Hot news from the islands

Like to stay ahead of the pack? Rhiannon Batten picks out trend-setting holidays ... from radical design in Bali to new encounters with Aussie wildlife


1 High style in Bali

What's new? Rad pads are the latest concept from Private World Villas, a collection of properties with "radical design and avant-garde architecture". One of those, new on the books this year, is Villa Canggu in Bali, an architect-designed home set among rice fields, five minutes from the beach in Seminyak, the south-west of the island. This is a stylish enclave of vast and very contemporary pavilions housing a living room, dining room, a master bedroom and three more suites, along with a 37m swimming pool, three additional bungalow bedrooms and carefully tended, tropical gardens. The master suite has a private terrace and a semi-outdoor bathroom overlooking a lotus pond. There's also a gazebo for massage, mediation or yoga.

The USP? Finding such resolutely modern architecture within a traditional Balinese compound layout is pretty rare.

The deal? Villa rental starts at €1,750 (£1,200) per day in total through Private World Villas (020-7723 5599; private worldvillas.com). The villa, which sleeps up to 12, comes with 15 staff, including a house manager, chef, bartender, housekeepers and full security.

2 Luxury diving in Hawaii

What's new? Tying in with the coffee-table book Dive in Style, published in April (Thames and Hudson, £24.99), Original Travel has started offering dive packages to places where top-notch diving is matched by suitably stylish accommodation. First up is Lana'i in Hawaii, a small, privately owned island where the major industry before tourism was pineapple cultivation. The local scenery includes bright red lava cliffs and 3,400ft Mount Lanaihale, but it's the pristine reefs that really draw visitors in. (Dive magazines regularly rate the area among the world's top 10 dive destinations.) Lanai's underwater topography includes swim-throughs, lava tubes and caves, and a whopping 30 per cent of the marine life here exists nowhere else. Other attractions include a green turtle "cleaning station", where turtles hover - necks out and fins up - to be picked clean by grazing tang.

The USP? The Four Seasons Lana'i at Manele Bay, where the trips are based, is the only hotel along a 50-mile stretch of coastline. Such seclusion is a real rarity for Hawaii. It also has direct access to a beach where a school of spinner dolphins regularly drops by.

The deal? Prices start at £1,750 through Original Travel (020-7978 7333; originaltravel.co.uk), including flights, transfers and seven nights' half board at the Four Seasons.

3 Escapism in the Indian Ocean

What's new? Maia, a new villa-only resort and spa, opens on Mahé in the Seychelles on 16 August. Set on Anse Louis beach and encompassing 30 villas, it's designed to be a holistic retreat rather than just another luxury resort (even the manager has signed up to do 15 minutes of meditation each morning in an attempt to pass on a sense of serenity to the guests). All villas will have 180-degree sea views, indoor and outdoor bathrooms, private infinity pools and outdoor gazebos. However, you can also expect some very unholistic features - dedicated fridges for cosmetics, flat-screen TVs, DVDs, surround-sound systems, iPod stations and privately stocked bars, for example. Then there is the La Prairie spa, which will be home to three treatment pavilions, a meditation pavilion and complimentary yoga, pilates and t'ai chi.

The USP? Mahé traditionally has had a reputation within the Seychelles as the best island with the worst accommodation. This looks set to buck the trend.

The deal? Go before 21 December and Exsus Travel (020-7292 5060; exsus.com) is offering seven nights from £3,476, including breakfast, return flights and private airport transfers.

4 Bora Bora goes Hollywood

What's new? Opened only last month, the St Regis Resort on Bora Bora got off to a glitzy start, with Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban checking in on honeymoon. The resort's 100 stylish over-water and beach villas all have 24-hour butlers on hand. Many also come with private terrace whirlpools and swimming pools. You don't have to shut yourself off from the world, though. If you want to socialise, there's a choice of three restaurants, a main pool with swim-up bar and an adults-only pool with private cabanas. And to keep that body perfect for the camera afterwards, there is a lavish spa offering nature-based Tahitian treatments and a state-of-the-art gym.

The USP? The resort includes the largest suite in the Tahitian islands, a mammoth 13,000sqft Royal Estate, set on its own secluded cove and encompassing three bedrooms, a pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.

The deal? Prices start at £3,095 through Turquoise Holidays (0870-443 4177; turquoiseholidays.co.uk), including international and domestic flights, transfers and seven nights' room-only accommodation.

5 Walk the wild side of Menorca

What's new? In September Headwater launches independent walking holidays in Menorca. Trips are based at a four-star boutique hotel just outside Ciutadella and hikers can follow a series of eight different itineraries along ancient mule tracks around the island. These take in a variety of scenery, from ruined watchtowers and sandy beaches, to hidden coves, rolling wheat fields, dramatic gorges and prehistoric villages. This is a good option if you're looking for a more authentic take on Balearic atmosphere rather than the traditional sunning and clubbing approach. The island's best features include great beaches, a Unesco biosphere reserve and the densest concentration of prehistoric sites in Europe.

The USP? Exclusivity. Headwater is the only UK operator offering independent walking packages on Menorca.

The deal? Coastal Trails of Menorca holidays cost from £747 through Headwater (01606 720199; headwater.com), including seven nights' half-board accommodation, return flights, walking route notes and maps and car hire.

6 Cotton on to unspoilt Brazil

What's new? A lush, privately owned retreat featuring a series of architect-designed cottages, Cotton Island was finished earlier this year and has just been opened up for rental. Don't expect cute shutters and gingerbread detailing, though. These are architect-designed cottages, complete with sail-shaped thatch roofs and wall-to-ceiling windows looking out on to the bay. There's also a spectacular free-form pool. The island, which sleeps 18, is set in the bay of Angra Dos Reis, Brazil's answer to Monaco (Ronaldo is one of the neighbours), and comes with a staff of 10. A word of warning, though: the glitterati flee the region after carnival, so book for December or January if you want to do some shmoozing.

The USP? The island has its own speedboat - essential for getting out to see and be seen in the bars around the bay - though you have to pay extra to use it.

The deal? Prices start at £2,511 per person through Cazenove+Loyd (020-7384 2332; cazloyd.com), including flights, transfers and seven nights' half-board accommodation as well as the services of a staff of 10.

7 Hop off to Australia

What's new? The Australasian specialist Bridge and Wickers has introduced Lifetime Retreats to its programme this year. This may sound like some kind of naff timeshare company, but it's actually a rather glamorous resort. Set on Kangaroo Island, near Adelaide, guests stay in one of three, very chic, private houses and have access to some of the richest wildlife in Australia. It's the Aussie answer to the Galapagos: koalas, wallabies, emus, kangaroos, possums, penguins, seals, sea lions, cockatoos and ospreys are all part of the local habitat - a not entirely surprising diversity given the island's size. (It's the second largest in the country after Tasmania.)

The USP? Mealtimes. If you don't want to do the cooking yourself you can have dinner rustled up in a candlelit former sheep shearers' shed, beneath a 150-year-old fig tree twinkling with fairy lights or in a beach-side boat shed.

The deal? Prices start at £998 per person through Bridge and Wickers (020-7483 6555; bridgeand wickers.com), including two nights' full-board accommodation, a full day 4WD island tour, transfers and flights from Adelaide.

8 Sardinia on two wheels

What's new? Saddle Skedaddle's new self-guided Island Flavours mountain-biking trips offer an introduction to some of Sardinia's most scenic country lanes and coast roads. Starting in the village of Villanovaforru and ending with a roller-coaster ride down to Pula, in between detailed road maps and route notes point the way past vineyards, olive groves, beach-side restaurants and citrus plantations on this nine-day journey through the southwest of the Mediterranean island. (Only six of the days are spent riding.) As the name suggests, there's an emphasis on food and drink, with plenty of time to try local cheeses, wines, breads, cured meats and olive oil - and to stop off and try other local specialities including saffron cakes.

The USP? Luggage is transferred for you from place to place so you can sit back and enjoy the ride, weighed down only by whatever you've had for lunch.

The deal? Prices start at £675 through Saddle Skedaddle (0191-265 1110; skedaddle.co.uk), including eight nights' b&b accommodation and most meals, but not flights, bike hire (£120) or insurance.

All prices are per person, based on two sharing and were correct at time of going to print

The best for eco luxury: Go barefoot in Tanzania

Lupita, a new all-inclusive luxury resort, opens on Lake Tanganyika next month. Built on a 110-acre island, it has been designed with the local environment in mind. Its 14 suites will have private plunge pools, butler service and outdoor natural stone baths. The lodge can also arrange trips to Mahale Mountains Chimpanzee Park. All-inclusive seven-night packages start at £4,770 through Global Artichoke (01584 881638; globalartichoke.co.uk).

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