The Perfect Winter Vacation? Depends on How You Define It.

Winter Travel Issue

Five places to embrace winter, five place to get the hell away from it

 

Gentlemen, we have officially entered the Holiday Season.

It’s a 60-day sled from here to New Year’s, and as soon as it’s over you’re going to look in the mirror and say: Get me out of here, and stat.

For that, use this: our Winter Travel Issue.

Inside, you'll find 10 destinations that beat the hell out of your in-laws' basement, as organized by an important guiding principle: Do you define a winter vacation as a chance to embrace all things cold and snowy, or the chance to get the hell away from it?

For the Whole Fam-Damn-ily

Go way off the map while your kids are still young enough not to be distracted by the drama back home

 

COLD WEATHER
LAPPLAND

Head to Swedish Lapland for this tour of the Arctic, with accommodations in either the Icehotel (yes, the room is really made of ice) and/or on the grounds of a 150-year-old reindeer farm. Activities include husky-led safaris, snowmobile trips, snowshoe hikes, cooking courses with organic, local ingredients, and top of the list, trips into the wild to spot the Northern Lights on reindeer-pulled sleighs.

WARM WEATHER
BOTSWANA

Want your kids to become guardians of the Earth? Help them fall in love with it. And there may be no better way than with a safari, especially one that will sensitively introduce them to Africa's endangered species. Audley Travel will build an itinerary on your specs, but we'd suggest looking closely at the Okavango Delta and its surrounding camps — like the tiny Footsteps Across the Delta, a rustic but utterly private camp with just you, your guide and your chef. Kids don't need Frette.

Photograph by Efimova Anna

For the Whole Fam-Damn-ily

Go way off the map while your kids are still young enough not to be distracted by the drama back home.

 

COLD WEATHER
LAPPLAND

Head to Swedish Lapland for this tour of the Arctic, with accommodations in either the Icehotel (yes, the room is really made of ice) and/or on the grounds of a 150-year-old reindeer farm. Activities include husky-led safaris, snowmobile trips, snowshoe hikes, cooking courses with organic, local ingredients, and top of the list, trips into the wild to spot the Northern Lights on reindeer-pulled sleighs.

 

WARM WEATHER
BOTSWANA

Want your kids to become guardians of the Earth? Help them fall in love with it. And there may be no better way than with a safari, especially one that will sensitively introduce them to Africa's endangered species. Audley Travel will build an itinerary on your specs, but we'd suggest looking closely at the Okavango Delta and its surrounding camps — like the tiny Footsteps Across the Delta, a rustic but utterly private camp with just you, your guide and your chef. Kids don't need Frette.

Photograph by Efimova Anna

For the Far-Flung Adventurer

It's harder than ever these days to go truly into the bush — but these places fit the bill

 

COLD WEATHER
KAMCHATKA

You might recall this far-east Russian province from your Risk board, but it's even better in real life: a UNESCO-endorsed bellowing, natural wonderland, with 200 volcanoes, 10 percent of which are active. Plan now for weeklong late winter or spring trips that'll take you heli-skiing down volcanoes that top out around 9,000 feet. Sample itinerary: "Settle in, meet the team, drink some vodka."

WARM WEATHER
SUMATRA

Most people think Bali when they think Indonesia — or maybe go one step farther ... on the ferry to Lombok. More adventurous types are heading to the Mentawai Islands, 80 miles west of the main island of Sumatra and the “premier surf destination for hard-core surfers looking to escape the real world,” according to Surfline. You'll do it cheaper on your own, but if you're looking for instruction or support, check into the Mentawai Surf Camp, which can transport you by boat to the best nearby waves.

For the Far-Flung Adventurer

It's harder than ever these days to go truly into the bush — but these places fit the bill

 

COLD WEATHER
KAMATCHKA

You might recall this far-east Russian province from your Risk board, but it's even better in real life: a UNESCO-endorsed bellowing, natural wonderland with 200 volcanoes — 10 percent of which are active. Plan now for weeklong late winter or spring trips that'll take you heli-skiing down volcanoes that top out around 9,000 feet. Sample itinerary: "Settle in, meet the team, drink some vodka."

 

WARM WEATHER
SUMATRA

Most people think Bali when they think Indonesia — or maybe go one step farther ... on the ferry to Lombok. More adventurous types are heading to the Mentawai Islands, 80 miles west of the main island of Sumatra and the “premier surf destination for hard-core surfers looking to escape the real world,” according to Surfline. You'll do it cheaper on your own, but if you're looking for instruction or support, check into the Mentawai Surf Camp, which can transport you by boat to the best nearby waves.

Get There Before It's Gone

Nothing encourages advocacy like firsthand experience. Case in point: these amazing places that may soon disappear. Visit them — then vote/donate/chain yourself to a tree to help preserve them.

 

COLD WEATHER
GREENLAND

Greenland and its diminishing glaciers are poster children for climate change. Proximity means that many Greenland tours are run out of Iceland, its North Atlantic neighbor, which makes for a compelling one-two punch. Tours of East Greenland will be conducted largely by dogsled, snowshoe or the occasional helicopter; after a couple days in a Reykjavik boutique hotel, plan on traveling via dogsled to remote, fjord-side locations and setting out your sleeping bag in a non-boutique cabin.

WARM WEATHER
SEYCHELLES

The president of Seychelles — which comprise 155 low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean — has earned international recognition for his efforts to draw attention to the effects of climate change on his nation and similarly threatened territories. For now, visitors can still enjoy its luxury resorts — like our choice, the Four Seasons Seychelles. Climb a nearby lookout point with a local artist and then spend the rest of the afternoon sketching. Or opt for the classic watersports, from surfing and stand-up paddling to kayaking and sailing.

Get There Before It's Gone

Nothing encourages advocacy like first-hand experience. Case in point: these amazing places that may soon disappear. Visit them — then donate/vote/chain yourself to a tree to help preserve them.

 

COLD WEATHER
GREENLAND

Greenland and its diminishing glaciers are poster children climate change. Proximity means that many Greenland tours are run out of Iceland, its North Atlantic neighbor, which makes for a compelling one-two punch. Tours of East Greenland will be conducted largely by dogsled, snowshoe or the occasional helicopter; after a couple days in a Reykjavik boutique hotel, plan on traveling via dogsled to remote, fjord-side locations and setting out your sleeping bag in a non-boutique cabin.

 

WARM WEATHER
SEYCHELLES

The president of Seychelles — which comprise 155 low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean — has earned international recognition for his efforts to draw attention to the effects of climate change on his nation and similarly threatened territories. For now, visitors can still enjoy its luxury resorts — like our choice, the Four Seasons Seychelles. Climb a nearby lookout point with a local artist and then spend the rest of the afternoon sketching. Or opt for the classic watersports, from surfing and stand-up paddling to kayaking and sailing.

Cheap as Chips

Once you get there, these rough and tumble destinations offer a local cost of living that'll let you stay for a while.

 

COLD WEATHER
SERBIA

The Balkans have some of the world's cheapest skiing. Best? Well, the Alps aren't far, and if you're wedded to them, head to Slovenia for the lowest prices. If you're ready for something new, though, set course for Kopaonik, the highest mountain in central Serbia. A 10-day pass for most winter season dates (excluding holiday weeks) costs a grand total of $105. Twenty-four lifts climb peaks that top out around 6,600 feet. One particular highlight: drinks (and snacks) prepared around (and on) an open fire in the rustic huts that dot the slopes.

WARM WEATHER
PHILIPPINES

The Philippines are going through a difficult spot — see this State Department-issued advisory, or just look at headlines involving its president, who has vowed to "separate" from the U.S. and of course recently described President Obama as "the son of a whore." Don't mind the drama? Then head to the white-sand Sugar Beach on Negros, the low[er]-key alternative to Boracay. An off-beach bungalow is $22 a night; on the beach will bump that up to $35.

Cheap as Chips

Once you get there, these rough and tumble destinations offer a local cost of living that'll let you stay for a while.

 

COLD WEATHER
SERBIA

The Balkans have some of the world's cheapest skiing. Best? Well, the Alps aren't far, and if you're wedded to them, head to Slovenia for the lowest prices. If you're ready for something new, though, set course for Kopaonik, the highest mountain in central Serbia. A 10-day pass for most winter season dates (excluding holiday weeks) costs a grand total of $105. Twenty-four lifts climb peaks that top out around 6,600 feet. One particular highlight: drinks (and snacks) prepared around (and on) an open fire in the rustic huts that dot the slopes.

WARM WEATHER
PHILIPPINES

The Philippines are going through a difficult spot — see this State Department-issued advisory, or just look at headlines involving its president, who has vowed to "separate" from the U.S. and of course recently described President Obama as "the son of a whore." Don't mind the drama? Then head to the white-sand Sugar Beach on Negros, the low[er]-key alternative to Boracay. An off-beach bungalow is $22 a night; on the beach will bump that up to $35.

Super Classic King-of-the-World

Sometimes you want to hit a target squarely instead of at an angle, right? These are quintessential five-star experiences.

 

COLD WEATHER
ASPEN

Hotel Jerome has neither the corporate name nor the price tag to match some of its local competitors, but it does have the allegiance of its celebrity following ... and those who've been skiing in Aspen longer than the last five minutes. It's a quick walk to the base of the Aspen Mountain ski resort and to the town's shops and bars.

WARM WEATHER
ST.BARTHS

No island says "visiting royalty/tech mogul" like St. Barthelemy, the onetime sole Swedish possession in the Caribbean that's now super-French, super-rich and super-beautiful. Not coming in with your own yacht? Few of the beachside resorts will disappoint. If you're set on splashing out, do it at Le Sereno, on the beach at Grand Cul-de-Sac. Maybe you need the four-bedroom villa for your entourage — otherwise, book into a sea-view suite with the knowledge that your interiors come courtesy of designer Christian Liaigre — responsible for the private quarters of some notable names (including Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein and Kenzo Takada).

Super Classic King-of-the-World

Sometimes you want to hit a target squarely instead of at an angle, right? These are quintessential five-star experiences.

 

COLD WEATHER
ASPEN

Hotel Jerome has neither the corporate name nor the price tag to match some of its local competitors, but it does have the allegiance of its celebrity following ... and those who've been skiing in Aspen longer than the last five minutes. It's a quick walk to the base of the Aspen Mountain ski resort and to the town's shops and bars.

 

WARM WEATHER
ST.BARTHS

No island says "visiting royalty/tech mogul" like St. Barthelemy, the onetime sole Swedish possession in the Caribbean that's now super-French, super-rich, and super-beautiful. Not coming in with your own yacht? Few of the beachside resorts will disappoint. If you're set on splashing out, do it at Le Sereno, on the beach at Grand Cul-de-Sac. Maybe you need the four-bedroom villa for your entourage — otherwise, book into a sea-view suite with the knowledge that your interiors come courtesy of designer Christian Liaigre — responsible for the private quarters of some notable names (including Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein and Kenzo Takada).

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