Green Getaway in Costa Rica
Taking a holiday from the Holidays at a resort that encourages guests to explore the country.
Spanning Kauai, the French Riviera, and beyond, these are the hotels our editors loved in February.
FEBRUARY ISN'T KNOWN to be the most exciting month of the year, at least not in the Northern Hemisphere, which makes it the perfect time to escape to a glamorous getaway or to enjoy a refreshing staycation. Our editors certainly put that theory to the test. From five-star French spas to sunny breaks at a beachfront Kauai resort to cozy city stays, the Departures team offers proof that incredible properties are a wonderful way of ensuring that winter isn’t always synonymous with weariness. Now all that’s left is maintaining some of that bright revival through the rough lion period of early March. Stay strong: Before you know it, those sweet lamb days of spring will be upon us again. — Alex Frank
Kauai and I have a checkered past. On my first visit, five years ago, I spent five out of seven days on the Hawaiian island in the hospital and the other two on bed rest. Another story for another time, but suffice it to say: I had high hopes that my visit to Ko’a Kea Resort on Po’ipu Beach would offer a more enriching, enjoyable experience of the archipelago that pretty much everyone I know on the West Coast deems “the best Hawaiian island.” This is, they say, because of its distinct character, culture, and nature, which includes a sprawling tropical rainforest that gives Kauai its nickname, the “Garden Island,” and has made it the choice setting for numerous Hollywood films, most famously “Jurassic Park.” Conversely, Ko’a Kea is branded for romance. The resort’s environment communicates this distinction with easy yet elegant décor, attentive yet understated service, an incredible destination restaurant, and spectacular sunsets. I was lucky enough to have an oceanfront room in one of the property’s smaller buildings with a west-facing balcony, so the sky’s nightly technicolor show felt like a private viewing — all the more so as I was at the resort by myself, for work. Deadlines necessitated that I stay reasonably tethered to my computer, forgoing the island’s much-lauded helicopter tours and mountain tubing. But working while overlooking gentle, cerulean waves or perched next to the pool bar, dining on fresh tuna poke and sipping a mai tai, was blissful in its own right. A deep-tissue massage in one of the resort’s oceanfront cabanas, where soft, balmy westerlies ruffled the curtains and scented the air with native flora, punctuated the experience. It also underscored the resort’s prime location, as did a morning walk along the beachfront. Gazing out to the horizon, I spotted at least 20 dolphins frolicking in the waves. Ten minutes later, I encountered a sea lion napping on the beach, unbothered by my presence. Despite it being whale season, I didn’t spot any koholā (humpback whales), but I did see a honu (sea turtle) up close, its undulating strokes beating a soothing, primal rhythm that, like my stay at Ko’a Kea, reattuned me to nature and its cadence — and in doing so, reset my spirit and body. – Erin Dixon
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If you are visiting in the winter, opt for a fireplace suite that comes complete with a wood-burning fireplace and ‘fireplace butler.’
The Newbury is Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood’s newest boutique hotel, but in a storied package: a landmark building — and it’s the perfect urban getaway for travelers looking to be in the center of the action yet have the city’s largest park at their front door. With sweeping views of Boston Commons, the hotel’s rooms are luxurious and as cozy as can be, with one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever experienced. Bathrooms are decked in marble and stocked with bespoke Byredo products. If you are visiting in the winter, opt for a fireplace suite that comes complete with a wood-burning fireplace and “fireplace butler,” who will prepare your wood pile of choice: cherry, oak, or maple. Notably, The Newbury is also home to Contessa, an Italian restaurant with a modern Moroccan feel designed by Ken Fulk, and The Street Bar — a great spot for a nightcap. – Elissa Polls
Despite having lived and extensively traveled in Europe, I had never been to the South of France prior to this fall. My conception of it was — I realize in retrospect — very much shaped by photographs of the Cannes Film Festival (more golden age of cinema than present day) and a slew of Peter Mayle-esque capers set on the French Riviera. Descending into the Nice Côte d'Azur Airport conjures all of these images: the turquoise sea cut by the curving, golden coast and, as you get closer, sun-washed, terracotta-topped buildings. Arriving at Le Domaine du Mas de Pierre Hotel Resort & Spa refines such visions. Located in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, the resort is less than a half-hour’s drive from Nice but seems a world away. Its structure, which was entirely renovated in 2021, evokes a dignified country estate. And its secluded grounds are a meticulously groomed yet organic labyrinth of fragrant herbs and flowers, classical and modern statues, and view-framing hedges (and the valley views are spectacular). There’s also a lagoon pool, charming bird coop, and orto (kitchen garden) that grows vegetables used in the resort’s restaurants — including its fine-dining offering, Le Table de Pierre, where I enjoyed chef Emmanuel Lehrer's truly gastronomic, seasonal five-course tasting menu. And then there is Le Spa, an over 6,500-square-foot facility that offers holistic, multiple-day programs in the tradition of European medispas as well as à la carte treatments. I only had time to experience the hammam, salt and herbal saunas, and the “Snow Cave.” Still, memories of its restorative powers are eeking me through these long, late-winter days, aided by the candle I purchased in the spa’s lounge. Scented with Volupté, the property’s proprietary tuberose, iris, and sandalwood fragrance, the candle (and its sister perfume) is tragically only available for purchase on-site at the resort — just one of the many reasons I can’t wait to return. — Erin Dixon
I’ve strolled through Central Park countless times — north to south, east to west, rain and shine. Yet, it still contains an enduring wonder, even when I’m, quite literally, retracing my steps. The ground view, however, barely compares to the breathtaking vistas on offer from the lofty heights of a Park Lane hotel room. Upon entering the room, I was immediately captivated by the wall-to-wall windows that offered panoramic views of the park and endless people-watching: the crowds skating at Wollman Rink, the couples enjoying a carriage ride… In contrast, a light nature soundtrack of chirping birds, playing alongside the room’s animated mural, lent the interior an entirely soothing quality and highlighted how Park Lane’s hospitality philosophy differs from that of its storied Central Park South neighbors: The Plaza Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park. Along with its considered modern amenities, Park Lane boasts a distinctly downtown character, in part thanks to its outdoor rooftop lounge, Darling, which transforms into a breakfast buffet by morning. Yabu Pushelberg helped the property strike this balance of past and present by placing the historic building’s original chandeliers, sconces, and fixtures alongside modern murals by En Viu. The result is a superlative environment that is both elevated and approachable. Plus, I’ll be savoring the sunset views from my room until my next stay. – Lisa Lok
Alex Frank is a contributing editor at Departures. Based in Manhattan, Frank previously worked at Vogue.com as deputy culture editor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, Fantastic Man, and the Village Voice.
Erin Dixon is the managing editor of Departures. Previously the managing editor of the arts and culture journal Dossier, she has worked and written for a variety of international magazines and publishing houses, ranging from Vogue, Kinfolk, and GQ to Phaidon, Workman Artisan, and HarperCollins.
Elissa Polls is the senior director of content production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.
Lisa Lok is an art director at Departures. A Brooklyn-based creative, she enjoys collaborating with illustrators and photographers from around the world. Her work can be found in the pages of Airbnb Magazine, NYLON, and Asia Society Magazine, among others.
Jess Rotter is a Los Angeles–based illustrator and artist. Rotter’s work has frequently featured in the Washington Post. Her clients range from Natalie Portman to Questlove.
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