Exquisite Lifestyle

We’re not flush with cash, but that doesn’t mean we’ve given up on the overwater-bungalow fantasy, because who hasn’t dreamt of staying in a cabana stilted over shimmering water, fish cruising below. So we combed the world and came up with five stellar stays (like Punta Caracol above) where you can score that stuff-of-fantasies experience without the dream-deflating prices

Photo courtesy of Punta Caracol

Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge, Panama

This hideaway, in the teal-blue Caribbean off Isla Colón, has fewer cabanas than you have fingers, all of which are crowned with palm fronds, painted Caribbean colors, and powered by the sun. And each—surprise, surprise—is a two-story affair with a four-poster bed tucked into the top floor. The laid-back vibes, the isolation, the limited electricity means there’s nothing much to do here, and that’s exactly the point. Your go-to outfit: a swimsuit; your go-to hairstyle: wet; your go-to cocktail: a piña colada (the bartender makes a mean one); and your go-to mindset: totally blissed out. INSIDER TIP As tempting as it may be to veg out on your patio for a week straight, get the hotel to boat you over to one of the deserted nearby isles so you can play Robinson Crusoe for a couple hours on an empty beach. Room rates from $350, including most meals.

Photo courtesy of 4 Rivers

4 Rivers Floating Lodge, Cambodia

Arriving at this remote eco-luxe lodge is half the adventure: A 4-hour drive from Phnom Penh, followed by 30-minute boat ride down the misty Tatai River, thick jungle on either side, that recalls the Heart of Darkness journey in the best way possible. Once you spy the 12 handsome tented villas, inspired by African safari tentalows, you’ll realize that this is glamping—on water. Bathrooms hold wine-barrel showers and striped umbrellas shade chic chaise lounges, but you might be awoken at sunrise by gibbon call and the best massage around comes courtesy of a nearby waterfall. INSIDER TIP For a look at local life, take the resort-offered excursion to a nearby fishing village where houses are on stilts and boardwalks stand in for sidewalks. Room rates from $220, including breakfast.