The final stretch of winter is always the hardest, making it the most strategic time to take a vacation. If you’re burnt out and craving a change of scenery, a winter escape can work wonders, replenishing the mind, body and soul. Best of all, a late-winter getaway means Spring is on the horizon upon your return. Whether your ideal vacation is wandering the museums and shops of an enchanting European city, glamping with elephants on an African safari, or simply sun-bathing on the beach, the below trip ideas make for a dreamy getaway.

If you’re seeking an otherworldly escape, look no further than a Micato safari. This luxury safari outfitter is repeatedly named the world’s best for their exceptional service and one-of-a-kind itineraries. Founded by native Kenyans who live in Africa, Micato knows the best lodges and reserves for optimal wildlife viewing and are experts in crafting the ideal itinerary based on your needs. On a Micato Safari you have a designated guide for the entirety of your trip, access to a 24-hour concierge service, and all tips, meals, drinks and internal flights are covered, meaning you can travel with ease and truly enjoy what you’re there to do: immerse yourself in the wildlife.

They offer a wide range of safaris—including options for a custom, private itinerary—in eight countries across South and East Africa. More interested in people than animals? Micato also offers bespoke itineraries in India, as the founding family lived in Goa before migrating to Kenya.

Set in the verdant jungle in the heart of the Riviera Maya, this 620-acre resort is an ecological paradise. What sets it apart from the many resorts in the region is its location on a freshwater lagoon connected by a network of canals. The on-water experience immersed in the lush jungle evokes a sense of tranquility that is hard to find on the nearby crowded beaches of Playa del Carmen. Instead, here you’ll find a pristine white sand beach, accessible from your beachfront suite (complete with a private plunge pool and outdoor shower).

But it’s not all relaxing beach time here (if you don’t want it to be), the resort also boasts a Greg Norman championship golf course, eight dining concepts, a shopping complex modeled after the typical construction of a traditional Mexican town, and a diving school for exploring the world’s second largest barrier reef. New wellness experiences take inspiration from traditional Mayan rituals like a shaman-led experience in the Temazcal (sweat lodge), a copal and cacao gratitude ceremony and body treatments that incorporate local ingredients at the spa.

A short speedboat ride away from the crowds of Phuket lies an oasis set on the Eastern tip of Koh Yao Yai island. Rising from the jungle over the sprawling white sand beach is Anantara, one of the newest luxury resorts in the region. With infinity pools and uninterrupted sea views from the 148 spacious suites, pool villas and penthouses, you could easily spend all day lounging in your room. But you would be remiss not to take advantage of the unique experiences on offer here: from riding a vintage sidecar through a rubber plantation to kayaking through mangrove canals to riding a boat to a private natural sand bank for a twilight candlelit dinner.

No matter how you choose to fill your warm days, the spa is a must for its extensive wellness facilities—think: hydrotherapy pool, Moroccan hammam and experiential showers. With dedicated wellness villas for working out, meditating and treatments, you could easily transform your stay into a full-fledged wellness retreat.

Nestled in a lush private bay on the Son Tra Peninsula nature reserve, the InterContinential Da Nang is one of the dreamiest getaways in Vietnam. What sets the beachside resort apart is their impressive array of daily activities: from Vietnamese coffee tasting to mocktail making to massage workshops (including several options to keep the kids entertained while parents get some much needed R&R). The Vietnamese cooking class is a must since the resort is home to renowned La Maison 1888, a French-influenced fine dining restaurant headed by Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire, among four other dining concepts.

Those seeking privacy can opt to have a private chef in their own villa or penthouse. Floating on stilts above the hotel’s spa lagoon, the spa lagoon villa is the standout accommodation for a relaxing getaway, complete with its own treatment room, outdoor shower garden and double balcony.

With its charming medieval architecture and peaceful location on the shores of Lake Lucerne, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, it’s no wonder Lucerne has been a popular vacation destination for Europeans since the 18th century. One of the most beloved accommodations in the city remains the Mandarin Oriental Palace Luzern, what was previously the Palace Hotel Luzern, which officially opened in 1906. Today, the restored palace is an architectural vision for its original details and distinctive design—from the grand original marble staircase to the soaring scagliola columns to the playful terrazzo floors.

With 136 rooms, including 45 of the city’s largest suites, inspired by the serene surrounding lake, a stay here is an invitation to slow down. The celebration of Switzerland’s natural alpine beauty continues at the small-but-mighty spa, which offers treatments featuring Bellefontaine products made with ingredients from Swiss farms. But the standout experiences here are found downstairs at Minamo, an eight-seat Japanese Omakase concept, and Colonnade, which offers an elaborate eight-course tasting menu that reimagines French Swiss cuisine.

While Arizona is a popular winter destination, few travel as far afield as Castle Hot Springs, located in the remote Sonoran desert 50 miles northwest of Phoenix. Home to geo-thermal hot springs that have been used for over 13,000 years, Castle Hot Springs has been a destination for celebrities and presidents for more than a century. Today, it’s a secluded oasis with a digital detox philosophy and a diverse landscape that lends itself to countless activities.

Adventure-seekers will want to take to one of their many mountain hiking trails or try their hand at axe-throwing, while those wanting to slow down can choose from mindfulness, yoga and sound bowl meditation classes and the many hot spring-inspired treatments on offer at the spa. With an onsite farm producing 150 different crops during each season, the sustainably-produced food served in the rotating tasting menu is worth travelling for alone.

If your idea of the perfect winter getaway is not the beach but a historic European city, consider Madrid. With world-class shopping, countless museums and a food and drinks scene that strikes the perfect balance between modern and traditional, the bustling capital city is having a moment. Hotel Palacio del Retiro is a quiet retreat in the heart of the “Art Triangle,” the term used to describe the triangle-shaped proximity of the Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Reina Sofia National Art Museum. Set in a converted 20th century palatial home across from the peaceful Retiro Park and within walking distance of all the major sights, this urban getaway is an ideal launching pad for exploring all Madrid has to offer.

With its rich wood and lacquer finishes, and no shortage of chandeliers, the Shangri-La Tokyo harkens back to a sophisticated Asian opulence from a bygone era that is hard to find elsewhere in this rapidly developing city. Occupying the top 11 floors of a 37-floor high tower, the hotel offers unparalleled views of the city, including Imperial Palace, and is a quiet reprieve from busy Tokyo station at its base. You’ll find locals savoring teppanyaki and sushi at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Nadaman, part of the popular Japanese chain or sipping on shochu in the chic lobby lounge bar. Quiet and spacious (by Japanese standards) rooms with automatic black-out shades promise deeper slumbers while complete relaxation is found at Chi, The Spa, where treatments combine a variety of Asian therapies and indigenous ingredients.

Unlike North America, the late winter months in Paris show early signs of spring, as the weather warms and flowers begin to bloom. Better yet, visiting Paris in the off-season means fewer crowds, what will soon become a rarity with the forthcoming 2024 Olympics this summer. There is arguably no better place to immerse yourself in the grandeur of Paris than Le Meurice, what was considered one of the world’s first luxury hotels when it opened in 1815. Renovations in the last decade have seen this historic hotel updated in the style of Salvador Dali with impressive columns and no shortage of marble. Picasso famously hosted his wedding here in 1918 and the hotel has attracted notable artists and celebrities in the over-century since, including Queen Victoria and Elizabeth Taylor.

Despite the Spanish influence, Le Meurice is undeniably French with its Versailles-inspired guest rooms and Michelin-starred restaurant overseen by renowned French chef Alain Ducasse. Set across from Tuileries Garden and the Louvre Museum, its location in the heart of historic Paris make it a true Parisian retreat.

Set in the posh neighborhood of Kensington Palace, this boutique hotel is the ideal getaway for art and design lovers. No two rooms here are the same, making the charming hotel a treasure trove of original rare artworks and antique furnishings. The 13 individually designed suites are inspired by different designers, such as the Hermes suite which is decorated with framed vintage Hermes scarves. Downstairs, resident artist Shelley Levy draws custom portraits while an elaborate afternoon tea is served in the all three of their dining rooms. Other unique experiences include a private visit to Kensington palace (including a private after-drawk viewing of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London), foraging for wild edible and medical plants in one of the city’s many parks and a private in-room performance by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Halifax, Canada: Muir

This Canadian city is in the midst of becoming a world-class cosmopolitan destination, largely due the revitalization of its waterfront district, now known as the Queen’s Marque. At the heart of the transformation is Muir, the first and only five-star hotel in the province. Set amidst art installations along the pier, the 109-room hotel named after the Gallic word for ‘ocean’ is inspired by the surrounding natural beauty of Atlantic Canada with soothing neutrals, nautical design elements and original local art throughout.

While there is the vitality spa for all your wellness needs (think: sauna, halotherapy and cold plunges), real R&R is found in embracing the slow East Coast pace, by sipping on prohibition-era-inspired cocktails in the hotel’s speakeasy BKS, savoring succulent seafood at their signature restaurant Drift or getting out on the water in your own private yacht.

While The Crane is not the most contemporary Caribbean resort, it continues to wow, seemingly without even trying. Set on a majestic cliff overlooking the bright turquoise ocean, the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Caribbean attracts return visitors for its remote location on the sleepy southeast coast of Barbados away from the crowds. Spacious rooms and suites offer stunning views, many from a private infinity pool. With five outdoor pools (some of which are embellished with regal columns), tennis courts, shops and eight dining options, you could easily never leave. However, the real selling point of the resort is the beach. Compared to most Barbados resorts that share busy public beaches on the Southwest coast of the island, The Crane’s is sheltered by cliffs, making it a picturesque private oasis.

With Italy remaining one of the hottest destinations for North American travelers, the busy summer season is beginning earlier each year, making late winter the ideal time to visit. Without the tourist crowds, you can have a more authentic experience of Milan’s cosmopolitanism, and the best hotel to do so is Hotel Principe de Savoia. Since opening its doors in 1927, the hotel has attracted everyone from Madonna to the Queen to stay in its impressive 4,413-square-foot presidential suite, complete with its own pool room.

The remaining 301 guest rooms are no less inspired with each featuring their own unique design (think marble baths, hand-painted frescoes and in-room spa amenities like a chromotherapy massage shower). Downstairs, sip on an experimental apertivo at Principe Bar or dine under Swarovski crystals in the Tavoli Crystal Room. With its glamorous décor and exclusive partnerships with local attractions like Fabbrica de Duomo, it’s hard not to feel part of the inside crowd here.

With three spacious hot spring pools filled with mineral water believed to detox the skin, relieve muscle tension and boost circulation, it’s no surprise this is a local hotspot for those seeking a quick wellness getaway from nearby Santa Fe. Set on 77 acres in Northern New Mexico’s high desert at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, this tranquil resort has simple, minimalists rooms (“casitas”), peaceful hiking trails and a popular restaurant serving fresh ingredients from their own Ojo Caliente Farm. Onsite therapeutic practices on offer include daily morning yoga, temazcal ceremonies and puppy cuddling sessions. The spa, voted one of the world’s best by Travel & Leisure, is a must for treatments inspired by the healing Ojo waters and native botanicals of the high desert.

When it comes to bed and breakfasts in North America, you’d be hard pressed to find one that compares to this. Created by a former dancer of the National Ballet of Canada, this retreat is reimagining the bed and breakfast concept with its bespoke interior design and focus on wellness. Set in a farm house dating back to 1867, the restored inn offer four distinct rooms, each with their own infrared sauna, steam room and large bathtub for cold plunges. While you won’t be pressured to turn your stay into a wellness retreat, with in-room amenities like a HigherDOSE LED face mask, massage gun, essential oil diffuser and recorded meditations, it’s hard not to. A sun-lit meditation room that hosts morning yoga classes overlooks the backyard where you’ll find hammocks, a fire pit and intimate pool and hot tub. Located just an hour from Toronto, this welcoming wellness inn is a cozy country retreat from the city.

Palm Springs is a hot destination this time of year and this resort set on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park in Desert Hot Springs remains one of the most popular. It’s worth being a 30-minute drive from downtown Palm Springs to feel immersed in nature, surrounded by the still desert and mountains. But the main draw here is the hot spring pools that flow from a 600-year-old natural spring that refreshes every 24 hours. Believed to boost mood, relieve pain and rid the body of toxins, the mineral waters offer natural healing just steps from your room. Further restoration is found in the spa and in one of the many wellness workshops on offer (think: reiki meditation and sound baths). The wellness theme continues at the vegetable-forward restaurant which serves So-Cal inspired dishes and at Twine Café where you can find adaptogenic drinks and biodynamic wines.

published 2024-02-23 02:46:49