The Good Life
Byline: Karla Bruning, Marian Smith, Raina Kelley, Sana Butler
Archipelago Resorts: Water Worlds
By Karla Bruning
Have you always dreamed of vacationing on your own private island? It's still possible, even in heavily trafficked destinations like the Maldives, without having to go to the trouble of buying the land yourself. Archipelago resorts offer the beauty and solitude of small islands along with the convenience of big-city hotels. The Maldives has more than its share of private beaches. Of the 1,190 coral islands that make up this Indian Ocean archipelago, only 87 have resorts. On the Baa Atoll, the Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru is scheduled to open in November. Surrounded by a lagoon, it will have 102 thatched villas with private plunge pools ($750 per night) and an ayurvedic spa and yoga retreat. The Four Seasons Resort at Kuda Huraa on the North Male Atoll, which was rebuilt after the 2004 tsunami, will reopen in September. The resort features an islet spa across a tropical mere ($590 per night; fourseasons.com ).
Beyond the Maldives, the Bazaruto Archipelago is a naturalist's dream. The five islands off the coast of Mozambique are home to 2,000 fish, sea turtle, dolphin and whale species, along with the rare dugong, an elephantlike "sea cow." The Indigo Bay Resort on Bazaruto Island will reopen in November after a full renovation, which added 12 bay-view suites with private splash pools and 29 secluded beach chalets ($622 per night; indigobayresort.com).
The Malaysian archipelago of Langkawi in the Andaman Sea has only two inhabited islands among its 99 limestone pulaus. From the Sheraton Perdana Resort Langkawi, you can hike rain-forest-covered peaks or relax on 104 tropical acres ($550 per night; starwoodhotels.com).
The Turks and Caicos archipelago contains eight inhabited islands out of 40 in all. Ritz-Carlton's new Molasses Reef Resort on the uninhabited island of West Caicos, which opens in 2008, will include 60 villas and a 125-suite hotel and spa (ritzcarlton.com ). The resort is named for the nearby reef where Columbus's Pinta is said to have sunk.
4 Hours In . . . Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Capital was a half-finished swamp for most of its history, but that didn't stop its founders from designing a majestic city of avenues, monuments and green spaces. Here's where to go in D.C.:
SEE the National Gallery of Art for an almost tourist-free viewing of impressionist masterpieces and the new Andy Goldsworthy installation in I.M. Pei's east wing.
EAT at Ben's Chili Bowl for a taste of D.C.'s real history. There's finer food in the city, but you won't find an eatery with deeper roots; Duke Ellington was a customer.
STROLL through Georgetown's back streets to see where the senators and socialites live, eat and shop. If the crowds get to be too much, escape into the glorious gardens at Dumbarton Oaks mansion.
BUY some gifts from the shop at the Renwick Gallery (part of the Smithsonian), opposite the White House, where you can find original American crafts on sale. …