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Four Affordable Winter Getaways for February

Snowfall shouldn't stop you from getting away for the weekend. Whether you'd rather be lounging along Florida's coastline or skiing the slopes of the Berkshires in Massachusetts, T+L's Mark Orwoll has a set of affordable getaways perfect for February. Read on for where to go and stay during your visit.

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Beaver Creek Gets More Ritzy

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Ten years ago, I stayed at the then-relatively-new Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, at the base of Colorado’s Beaver Creek resort. The ski lodge was a new concept for the Ritz-Carlton, and I loved everything about it: ski-in/ski-out access, a great room with a huge stone fireplace, an outdoor fire pit for roasting marshmallows. Thankfully, all of that’s still there, but last month, the hotel put the finishing touches on a big renovation. Since I was out in Colorado, I went to take a look.

The big news? A brand-new, three-meals-a-day, open-kitchen restaurant called Buffalos, which serves up its namesake in several forms, like a buffalo steak and eggs, a bison burger, and something I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did: bison tartare (washed down with a few Colorado craft beers). The hotel’s other restaurant, Spago, didn’t exist when I first visited, but since 2007, it’s been turning out Wolfgang Puck’s sensational seasonal dishes. And as I sampled his stupendous pumpkin-filled pasta, bonus—Puck himself was dining with his family a couple tables away.

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More Snow Means More Winter Travel

Winter storms like Hercules may have injured retail traffic, but T+L News Editor Amy Farley expects travel to boom, as told to CNBC. Anxious skiers will be hitting the slopes in destinations like Vail, Lake Tahoe, and Utah, while beach-goers are likely to score great deals to sunny spots like Florida and Aruba during January and February.

Sneak Peek: Breckenridge’s New Peak 6

It’s not every day that a ski resort massively expands out its skiable acres. Maybe it opens a new lift or on-mountain restaurant, but for a resort to increase its footprint by 20% is an enormous undertaking. Yet that’s exactly what Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort is doing with its new mountain, called Peak 6, which opens on Christmas Day. And since I was out in Colorado, I stopped by Breck for a pre-opening look.

First off, the stats: Peak 6 brings 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain (skewing intermediate but pretty evenly split between intermediate and expert trails), three new bowls, eight new cut trails, and two new chairlifts. In all, it’s one of the biggest ski-area terrain expansions in North America in the past decade. And it’s on top of Breck’s existing five peaks, 2,900 acres, four terrain parks, a 22-foot superpipe, 11 bowls, and the highest chairlift in North America.

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Warm Winter Getaway Travel Tips Straight From Our Experts

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In the spirit of it getting cold out there (thank you, Winter Storm Boreas), we have beaches on the brain. Our recent Twitter chat on Warm Winter Getaways was the perfect way to get tips on the best sunny destinations to visit this season.

Our panel of experts also have sun and sand on the brain, and shared the exciting warm winter getaways they have planned. T+L Senior Editor, Jacqueline Gifford is “skipping out on turkey in favor of rum punches at Petit St. Vincent island resort in the Grenadines this #Thanksgiving.”

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Holiday and Airport Travel Tips Straight From Our Experts

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Where are you going for the holidays? We recently asked a panel of travel experts in an Airport and Holiday Travel Twitter Chat, and the answers ranged the gamut.

The Weather Channel is having a “Staycation #HomeForTheHolidays.” T+L International Editor, Mark Orwoll, has a similar plan—he said, “Turns out everyone’s coming to MY house this year. Now I guess I have to invite all of you too, to avoid hurt feelings.” What’s for dinner, Mark? We’re not about to turn down that invitation!

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T+L Twitter Chat on Warm Winter Getaways This Wednesday, November 20th

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In need of some sun and sand this holiday? We're discussing the best beach retreats, last-minute winter getaways, and tips on getting affordable airfare and hotel deals during the holidays this Wednesday, November 20th from 2-3pm EDT.

Ask our panel of experts for their advice on the best warm winter getaways!

The Host:

Jacqueline Gifford, Senior Editor, @jacquigiff

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Holiday Travel Talk with QVC & T+L Editors

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Join T+L and our Senior Editor, Jacqueline Gifford, for a Holiday Travel Facebook Chat with QVC’s Lisa Roberston tonight, October 18, from 10-11pm ET on Lisa’s Facebook page.

Find out how to avoid flight delays, where the best hotels and destinations are for affordable, all-inclusive, or seasonal travel, how to pack and squeeze in that extra pair of shoes, tips on getting last-minute hotels deals, and more. Lisa will be ready to answer any holiday shopping or gifting questions that you may have as well.

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Family Friday: Sarasota Beckons

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Two decades ago a little girl stood on a hot tennis court grumpily swatting at yellow balls, her parents' dreams of a professional tennis career dashed. She counted the minutes until she could get back to the beach with her sisters...

With that sunny stretch of sand still in my mind, I decided to give Sarasota, on the Florida Gulf Coast, another shot with my own family. It was the middle of February and we were desperate for a long weekend of much-needed sun. What we got was a record-breaking freeze. Thankfully, Sarasota has a lot more than beautiful beaches (and there are plenty). Here's what we discovered:

° An amazing aquarium. The Mote Marine Laboratory offers sea turtles, dolphins, and an adorable manatee named Hugh, that my son Miles thought looked like my dad.

° Florida's largest bird sanctuary. The Save Our Birds Wild Bird Learning Center is home to hundreds of injured owls, pelicans, and other seabirds, teaching the kids that animals get boo-boos, too.

° Some damn good restaurants. Yes, we spent a lot of time eating, and I wasn't going to let a little cold ruin my dream of lounging on a terrace with a cocktail. There's Mar Vista, hidden at the end of Long Boat Key (order the fried calamari); the Italian Salute for dinner; the Peruvian Selva Grill, with tangy Pisco Sours; the diner-like Blue Dolphin Cafe for blueberry pancakes; and my sons' favorite, the waterfront, no-frills Old Salty Dog, where all the seafood is fried--and then fried again.

° Beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. We spent an entire afternoon wandering around these 14 acres, which are filled with bamboo and banyan groves, orchids and bromeliads, and a mangrove forest. The best part: the indoor Kids' Corner, an interactive space with plant-themed books, puzzles, activities and crafts.

There's more: The renowned Ringling Art Museum, a downtown with great galleries, and of course, lots of good ice cream parlors (a must-stop for every afternoon).

As for where to stay, the Long Boat Key Club is right on the beach and ideal for families: 2 and 3 bedroom suites with everything you need—dining table, kitchen, a super-friendly staff, and a flat screen TV for movie nights if you decide to stay in.

Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're in Vail, Colorado

We asked true travel pros what to do near Vail, Colorado. Want to share your expertise? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.


View Vail, Colorado in a larger map

“Don’t miss dinner at Larkspur. Tuesday’s happy hour menu is the best.” —Jennifer Lesseraux Collins, via Facebook

“Après-ski, I go to the Ore House (232 Bridge St.)—two tacos and a beer for six dollars!” —@ryleeks

“The new Sebastian hotel is cozy yet chic, and its Frost bar has an awesome scotch selection.” —Alex Schack, via Facebook

“We always stop in at the Golden Bear Vail (183 Gore Creek Dr.) for one-of-a-kind jewelry, bags, and scarves.” —Michael Cartwright, via Facebook

“Check out Phil Long’s classic rock set at the Red Lion—he plays weekend nights at nine.” —Scott Kling, via Facebook

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