The Good Life

Have you always dreamed of vacationing on your own private island? It's still possible, even in heavily trafficked destinations like the Maldives, without having to go to the trouble of buying the land yourself. Archipelago resorts offer the beauty and solitude of small islands along with the convenience of big-city hotels. The Maldives has more than its share of private beaches. Of the 1,190 coral islands that make up this Indian Ocean archipelago, only 87 have resorts. On the Baa Atoll, the Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru is scheduled to open in November. Surrounded by a lagoon, it will have 102 thatched villas with private plunge pools ($750 per night) and an ayurvedic spa and yoga retreat. The Four Seasons Resort at Kuda Huraa on the North Malé Atoll, which was rebuilt after the 2004 tsunami, will reopen in September. The resort features an islet spa across a tropical mere ($590 per night; ).

Beyond the Maldives, the Bazaruto Archipelago is a naturalist's dream. The five islands off the coast of Mozambique are home to 2,000 fish, sea turtle, dolphin and whale species, along with the rare dugong, an elephantlike "sea cow." The Indigo Bay Resort on Bazaruto Island will reopen in November after a full renovation, which added 12 bay-view suites with private splash pools and 29 secluded beach chalets ($622 per night; ).

The Malaysian archipelago of Langkawi in the Andaman Sea has only two inhabited islands among its 99 limestone pulaus. From the Sheraton Perdana Resort Langkawi, you can hike rain-forest-covered peaks or relax on 104 tropical acres ($550 per night; ).

The Turks and Caicos archipelago contains eight inhabited islands out of 40 in all. Ritz-Carlton's new Molasses Reef Resort on the uninhabited island of West Caicos, which opens in 2008, will include 60 villas and a 125-suite hotel and spa ( ). The resort is named for the nearby reef where Columbus's Pinta is said to have sunk.

The U.S. Capital was a half-finished swamp for most of its history, but that didn't stop its founders from designing a majestic city of avenues, monuments and green spaces. Here's where to go in D.C.:

SEE the National Gallery of Art for an almost tourist-free viewing of impressionist masterpieces and the new Andy Goldsworthy installation in I.M. Pei's east wing.

EAT at Ben's Chili Bowl for a taste of D.C.'s real history. There's finer food in the city, but you won't find an eatery with deeper roots; Duke Ellington was a customer.

STROLL through Georgetown's back streets to see where the senators and socialites live, eat and shop. If the crowds get to be too much, escape into the glorious gardens at Dumbarton Oaks mansion.

BUY some gifts from the shop at the Renwick Gallery (part of the Smithsonian), opposite the White House, where you can find original American crafts on sale.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban spent their honeymoon at this newly opened hotel in the French Polynesian archipelago. "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria and boyfriend Tony Parker were also seen there at the same time.

Ambiance: The hotel is located on a tranquil saltwater lagoon edged with white sand in the middle of the South Pacific. Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu tower over the island.

Space: Choose between the over-water villas on stilts and the beach villas, many with a covered gazebo and daybed, terrace whirlpools and private swimming pool. The ultraluxurious 13,000-square-foot Royal Estate, where Kidman and Urban stayed, costs $15,000 a night and comes with a 24-hour butler.

Service: A St. Regis butler will meet you at the airport, escort you by boat to the nearby resort and remain on hand to arrange anything you desire, including off-site excursions, or dinner reservations.

Dining: The restaurant Lagoon sits over the water, with views of fish and manta rays swimming in the lagoon below. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten designed the French Polynesian menu.

Angling: Fly-fish (catch and release only) in the resort's private "Lagoonarium," which has more than 30 species of marine life.

Where's a guy supposed to put his wallet, keys, phone, sunglasses and BlackBerry? The chic answer this summer: carry a manbag, man! Designer brands are trying to take the fem out of purses. Mulberry's Dillon bag comes in soft brown leather (€426; ). Paul Smith's hipper messenger bag has trendy stripes (€388; ). Luxury designer giant Ferragamo makes an ostrich leather bag with pockets for phones and keys (€1,277; ).

Marian Smith

Spend all your time scrambling from the computer to the phone and fax machine? Maybe it's time to get your home office into functionally fashionable shape. If you want to brainstorm ways of getting your machines and furniture to work together, visit Bo Concept's Web site ( ), click "Furnish" and type in the measurements of your room. Voilà! --up comes a plan. If you need to increase your daily dose of natural light to prevent eyestrain, maybe you need a glass desk by Ocean (£575; ). For cramp-free storage, line the walls with custom-built furniture by Neville Johnson ( ). The Joyn desk (from £1,608; ) doubles as a dining table, just in case you need to make the most of limited space.

Sana Butler

Imagine you're about to toss a few dogs on the grill. Suddenly, something catches your eye in a neighbor's yard. Something shiny. Something big. Something with a prep table, six burners and a rotisserie that can roast three chickens. Retailers say this season's hottest grills are loaded with more extras than a Bentley. Our picks for avoiding BBQ envy.

Raina Kelley

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