Surfers were among the first tribes to make Panama popular; and so it goes at Nihiwatu (www.nihiwatu.com; from $595 per person, all inclusive) on Sumba, less than an hour’s flight east of Bali in Indonesia. The resort now delivers more than a perfect tube, however, with three new thatch-topped villas (example pictured) – each with four suites, open-air bathroom and private pool – positioned behind the sands at the beginning of a golden 2.5km private beach.
The breezy look recalls the relaxed, rustic style of resorts in Africa, where husband and wife duo Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens are pioneers of castaway architecture. The creators of North Island in the Seychelles are raising the bar again, this time at Chinzombo (www.normancarrsafaris.com; from $575 per person, all inclusive), a six-villa lodge developed by Norman Carr Safaris that will open in March in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. The villas forge a fresh aesthetic among bush camps, with the contemporary lines of the steel-framed architecture softened by tin, reed, copper, canvas and timber. There are private pools and, in the main lounge area, a fire pit beside bathing hippo. (For a Zambia specialist of the super-A-list order, contact US-based Cherri Briggs, founder of Explore Africa;www.exploreafrica.net.)