The 7 Best Places to Travel This Winter
Neil Patrick Harris shares some bucket list-worthy spots to escape the cold season sads
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Unless you’re an ice sculptor or an abominable snowman (in which case you’re amazing, big fan, love your lore), the right approach to wintering is escaping either A) the cold, B) the wintertime blues or C) both! Real talk: It’s never too late to plan a getaway. That’s right…there’s still time to make a plan! Winter’s just begun. Last-minute deals abound. So whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment Christmas trip or something for a little later to break up the mid-February doldrums, I’ve gathered a handful of trip ideas for you — a mix of budgets, locales and climates. Do enjoy. And DON’T forget to write. (For reals: I’m email@example.com. Lemme know if you go someplace on this list!)
Ambergris Caye, Belize
If you’re looking to swap the snow for sand, consider Ambergris Caye, the biggest island in Belize (and fun fact, home to the first season of Temptation Island over 20 years ago — how steamy and topical!!). It’s also home to Matachica Resort, a beachfront hotel with colorful bungalows and tiny guesthouses mere steps from the ocean. Plus, the cute town of San Pedro is a short ride away, as is the not-so-secret Secret Beach. (Despite the misnomer, it’s gorgeous, what with its azure blue sea, and lounge tables in the water! So fun.) There’s also Matachica’s sister — and super affordable — hotel, Gaïa Riverlodge, where a dozen villas rest atop a huge waterfall. It’s nestled in Belize’s lush jungle, near spectacular Maya ruins such as Caracol and Xunantunich. Accommodations start at around $170 a night for two adults, which means you’ll have plenty of cash left over for sunscreen. Would you have a dream vacation at either of these properties? You’d better BELIZE it! [Insert request for pity clap here.] [And…insert cricket sounds here.] [Harris slinks off in shame here.]
Northern Georgia, USA
The American South can be the perfect place to head…south for the winter! (This thing on? *tap tap*) Adventure seekers need look no further than the Blue Ridge Mountains; those who like a bit of luxury should focus their gaze on the Barnsley Resort, a 3,000-acre playground in Georgia’s Blue Ridge foothills. You can find rooms for two from just over $300 a night, and that’s roughly the same number of activities offered: horseback riding, UTV jaunts, sporting clays (don’t know what that is? Think Duck Hunt + the plate smashing at a Greek wedding), archery, axe throwing and much more. Keep warm by posting up at the resort’s outdoor firepit with s’mores and a hot drink, or by visiting the spa. There’s also a golf course and cornhole tournaments, making this akin to an adult-friendly-summer-camp-in-winter getaway.
While all of us had to hold off on travel during the pandemic, the hospitality industry was forced to hold off opening new venues. The Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River is one such venue (which opened in December 2020 after nearly a yearlong delay). The place is swanky AF, with courtyards punctuated with enormous pieces of art, a sleek pool deck set across Thailand’s biggest river and a multitude of high-end dining options. If you’re feeling flush you can splurge on rooms that go for over $2,000 a night, but there are other options that go for less than $500. Revenge is best served cold, but revenge travel is best served at…whatever the temperature is in Southeast Asia right now.
Winter escapes aren’t always about literally escaping winter, though…it’s about embracing it, too! The great state of Wyoming is a wildlife-filled, snow-capped wonderland that lets you take full advantage of the season. (And that makes you wanna cosplay as a cowboy! No? Just me? Oh well…pass the shearling coat and chaps, please.) Hotel Jackson is a rustic, cozy spot with some 50 rooms and offers evening tours of Grand Teton National Park. (Pro tip: National parks ALWAYS make for a brilliant vacation.) Bonus: There’s also dog sledding and epic backcountry skiing. Perfect for a last-minute New Year’s Eve celebration, or maybe a romantic trip for two for Valentine’s Day…. (Hint, hint, David. ❤️)
Niseko Village, Japan
Here’s another beautiful location that celebrates all things wintry and wonderful: the Japanese mountain town of Niseko Village. Be you a skier or a boarder, there are almost 2,200 acres of powder for you to explore, with 70 runs accessed via 29 lifts and gondolas. Oh, and you’ll be staying at the Higashiyama Niseko Village, one of just 5 Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties on the planet; it has townhouses inspired by wealthy merchants’ homes from the Edo period, incredible views of Mount Yotei and a spa that will warm your body and soul after schussing down the slopes. You can (actually, scratch that — you must!) take part in the onsen lifestyle with traditional Japanese hot springs: Get naked and soak in the mineral-rich, geothermally-heated outdoor baths nestled in obscenely picturesque scenes of snow-dusted pine trees and koi-filled ponds. It’s like an iPhone wallpaper come to life. Ohmygod yes.
Japan’s onsen are amazing, but if you’re looking for a hot spring sitch stateside, check out Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado. A former mining community turned ghost town, today it’s a luxury resort with a dozen charming log cabins. Be sure to cash in on the complimentary half-day guided tours of the area, which include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating and horse-drawn sleigh rides. Un-four-gettable! Other adventures include snowmobiling, ice climbing up a giant frozen waterfall and, of course, snuggling. Because if you’re gonna do winter, do it right.
North Island, Seychelles
Want to splash out with your passport out? Head to the Indian Ocean off Africa’s eastern coast, straight to North Island in the Seychelles, the first private island escape to join Marriott Bonvoy’s Luxury Collection. It’s an impossibly idyllic, lush island where privacy reigns — there are just 11 villas, each with private plunge pools. If you feel like seeing other people there’s on-site scuba diving, a dreamy infinity pool and an environmental center where you can meet conservationists that are saving the island’s flora and fauna. (Which includes baby sea turtles!) Rates start at around $5,500 per night, but hey! Nobody said a private sanctuary in the Seychelles would come cheap!
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