By Sophia Roberts and Laura Badal
Get away from it all--the scorching heat, the monotony of a typical 9 to 5 workday, that dreadful cubicle--and go relax, enjoy and dream about paradise.
Our "Fantasy Island" tour begins on the exclusive, private Hawaiian island of Lana'i--an alluring destination where turquoise blue water meets a crescent white-sandy beach--a destination just awaiting your arrival.
Welcome to Lana`i
From Phoenix, a six hour plane ride--which includes sampling mai tai's to pass the time--lands you in Honolulu. From there, you take a quick 20-minute inter-island scenic flight to the unspoiled and serene paradise island of Lana`i.
Lana`i is nothing short of perfection. Upon arrival, you instantly feel as if you've stepped back in time. There are no traffic signals, fast food restaurants or neon signs to spoil the landscape. Instead, you will discover the charming former plantation town of Lana`i City, seeped in history of an era that is gone, but not forgotten.
The town square boasts a quaint grocery market, a culture center and local style eateries that are mixed together with world class art galleries and specialty boutiques. Strolling around Lana`i City, you will be greeted by friendly smiles and waves from passersby--there are a mere 3,000 residents on Lana`i, and all are anxious to spread their aloha, welcoming visitors to their island.
Once the largest producer of pineapple in the world, Lana`i has re-emerged as a luxury resort destination. The plantation character and genuine warmth of the people still remain. But, the focus of this private island has ushered in a new standard of exotic luxury.
Welcome to Bora Bora
The mythical island of Bora Bora is the jewel of French Polynesia and the Tahitian Islands. From Los Angeles, an eight-hour flight lands you in Papeete, the capital city of Tahiti. A quick and picturesque 45-minutes later, on an inter-island (not a puddle jumper), you'll find yourself in the land of turquoise waters, mountain peaks and ultimate romance--welcome to Bora Bora. Magic awaits.
Upon arrival, reality of being in paradise soaks in as a yacht taxi-boat glides you across a private lagoon to your room. Don't expect hotel towers, elevators or carpeted walkways--this is Bora Bora and Four Seasons does it in style.
There are 100 overwater bungalows (yes, the ones pictured on postcards or on the Travel Channel) and seven beachfront villas (not over the water, but bigger than many large homes with at least 3,200 square feet) decorated in traditional Polynesian style. Each thatched roof bungalow is approx. 1,050 square feet with amenities such as private decks and plunge pools.
Those looking for activities can easily find them--whether it be tennis, a snorkel with the resort's marine biologist, an outing to feed sharks and rays, a sunset cruise on a catamaran or 4-wheeling around the main island and up the hills surrounding Mount Otemanu.
As ambitious as one may be, sunning on the infinity pool deck, lounging in one of the cabanas or relaxing beachside can also be great ways to pass the time, as many celebrity guests have found. In all, this is a paradise within reach, and a highly recommended one at that. Just one thing--bring extra memory for your camera, you'll need it.
InfoLink: Four Seasons
Sophia Roberts is a freelance writer who resides in Scottsdale with her husband and two children.
Welcome to Jamaica
by: Laura Badal
One of the most adored islands in the Carribean, Jamaica remains a hot spot for vacationers--the party atmosphere, the laid back attitude, the seven miles of white sandy beaches, the cuisine, music and fun-loving people makes Jamaica uniquely sought-after.
On the island, you'll discover one of the finest resorts in the world, amidst 400 beautifully manicured acres, Rose Hall-Half Moon sits sea-side with an air of elegant informality and native island style.
The plantation-style buildings lend a cool, crisp touch to the lush green lawns and tropical gardens situated along picturesque Sunrise Beach. Guests choose accommodations from four to seven bedroom villas, including royal suites or beachfront spa suites.
Combining the comforts of home with the personalized service of an exclusive resort, each villa comes with its own private swimming pool, and is staffed with a chef, housekeeper and butler.
Along with the tranquility of the beach, guests also revel in a wide variety of sports, including golf, tennis, squash, croquet, snorkeling and scuba diving. You'll also enjoy glass bottom boat tours and an opportunity to swim with dolphins.
Experience "Jamaican Bush" holistic healing at the Fern Tree Spa--unique therapeutic rituals and treatments attend to your individual or "couples" wellness goals. With all Jamaica has to offer, you'll truly believe you've reached heaven on Earth.
Laura Badal is a freelance writer who resides in north Scottsdale with her husband and son.
Infolink: Half Moon