
W Melbourne, Australia
The five-star W Melbourne opened early last year – a luxurious lodging for travelers in Australia.
Built inside the glittering, $1.25 billion Collins Arch precinct – also home to luxury residences and upscale retail and dining offerings – the ultramodern hotel boasts five restaurants and bars, plus a gold-roofed indoor heated pool, featuring a poolside bar and DJ booth.
Its 294 rooms are as plush and design-centric as you’d expect from any W hotel, with the addition of luxe deep-soaking tubs and sweeping views over the city or Melbourne’s Yarra River.
W Melbourne, 408 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Australia. Rates start at $285.
CNN’s Marnie Hunter contributed to this article.