While we enjoy the snow as much as the next skier, there is something to be said about leaving behind woolen mittens, Sorel boots and toques for some sun and sand. Whether you’re looking to jet away next week or are planning for February/March, there are plenty of exotic and nearby destinations guaranteed to fill your warm weather wishes. Here are our top 5 picks for places worth escaping to during the dark and cold winter months.
Only a 3 1/2 hour flight from Miami, it’s not hard to score a great airfare even in the winter, thanks to the many airlines that service this beautiful Caribbean island. What makes St. Lucia so enticing is the majestic landscape, unspoilt beaches and rainforests, as well as the fantastic resort options. Our pick? The Jalousie Plantation set amongst 100 acres of rainforest, which was once an 18th century plantation. The property spans right down to the sandy shore, and the Caribbean Sea. We love the charming accommodations, which blend the old Colonial style with contemporary furnishing and amenities. The Luxury Villas offer stunning views of the Piton Mountains or the glistening waters, and includes a private plunge pool on the patio. Let’s not forget the personalized butler service included when you book a villa. When it comes to dining, you’ll want to have an elegant dinner in the Great Room, followed by drinks at The Late Night Bar. Not to be missed is of course the spa, found right amongst the lush foliage of the rainforest. Here the treatment rooms are above the forest floor, in a unique tree house setting. If rest, relaxation and some indulgence are what you’re craving, this is the destination for you.
PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY
Often referred to as the “St. Tropez” of South America, Punta del Este can be found on the southern tip of the Uruguay. It’s a favourite destination of the elite from Buenos Aires, thanks to being only a short flight from the city. Think of it as the Hamptons is to New Yorkers. You’ll find a great beachfront, fresh seafood being served up at the restaurants, and an active nightlife, including an ultra-popular casino. If a major night out is on the agenda you’ll find most of the bars and clubs on a strip in La Barra, located about six miles north.
When it comes to winding down, we suggest booking into Hotel L’Auberge a historic property, architecturally anchored by the 150ft Tuscan-style tower. While it’s not beachfront, travel time to the water is less than 20 minutes. Our favourite onsite feature is the quaint and cozy tea room, which serves up mouthwatering Belgium-style waffles and offers tranquil views of the well-manicured gardens. Other notable amenities and services include 24-hour room service, free Wi-fi in the rooms, an outdoor pool, musical events in the garden and a gym which can be found at the top of the tower. Plus if you’re dying for some great shopping, Buenos Aires is only a hop away.
Get our rundown of Where to Shop in Buenos Aires.
With average temperatures in February and March around 25°C (78°F), you’ll be able to throw on a sundress and sandals without a second thought. If images of snowbirds — we mean older travellers taken haven in the sunny state come winter, not the planes — are what you envision, don’t fret. You can absolutely find luxury, seclusion and first-class hotels. Both Miami and Palm Beach are two destinations that come to mind. We’re fans of The Breakers in Palm Beach, a legendary luxury hotel that has spent over $250 million in the past decade to ensure its quality facilities. You’ll also find 10 restaurants, two golf courses, an on-site spa and stunning beachfront accommodations. It’s pure luxury, relaxation and sunny shores, very close to home.
For those looking for a more adventurous getaway, taking a road trip down to The Keys is a fun way to spend a week.
Though you’ll definitely shell out for the flight, which is not short, may we add, but once you arrive in this beautiful country, you’ll be glad you came. With average temperatures ranging from about 25-32°C (77-89°F) between January and April (this is their hot season), you’ll definitely be feeling the heat. What brings most tourists to this gorgeous destination are the beaches, natural beauty, outdoor activities, delicious cuisine and laid-back lifestyle. For a true beach living experience we suggest the Andara Resort & Villas located on the west coast of Phuket on the Andaman Sea. Featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2010 Hot List, this 5-star hotel offers world-class service and accommodations. We’re fans of the Pool Suites which offers a large outdoor terrace with a private pool overlooking the Andaman Sea. Other features we love? The Silk Restaurant and Bar, which serves Thai cuisine, the onsite spa and gym, as well as access to two private motor yachts, ideal for exploring the underwater world, as well the nearby islands.
If the beach doesn’t scream your name, but you still are looking to beat the winter blues, Arizona is the destination for you. Expect sunny, mild days and cooler evenings — warm enough to let you enjoy the outdoors, but not hot enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt. We suggest taking full-advantage of the weather by booking yourself in a spa resort to reconnect and rejuvenate. The Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria resort in Scottsdale is a luxury retreat nestled in the Sonoran Desert. With an award-winning golf-course on site, first-class tennis courts, plus plenty of adventurous outdoor activities — from desert jeep tours to horseback riding through the Tonto National Park to even stargazing — you won’t be stumped with things to do. Plus there’s great shopping at El Pedregal Festival Marketplace, which offers a mixture of upscale and speciality shops from clothing to home decor.
When you’re ready to turn it down a notch, take the time to immerse yourself in their 33,000 square foot spa. There is much to experience here including a Movement Studio offering pilates, yoga and tai chi classes; a traditional Japanese bath; steam rooms, saunas and a swimming pool; 24 treatment rooms, a beauty salon; as well as a cafe and tea room overlooking the desert. With plenty of treatments to choose from — ranging from traditional massage therapy to ayurvedic experiences and even nutritional counselling, you’ll find something to soothe your mind and body.
We also have to mention the first-class dining, including their signature restaurant Latilla which serves organic regional cuisine, as well as the warm and inviting guest rooms.