Is a dreamy overwater villa always better than a beach room?
The classic Bora Bora shot of the sun setting behind a string of overwater villas
Overwater villas are wonderfully romantic, of course. They have private steps down into the sea and are therefore brilliant for swimming and snorkeling. They feel supremely decadent, make for glorious photos and hands down provide the best bragging rights at dinner parties.
And yet, there are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing to book an overwater villa...
Overwater villas mean no shade, wooden planks too hot for barefoot, tightly clutered villas, and long walks to the bar. Photo My Bathroom Wall
Barefoot Luxury; think again
For starters, if you have daydreamed for month about enjoying some truly barefoot luxury on your next holiday, then I have to disappoint by passing on the fact that getting to and from your villa - or even from your front door to the electric buggy - will need some footwear.
Resorts place large jugs of water with ladles in them to stop guest's feet burning on the hot walkway. Photo My Bathroom Wall
Those attractive wooden walkways looks great and give that lovely landing stage or yacht club ambience, but they swiftly heat up in the sun and are blisteringly impossible to tramp along bare foot over. Some places provide buckets of water with wooden ladles in them so that you can douse your feet, but after a while it just feels a bit of a fag.
The long walk home
Okay, so having to don flip-flops is hardly the end of the world, but even with suitable footwear the walk from your villa to back to the main resort can be a longish one. And you'd be surprised how many times a day you'll be making the trip - for breakfast, for a dip in the pool, group yoga on the beach, for a cocktail, lunch, to meet your friends, dinner...well you get the picture.
The larger resorts have many buggies and a system of taking guests to and from their villa to the mean resort in them. The first time is a little thrill. The second to the firth go is fine. And I know this is hard to believe, but after that a 10-15 minute delay in your buggy arriving can start to grate.
The long schlepp home from lunch. Photo My Bathrom Wall
A good compromise here is to ask for an overwater villa that isn't at the end of the pier, as it were.
Mind you, if you do book a villa at the end of a frond of rooms, you probably won't hear any noise from other guests as they walking to and from their rooms – sometimes late at night, and sometimes a little worse for wear - or the passing staff buggies taking guests hither and thither, or personnel for room cleaning, or room service.
"I'M AT MY OVERWATER VILLA!" is a common phrase from other guests passing by. Photo My Bathroom Wall
Less room to stretch out
As it happens, beach villas are almost always more spaced out too, and they often enjoy some shade from the island's palm trees. Even if the island didn't originally have any trees on it, which is often the case, then it will be planted with a fairly dense cluster of palms at its centre. This is in contrast to the fierce burning sunshine that you'll be toiling under on the treeless and snaking wooden walkways.
Overwater villas may be built closer together than you think. Photo My Bathroom Wall
Children in deep water
For families and those travelling with children, it is an awful lot easier to relax with little ones when you are on dry land and can control the time that they may have near to the water. The over water villas - by definition - come with the added hazard of having ledges, decks and steps right (all slippery after you've had a shower, or a rain shower from the clouds). And there's no gradual increase in the depth of the water, as there is on a beach. The over water villas are built out over water that is immediately deep enough to be safe for swimming and diving.
The posher the resort the less likely it is to have child-proof barriers around the villa's decking. Photo My Bathroom Wall
Strong swimmers only
The same goes for anyone who isn't a strong swimmer. All of the overwater villas have a flight of steps leading down into that gorgeous turquoise sea, but chances are that you will be immediately out of your depth - perfect for snorkelling, but not so hot if you happen to be a bit of an unsure swimmer.
Sitting out stormy weather
And if you should be unlucky enough to hit a patch of poor weather, then the noise of the waves slapping against the villa's stilts can be irksome at night, plus you may just be the sort of person who just feels more comfortable to ride out a storm on terra firma.
Make way for buggies transporting guests, staff, laundry, and room service. Photo My Bathroom Wall