When it comes to exotic vacations, sea-caressed beaches usually rise to the top of our minds. Lakes are seldom part of dream vacations, but the most discerning travelers looking for low-key yet distinctly lavish getaways opt for the sanctuary of magnificent lakes in the world’s best locales. After all, lake vacations offer a welcoming stay for every season and age group. These escapes also have something for every type of traveler: tranquil times for those looking to unplug and thrilling adventures for those seeking that adrenaline rush.
Any lakeside vacation also offers plenty of natural scenery. For those looking for a place to detach from the bustling city and enjoy a change of pace, the lake offers a great escape. Unlike the sun, salt and sand of beach vacations, there’s something uniquely refreshing about taking holidays lakeside—especially when these luxury destinations are the ones described below.
Matakauri Lodge, Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand
Lake Wakatipu, which translates from Māori into “growing bay” or “bay of spirits”, is the third-largest lake in New Zealand, with its S shape lending it its title as the country’s longest. Considered one of the most serene landscapes in the world, Lake Wakatipu is flanked by the Remarkables, Cecil Peak and Walter Peak mountain ranges. And nestled on the lake to afford guests a stunning view of it all is Matakauri Lodge.
Matakauri Lodge, just seven minutes from Queenstown, is one of the most private and exclusive addresses in New Zealand. It offers 12 luxury suites and villas, each with a private terrace that provides guests with arresting views of the unspoiled mountain range and magnificent lake.
Built with stone, timber and wood, the lodge boasts an understated elegance. The natural light coming through large windows and skylight ceilings lends it its clean and crisp interior warmth. Muted furniture, such as deep leather sofas and wide armchairs, invite guests to sit back and take in the sights outdoors.
Guests are welcomed with a drink as staff flawlessly whisk their bags to their rooms, proving how relaxed and unintrusive the hospitality and service are. With warm apricot, yellow and soft-grey hues, the interiors of the rooms and villas display the ingenuity of their renowned designer, Virginia Fisher. All these rooms look out onto the dramatic panorama. Meanwhile, the freestanding villa, the Owner’s Cottage, offers four expansive rooms and four baths, with a private jacuzzi and a grand courtyard.
Guests are also treated to classic cuisine heavily influenced by the region’s landscapes. Helmed by Kiwi Chef Jonathan Rogers, the restaurant offers a wide selection of dishes that change daily depending on the local produce he forages in the hills, accompanied by products from local suppliers.
For those looking for adventure, the lodge is also the perfect launchpad, as Queenstown offers canyoning, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, golfing and exploring the locality by helicopter.
Titilaka Lodge, Lake Titicaca, Peru
Known as the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca sits 3,810 meters above sea level between Peru and Bolivia. Considered the cradle of the Inca civilization, its unique, majestic landscape indeed harks back to its history and heritage.
Tucked away off the beaten track along the shores of a private peninsula is Lake Titicaca’s gem, Titilaka Lodge. This full-service, prime resort, surrounded by history and one of the world’s most splendid views, seems removed from real life. Titilaka Lodge is housed in a refurbished building featuring contemporary style and furniture with accents that nod to local heritage. Bespoke local artwork, upmarket textiles, rich tapestries and recycled furniture add to the overall atmosphere of splendor and comfort, punctuated by the unobstructed floor plan that opens out to magnificent views.
The lodge’s 17 well-appointed rooms are spread across two upper floors, providing guests with the best panorama views. They boast lofty ceilings that dramatically take in natural light. Guests are treated to massive beds and deep bathtubs that underpin the pervading atmosphere of indulgence, along with five-star treatment from a pampering staff.
For those searching for gustatory delights, Titilaka Lodge serves some of the best fares in the region—local produce with select ingredients, all prepared in reimagined traditional and contemporary dishes. Executive Chef Maria Fe Garcia’s inspiration for these sublime dishes comes from the ethereal beauty of the lake itself.
To take advantage of the region’s history, guests can arrange excursions on the lake. Here, the Uros floating islands and Taquile Island provide them with glimpses into the lives and cultures of local communities, especially the skilled junco-reed raftsmen and female weavers. Around the lake, guests can also take the Aymara or Colla routes to go back in time and absorb more incredible views of the Peruvian landscape. They can also arrange for customized archeological tours to better explore the region’s history and enjoy the magnificence of an authentic Titicaca experience.
Palace Luzern, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Switzerland’s fourth-largest lake, Lake Lucerne, is a sight to behold straight out of a fairytale scene. Because of its irregular shape, the lake’s many bends and turns lend it a highly interesting panorama, inviting guests to explore the bordering sleepy towns and the verdant hills and snowcapped mountains beyond.
A legendary property nestled along this fabled lake is the Palace, also known as Palace Luzern. The Palace once belonged to legendary hotelier Franz Josef Bucher-Durrer and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006. The iconic Palace Luzern is currently managed by Mandarin Oriental Group, which rebranded it and undertook extensive renovations. Its 136 rooms and suites overlook Lake Lucerne and the Alpine Mountains.
With its imposing and magnificent exterior along the lakeshore, the hotel offers nothing short of luxury. As one of the world’s leading accommodations, Palace Luzern proffers the most up-to-date amenities as it merges modern comfort with old-world elegance, from its English-style lobby bar to its contemporary-styled rooms. The larger rooms offer private balconies, and guests can also escape to the hotel’s many restaurants and bars to enjoy fine food and drink while taking in more of the alpine landscape.
Guests can indulge in luxurious spa treatments in the Palace’s sauna and relaxation rooms, visit the gym or access the seasonal pool on the lake for a dip. A 15-minute walk takes them to the historic Old Town, where social bustle, cultural offerings and commerce collide against the Swiss medieval background.
Mandarin Oriental Group plans to undergo further extensive renovations, promising an even more impressive palace to open its doors this year, as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern.
Mandarin Oriental, Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como, Italy’s third-largest lake, is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. A body of water known for its inverted Y shape, Lake Como provides one of the most picturesque places in the world, making it a premier destination for artists and nobility from all over the world over the centuries. Today, it’s still a highly regarded holiday getaway, even viewed as a second home by many high-profile personalities and celebrities, such as Richard Branson, Madonna and George Clooney.
Nestled amidst Lake Como’s sunny greenery is Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como. This posh and exclusive property occupies nearly seven acres of charming, verdant gardens. Sitting at its heart is the historic 19th-century Villa Roccabruna, which used to be a neo-classical manor that served as a meeting place for many artists, singers and composers. Over the centuries, the property changed hands and underwent demolitions and renovations until recently, when entrepreneurs salvaged it to become Lake Como’s most exclusive destination.
Today’s Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como reflects the history, romance and artistry embodying the property. Its marbled and stuccoed halls accentuate its neoclassical charm. The interior is also uniquely Mandarin Oriental, with its signature Chinoiserie wallpaper lending to its exotic theme. The expansive halls lead to 75 resplendent rooms and suites recently redesigned by Eric Egan. The tastefully done rooms also feature enormous windows that provide awe-inspiring views of the botanical gardens and enchanting lake.
Guests can take in more idyllic lake views from the resort’s restaurants. One, L’ARIA, is a nod to the property’s history. This convivial restaurant offers a fresh take on Italian gastronomy; it fuses Italian dishes with subtle Japanese nuances, which only renowned Chef Massimiliano Blasone can execute. Diners also enjoy pre-dinner cocktails and snacks at the CO.MO Bar & Bistrot.
Tourists can enjoy self-care, fitness programs and spa treatments, take dips in the floating pool overlooking Lake Como or rejuvenate in the relaxation lounge with Himalayan salt walls. Guests can also take leisurely strolls through Como’s old town and visit its famous cathedral, Duomo.
These world-class lakeside holidays embody a combination of natural beauty and exquisite indulgence. The simple joys of quiet, relaxation and privacy and the most breathtaking scenery are punctuated by the best names in hospitality, making these lakeside resorts central to any sophisticated globetrotter’s itinerary.