The Luxe List 2012, Japan: Hoshinoya Okinawa, Taketomi Island

Getting to this nascent brand’s third outpost requires an hour’s flight from Okinawa’s main airport then 35 minutes by car and speedboat. Perseverance is rewarded with tranquility at this Amanresorts-meets-ryokan retreat, which shares the small, pancake-flat island of Taketomi with only 320 villagers. Wide, sloping roofs with low eaves top each of the 48 single-story wooden villas, which take their cues from traditional Ryukyuan architecture.

Inside are cloud-like futons, sliding shoji screens, and gleaming blond wood, with no TVs to distract from the calm. Beyond the stone walls surrounding the villas is an elliptical swimming pool designed to resemble a local water well, and a five-room spa where it’s worth adding a 20-minute soak in the hinoki-wood tub to any treatment. Three rarely visited beaches are within easy reach by foot or bicycle, and the hotel can organize excursions or snorkeling and scuba diving trips to the other islands of the Yaeyama Archipelago, where reefs are home to hundreds of coral and fish species. In the main dining room, French-trained Japanese chef Tatsuo Nakasu delivers what he calls Ryukyu nouvelle cuisine in memorable dishes such as imperial-prawn seviche and Ishigaki beef with local-herbed béarnaise.

81-50/3786-0066;; doubles from US$768.

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