The Brando, French Polynesia. Picture / Supplied.

5 Perfect Hideaways

With Daylight Saving over and the temperature starting to cool, now is the time to start dreaming and planning your mid-winter escape. The Viva team has collated a selection of inspirational locations


Marlon Brando fell for the charms of this French Polynesian atoll in 1960s, buying it as a place to escape from prying eyes. Last year, it was opened to the public, with a luxury resort named after the actor housed on one of the biggest islands. Access is by private plane from Tahiti. Surrounded by a crystal-clear lagoon, it has 35 villas, each looking out on to its own private beach and plunge pool. Two restaurants serve Polynesian-inspired food, there are tennis courts, and a beach bar near a shared pool and spa — should the views not make you feel serene enough.

The Sanctuary, Thailand. Picture / Supplied.


With daily yoga classes, a raw vegetarian restaurant and a comprehensive colon-cleanse menu, The Sanctuary on the island of Ko Pha Ngan is accidentally fashionable. But this accessible resort is more dreadlocks and zen than five-star and trendy. Set in tree-house-like surroundings on a private cliff-enclosed beach, huts, hammocks and outdoor showers are scattered through the bush. Think The Beach and you’ll get a sense of how undiscovered this place feels. The only time you might remember you are a short boat ride from Haad Rin’s famously tacky full moon parties is Friday night — an all-night party in the bay necessitates the cancellation of Saturday morning yoga classes. Given there is no phone line, credit cards don’t work here, so bring enough cash to stay a while — one week always turns into two.

Lang Tengah, Malaysia. Picture / Supplied.


If you want to get off the beaten track, Lang Tengah is the place for you. This secret island with no roads and just a handful of resorts, is an idyllic paradise. First, you must get to the island of Kuala Terengganu, off the east coast of Malaysia, and from there catch a water taxi or hire a speed boat for the 40-minute ride to Lang Tengah. Popular with young European travellers, it is surrounded by warm crystal-clear waters — which make up a marine park perfect for snorkelling — and glorious white beaches, and is covered in luscious tropical jungle. This is the ultimate place to switch off.

The Sherwood, Queenstown. Picture / Supplied.


Local Auckland-based fashion insiders have been making the journey south to Queenstown hotel The Sherwood. Part-owned by Stephen Marr, of the hair salons and Ponsonby bar Golden Dawn, the hotel complex looks over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. The concept here is to connect with nature and “be here now”; with yoga, pilates and meditation to help get you in the zone. Adding to the relaxed vibe is a sprawling garden and orchard providing produce for the hotel restaurant, a sunset tipi and a bike track nearby. Heading south to a colder climate may not be the most traditional of mid-winter escapes, but it’s the perfect spot to refresh and connect with nature and the elements. 

Montana Magica Lodge, Chile. Picture / Supplied.


Montana Magica Lodge (The Magic Mountain Hotel) looks like something that belongs on a movie set. This unique lodge is deep inside a 120,000ha private nature reserve and is accessible only by foot — guests must cross a swing bridge to enter and a geyser erupts from this volcano shaped lodging each day. When there, trekking, cycling and horse riding are available in summer; skiing and snowboarding in winter. Lord of the Rings and Avatar fans, rejoice!

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