King Pacific Lodge, Canada
This floating lodge, anchored on Princess Royal Island in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, is a gem of an eco-conscious retreat (low-flush toilets, locally procured organic produce) that doesn’t skimp on luxury. The 17 spacious rooms come with either forest or ocean views and are outfitted with rustic driftwood furnishings and First Nations art. Local wine flows freely at mealtime, where everything from bread and pasta to gelato is made on site. But the real treats are the guided excursions, including kayak and canoe expeditions, where otter and whale sightings are likely; hikes among the ancient cedars and spruces to spot the rare white kermode (a.k.a. the Spirit Bear); and fishing trips by boat or helicopter.
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
Two hours northwest of Quito, this sustainable lodge sits on a 3,000-acre private reserve in the Andean rainforest. It features 22 sparsely decorated suites – think white walls, clean lines and striking angles – with vast picture windows, a spa and a fine dining menu focused on regional ingredients, like naranjilla and chocolate. Blending green design with its surroundings, the hydroelectric-powered lodge employs naturalists that lead excursions into the leafy reserve to spy butterflies, monkeys and orchids. Don’t miss the aerial tram ride that slithers through the rainforest’s upper canopy.
La Lancha, Guatemala
High above Lake Petén Itzá are 10 bungalows (or casitas) decorated with owner Francis Ford Coppola’s finds from around the world, such as intricately carved wood Balinese armoires and beds layered with Guatemalan quilts and throw pillows. During the day, guests go canoeing and kayaking on the nearby lake, mountain biking along the resort’s jungle trails or exploring the spectacular Mayan ruins of Tikal. Come evening, chirping parakeets serenade diners in the hotel’s open-air restaurant, which serves authentic Guatemalan dishes like chilaquiles (beef tenderloin grilled on an open parrilla or barbecue).
Lapa Rios, Costa Rica
Bamboo furnishings, stone floors and canopy beds draped in mosquito netting set the scene at Lapa Rios, which offers 16 open-sided bungalows nestled 100 metres above the Pacific Ocean. Hikes in the surrounding rainforest, which is teeming with howler monkeys, butterflies and toucans, and horseback rides along the deserted beaches are followed by invigorating showers and expertly prepared meals. (Bathrooms feature stone-laid floors, built-in seating and a bay window for gazing out onto the cobalt blue ocean.) The local ceviche, made with crunchy squash and peppers instead of fish, is a must-try.
Located near the Tambopata National Reserve in the Amazon’s Madre de Dios region are 35 thatched-roof cabanas on stilts scattered around the property. Fusing elegance with eco-design, the lantern-lit rooms are outfitted with hammocks, organic bath products and beds wrapped in crisp white linens. Set 27 metres above the forest floor, with excellent views of the animals below, is the Canopy Tree House, a bar-cum-watchtower that serves cocktails. (Bartender Ysmael makes a potent champagne and pisco sour.) Spa treatments and twilight boat tours through the flooded marshland brimming with amphibians, mammals and flora complete the experience.
The Datai, Malaysia
Blending sexy beach ambience with a sleek design touch, this sophisticated boutique hotel is parked in the forest between the Andaman Sea and the mountains on the sleepy island of Pulau Langkawi. The 106 suites, rooms and villas feature silk-cushioned settees, Bose sound systems and Lavazza espresso machines. Guests come here to breathe in the tangy rainforest soil tinged with salty sea air and practise the art of doing nothing at all. But if that gets old, the beach concierge will gladly set you up with a catamaran or windsurfer. Afterward, expert hands administer warm stone massages and body scrubs in an open-air spa pavilion above a forest stream.
Ponta dos Ganchos, Brazil
Set on a privately owned peninsula where the crystal waters of the Emerald Coast meet the verdant rainforest, Ponta dos Ganchos has 25 rustic-chic bungalows with glass walls and private decks. Only the Special Emerald Villa, however, boasts a dry sauna with sea views, outdoor decks, private lap pools, wine cellars and an underground fitness centre. Spa hounds will love the treatments (try the hot stone massage) at the Christian Dior spa – the only one in South America. Fancy a game of tennis? There’s a clay court on site. A barbecue on the beach? The chef will cook the fresh-caught fish for you. Is the sudden downpour spoiling your afternoon swim? Practise your backstroke in the indoor heated swimming pool.