When you’re working 10-hour days, winter doesn’t feel particularly romantic. But if you’re able to take a week off, you’ll be reminded that snow can turn cities into romantic, charming escapes, and that cold weather makes a beach excursion all the more exciting. Winter may be when you need a vacation the most, especially after surviving the holidays or getting an unexpected year-end bonus. These are the DEPARTURES-approved 12 best winter escapes to take in 2019:
Milan is a postcard of romance in the winter—with snow framing the Piazza del Duomo and the promise of good wine and rustic, home-cooked Italian meals. They're also known for the best shopping in Italy and the Four Seasons Hotel Milano a property well worth visiting. The grounds were once a 15th-century convent, and while it’s been updated with modern amenities, it still retains its old world charm. Stroll through the Hotel Milano gardens, and try the tasting menu at Il Lugo di Aimo e Nadia, a family-owned restaurant with two Michelin stars.
Mayakoba is in the heart of the Riviera Maya, and cultivates a high-end look and feel that's endlessly appealing to the luxury traveler. With chic hotels lining the crystal-blue water, it’s a perfect trip for professionals working long hours who need to relieve the tension building up in their shoulders from bracing the harsh winter wind. Combine relaxation with culture by taking a day trip to Chichen Itza, and then spending a day in the Banyan Tree Mayakoba spa, which has “alternating hot and cold thermal cabins” nestled into the Mayan rainforest. The villas at Banyan Tree come with their own private pools, and many have massage decks set up for in-room spa treatments.
Fairbanks, in the Aurora Oval, is touted as one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the world. Your best opportunity to see them is from October to early April, which is why a winter getaway is ideal. You can even use Fairbanks as a jumping off point to get to the secluded village of Coldfoot, nestled in the Brooks Mountain Range, a noted Aurora Borealis sighting area. In Fairbanks, stay at Pike's Waterfront Lodge, an Alaskan-owned luxury hotel overlooking the Chena River. You aren’t limited to their hotel rooms, either—you can instead rent one of their 28 cabins.
If you need a work detox, the jungle of Ubud, Bali is calling. Unwind in the warm weather and swap out your views of a concrete jungle for an actual jungle, HOSHINOYA Bali sits in a lush green oasis with sacred canals connected to Bali’s UNESCO World Heritage water temple streaming throughout the property. Your villa accommodations come with a water garden and a semi-private pool, and between the elevated tropical gazebos and the views of Pakerisan River, it is an entirely renewing experience.
Maui in December is inviting and warm, so it’s the right escape if you’re sick of the constant San Francisco fog. You can get to Maui from the west coast on a direct five to seven-hour flight. Stay along the Kapalua Coastal Trail at The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua, which has three cascading infinity pools, five-star dining, and great snorkeling just a 10-minute walk from your room at Kapalua Bay. The Ritz Carlton’s Jean Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment Program will set up a private snorkel session for you, wherein you’ll learn about the coral reefs of Maui and the effort that goes into sustaining them.
For your luxury European ski getaway, book a stunning lodge and ski experience with Leo Trippi, a company providing bespoke chalet experiences with some of the world’s most enviable Après ski. Book Chalet Licorne des Nieges in Courchevel, France, a ski-in, ski-out chalet equipped with a hot tub, steam room, sauna, and “Romanesque-style wellness area” with a pool. It sleeps ten (in five rooms) and of course offers dining options served right in your chalet.
Los Angeles, California
Go full celebrity with a Los Angeles winter getaway in 2019. Stay at Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown—downtown Los Angeles is rapidly becoming known for their high-class dining scene and luxury hotels. For an unforgettable dining experience, try GwenLA in Hollywood, owned by celebrity chef Curtis Stone. Make sure to shop along Melrose Avenue on Sunday and peek in on the sprawling Melrose Trading Post.
Winter in the U.S. means it’s summer in Patagonia, with temperatures ranging from the 30s to 60s. December to February is high season in Patagonia, so it’s worth booking well in advance if you want the best lodging. Stay at The Singular Patagonia, with breathtaking views of the Fjord of Last Hope Sound and the Andes mountains. Named to Travel+Leisure’s Top 100 Hotels Overall list in 2018, The Singular is the scenic spot to unwind after a day of mountain trekking.
Park City, Utah
A Park City winter is always inviting and snow-filled. For families, couples, or solo winter-sport-loving travelers looking to spend their holiday in a mountain ski town, Park City is the eclectic choice, with Park City Mountain Resort offering skiers 7,300 acres of trails to choose from.
A winter vacation to Miami offers the perfect warm-weather city escape. You aren’t limited to ski resort food here, and can instead tap into their Latin-influenced cuisine at up-and-coming restaurants like Pan-Latin steakhouse Toro Toro. Treat your winter vacation crew to a villa at the Nobu Hotel Miami Beach. Their accommodations cultivate a luxury Japanese beach house feel. And within their hotel, they offer 24/7 Nobu room service.
Follow in the footsteps of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and take in Fiji as the weather gets colder. The South Pacific is a trek, but it's also the perfect place to rent a villa with the family. Alternately, you can opt to stay at an all-inclusive resort like Namale Resort. At Namale, their all-inclusive package covers meals, snacks, beverages (including alcohol), golf, snorkeling, horseback riding, and a myriad of other cultural activities. You can also take advantage of their Hydrotherapy Spa with waterfall massage and aromatherapy pools.
Though January is the coldest month in Austin, it’ll still be in the 50s and 60s for your visit. Festivals are an integral part of the Austin experience, but instead of seeing the city in March when thousands of SXSW participants descend on the city, try a low-key festival in January or February. January festivals include the Martin Luther King Festival and Frontera Fest, which showcases short plays. And you can book a luxury penthouse for a memorable Austin experience.