I'm a sucker for a great hotel room, but one thing is even closer to my heart: resorts that give guests their own private cottage or bungalow to call home. I've been lucky enough to stay in a number of these during my years of traveling. Here are five of my favorites across the globe.
Royal Davui Island -- Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
Fiji is known for its private-island resorts, many with rustic native touches. But I loved Royal Davui for its contemporary treehouse feel. Getting here requires some work; after flying into Viti Levu, the capital island, you take a 20-minute flight on the resort's private jet to Pacific Harbour to catch a 45-minute water taxi. But the setting is worth it -- the resort occupies a 10-acre hill on a private island set in the middle of Beqa Lagoon.
The 16 bungalows (called vales, the Fijian word for "home") are built into the hillside, so they all have incredible views. Floor-to-ceiling windows and two separate sun decks with lounge chairs let you enjoy the setting no matter where you are. (I could keep my blinds open, as there were no neighbors to peep.) The open bathroom is elevated behind the bedroom, so you can even take in the views from the Jacuzzi tub; the shower, stocked with rich Pure Fiji toiletries, has a retractable roof that opens to the sky. But I most enjoyed peering over the edge of my outdoor plunge pool (every vale has one); the ocean was so clear that I could see the sunlight reflecting off the scales of fish swimming beneath me.
Some of Fiji's best diving is found in Beqa Lagoon, conveniently located all around you. The island has its own dive shop, and the reef begins right offshore, so you can just wade in. The sea life is thriving, and with a depth of only 10 to 20 feet, I could scuba while my companion snorkeled on the surface, both of us seeing most of the same sights (my favorite: Dr. Seuss-like Christmas-tree worms that disappear into the coral when you wiggle a finger at them). Deep-sea fishing is big here, and guests can also go sea kayaking or play volleyball (usually staff versus guests; Fijians love this game and are really good at it). I also took a day trip to a village on neighboring Beqa Island, where I bought a wooden kava bowl, Fiji's de rigueur souvenir.
While most Fijian resorts offer communal buffet-style meals, dinnertime at Royal Davui felt more like dining in an elegant restaurant, with a la carte meals served at tables for two on a multilevel wooden deck under a giant banyan tree. The food and wine list are top-notch, and the menu changes daily, offering the expected seafood, plus lamb and beef flown in from New Zealand. Guests mingle at the outdoor bar over sunset drinks and at the weekly hermit-crab races -- silly and totally hilarious.