Friday, June 15, 2007

Sleep on the sea around the world

The Deal
Nothing says romance like an over-water hotel room – and while it's a great way to spend your honeymoon, there's no rule that says you have to get hitched to sleep in a bed perched over the sea. We've scoured the globe for the most affordable over-water accommodations and found deals from $355/night. Wherever your vacation dreams take you – Bora Bora, the Maldives, Bermuda, or Panama – there's a luxury property where you'll be lulled to sleep by ocean breezes and lapping waves for less.

Free Stay over the South Pacific on Bora Bora
The islands of the South Pacific are the ultimate tropical getaway, renowned for its deluxe beach resorts, many of which feature overwater bungalows. One of our favorites in the Polynesian archipelago is the award-winning Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa, owned by prestigious Orient Express. Book a four-night stay in an "Overwater Bungalow" now through late December, and you'll get a fifth night free. The rooms at this sweet-scented enclave of lush plants and flowers, tall palms, and white-sand beaches feature a private deck leading directly to the spectacular lagoon below and an illuminated glass-topped coffee table through which you can admire underwater sea life. Regular rates for these desirable units start at $930/night, so you're saving a bundle – plus getting a gourmet three-course dinner for two – when you treat yourself to an extra night in paradise.

Money-Saver at an Island Resort in the Maldives
What would you say to an over-the-water stay in the Indian Ocean? We recommend you book one on a private island in the Maldives. The Komandoo Maldive Island Resort is an idyllic island retreat on its very own atoll. Blessed with attractive sugar white-sand beaches and a stunning turquoise lagoon, it has a coconut plantation and a coral reef for superb snorkeling. Don’t worry about feeling stuck: you can indulge in spa treatments, take island-hopping tours, or go fishing. The water villas here are built on stilts over a lagoon, each with a roofed terrace, a sundeck, and a Jacuzzi. These units go for just $390/night through July 20 ($50 extra through early November), with three complimentary meals daily. This is a bargain compared to the cost of booking a water villa at other area resorts, like the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa or the Six Senses Soneva Gili Resort & Spa, where rates go upward of $800/night! Note that air transfer to the Komandoo costs $280 per person.

Slumber over the Atlantic at top Bermuda Resort
For something closer to home, head to the British-flavored archipelago of Bermuda in the Atlantic. Here, the fantastic 9 Beaches resort is spread out on 18 oceanfront acres on the west side of the main island. Bermuda may be famed for its buttoned-up vibe but at this casual property, you can feel free to pull out flip-flops and shorts. A number of the cabanas are perched on stilts over the water and cooled by ocean breezes, with panoramic vistas of the Atlantic and viewing panels in the floor revealing tropical fish below. These popular over-water units start at $375/night and cost up to $450 for the bungalows placed over the deepest water. Quoted rates are valid for stays during Bermuda’s high season (through October) and cover a complimentary buffet breakfast for two.

Poised over the Sea at Eco-Friendly Panama Lodge
Our favorite over-the-water property in Central America is the eco-friendly Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, located on the pristine Isla Colon in Panama’s Bocas del Toro archipelago. This solar-powered hideaway, claims Condé Nast Traveler “. . . curls like a shell suspended over the sea. Here are the pure essences of Caribbean beauty – ocean, breeze, wood and thatch, and not much more. Cabanas rest on stilts over the water, spaced like vertebrae along a spine of boardwalk.” Rates at this remote outpost start at $355/night during the high season (July and August) and run up to $480/night for the most luxurious master bungalow. Included in the cost is lodging in one of the nine cabins; transportation from the local airport (the flight from Panama City is extra, at about $120 per person); a welcome cocktail; breakfast; complimentary use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment; afternoon tea and biscuits; and a candlelit dinner on the restaurant terrace.

The Dollars
See details above. The hotel packages exclude taxes and service charges while the air-land deal excludes air taxes and fees.

The Catch
Just don’t think about the fact you’re sleeping precariously suspended over the sea.


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