CLOSE your eyes and think about the most relaxing place in the world. Is it a private pool overlooking a volcano in Costa Rica? An outdoor massage table in Mexico? The top deck of a yacht in the South Pacific?
All of those (very good) answers might just be out of date.
In 2017, it’s all about hammock floors, or small trapeze nets built into the bottom of your patio, rather than slung from trees. The design takes a cue from the catamaran, whose seating almost always comes in the form of an aerodynamic net that acts like a stretchy sundeck on the back of the boat.
The advantages over traditional hammocks are plentiful. First, there’s no limit on how large you can make one, since each is custom-built. (Which makes cuddling up a lot more convenient.) Then there’s the fact that you can build a hammock floor on almost any overhang, regardless of whether there are trees or walls to serve as structural support. (Think: the private pool deck of an overwater bungalow, or a dizzying perch high up in a treehouse.) They’re made of bouncy, tightly woven netting, making them feel almost like trampolines. (Which means you won’t be laying on knotty ropes.) And maybe the icing on the cake: You don’t have to awkwardly climb in. (Tipping over into a net is easier and more fun.)
Here’s where to find them, from Bora Bora to the Dominican Republic.
SONEVA JANI, MALDIVES
Hotelier Sonu Shivdasani calls the hammock floors in his properties’ overwater bungalows “dream zones,” and with good reason: There’s nothing quite like dozing off as you’re dangled gently over lapping waves. But there’s also something to be said about the ones he built into the outdoor movie theater and bar at Soneva Jani, where the ledges of the hammocks double as cocktail tables. “It acts as a very informal gathering point,” he said, “but can also make for a romantic cocktail experience.” Sundowners have never been so sweet. From $1,870 per night.
CONRAD BORA BORA NUI, BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
It’s the first five-star resort to open in Bora Bora in a decade, but the Conrad Bora Bora Nui was worth waiting for. It debuted on Monday with 86 overwater bungalows — each outfitted with customizable pillow menus, massive soaking tubs, and yes, hammock floors on the private decks. “Any resort worldwide provides sun beds,” said Daniele Venuti, regional director of sales and marketing. “Within a few years, most of the beach resorts will probably feature overwater hammocks, too, and we’ll be thinking about something newer.” From $880 per night.
FOUR SEASONS GOLDEN TRIANGLE, CHIANG RAI, THAILAND
The new Explorer’s Lodge at this five-star elephant camp is possibly one of the most beautiful places to stay in all Thailand: The two-bedroom suite spreads across two pavilions, each surrounded by jungle thickets and flanking a full-sized private pool. The most novel features are the built-in hammock floors that line an entire side of the compound, acting like a sunken deck. Dive in early in the morning and watch the sun rise while you listen for elephants rumbling in the distance. From $5,008 per night, sleeps four.
ST. REGIS LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA
When it opened nearly a year ago, the St. Regis Langkawi introduced Andaman Sea-facing hammock floors off the back deck of its pan-Asian Kayu Puti restaurant; they’ve proved so popular they were built into every one of the 77 overwater villas at the just-opened St. Regis Maldives.
“The closeness to nature that these floors provide is really special,” said Lisa Holladay, global brand leader of St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, who noted that they’re also gold mines on social media. “We’ve been excited to see the hammocks appear as the ultimate Instagram picture!” Rooms in Langkawi from $650 per night.
GANSEVOORT TURKS AND CAICOS
Most properties on this paradise island put the focus on the pearl-white sand beaches and turquoise waters — and so does Gansevoort, which has been a mainstay since opening in 2009. But its new villas, which will go online for rentals later this year, sit on the edge of a bluff, with hammock floors built into overwater terraces that stretch down into untouched waters. From $8,000 per night.
GILI LAKANFUSHI, MALDIVES
This hotel claims to have the largest overwater villa in the world — the “Private Reserve” structure clocks in at a whopping 18,300 square feet. Naturally, it has every bell and whistle in the book, hammock floor included. Also on the amenity list: a private cinema, a spa, and a two-storey waterslide that plunges directly into a fully private lagoon. From $14,700 per night, sleeps eight. — Bloomberg