Deep tranquility. Awesome stillness. Meditative beauty. Of the basic bodies of water, only lakes exemplify these soothing superlatives.
The ocean, with its crashing waves and often pulsating nightlife, can’t quite pull off the same impression. Maybe Henry David Thoreau said it best when he described lakes as “so anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be.”
Indeed, there’s usually a unique sense of place one feels lakeside. Rather than looking out at the vast emptiness of the ocean, broken only by the line where water meets sky, many vacationers appreciate the dramatic and varied scenery beheld from the shores of many lakes.
More vacationers seem to be catching on. “We are seeing an increase in clients wanting to go to unique lakeside resorts,” says Lindsey Wallace, president of Linara Travel in Calabasas, Calif.
As with the most beautiful (and popular) beaches, there’s no shortage of luxury at the edges of the world’s most beautiful lakes. In fact, many of the world's lakeshores have long provided the most prestigious of addresses.
Italy’s Lake Como, for example, is renowned for its extravagant villas that attract celebrities and other elite vacationers from far and wide. Beyond the lake, there are often mountains, and, in the case of Lake Como, stunning Italian gardens. “You can see the gardens of the most beautiful Villas, like Melzi or Serbelloni."
Of course, not all luxe lakesides have been centuries in the making. The Hotel Palafitte, which quite literally sits on Switzerland’s Lake Neuchatel (more than half of the rooms are built on stilts out in the lake), prides itself on its innovative technology. The hotel's modernity sets it apart from the medieval villages and wine vineyards that otherwise surround the lake.
The Adrere Amellal Resort, on Lake Siwa in the Egyptian desert, offers an even more remote tranquility. Located a nine-hour drive through the desert from Cairo, it would be hard to find more remote luxury than this. No electricity means candlelit evenings and extreme serenity, housed in the traditional mud-brick buildings of the region.
In fact, although Thoreau’s take on the “civil and refined” nature of lakes has its considerable merit, it can’t be denied that lakeside vacationing also generally allows unparalleled access to nature’s thrills. Tranquility and adventure wrapped into one–it’s a seemingly impossible combination made manifest.