The Fresian island of Sylt, a narrow slip of prime beachfront between the North and Wadden seas, first formed 800 years ago, but the scenic destination proffering luxe getaways only recently received the label the Hamptons of Hamburg. Still, Sylt is much more than a beach town. These days, those arriving by train, plane, and ferry, are increasingly focused on preserving the shoreline.
It’s easy to explore Sylt’s central villages on foot or by electric bicycle. Refresh your wardrobe at Outback, the island’s oldest concept shop, which curates modern looks from international designers, in Westerland. And don’t leave without sampling Royal Sylter oysters under the thatched roof at Tipken’s by famed German chef Nils Henkel, which just debuted this March at Severin’s Resort & Spa in Keitum. New resorts, like the futuristic health spa Lanserhof Sylt, operate in harmony with the environment, tucking the latest medical technology under low thatched roofs that dot the landscape and mud flats that contain a delicate and diverse ecosystem of peacock butterflies and porpoises, whose home is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Guests at Lanserhof restore their bodies—fueled by the resort’s tea and broth program—with cutting-edge cell-regeneration therapies and more traditional saunas. If it’s a minibar and gourmet cuisine you’re after, you’ll be better suited at Sol’ring Hof Hotel, where the island’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant will reopen in April following renovations.
The 25 miles of beaches, dotted with the island’s signature wind-guarded blue-and-white-striped wicker beach chairs, are a draw, but for a crowd-free experience, private reserves like the west coast’s Hundstrand Rotes Kliff beach, and the Ellenbogen, an elbow of protected shoreline near the Danish border that forms the island’s northern peninsula, charge small fees (around $5) that are spent to help prevent beach erosion. But it’s not just out-of-pocket costs that will preserve Sylt for the next generation; guests are also encouraged to shake out the sand from their shoes before they leave.
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