Hot Winter Escapes: Where to Travel Now

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Vessel restaurant at the Kona Kai Resort in San Diego
Vessel restaurant at the Kona Kai Resort in San Diego

This January and February, why not head to warmer climes for some fun in the sun? Whether you want to pop down to SoCal for a quick weekend getaway or go on a long trip to an exotic faraway destination, we’ve got you covered.

San Diego

Shelter Island is quite possibly the most picturesque place in San Diego. The man-made mini peninsula is home to the Kona Kai Resort & Spa, a charming property with a private beach and massive marina. The Kona Kai was built in the 1950s as a luxury resort and playground for the rich and famous. Today, it’s a chic boutique hotel with modern furnishings, a beachy vibe, and a private club. Rooms have crisp white bedding, leather headboards, ikat-pattern rugs, turquoise accents, and a private outdoor space. A pool and hot tub are surrounded by lounge chairs, private cabanas, and a tiki-hut bar. Vessel, the resort’s restaurant, serves up delicious surf and turf—spicy tuna tacos, hearty vegetable salads, and thick-cut pork chops with mustard-parsley spaetzle and crispy bacon.

A view of the private beach and marina on Shelter Island
A view of the private beach and marina on Shelter Island

Want to go stand-up paddleboarding in the bay or ride a bike around the island? The Kona Kai has plenty of daily activities like these, plus an assortment of fitness classes, that will get you moving. No trip to the resort is complete without an afternoon at SpaTerre, an underground spa featuring six treatment rooms. The spa offers everything from manicures and waxing to a milk ritual inspired by Cleopatra. If you’re getting a massage, you must try the heated sandbox. Imagine sinking into a heated alpha-quartz sand bed for a massage unlike anything you’ve experienced. You’ll find the warm sand has a incredibly soothing effect on body and soul.

Mexico

The Towers at Pacifica entrance
The Towers at Pacifica entrance

The newest getaway in Cabo San Lucas is the just-opened Towers at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort, with 47 luxurious new guest rooms and suites that have been added to the resort’s existing property. An oasis in the middle of the sandy Mexican seaside, the Towers at Pacifica have beautiful views of the ocean and pool. Rooms feature deluxe bedding with a menu of different pillow types, wooden furniture, and metallic accents. The resort offers special experiences that are available to Tower guests, including a personal butler who can easily arrange every service, from an airport transfer to a dinner reservation.

The oceanfront adults-only pool
The oceanfront adults-only pool

Hook & Cook is a hands-on experience that allows you to fish on the shore alongside chef Luis Gonzalez; he’ll turn any fresh-caught fish into a sensational ceviche. Take a tour of the surrounding bay by boat and see the famous Arch of Cabo up close and personal, then jump in the water and snorkel with tropical fish. Enjoy a beachfront clam bake or get a lesson in stargazing. Prefer to chill poolside? You can do that, too, and order a round of spicy margaritas with the freshest, most scrumptious guacamole you’ll ever taste.

Uruguay 

Bodega Garzón
Bodega Garzón

What’s the hottest new South American wine destination you’ve never heard of? Bodega Garzón in Uruguay. Located near the southeastern coast close to Argentina, Bodega Garzón produces outstanding Tannat and Albariño varietals. It’s summer during our winter there, so January and February are the ideal time to visit this up-and-coming area. With two helicopter pads; 3,000 acres of pristine vineyards; and a tasting room that has a restaurant, a bar, and outdoor areas, it’s an unparalleled winery experience.

The beautiful vineyards
The beautiful vineyards

The bodega, which opened in March 2016, is the realized dream of Argentine billionaire, Alejandro P. Bulgheroni. A hotel and private club are in the works, but for now, stay nearby in the charmingly artsy beach town of José Ignacio, or book a room at the Garzón Hotel and Restaurant of celebrity Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, who oversees the kitchens at Bodega Garzón. Once you’ve had your fill of wine and Patagonian barbecue or fish cooked over open fires, stop by the Colinas de Garzón, Bulgheroni’s sister property, which produces the region’s finest olive oil.

Bali

The entrance to Mandapa
The entrance to Mandapa

Although the flight from San Francisco to beautiful Bali is a long 17 hours, two weeks at the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Mandapa in Bali’s jungly Ubud region will make that memory fade fast. Mandapa is unique in the world. When you drive down the dusty road and through the stone gates of the resort, it feels as if you are entering Jurassic Park. Everywhere you look there’s greenery, and the open-air lobby is perched above a valley of rice paddies. Golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation, and guests are whisked from the lobby to the spa to the pools by a friendly and accommodating English-speaking staff.

A private villa
A private villa

Each villa has a private pool and an air-conditioned suite decorated with traditional Indonesian art and an open-air sitting room with desk, lounges, and television. Mandapa is so luxurious that you won’t want to leave the resort, and there is really no reason to because there’s plenty to do. Take a yoga class in an open pavilion, learn how to plant rice in the muddy paddies, and savor a picnic alongside the picturesque river. There are four dining options—a pool bar that serves lunch; an all-day restaurant that plates up elegant Balinese cuisine; a library that offers a light dinner and tea service; and Kubu, the signature restaurant, which is only open for dinner. Here, you’ll enjoy a romantic meal or a decadent tasting menu in a private bamboo cocoon. Then relax and watch the soothing Ayung River go by—it’s the evening’s entertainment.

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