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8 of the Best Summer Resort Towns to Live In

Luxury Defined spotlights a collection of homes in top summer resort destinations around the world

The rituals of summer, more ancient than the solstice at Stonehenge, seem almost baked into our DNA. How else to explain the Parisian migration of August to the Côte d’Azur or the New York jet-set’s escape to the Hamptons? But summertime’s greatest pleasures are its simplest: endless days under cloudless blue skies and balmy, firefly-lit evenings under the stars. And yet for many of us, summer never truly begins until that longed-for annual escape to the summer resort town. From Montauk to Martha’s Vineyard, the Bahamas to the Balearic Islands, we journey to fabulous summer playgrounds in search of the perfect home away from home. Remember: If you’re not barefoot, then you’re overdressed.

Contemporary Lakefront Villa in Annecy, Haute-Savoie, France

This contemporary aerie above Lake Annecy is in one of the most scenic lakeside destinations in Europe. In summer, residents enjoy the pristine waters of Lake Annecy. Come winter, it’s the ideal Alpine retreat, with access to the Massif des Aravis ski area, just 30 minutes away.

This contemporary villa is built into a hillside above Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of southeastern France, yet is just 15 minutes’ walk from the medieval city of Annecy. Glass walls maximize the panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The multi-level, concrete and steel structure offers 3,229 square feet of open-plan interiors with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Anchoring the main floor is a double-height living room with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the lake, and opening to a sleek gourmet kitchen and formal dining area. The resort-inspired amenities include an indoor pool, hot tub, spa, and hammam, a lake-view sun terrace, and two acres of lush gardens. Lake Annecy, the third largest lake in France and one of the cleanest lakes in Europe, offers numerous options for outdoor activities. Nearby are the Alpine ski resorts of Aravis and Three Valleys.

Costera in San Jose, Ibiza, Spain

This hillside sanctuary is close enough to Ibiza’s beautiful beaches and legendary nightlife, yet seems a world away.

Costera, Spanish for “coastal,” is a beautiful, brand-new villa in the Cala d’Hort nature reserve on the southwest coast of Ibiza. Sliding glass doors on all sides of the house bring in the light and the views of the surrounding woodland, the legendary rock of Es Vedrà, and the Mediterranean Sea. The living spaces are designed for relaxing or entertaining. Among the finishes are white marble floors, beamed ceilings, and a signature staircase rising to a roof terrace. An elegant lounge opens to two covered terraces. Adjacent is a formal dining area connecting to the gourmet kitchen, featuring a 16-foot-long island with breakfast bar, and a prep kitchen. The sleeping quarters, all en suite with southwest coastal vistas, comprise a top-floor main suite, a main-floor guest bedroom, and three ground-floor bedrooms, each with access to a private terrace and lush gardens. A swimming pool, sundecks, water features, and flower gardens with wooden walkways complete this idyllic coastal sanctuary.

This Colonial-style villa has an enviable setting in Nassau’s legendary Ocean Club, famously featured in the opening scenes of Casino Royale.

This grand Colonial-style home abides in the prestigious Ocean Club Estates on Paradise Island, Bahamas. The residence offers 10,000 square feet of lavish living spaces with views of the Ocean Club resort’s golf course and lake, and the sea beyond. Among the appointments are a vast chef’s kitchen, study, gym, billiards room, and home theater. Five spacious bedrooms, each with a full bathroom and walk-in closet, include a second-floor owner’s suite with a large marble bathroom with soaking tub, and a private balcony facing the golf course and the sea. Several balconies and terraces invite alfresco entertaining. There’s also an outdoor kitchen and a swimming pool with Jacuzzi. Just beyond is a gently sloping, landscaped lawn leading down to the lake and the fairways. Residents have access to the Ocean Club Estates’ 24-hour security and Beach Club (including a pool and tennis courts) and the five-star amenities of the Four Seasons Ocean Club and the Atlantis Resort, with the option to purchase golf membership at the world-class Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course and clubhouse.

Ocean-to-River Compound in Vero Beach, Florida

This lavish waterfront compound on 15 acres between the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River is one of the finest properties on Florida's Treasure Coast.

This ultra-private compound is one of the largest ocean-to-river properties on southeastern Florida’s Treasure Coast. The 15-acre property spans a mile from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian River in Vero Beach, Florida. Architects Vigneault and Hoos designed the home as an homage to the villas of the Côte d’Azur. With the great house as the centerpiece, the living spaces total more than 22,200 square feet with seven bedrooms, 11 full- and three half-bathrooms. Family areas and grand-scale entertaining spaces flow out to elegant loggias and verdant gardens with mature oaks and specimen palms. Among the resort-worthy amenities are a temperature-controlled wine cave, club-style lounge with full-service bar, regulation tennis court with viewing pavilion, two pools (an oceanfront pool and a courtyard lap pool), and more than 150 feet of river and ocean frontage including a dune-fringed beach. Garages for six cars, an expansive motor court, and a separate two-story guest residence, with living room, kitchenette, and two en suite bedrooms, complete this one-of-a-kind Vero Beach compound.

Coastal Château in Théoule-sur-Mer, Alpes-Maritimes, France

History and glamour combine at this enchanting French Riviera estate, just 15 minutes’ drive of Cannes famous Boulevard de la Croisette.

This historic waterfront estate has a spectacular setting overlooking Théoule-sur-Mer Harbor and the Bay of Cannes. A grand forecourt with a fountain is the stately introduction to the château-style main house. Built in 1900, the home extends to more than 15,000 square feet across three levels, including an enchanting ivy-clad stone tower. The beautiful outdoor spaces include a courtyard with a reflecting pool, an infinity pool with wraparound sun terrace, and more than six acres of idyllic private gardens graced with cypress and palm trees, meandering stone paths, and water features. Just below is a rocky inlet on the Bay of Cannes.

Historic Harbor-Front Haven in Edgartown, Massachusetts

This charming mid-19th-century waterfront home with its own dock and boathouse is in the historic seaside resort of Martha’s Vineyard.

This classic Shingle-style cottage with a private deepwater pier is one of the last original harbor-front homes in the historic seaside town of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. The first floor features a formal living room, dining room, and covered verandah, all facing Edgartown Harbor and Chappaquiddick. The second floor has two water-view main suites and four smaller bedrooms, while the third floor offers two bedrooms and a bathroom. Gardens line the front and rear of the property: On the street side, a landscaped garden with a boxwood-lined brick path leads to the front door. The water side features walled formal gardens, a patio, and an expansive lawn leading to the private pier and boathouse.

Montauk Beachfront Paradise in the Hamptons, New York

This private oceanfront estate has an unrivaled location in Montauk, the jewel of the Hamptons—New York City’s favorite summertime escape.

This 36-acre waterfront sanctuary overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and its own private nature reserve from a secluded hilltop location a few minutes from Montauk, the jewel of the Hamptons. The centerpiece of the estate is a 7,000-square-foot contemporary residence designed by architect Frank Hollenbeck, which takes its inspiration from a Chinese tea house right down to its beautiful blue-tile roof. The luxurious three-level, five-bedroom home is equipped with multi-zoned cooling and heating systems, an automatic generator, and hurricane-proof steel reinforcements. Walls of windows showcase the panoramic Atlantic Ocean views. The setting is one of a kind: lush gardens, scenic pastures, a two-acre pond, and two 100-foot jetties at the water’s edge, which act as natural barriers to passing storms. The property offers the ultimate beachfront lifestyle yet is close to top restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, wineries, Montauk Yacht Club, and Montauk Airport.

Seaside Hideaway in Porto Rafael, Sardinia

Summer Beach Home in Italy
Villa Princess of the Sea is a luxury beach house in the beautiful resort town of Porto Rafael, a hamlet on the northeast coast of Sardinia in the heart of the Costa Smeralda.

Villa Princess of the Sea is an enchanting coastal property just 200 yards from the sea in Porto Rafael, a picturesque resort town in the heart of the Costa Smeralda. At one with its rustic setting, the two-story main house was built with native stone, granite, and wood. The appointments include a formal dining room, country kitchen, and expansive stone terrace, ideal for alfresco dining. There are seven bedrooms in the main house: four upstairs bedrooms, each with its own sea-view verandah, a staff room, and two lower-level bedrooms. A separate two-story, three-bedroom guest house with living room, kitchen, and verandah. The gardens are planted with native flowers and plants, and feature unique outdoor living areas, including an open-air kitchen, showers built into the rocks, and a sundeck with a breathtaking panorama of Archipelago of La Maddalena.