To me, the best hotels in the world are those at which luxury resides in harmony with pristine nature. My favorite in this regard might be Strawberry Hill in the mountains above Kingston, Jamaica.
Imagine the charm of a Tarzan-worthy tree house combined with every possible upscale amenity, surrounded by impossibly beautiful jungle mountain scenery; wonderful carved mahogany furniture; a panoply of recent reggae CDs in every room; incredibly delicious food; a fabulous spa; and a gracious welcoming staff.
Wander along paths that meander through the luxurious gardens (where I once spied a marvelous doctor bird through the lens of my camera and was so startled that I forgot to take a picture) to your own unique cottage where the carved fretwork and verandahs give a nod to the island's plantation past, while superbly comfortable beds and overstuffed white furniture with colorful African fabrics provide modern comfort. Revel in a blissful warm water massage, then smooth on oils made from local plants. Elbow up to the infinity pool overlooking the sparkling lights of Kingston far below, and watch time slow down.
There are other small luxury hotels, part of the famed Island Outpost chain, that have that same wonderful concoction of sensual simplicity combined with indulgent sophistication. Choose from any one of the decadent and serene Goldeneye, Pantrepant, The Caves, and Strawberry Hill.
Then there’s Goldeneye, where you can even stay in James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s villa; after all, You Only Live Once. Eat under the speckled shade of almond trees planted by Fleming or revel in a lagoon cottage where you have your own dock with resident kayak. All villas are decorated in that same wonderful pristine white, dotted by brilliant splashes of color from African fabrics, and of course, they have all the high-end amenities people expect.
There are some amenities you may choose to go without, however; Chris Blackwell, the wizard behind the creation of all of these wonderful hotels, so believes in his Jamaican trade winds that he has offered a $20 per day discount to anyone who eschews air conditioning. I’ll drink some island rum to that!