Can’t sneak away for a weekend retreat? Turn your backyard into a five-star destination in its own right, and you’ll have immediate access to that getaway mindset. This private-hideaway primer will help you get started.

Consider the Function

Like vacations themselves, purpose is important. Are you aiming for a social atmosphere, or do you want a tranquil escape from everyday life? Start with the function, and plan your design from there.

Find Your Inspiration

If you have a favorite destination, collect images of the hotels, attractions and amenities that speak to you most. These pictures can help guide your vision, and they’ll be invaluable tools for any landscapers and decorators you choose to hire.

Start With the Landscaping

Plants and flowers are often the best ways to evoke a sense of place. Tall grasses and bushes add natural privacy, for instance, and flower-fringed water features conjure tropical elegance. Refer to your inspiration file for the finer details; you may not be able to build a beach, but you can easily capture the surrounding landscape.

Create Outdoor Rooms

If you have the space, consider separating your backyard into distinct living areas that serve multiple functions. A shaded area can house the exterior dining room, and a bamboo-studded hideaway might be perfect for a hot tub. Luxury hotels use this technique to great effect, and the right lighting, and furniture can instantly call up that five-star atmosphere.

Designate a Spa Center

Afternoons at the spa are the hallmarks of so many getaways, so it’s only natural that you’d want to recreate that serenity in your backyard destination. A spacious whirlpool should anchor the space — think sauna meets social gathering — and the adjacent landscaping can punctuate the oasis-like atmosphere. It’s the perfect way to say bon voyage without the actual voyage.