When it comes to natural beauty, New Zealand doesn't do nuance. Its greens and blues border on neon and its mountains plunge into the sea with all the subtlety of an elephant stepping into a bathtub. What better place to see these visual fireworks than Matakauri Lodge, located minutes from Queenstown on New Zealand's South Island?
This edge-of-the-world hideout overlooks the Z-shaped Lake Wakatipu and the spectacular Southern Alps range. The four main-lodge suites and eight standalone cottages pull off the neat trick of feeling cabin-y yet contemporary thanks to the austere, almost Scandinavian aesthetic that permeates the property.
Each accommodation has a private porch, a fireplace, a walk-in closet, and a bathroom with an oversized soaking tub. Larger groups might consider the 5,000-square-foot "Owner's Lodge," which boasts four bedrooms and a hot tub on the main balcony for ogling those vistas. Other bells and whistles onsite include a spa and infinity pool.
It's currently springtime in New Zealand, which means your outdoor adventures will range from horseback riding to hiking to kayaking on the nearby Dart River. Or take a heli-tour of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, and take in even more sea-to-sky drama: rainforests, waterfalls, secret inlets, and snowcapped peaks. After a day in the wild, head back to the restaurant at the lodge and toast your good fortune.
The Details: Nightly rates through November 2014 start at $475 for a double lodge room.