Howling macaques and tree-rustling hornbills deliver the soul-soothing soundtrack for a night in the steamy rainforest of Malaysia’s Langkawi Island, where The Datai has welcomed adventure-seeking honeymooners since opening in the early ’90s. But despite its age, this tropic-tinged retreat has aged gracefully (helped by a multi-million dollar facelift just before the pandemic), and to this day remains one of Southeast Asia’s finest. Don’t be deterred by the resort’s family-friendly label. Couples will find plenty of alone time in the private pooled villas along the babbling stream that snakes through the resort, or during the candlelit dinners their butlers will happily set up on its semi-private beach. Meanwhile, its ancient jungle setting is said to harbor restorative powers—channel them during an early-morning walk with resident naturalist Irshad Mobarak, who can guide you through the healing benefits of ‘Mandi Embun’ forest bathing.
Amenities: lobby lounge, beach bar, spa, cooking classes, golf course
Location: 07000 Pulau Langkawi, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia
Sleep under the stars in Sumba
Indonesia’s Sumba island is just a short flight from Bali, but this rugged area can feel like a wholly different country. With tourism in its infancy, locals still outnumber visitors on its powder-white beaches, and you’re more likely to bump into grazing water buffaloes than devil-may-care backpackers on rented motorbikes. A crop of smart new hotels have popped up along the island’s southwestern coast in the past few years, but Nihi Sumba, which opened in 2001, remains a firm favorite. From behind a sign that reads ‘welcome to the edge of wildness,’ the resort rolls down a jungled hillside onto a 1.5-mile-long beach, where surfers bob in the waves and sandalwood ponies bathe in the shallows. Each villa is set up as a mini-estate, with a private pool and gardens frothy with bougainvillea. Its ultimate honeymoon hidey-hole, though, is Villa Rahasia, an off-grid retreat on a secret cove reached via a 90-minute trek from the resort, where couples only have the stars in the sky for company.