The Caribbean: Isla Mujeres and Cayo Espanto
Secluded coastal islands
Private Island: Just Off Belize
The fact that Dallas and Houston have direct flights to Belize City explains the oil-wife style of Cayo Espanto, a private island off the Belizean coast. You have to be feeling flush to stay here—which is fine if the rates didn't seem inflated. But if value is no object, then enjoy: five acres off the Mosquito Coast with six villas on the beach. Each has fourposter beds, four have plunge pools. There is no main pool or restaurant; butlers on radio-call serve you in your villa. And you probably won't see another guest. Bonefishers and divers love it, and golfers are in paradise on Caye Chapel, an extraordinary private-island course. But gourmets may be frustrated: the food is . . . only passable. And unless you reserve the whole island, Espanto doesn't allow kids. Villas, $995-$1,650; includes meals and drinks; island, $8,100 a night; 888-666-4282, 910-323-8355; www.aprivateisland.com.
Off the Beaten Path: Mexican Style
ONE TO WATCH Despite being just 30 minutes from Cancun, sleepy little Isla Mujeres has no cookie-cutter high-rises and no margarita-mad spring breakers. Instead, it's home to a colorful harbor, secluded beaches, and a sleek new nine-room hideaway. The Secreto hotel is a three-story cube of white stucco walls and pure glass panels—a Santorini-meets-Schrager style. Its rooms are done in white with limestone floors and dark-wood canopy beds; all have balconies and are spread around an infinity pool. Rooms to get: numbers five and eight, which have the best sea views. The Secreto also has its own boat for hire. But there's no restaurant; general manager Scott Boyan and his ten-member staff arrange takeout from good nearby restaurants. Rooms, $150-$200. At Punta Norte; 877-278-8018, 52-998-877-1039; www.hotelsecreto.com.