A stream of golden sunlight awakens you. You pull back the curtains, check out the magnificent orange-hued panorama, and step outside to embrace the warmth. It may be cold, gray, and blustery back home, but here, at the InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, AZ, it’s warm, sunny, and endlessly summer-like.
The property is just one of America’s leading warm-weather resorts singled out by Travel + Leisure readers in the World’s Best Awards. And as the mercury begins to plummet, what better time to highlight hotels where the average winter highs climb to 65 degrees or more? The winning resorts are located mostly in sun-drenched states like Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, and California, of course, but a few under-the-radar locales made it as well.
Related: America's Best All-Inclusive Resorts
What makes a resort worthy of being called World’s Best? That would be the perfect combination of location, service, décor, and value. So dig out your sunglasses and swimsuits and dive into our list to find your ideal winter getaway.
If a slack-key guitar serenade is music to your ears, check out some of the Hawaiian resorts that made the grade. One of them is the famed Halekulani, the oasis-like luxury resort on Waikiki Beach with sweeping Diamond Head views, which ranked No. 4. Another luxury option is The Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, a serene enclave set amid tropical gardens and towering Cook pines on the sleepy island of Lanai, which ranked No. 8.
East Coast and Midwest residents can make a quick getaway to the Sunshine State, where both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts scored winners. Among them is The Breakers, the grand dame of Palm Beach resorts, which blends Gilded Age ambience with a recent $15 million beachfront redevelopment featuring five pools and a pristine half-mile private beach.
California also has a wealth of warm-weather resort winners. Readers ranked the Montage Laguna Beach at No. 5, and with good reason: the bluff-top Craftsman-style luxury resort in arts-oriented Laguna Beach offers ocean-view rooms and suites, seasonal artisanal cuisine, and a nature-based spa.
So, just what does it take to crack the No. 1 spot on this hot-spot list? Read on to find out which warm-weather resort scorched its competition. —Donna Heiderstadt