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7 of the Best Summer Resort Towns to Call Home

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 French Riviera 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 the Côte d’Azur to the Costa Smeralda, 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.

Palatial Waterfront Villa in Théoule-sur-Mer, Alpes-Maritimes, France

Cannes is one of the most glamorous seaside destinations in the world, and this spectacular coastal estate is just 20 minutes’ drive from the city’s famous beaches and the legendary Boulevard de la Croisette.

This magnificent seafront villa has a dramatic coastal setting on nearly three cliffside acres with direct access to the sea. Bordered by the red rocks and pine forests of the Massif de L’Esterel mountain range, the location is exceptionally private and secure, and yet is only 20 minutes’ drive from Cannes and the legendary Boulevard de la Croisette. The living spaces extend to 10,765 square feet with nine bedrooms and seven full bathrooms. The grandly scaled reception rooms open out to expansive terraces high above the surf. The verdant grounds are landscaped with palm and cypress trees and fragrant Mediterranean plants. The amenities include a sauna, hammam, games room, car park, and two separate residences for staff. Furthering the resort ambience is a spectacular swimming pool with a pool house and sun terrace overlooking the sea.

Villa Pebbles in Cala Jondal Ibiza, Spain

Villa Pebbles is an alluring contemporary residence in the hills above the Bay of Cala Jondal on Ibiza’s southern coast, 15 minutes’ drive from Ibiza Town. The sleek interior spaces include a formal dining room, fully equipped kitchen, and a vast, gallery-like living room that opens to a serene swimming pool and sun terrace. Beyond are palm-lined gardens and a regulation tennis court. The upper level offers panoramic views of the sea, the mountains, and the countryside. Further highlights of this lavish turnkey home are custom-designed furniture, beautiful marble floors with radiant heating, a fitness room, and cutting-edge security system. One of the island’s most exclusive beaches, Cala Jondal is lined with exclusive beach clubs and fashionable bars and restaurants, including Jondal, helmed by the former head chef of El Bulli.

Classic Mountain Lodge in Sun Valley, Idaho

“America’s First Destination Ski Resort,” Sun Valley’s majestic mountains, rivers, and open wilderness are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The area is also a draw for stargazers, having received the highly prestigious designation as an official Dark Sky Reserve. Adding to the allure are five-star resorts, day spas, top restaurants, and the annual summer classical concert series at the Sun Valley Music Festival.

Sun Valley may be best known for its winter sports, yet it’s gaining an international reputation as a year-round destination. Blue-ribbon fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking, trail riding, rock climbing, and river rafting are just a few recreational options to choose from in the summer months. This classic mountain lodge has a private, 4.6-acre setting, just north of Ketchum and the Sun Valley Resort. The property borders the Adams Gulch Trail System, a wilderness area in the Sawtooth National Forest. This is Hemingway country, where the writer chose to live out his days. The 12,624-square-foot residence, designed by Ketchum-based architect Janet Jarvis, features dramatic, open-plan living spaces styled for both casual family living and elegant entertaining. The centerpiece is the great room, with its vast, log-burning fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows to frame the mountain vistas. Further appointments of the five-bedroom, six-and-a-half bedroom home include a gourmet kitchen, media and games rooms, a bar, and a rear terrace with heated pavers and a jaw-dropping view of the wilderness.

The LaBruce Lemon House on Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Pawleys Island, South Carolina, is one of the oldest seaside resorts on America’s East Coast. Once a refuge for wealthy Charlestonians escaping the hot, humid summers, this four-mile-long barrier island 70 miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach today attracts visitors all year round. A National Historic Landmark, the LaBruce Lemon House was built in 1858. This elegant home spans 2.5 waterfront acres between the Atlantic Ocean and Pawleys Island Creek. Nestled among the dunes and surrounded by oak and myrtle trees, the dwelling provides supreme privacy just steps from the water’s edge. Many of the original period details, such as wooden floors, sash windows, fireplaces, a wraparound porch, and various outbuildings have been lovingly maintained over the generations. The main house and guest house have a total of six bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and two half baths. A summer kitchen, oceanfront deck, and a covered boat dock on Pawleys Island Creek add to the charm.

Five-Acre Rural Retreat in Edgartown, Massachusetts

This picture-postcard property on five acres in the historic seaside resort of Martha’s Vineyard comprises three Shingle-style residences, a swimming pool, and formal gardens.
This picture-postcard property on five acres in the historic seaside resort of Martha’s Vineyard comprises three lots with two Shingle-style residences, a swimming pool, and formal gardens surrounded by wildflower fields and open pasture.

These three unique properties, totaling nearly five acres, lie at the entrance of the picturesque Sweetened Water Farm, an 87-acre horse farm near the quintessential New England summer resort town of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. A long, sweeping driveway winds through a wildflower field bordered by tree-lined paddocks and open fields. The first of the three lots is a stately Shingle-style residence on 2.2 parklike acres. The flowing, open interiors offer views of the formal English gardens and swimming pool. The second parcel includes a 3,389-square-foot, five-bedroom residence, featuring a great room with two stone fireplaces. The third parcel is a 1.2-acre vacant lot that overlooks large expanses of open, protected land and paddocks.

Villa Princess of the Sea in Porto Rafael, Sardinia

Summer Beach Home in Italy
This luxury beach house is in the beautiful resort 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 scenic seaside resort 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 the Archipelago of La Maddalena.

This grand Colonial-style residence 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.