This gracious five-story ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, fed by onsen, or hot springs, in the mountains southwest of Tokyo was recently renovated and today is run by the fourth generation of the family that established the business in 1951. Three public baths encourage gathering with other guests before tea and meals.
This holistic health retreat and its junglelike gardens are nothing if not a feast for the senses: Behold yellow heliconias, red anthuriums, black bamboo and white bougainvillea. Hear tree ferns rustling in the wind. Breathe in frangipani's heady perfume. Taste fresh-picked mango and avocado. Feel the therapeutic heat of the sun and the bracing chill of the nearby Ayung River. To focus so intently on the landscape not only stimulates a deeper appreciation for the outdoors but also heightens one's sense of well-being. The resort's 23 acres reward exploration.
By the time guests check into Hotel Modera, they’ve already checked out the boutique hotel’s unique courtyard garden. In what used to be the unsightly parking lot of a 1960s motor lodge, Jane Hansen of Lango Hansen Landscape Architects has conjured a chic contemporary oasis in downtown Portland. The focal point is a 64-foot-long, 12-foot-tall living wall planted with drip-irrigated panels of evergreen huckleberry, euonymus, variegated pachysandra, grasses and ferns that were intended as an abstraction of the varied colors and textures of the Pacific Northwest.
Rolling hills carpeted in green, limestone that glows a pinkish gold in the setting sun, and miles and miles of river, dammed into sections referred to as lakes, define the Texas Hill Country that surrounds Austin. It is here, 35 minutes northwest of the energized capital city, where you'll find more than 1,000 species of trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables on 19 lakefront acres designed to nourish the body and soul. This is Lake Austin Spa Resort, which is quite simply, really darn pretty.
You would think that Sentosa Resort & Spa, with its heady mix of tropical plantings and cascading water, was situated on a remote tropical island. The retreat is on an island, but it's hardly remote, connected as Sentosa Island is to mainland Singapore by a well-traveled bridge. One glimpse of Spa Botanica's soothing mud pools and all that bustling humanity slips away with the ease of a silk sarong.
It doesn't seem possible, and yet the landscaped grounds of this Caribbean getaway are every bit as beguiling as St. Lucia's rugged mountains, dense rainforests and sun-kissed beaches. Planted by noted gardening expert Veronica Shingleton-Smith, a British ex-patriot, the hotel's "managed wild gardens" are packed with hibiscus, red ginger lilies and other exotic blooms, while space elsewhere is given over to plants cultivated for their healing properties, such as bananas, Aloe vera and various herbs.
London-based landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd grew up in a 16th-century fortress north of Rome, where her family farmed, raised chickens and tended thousands of olive trees. But while the ancient site boasted breathtaking views of the countryside, it never really had a proper garden — until now. Over the past two decades, Lennox-Boyd has restored a portion of her childhood home and opened it up to visitors as Palazzo Parisi, an elegantly laid-back summer rental. Indoors, she redecorated most of the house, including seven bedrooms and six bathrooms, by mixing old and new.
When you land on Canouan Island, a resort representative greets you and then whisks you off in a Mercedes for a drive across the lush, green island on unpaved roads, where the sea is as blue as can be and as far as you can see. It's a fitting transition to a seaside garden paradise that provides a golf cart with each room to get around the 300-acre grounds. If you can peel yourself away from the white-sand beaches and the endless shades of divine Caribbean blue, we suggest driving yourself straight to RafflesAmrita Spa with its 11 thatched-roof, palapa spa suites.
Trellises laden in shocks of brightly colored bougainvillea and coffee plants heavy with their cherry-red fruit flesh out the subtropical landscape deep in the heart of Belize on the banks of the Privassion River. Here you'll find a remote getaway where thatched-roof bungalows and paw prints left by an elusive jaguar might leave you wondering if you've wandered onto a movie set.
In the countryside just south of Dublin, the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt is perfectly situated in perhaps the most spectacular heritage garden in Ireland. Hotel guests are welcome to stroll the 47 acres of Powerscourt Estate, which were developed over a span of 200 years by Sir Richard Wingfield and his descendants. The initial layout by architect Richard Castle took shape in the 1730s and was expanded by architect Daniel Robertson in the 1840s.