Five luxury stays above the waves

Noonu Atoll’s Soneva Jani
Slide straight from the hotel into the sea at Noonu Atoll’s Soneva Jani resort

“From glass-bottomed villas in French Polynesia to boat-like bungalows in the Maldives, ‘overwater’ accommodation graces many a bucket list,” says Nina Ruggiero in Travel + Leisure magazine. The Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay became the first destination to offer accommodation set directly over water on the main island, Viti Levu, when it opened in April this year. The resort on the west coast, with its three restaurants and three pools, includes 22 luxury bure (“huts” in Fijian) that sit on the water, so guests can dive directly from their private decks into the surrounding lagoon.

• From £520 a night;

Noonu Atoll, Maldives

Soneva Jani’s 24 villas over the water opened last October in the “spectacular kaleidoscopic lagoon” in the Maldives’ Noonu Atoll, says Cathy Hawker in the Evening Standard. Look out for “sweeping” water slides, retractable roofs above the beds for night-time stargazing and glass portholes that show off the sea floor below. The resort also has its own resident astronomer, “who will illuminate the sky as you dine”, as well as hammock floors (see below), and an open-air cinema and bar, where guests are given wireless headphones to prevent the noise disturbing the nesting turtles.

• From $1,870 per night for a one-bedroom Water Retreat;

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Sandals Royal Caribbean’s new overwater bungalows sit on one side of the resort’s private islet in Jamaica’s Montego Bay, says The Daily Telegraph’s Rachel Cranshaw. The 12 bungalows and five villas have a “suitably beachy feel throughout”. Beds are “stupendously comfortable” and the bathrooms have walk-in showers. Out on deck there are sun loungers, a giant hammock suspended over the water, and a chest containing snorkelling gear, so guests can “pop down the stairs” to go sea life spotting. The villas come with small infinity pools, which look directly out to sea.

• From £5,935 per person for seven nights;

Brando Suites, Bora Bora

The only thing the Brando – a French Polynesian private atoll resort once owned by Marlon Brando – lacked when it opened in 2014 was an overwater bungalow, says Jill Robinson in the Robb Report. That’s set to change in December with the arrival of the new Brando Suites Bora Bora – four two-bedroom villas set over the water located at the nearby InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa.

Each comes with a living and dining area, relaxation lounge, an outdoor terrace and infinity pool, and floor-to-ceiling windows that “perfectly frame the 180-degree views of Bora Bora’s turquoise-hued lagoon and the famous Mount Otemanu”.

• From £2,668 a night;

Pigeon Island, St Lucia

The nine bungalows that have just been unveiled at Sandals Grande St Lucian “are a design feat”, says Amira Hashish in The Independent, “blending the boho beach vibe with a streamline and contemporary style”. The private patios have extended sun decks, soaking tubs, showers, sun loungers and over-water hammocks.

The Caribbean resort, which boasts 12 restaurants, sits in a “secluded spot” on its own peninsula and offers “a truly luxury experience”. The bungalows come with a 24-hour butler service, which can arrange everything from a Champagne breakfast in bed to a candle-lit dinner on the beach.

• From £5,939 per person for a seven-night stay;

Soneva Jani hammock floor

An easier way to enjoy a hammock

This year, it’s all about hammock floors, says Nikki Ekstein in Bloomberg Pursuits. These small trapeze nets, as they are also known, take their cue from the nets often slung between the hulls at the back of a catamaran, where they act like “stretchy sunbeds”. Now you can also find them slung from the private pool deck of your overwater bungalow.

There’s no limit to how big you can make them and they are made of bouncy, tightly woven netting, which makes them feel almost like trampolines. But the icing on the cake is that you don’t have an awkward climb in, says Ekstein. “Tipping over into a net is easier and more fun.”