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Robb Report's picks for 'Best of the Best' promise ultimate luxury

Catharine Hamm

10:30 AM EDT, June 25, 2014

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Imagine drifting off to sleep at the Cheval Blanc Randheli resort in the Maldivesi, to the sound of waves lapping, or slipping off to slumberland at the Aman Canal Grande Venice  hotel in Italy, surrounded by centuries-old treasures.

Those destinations may remain a dream for the 99%, but they may be on the travel radar for the 1% now that they've been named to the 26th annual Best of the Best, a  Robb Report compilation of the ultimate in luxury.

The June issue’s “Journeys” category contains one winner in each of five categories: hotels, resort, golf course, vacation homes and spa.

In making these selections, writers and editors consider the setting, service, exclusivity, architecture, dining and other amenities, said  Bruce Wallin, editorial director for the Robb Report.

“It’s really the whole package,” Wallin said.  “Anything we recommend at that level we feel like any person, no matter how affluent, how accustomed to having the absolute best, is going to have an amazing experience.”

To wit: the Cheval Blanc Randheli, the winner in the resort category. You'll need to take a seaplane to get there, but it’s no ordinary seaplane, as befits a not-ordinary resort: The plane’s design mimics the resort’s color palette — taupe and yellow — and has Italian calf leather seats. There are 45 villas, some beach front, others over water.

There’s plenty to do, but, the article notes,  “Guests generally remain isolated in their villas, relying on their majordomes to arrange alfresco meals and in-room massages.”

The average daily rate at the Cheval Blanc Randheli for a three-night July stay (dates chosen at random) begin at $1,300 at night. That does not include the seaplane transfer.

The Aman Canal Grande Venice, tops among hotels, resides within the walls of a 16th century palace  on the canals of Venice. It went through an 18-month renovation, the Report says.

“Guests arrive at the Aman via boat, disembarking on a private pier that leads to a palatial reception hall....A grand staircase adorned with trompe l’oeil murals takes guests up to the elegant piano nobile, an ornately decorated floor with gilded cornices, marble putti figurines on the walls, and expansive terraces that overlook the canals,” the article says.

Through Nov. 30, rates begin at 1,150 euros, or about $1,565 a night.

The golf course winner is the Blue Monster, one of five courses at the Trump National Doral Miami, where $250 million has been spent on renovations of the resort.

The redone course reopened in February to rave reviews, including from Donald Trump  himself. Golf magazine’s website says Trump recently boasted in Tweets that the Blue Monster was superior to Pinehurst, the much-lauded course in North Carolina that landed the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships this year.

National Geographic's book, “The Ten Best of Everything” includes Pinehurst among golf courses.

For vacation homes, Robb Report chose Kohanaiki on the Kona-Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii on 450 acres. You can choose from a custom home, a condo or a townhome, starting at $2.5 million, the Report says.

Kohanaiki’s “amenities…currently include 1.5 miles of oceanfront, a beach club, a Rees Jones–designed golf course, two pools, and a water-sports center offering stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, and scuba-diving and surfing lessons,” it says.

And finally, if you need to relax from all the relaxing, there’s the  spa at Como Shambhala Retreat at Point Yamu by Como in Phuket, Thailand.  The resort website says it’s still in the soft opening phase. The website lists room rates beginning about $276 a night.

As for the spa, “Treatments culled from both Eastern and Western philosophies compose an extensive spa menu that emphasizes Thai healing rituals and such local ingredients as lemongrass (to stimulate circulation) and galangal (to nourish the skin),” it says.

“The 90-minute Lanna Heritage Full Body Compress, for instance, is based on traditional practices that date back more than 2,000 years and incorporates warm herbs and spices that are systematically massaged along the body’s meridians to soothe aches and pains.”