About a year or so ago, I had an unlikely call from a friend I hadn’t spoken with in a while. A woman who divides her time between Paris and New York, she is not someone I would expect to lead us to the cover destination for an issue touting 27 affordable beach resorts.
Nancy Novogrod Nancy Novogrod
| Credit: Nancy Novogrod

But CasaSandra, on Holbox, Mexico, a tiny island off the Yucatán Peninsula, is her “anti-manicured” retreat, offering “pure, simple local food,” and authentic comfort without excess. The T+L editor who scouted the property concurred—and CasaSandra became the jumping-off point for our worldwide roundup of beach hideaways, this year’s installment of a carefully vetted annual feature. We return to this subject each March, knowing that many of you are looking for just this kind of distinctive and laid-back travel experience, where regional style and genuine hospitality come through loud and clear.

In this issue you’ll also find plenty of other options to choose from. A windswept nature preserve off the Georgia coast, Cumberland Island is a favorite escape for New York Times reporter Guy Trebay Natural Splendor on Cumberland Island. Once the private domain of industrialist Thomas Carnegie—whose descendants deeded it to the National Park Service in 1971—the island remains a welcoming environment for wild horses, endangered wood storks, and a handful of locals, as well as the guests of Greyfield Inn. Prizewinning novelist Kiran Desai returned to the region of her childhood, neighboring the remote North Indian state of Sikkim, and found it both changed and unchanged; her story Himalayan Beauty in Sikkim is accompanied by artist Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff’s enchanting drawings of the monasteries and mountains he encountered on his visit to the former Himalayan kingdom. Paris resident and T+L contributing editor Alexandra Marshall traveled southwest to Bordeaux, known for its great vintages and storied vineyards, to observe the transformation that is under way in this traditional region, where innovative vintners, chefs, and hoteliers are reinventing the area’s classic Bordelais culture Bordeaux’s Wine Growing Renaissance. Good design is often a significant agent of change, and our fourth annual Design Awards celebrate the architects, designers, hotels and resorts, and the pioneering products and companies that are making travel easier and more interesting. We also offer the first in our series of T+L City Guides—featuring New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., which will enhance your access to and enjoyment of these destinations.

As to my friend who vacations at CasaSandra, I offer her my thanks for leading us to this picture-perfect spot— along with a supply of new places providing similarly “anti-manicured” escapes.