The (Mini) Vacation
Who says a four-day jaunt can’t be a full-blown winter vacation?
Here are 12 hot spots and cool getaways— from Fez to Whistler, B.C.—that are easy to get to and chockablock with activities. So go ahead, and make it a very long weekend!
An Exotic Escape That’s Closer Than You Think
As tourists and builders flood Marrakesh, travelers with an appetite for Morocco’s multi- cultural richesse are giving Fez, North Africa’s oldest imperial city, a second glance. A direct flight to Casablanca and a 45-minute hop to Fez makes it as easy to get to as Europe. And in Fez el-Bali, the old medina, Europeans and Americans in search of historic houses are snapping up still-affordable dars and riads and transforming them into elaborate bed-and-breakfasts, with extravagant tile work, lacy iron grilles, and courtyard fountains.
WHERE TO STAY The most atmospheric inn to open recently is Dar Seffarine (14 Derb Sbaa Louyate; 212-71/113-528; www.darseffarine.com; doubles from $76), a 16th-century palace restored and operated by Alaa Said, an Iraqi-born architect, and his Norwegian wife, Kate Kvalvik. The venerable La Maison Bleue (2 Place de l’Istiqlal; 212-35/636-052; www.maisonbleue.com; doubles from $220), a 1915 astrologer’s palace with an aristocratic look and a romantic garden, pulls in an old-guard crowd. Riad Fès (5 Derb Ben Slimane; 212-35/947-610; www.riadfes.com; doubles from about $190) has hauntingly beautiful Moorish interiors and Alhambra-like patios.
WHERE TO EAT You’ll have to call a day in advance to order tender mechoui (roast lamb) at the regal Dar Saada (2 Souk el Attarine; 212-35/637-370; dinner for two $51), but the dish is worth the effort. In a low-lit alcove of La Maison Bleue (dinner for two $141), dine on quail pastilla and tagine while musicians serenade you, or head to Restaurant Zagora (5 Boulevard Mohammed V; 212-35/940-686; lunch for two about $35), where French-Moroccan fare is served on rose petal–strewn tables.
WHAT TO DO Visit the Dar Batha Museum (Place de l’Istiqlal; 212-35/634-116) to see its impressive collection of pottery, antique instruments, and Fassi embroidery. Nestled deep into the medina, you’ll find the Belghazi Museum (19 Derb Elgorba), a former 17th-century riad full of carpets, weapons, and wedding chests, some of which are for sale.
WHAT TO BUY Look for traditional cobalt pottery, spices, Berber carpets, and handcrafted leather goods at the cacophonous souk—just be prepared to bargain. A short walk from the Bab Boujeloud (the medina’s western gate), pop into Les Mystères de Fès (53 Derb bin Lemssari; 212-35/636-148), a store brimming with everything from jewelry to furniture.
WHAT TO READ Paul Bowles’s The Spider’s House, a portrait of Fez at the end of French colonial rule in the 1950’s, still resonates today. —Mitchell Owens
INSIDER TIP The best time to tour the city’s ancient tanneries is in the morning, when the mud-brick vats are filled with colorful dyes.
Although it’s known as a boomtown for luxurious beachfront resorts, this stretch of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline has held onto its authentic charm, thanks to the thriving village of Playa del Carmen and the region’s ancient Mayan ruins. Here, you can check into a haute hotel—and still slip outside for a little local flavor.
WHERE TO STAY Hit hard by last year’s Hurricane Wilma, Maroma Resort & Spa (52-998/872-8200; www.maromahotel.com; doubles from $480), has bounced back with nine new Sian Nah (Mayan for "house of heaven") Suites, each with its own massage space, plunge pool, and terrace. Toast the revitalization with a mango-and-cilantro margarita while lounging on a waterfront bed at the new alfresco bar.
WHERE TO EAT Playa del Carmen, once a quaint fishing village and now the Riviera’s cultural hub, has the largest variety of restaurants in the area. Start the day with freshly roasted granola or cactus empanadas and queso fresco at La Cueva del Chango (Calle 38 near La Quinta; 52-984/873-2137; breakfast for two $15), just off the main thoroughfare. Night is as exciting as day in Playa del Carmen. Restaurante Carnes (Calle 1 between 20th and 25th Aves.; no phone; dinner for two $14) serves tender carne domestica from the nearby ranches around Monterrey. Later, head to Mambocafé (Calle 6 between 10th and La Quinta; 52-984/803-2656), which attracts a serious salsa crowd, and the beachfront Blue Parrot (12th St. on the beach, off La Quinta; 52-984/206-3350), one of the oldest local hangouts.
WHAT TO DO While Tulum is the most well-known of the Mayan ruins, Cobá has fewer tourists and lies hidden in a thick expanse of jungle. Bring binoculars to Playacar’s bird sanctuary, which has 60 different species. —Stirling Kelso
South America’s Next Great City
This South American megalopolis gets more glamorous by the minute—and more accessible. Hop on a nine-hour overnight American flight and escape to summer (literally). Now is when the natives, who famously gripe when the mercury drops below 70 degrees, are at their liveliest.
WHERE TO STAY Singer Caetano Veloso is rumored to have a room reserved year-round at the airy Emiliano (384 Rua Oscar Freire; 55-11/3068-4399; www.emiliano.com.br; doubles from $320). Hotel Fasano (88 Rua Vittorio Fasano; 55-11/3896-4000; www.fasano.com.br; doubles from $506) has a retro-classic feel, and the futuristic Hotel Unique (4700 Avda. Brigadeiro Luís Antônio; 55-11/3055-4710; www.hotelunique.com.br; doubles from $380) has some of the best city views.
WHERE TO EAT At Café de la Musique (1400 Avda. Jucelino Kubitschek; 55-11/3079-5588; dinner for two $120) the menu and décor rotate seasonally. Sushi chefs at the hot spot Nakombi (170 Rua Pequetita; 55-11/3845-9911; dinner for two $65), slice fish inside a VW bus. For lunch, head to Figueira Rubaiyat (1738 Rua Haddock Lobo; 55-11/3063-3888; dinner for two $110), built up around a cyclopean fig tree.
WHAT TO DO Browse cutting-edge clothing at Clube Chocolate (913 Rua Oscar Freire; 55-11/3084-1500), a warm-up for Daslu (131 Avda. Chedid Jafet; 55-11/3841-4000), the city’s gargantuan temple of chic. Spend Saturday afternoon in the Pinheiros neighborhood, flipping through vintage bossa nova LP’s at the Praça Benedito Calixto flea market. In the evening, "urban bossa" and other live music entertains an energetic crowd at Grazie a Dio! (67 Rua Girassol; 55-11/3031-6568) and Brazilian DJ’s spin at Love Club & Lounge (189 Rua Pequetita; 55-11/3044-1613). —Karen Keller
An Affordable Villa Vacation
Everyone’s favorite affordable (and no-fuss) Jamaican resort, the Rockhouse, has upped the ante by adding eight villas, which make it possible to sleep in style—and stay on a budget. But be sure to cut yourself loose from the comforts of your waterfront nest: exploring the island is easier than ever, thanks to a new road linking Montego Bay to the bohemian party town of Negril.
WHERE TO STAY The new villas at the laid-back and understated Rockhouse (West End Rd., Negril; 876/957-4373; www.rockhousehotel.com; villas from $295) have terraces, outdoor showers, and views of Pristine Cove.
WHERE TO EAT Don’t miss the Jamaican Jambalaya, a rich mélange of fresh crayfish, shrimp, and conch, at the Rockhouse Restaurant (dinner for two $90). The Lobster Trapp (Sawyer’s Beach Rd., Hopewell; 876/783-5046; dinner for two $50), a shack just outside Montego Bay, is famous for its fresh-fish menu. Diners must call ahead to place an order with Derby, a local fisherman who catches and cooks the evening’s meal.
WHAT TO DO A 15-minute cab ride from the Rockhouse, the Royal Palm Reserve (Springfield Rd.; Sheffield; 876/364-7407; www.royalpalmreserve.com) buzzes with more than 300 types of birds, butterflies, and reptiles. Kayak along the coast to Rick’s Café (West End Rd., Negril; 876/957-0380; drinks for two $12) for a rum punch, a dip in the new pool, and a view of the daily cliff-diving show. A festive crowd mingles at Alfred’s Ocean Palace (Norman Manley Blvd., Negril; 876/957-4669) for live reggae rhythms, then heads to the end of the driveway, where jerk chicken awaits, courtesy of the chef, Blue Dandy. —Xander Kaplan
The Original Hawaii
From cloud forests to lava cliffs, with fewer than 3,000 residents—and not a fast-food joint or stoplight in sight— Lanai offers a glimpse of what the other Hawaiian islands were like more than a half-century ago. Only now, there are two luxurious Four Seasons resorts, each glistening from a $50 million touch-up.
WHERE TO STAY Set in the verdant highlands, more Pacific Northwest than South Pacific, the Lodge at Koele (1 Keomoku Hwy.; 800/321-4666; www.fourseasons.com; doubles from $295) has large rooms, sprawling gardens, and two new fireplaces in the Great Hall—perfect for winter’s cooler evenings. For a more traditional Hawaiian vacation, book a night at Koele’s beachside sister property, Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay (1 Manele Bay Rd.; 808/565-2000; doubles from $395).
WHERE TO EAT Local power-lunchers belly up to the Formica counter at Canoes Lanai (419 Seventh St.; 808/ 565-6537; lunch for two $20), a 60-year-old fixture, for blue-plate specials such as orange chicken and roast pork. From a cushy rattan chair at the Ocean Grill (Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay; 808/565-2094; dinner for two $120), take in the ultimate tropical scene while savoring perfectly grilled opakapaka (snapper), mahimahi, and Kona lobster.
WHAT TO DO December through April marks the seasonal migration of humpbacked whales through the waters off Lanai. Hook up with the naturalists at Trilogy (888/628-4800; www.visitlanai.com), who pilot small groups in a 32-foot inflatable boat. For an inland adventure, hike the five-mile trail along the Koloiki Ridge, which has unparalleled views. —Malia Boyd
Off the Beach and into the City
San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline has always lured visitors, but in the past several years, the urban landscape has started to rival the natural one. Neighborhoods are developing, restaurants are opening, and—a sure sign of a city on the rise—stylish hotels are cropping up all over town.
WHERE TO STAY Built in 1910 by Ulysses S. Grant Jr., the US Grant hotel (326 Broadway; 619/232-3121; www.usgrant.net; doubles from $400) reopens this month after a $52 million enhancement. Its residential-style rooms have a dash of eccentricity, such as headboards painted by French artist Yves Clement. The Keating Hotel (432 F St.; 619/814-5700; www.thekeating.com; doubles from $429) was designed by Pininfarina, the Italian team behind Ferrari and Maserati. You’ll find a few more brand names inside the 35 guest rooms: Bang & Olufsen stereos, Dornbracht bath fixtures, and Lavazza espresso machines. Finally, the $75 million renovation—complete with rooftop pool and four-level nightclub—of the Ivy Hotel (845 Sixth Ave.; 619/814-1000; www.theivyhotel.com) will be unveiled in late December.
WHERE TO EAT Addison (5200 Grand Del Mar Way; 858/314-1900; www.thegranddelmar.com; dinner for two $150) at the Grand Del Mar resort has a Mediterranean menu heavy on local ingredients. Also opening this fall: Bondi (333 Fifth Ave.; 619/342-0212; www.thebondi.com; dinner for two $76), an Australian restaurant and bar, and Jade Theater (701 E. Sixth St.; 619/843-7280; dinner for two $90), a multilevel lounge serving Southeast Asian fare.
WHAT TO DO After dinner, hit the expansive nightclub Stingaree (454 Sixth Ave.; 619/544-9500), the town’s hottest new haunt. —Bridget Moriarity
Visit the Old Town Without the Summer Hordes
Remember the romance of Prague in the early nineties—the faded façades, the atmospheric bars, the thrill of discovering a secret city?During the summer, when you’re elbow-to-elbow with beer-swilling tourists in the Old Town, those halcyon days seem far away. But fairy-tale Prague is there, especially if you visit in winter, when the crowds have dispersed. Stroll down the quiet cobblestoned streets and explore the castle and churches. Spend an afternoon reading Kafka or Kundera in a café, and an evening sampling Czech cuisine (dumplings, cabbage, and Budvar beer), preferably served at a candlelit table on a frosty night.
WHERE TO STAY Book a room in the heart of the Mala Strana, arguably the city’s most charming quarter, in the new Mandarin Oriental (459/1 Nebovidská; 420-2/3308-8888; www.mohg.com; doubles from $269). The 99 guest rooms, designed by London-based architect Khuan Chew (who’s also responsible for the interiors of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab), incorporate modern amenities (high-definition TV’s) with the building’s historic architecture (high ceilings; parquet floors). Don’t miss the spa lobby’s transparent floor, set above the ruins of a medieval church.
WHERE TO EAT At Pravda (17 Parízská; 420-2/2232-6203; lunch for two $100), one of the city’s best restaurants, the space is minimalist, and the dishes are anything but. Try the rich tagliatelle with Parma ham and artichokes. For a cozy atmosphere and Czech classics (pork tenderloin stuffed with plums, rabbit in garlic, and spinach with potato dumplings), head to the antiques-filled U Modre Kachnicky (6 Nebovidská; 420-2/5732-0308; dinner for two $120). Though the dining room has hosted its share of celebrities, the restaurant maintains a low profile, which keeps the place convivial and decidedly local.
WHAT TO DO The often-overlooked Müller Villa (14 Nad Hradním Vodojemem; 42-2/2431-2012; www.mullerovavila.cz) is a must-see for fans of Modernism. Designed by architect Adolf Loos, the perfectly restored home is a window into another era.
WHAT TO BUY If you’re looking for something other than the ubiquitous beer stein, visit Ungelt Courtyard, behind the Tyn Church, where small shops sell wooden toys and marionettes. Better yet: Pick up some Art Nouveau antiques from Antique Ungelt (1 Tyn; 420-2/2489-5454).
WHAT TO READ Prague’s literary history is a long and rich one. First on the reading list: Franz Kafka’s The Trial, which takes its setting from the Old Town. Next is Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, on the descent of the Iron Curtain, followed by Myla Goldberg’s Time’s Magpie: A Walk in Prague, which observes the city’s recent progress. The best place to find these books (and more) is among the 10,000-strong volumes at The Globe (6 Pstrossova; 420-2/2493-4203).
INSIDER TIP Café Slavia (1 Národní Trîda; 420/224-218-493; breakfast for two $15) is a city landmark (built in 1887) and an anachronistic holdout in quickly changing Eastern Europe. Though the café is often packed, if you arrive in the morning you can grab a prime seat overlooking the Vltava River. Another way to avoid the crowds: Bundle up and stroll the Charles Bridge at night for a postcard-perfect glimpse of the city. —Shann Fountain
Whistler, British Columbia
North America’s Best Ski Resort Hits Its Stride
Long known as the land of twisted dreads and cannabis-smoking ski bums, this bucolic village deep in Canada’s Coast Ranges is lately more trendsetting than tree-hugging, and appeals to clientele who come for the scene as much as for the precipitous peaks.
WHERE TO STAY The year-old Adara Hotel (4122 Village Green; 866/502-3272 or 604/905-4009; www.adarahotel.com; doubles from $379) has an updated take on traditional lodge décor, such as the 10 pairs of glowing antlers adorning the lobby’s white walls. The owner-operators of Sundial Boutique Hotel (4340 Sundial Crescent; 800/661-2321; www.sundialhotel.com; doubles from $135) recently poured $8.5 million into their mountainside property, adding a full-service spa.
WHERE TO EAT Ultramodern Après (103–4338 Main St.; 604/935-0200; www.apresrestaurant.com; dinner for two $179) fuses French and Italian cuisine in dishes such as Carnaroli risotto with white asparagus and wild mushrooms. Also new is Elements (102B–4359 Main St.; 604/932-5569; www.wildwoodrestaurants.ca; dinner for two $50), a boisterous tapas lounge where diners graze on Dungeness-crab salad with miso dressing. After dinner, head to The Mix by Ric’s (4154 Village Green; 604/932-6499). Here, fresh-fruit martinis have replaced hot chocolate as the drink of choice.
WHAT TO DO Who needs Sundance?From November 30 to December 3, Hollywood sophisticates hit the slopes (and the silver screen) during the sixth annual Whistler Film Festival. For more on the cultural front, check out the unusual collection of rare Inuit sculptures and jewelry at dealer Britt Germann’s new Path Gallery (122–4338 Main St.; 604/932-7570; www.pathgallery.com). —Alysha Brown
Midwinter is far from bleak in the Swedish capital. Yes, the days are short and dark, but the locals know a thing or two about keeping warm. They hang glowing stars in windows, burn torches outside cafés and restaurants, and hit the Old Town’s glogg stalls for steaming cups of mulled wine. And in the bars and clubs around the Stureplan neighborhood, some of Europe’s best nightlife really starts heating up.
WHERE TO STAY At the centrally located 65-room Berns (8 Näckströmsgatan; 46-8/5663-2200; www.berns.se; doubles from $306), the bedrooms are minimalist and the public spaces baroque. What’s more, some of the city’s top mixologists staff the cocktail bar. For a base right next to Stureplan, try the newly redone and highly polished Scandic Anglais (23 Humlegårdsgatan; 46-8/5173-4000; www.scandic-hotels.se; doubles from $264).
WHERE TO EAT A meal among the city’s elite in Café Opera (Opera House; 46-8/676-5807; www.cafeopera.se; dinner for two $150), a gilded and frescoed salon with a rich, seafood-heavy menu, is a must. Then head through to the Opera House to catch a performance of Pippi Longstocking: The Ballet. Performances begin November 25 and continue through January.
WHAT TO DO Start at Riche (4 Birger Jarlsgatan; 46-8/5450-3560), a bistro-bar that attracts an affluent post-work crowd. After 10 p.m., move on to Laroy (21 Biblioteksgatan; 46-8/5450-7650), a decadent bar-club that pulls in a fashionable set. From there, it’s just a few steps to Sturecompagniet (4 Sturegatan; 46-8/5450-3715), which cemented its reputation as Stockholm’s most exclusive club by opening V, a 250-person VIP section. End the night at the White Room (29 Jacobsbergsgatan). Echoing the scene outside, the interior is snow-white and theatrically lit. —Stephen Whitlock
Cold Comfort in the Poconos
Forget the 800-calorie-a-day limits and mandatory hikes at those other spas. The Lodge at Woodloch, the first destination spa to open in the States in a decade, focuses on well-being through community, pleasure, and making good choices, not asceticism.
WHERE TO STAY Set on 75 lakeside acres, the 58-room Lodge at Woodloch (866/953-8500 or 570/685-8500; www.thelodgeatwoodloch.com; doubles from $1,500, including all meals and daily treatments) brings the outdoors in, so guests don’t have to brave the elements: glass walls frame an oak forest, enclosed porches cantilever over a fire circle, and an open-air infinity whirlpool is surrounded by radiant-heat stone floors. Request a room with a balcony overlooking the oak forest. Whatever direction you face, you get Frette linens, flat-screen TV’s, and enough space in your marble bathroom for a cocktail party (which is allowed at this spa).
WHERE TO EAT Chef Lyle Bolyard, formerly of the Phoenician and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, has raised the typical fat regulation on spa cuisine from 20 to 25 percent, which means every miso cod and sweet potato–jalepeño soup has exquisite flavor. An added bonus: pair that bison burger with a glass of reserve Pinot Noir or a buttery Chimay ale.
WHAT TO DO This retreat, two hours west of New York City, is heaven for active types. Tai chi, power yoga, Pilates, ice-skating, and morning walks are on the schedule every day. When it’s offered, don’t miss watercolor painting with Judy or an hour in the demo kitchen with Chef Lyle. Should you require a little retail therapy with your radiance facial, the Woodbury Commons outlet mall—with Hugo Boss and Chanel boutiques—is an hour east, en route to Manhattan. —Heidi Mitchell
The Southwest, Under Snow
If you think summer is the only time to visit the Southwest, think again. Winter in Santa Fe means adobe walls frosted with snow and air scented with fragrant piñon smoke. There’s also plenty to see, from SITE Santa Fe’s acclaimed biennial, which runs through January 7, to the art spaces that line Canyon Road. And just beyond the city, the ski slopes of Taos beckon.
WHERE TO STAY Check into the Inn of the Five Graces (150 E. DeVargas St.; 505/992-0957; www.fivegraces.com; doubles from $295), where the 24 rooms are a textured blend of the East (tile mosaics, kilim rugs) and the Southwest (kiva fireplaces).
WHERE TO EAT The intimate bar at Ristra (548 Agua Fria; 505/982-8608; dinner for two $90) is a jewel box of contemporary design, with an exacting menu to match. Nobody’s told chef Rham Fama of Fuego (330 E. Palace Ave.; 505/986-0000; dinner for two $130), that the restaurant is not deep in the French countryside and every guest a potential Michelin rater, so the food and service shimmer accordingly. Craving some local fare?Sidle into Castro’s (3904 Rodeo Rd.; 505/438-0146; dinner for two $30) for platters of tamales and chiles rellenos, and finish with honey-drizzled sopaipillas.
WHAT TO DO The challenging runs at Taos Ski Valley (www.skitaos.org) are just an hour-and-a-quarter-drive away, but Santa Fe Ski Basin (www.skisantafe.com) and Sipapu Ski Resort (www.sipapunm.com) are right outside the city. Save time for an afternoon in one of the Japanese-style outdoor wooden hot tubs at the Ten Thousand Waves spa (505/992-5025; www.tenthousandwaves.com). —Candace Walsh
Beaver Creek, Colorado
The Quintessential Winter Village
Though it can’t compete with the beau-monde glamour of Aspen or the vast scale of Vail, the trim little town of Beaver Creek is Colorado’s most well-rounded resort. Known for its downhill slopes, the town also has snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice-skating, and plenty of après-ski appeal.
WHERE TO STAY For a seat at the base of the mountain, the polished, 190-room Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (970/949-1234; www.parkhyatt.com; doubles from $550) can’t be beat. Plus, the hotel’s Allegria Spa just doubled in size after a $12 million renovation. The lofty Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch (970/748-6200; www.ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $625), which is accessible both by ski and a 15-minute shuttle from Beaver Creek, is the apotheosis of luxe-lodge style with its private chairlift, a cosseting spa, and an underground hot-tub grotto. Even if you don’t book a room, do pop in for an afternoon drink and a taste of Aspen-style high life at the bar; on a nice day you can sit outside and watch the skiers come down the mountain.
WHERE TO EAT Beano’s Cabin (970/949-9090; dinner for two $198) ferries diners up the mountain on a sleigh before serving them a decadent prix-fixe dinner. For sushi, head to Foxnut (122 The Plaza; 970/845-0700; dinner for two $110), in the town center.
WHAT TO DO Good news for expert skiers: a set of steep gladed runs, the Stone Creek Chutes, is set to open this year. Not so keen on the expert-only—or even beginner—terrain?Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are making a comeback, and Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park, an enormous Nordic playground with 20 miles of winding trails, is leading the charge. —Amy Farley
The local intelligentsia frequent Filial (254 Rua Fidalga; 55-11/3813–9226), where schoppe (draft beer) flows into the wee hours.
Alight for the evening in a thatched-roof “tree house” at Tensing Pen (West End Rd., Negril; 876/957-0387; www.tensingpen.com; doubles from $283) Or, for a splurge, book a suite at The Caves, a charming Cliffside resort just down the road. (West End Rd., 800/688-7678; doubles from 765, all inclusive)
For an active break from the ocean, ask your concierge to book you a session at the Lanai Pine Sporting Clays & Archery Range (lessons from $75); shooting classes are held on a 14-station course that stretches across the island’s inland gulches and pampas.
This bamboo-walled hut beckons travelers with its oceanside setting: rickety woven chairs overlook colorful boats and yards of netting. Crack open a fresh-caught grilled lobster, lightly seasoned with chef Derby’s special blend of jerk spices.
Located atop Negril’s limestone cliffs, the Caves is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort surrounded by 10 acres of tropical gardens. The resort seems to rise organically from the cliffs, with curved-stone walls and stairways leading down to the water. The 12 thatched-roof cottages are built of wood and stone, and each is individually decorated with bright pastels, island-style fabrics, handcrafted wicker furniture, and large windows that open onto views of the Caribbean. The bar, spa, and saltwater pool overlook the sea, and a candlelit cave is available for private dining. Water activities include cliff diving, snorkeling, and kayaking.
Tensing Pen Resort
Tensing Pen is one of those rare island hideaways that has made the successful transition from 1974 hippie hangout to rustic-chic boutique hotel. With everything from yoga classes and seaside massages to hammocks strung beneath trees overlooking the ocean, the emphasis is on total relaxation. From the outside, the cluster of thatched-roof, stone-and-dark-wood bungalows (housing 23 different room, suite, and villa accommodations) looks vaguely Asian, while the furnishings inside are a whimsical blend of rattan, bamboo, and heavy wooden furniture with jewel-toned accents in the form of Caribbean folk art.
Room to Book: Two-story bungalows like South House and Long House have stunning views of the blue water from their private balconies, but the most romantic is Cove Cottage, set on a cliff above the sea.
The local intelligentsia frequent Filial, where schoppe (draft beer) flows into the wee hours.
Ten Thousand Waves Spa
Tucked into a green hillside on the winding mountain road that leads to the Santa Fe Ski Area, Ten Thousand Waves has long attracted day visitors for its tranquil spa and outdoor soaking tubs. But it’s much more relaxing to book a lengthier stay at the property, which is modeled after a Japanese onsen, with various private and communal tubs set among piñon trees. The 13 sleek and peaceful cottages, which tumble down a bluff beneath (and out of view from) the spa, are outfitted with Bose sound systems, refrigerators and microwaves, and either decks or patios that overlook meadows abundant with wildflowers in spring and summer. Although all share a minimalist aesthetic that includes low-slung Japanese-style beds, the décor and amenities vary greatly from unit to unit. The high-tech Sailor Moon cottage, for instance, has a high-ceilinged two-person shower and lighting and electronic gadgetry controlled by wireless remote; the more traditionally Asian Suigetsu unit is kitted out with serene shoji-screen room dividers and soft, indirect lighting. Some cottages have full kitchens, flat-screen TV’s, fireplaces, and high-speed Internet access.
Sipapu Ski Resort
Less than an hour's drive from Santa Fe, in Vadito, is the Sipapu Ski Resort, with 31 runs on 70 acres. The resort is family-friendly, with runs at all ability levels, short lift lines, three free ski lessons, and events such as snow castle building and a cardboard derby. The lack of televisions, WiFi, and phones allow families to focus on each other. Summer activities include trout fishing, disc golf, geocaching, hikes, and rock climbing. Lodging options range from hotel rooms and cabins to campsites and mobile homes. The Riverside Cafe offers diner food, such as the green chili stew.
Santa Fe Ski Basin
Just 16 miles outside of Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe has 67 trails, at all ability levels. With a base height of 10,350 feet, the Santa Fe Basin in one of the highest in the U.S.; the Millennium Triple chairlift carries skiers to a soaring 12,000 feet and an incredible view. Ski Santa Fe also offers a freestyle terrain park, classes for children and adults, and hiking in the summer. Three cafes are available: the Base Lodge, La Casa Cafe, which serves burritos and hot chocolate, and Totemoff's Bar, with drinks, sandwiches, and fajitas.
Taos Ski Valley
Explore the 110 runs at the property, including some very challenging trails.
Easy to overlook in a strip mall on Cerrillos Road, Cafe Castro's is frequented by locals for their simple New Mexican food. The cafe is decorated in the usual Santa Fe style: terra cotta floors, thick vigas, and Mexican art, including Dia De Los Muertos paintings. The sopaipillas are the most popular dish -- fluffy fried tortillas filled with beef or served as dessert with honey. Another menu staple is the triple enchilada; one cheese, one chicken, and one beef enchilada topped with red and green chile sauce and a fried egg and served with a side of beans and rice.
Located in the luxury resort La Posada de Santa Fe, Fuego restaurant looks like a high-end hacienda, with tall, dark-wood-beamed ceilings, iron chandeliers, tapestries hanging from the walls and a roaring oversized fireplace. The dining patio has a fountain with a fire feature in the center. The New American menu is seasonal but most items pull from the local bounty. Try the duck breast confit, stuffed with almonds, cherries, and cheese, wrapped in bacon, and served with potatoes and ramps. Their Sunday brunch is popular, with a la carte menu options like a seafood and brie omelet.
Just a five-minute walk from the Plaza, Ristra serves French cuisine with Southwestern accents. The Victorian-style adobe house is decorated with earth tones, spare lines, modern lighting, and Navajo rugs; there is also seating on the porch or under the shady arbor on the back patio. A popular appetizer is the steamed mussels in coconut milk and chipotle. Try the duck leg confit served with lavender-flavored lentils and mixed greens with toasted pepitas and dried cranberries. Finish your meal with warm almond butter cake with apples and mascarpone caramel.
Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, The Keating Hotel is the first hotel designed by Italian auto house, Pininfarina (designer of Ferrari and Maserati). Built in 1890, the stark Romanesque exterior gives the hotel an old world feel, but the interior has minimalist Italian furniture, bright red accents. The loft-like rooms have exposed brick walls and marble bathrooms, and each comes with lavish amenities like goose down duvets, LaVazza espresso machines, custom robes, and HD entertainment systems by Bang & Olufsen. The Merk and Krust are two on-premise, Italian-inspired eateries. Some rooms feature Pininfarina-designed “morphesis” whirlpool tubs.
The U.S. Grant, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Hook up with the naturalists at Trilogy, who pilot small groups in a 32-foot inflatable boat.
Ocean Grill, Lanai
It’s all about simple, no-frills dining at this small Lanai City restaurant. The small building’s red and white exterior is unassuming, and a passing visitor may miss it on the way by. Inside though, the abundance of locals reflects its popularity. This diner is known for its breakfast and lunch, but it's not always open for dinner, so calling ahead is necessary. The most famous menu item is the Tanigawa Hamburger, a patty with cheese, bacon, fried egg, and the restaurant's signature sauce.
The magenta walls and ceiling, Japanese posters, and cascades of cutout-style flowers create bold colors above the sushi bar and bistro-style tables at this Asian-fusion restaurant. The eponymous house dish, Foxnuts, include spicy crab and tuna on crispy rice pillows, while the Foxnut roll is made with spicy crab, spicy tuna, avocado, and cucumber, wrapped in tuna and crab. A new specialty cocktail is available every day. During warm weather, the outdoor terrace offers tables with lime green chairs and mountain views.
Lodge at Woodloch
Escape from urban life at this lakeside retreat on 150 wooded acres two hours northwest of New York City, where hatha yoga sessions are followed by rounds of golf and wine tastings. The 40,000-square-foot spa is made for languid afternoons, thanks to its fireplace-equipped quiet room and hydromassage pools.
Alfred's Ocean Palace
Popular with the locals, Alfred’s Ocean Palace is a casual restaurant, entertainment venue, and hotel situated on Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach. The simple, concrete restaurant provides both dining room seating and outdoor tables, which are illuminated by candlelight after dark. The ever-changing menu emphasizes fresh seafood, with options including fish-and-chips, curried conch, and broiled lobster served with rice and peas. Dishes are paired with Red Stripe or fresh fruit cocktails from the bar. Alfred’s also hosts nightly concerts, including high-energy reggae shows on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday. The bands are often accompanied by local fire-breathers, contortionists, dancers, and comedians.
Royal Palm Reserve
The property buzzes with more than 300 types of birds, butterflies, and reptiles.
Echoing the scene outside, the interior is snow-white and theatrically lit.
Stockholm’s most exclusive club includes V, a 250-person VIP section.
After 10 p.m., move on to Laroy, a decadent bar-club that pulls in a fashionable set.
Just a five-minute walk from Stureplan, this century-old restaurant is modeled after the famed Café Riche in Paris. Often packed with members of the local elite, the dim interior evokes old-fashioned glamour with long leather banquettes, gold-framed mirrors, and crystal chandeliers. The menu includes French classics, such as onion soup, as well as traditional Swedish dishes like biff rydberg (fried steak with onions, potatoes, horseradish cream, and egg yolk). After dinner, live DJ’s create a party-like atmosphere in the two adjacent bars.
Café Opera, Stockholm
A meal among the city’s elite in Café Opera a gilded and frescoed salon with a rich, seafood-heavy menu, is a must. Then head through to the Opera House to catch a performance.
The Scandic Anglais hotel is centrally located beside the Humlegården park, just a five-minute walk from Stureplan. The lobby is almost entirely white, with clean-lined sofas and a handful of contemporary art installations. Similarly styled, the 230 guest rooms are designed in a black and white palette with dark red accents, hardwood floors, and large windows, some overlooking Humlegården. The hotel also contains three bars, which are popular with both guests and locals. The breakfast buffet (served until 2 p.m. on weekends) is included in the room rates, and the on-site restaurant serves traditional Swedish entrées like meatballs with lingonberry.
Check out the unusual collection of rare Inuit sculptures and jewelry at dealer Britt Germann's gallery.
The Mix by Ric's
Love Club & Lounge
Brazilian DJ's spin all night at this local hot spot.
Grazie a Dio!
In the evening, "urban bossa" and other live music entertains an energetic crowd .
The 25,000-square-foot store is the city’s gargantuan temple of chic - dealing in everything from cars to carry-alls.
A Figueira Rubaiyat
A Jardins steak house legendary for its Saturday feijoada buffet.
Café de la Musique
A paneled art piece featuring the national flag hangs above the bar in this stylish supper club, where a different Brazilian designer has decorated each of the three rooms with punchy fabrics. On the dining end, much of the cuisine comes from Italian roots, be it the risotto with cod and peas or spinach ravioli with egg yolk. But there's also Japanese cuisine ranging from sashimi to grilled tuna and wasabi mashed-potatoes. Club-goers sit on sofas or at wooden tables, listening to electronic music. And, as the evening progresses, cocktail sipping is traded in for dancing.
Super Carnes HC de Monterrey
A local institution in Playa del Carmen, Super Carnes is a small, open-air restaurant known for its grilled steak. The unassuming space is decorated with plastic furniture, and although the restaurant plays to tourists with piñatas and mariachi music, the food is authentically Mexican. Supplied by ranches in the Monterrey region, the hand-cut steaks are served with grilled chiles, fresh avocado, and baked potatoes, as well as a basket of corn tortillas. Other specialties include the tacos de arrachera (skirt steak marinated in beer, vinegar, garlic, and onion) and the homemade horchata, a traditional beverage made with rice and cinnamon.
La Cueva del Chango
Meaning “the monkey cave,” La Cueva del Chango is an immersive dining experience. The restaurant is designed to resemble a cave, complete with small waterways, lush tropical foliage, and a pair of resident spider monkeys. The Mexican fare includes chicken in mole sauce with beans and rice, as well as tuna with a sesame seed and cascabel-chile crust. Juices and milkshakes made with fresh fruits are also served. Seating is available in the covered mock cave, as well as on the open-air patio.
One of the city’s most celebrated cafés, Slavia opened in 1881 and soon became a gathering place for artists and intellectuals, including Franz Kafka and former president Václav Havel. Today, the café retains a 1930’s Art Deco design, with tapered light fixtures and large windows framing views of the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and National Theatre. On one wall hangs Viktor Oliva’s most famous painting, The Absinthe Drinker. The café is known for its coffees and cakes as well as its extensive breakfast menu and home-style Czech specialties, such as baked duck with sour cabbage and potato dumplings.
The Globe Bookstore & Café
Housed in a century-old building with 30-foot vaulted ceilings, the Globe opened in 1993 as the city’s first English language bookstore. Situated in Nové Mesto (New Town), the shop sells international newspapers alongside 10,000 new and used books, including fiction, history books, art books, and a large collection of children’s literature. Adjacent to the shop, the café has bright red walls hung with local art as well as a seasonal outdoor patio, a full bar, and an all-day menu of American dishes ranging from burgers to peanut butter cheesecake. The café also hosts special events, including Sunday night film screenings.
Ideal for visitors seeking high-quality souvenirs, Ungelt Courtyard is home to a number of small shops, including this fine antique store. Situated behind the Tyn Church, the courtyard began as a 12th-century marketplace where traveling merchants were required to pay customs duty (or ungelt, in Old German). The area deteriorated over the centuries until it was renovated between 1984 and 1996. Today, the courtyard is lined with stores like Antique Ungelt, which sells Art Nouveau porcelain alongside fine Baroque furniture.
One of the world’s most significant examples of functionalist architecture, Villa Müller is a severe, white cubic structure located in the village-like neighborhood of Strešoviče. Commissioned by original owners Milada and František Müller, the early Modernist villa was designed in 1930 by Austrian architect Adolf Loos. The stark white exterior has asymmetrical yellow-framed windows and an adjacent garden, while the interior reflects Loos’s Raumplan style, in which rooms are divided into different levels according to function. For instance, the boudoir has an upper level for socializing and a lower level for resting. Tours are available by reservation only.
U Modre Kachnicky
Ideal for special occasions, U Modre Kachnicky (which means “At the Blue Duckling”) serves traditional Czech cuisine in an intimate, old-world dining room. Situated in Malá Strana, the two-story restaurant contains a series of small rooms with vaulted ceilings, hand-painted frescoes, antique furniture, and live piano music. Enticing such guests as Morgan Freeman, Jean Paul Gaultier, and former president Václav Havel, the menu features duck and game dishes prepared by self-taught chef Michal Váňa. In addition to á la carte specialties like duck with walnut stuffing, the restaurant also has a degustation menu and an extensive wine list.
Mandarin Oriental, Prague
The youthful staff is helpful to the point of exuberance. The spa is set in a former Cistercian monastery (with a transparent floor revealing Gothic ruins beneath); the restaurant serves both pan-European cuisine—including a delicious pata negra ham appetizer and lots of game—and Asian dishes.
Les Mystères de Fès
The store is brimming with everything from jewelry to furniture.
Nestled deep into the medina, you’ll find the Belghazi Museum, a former 17th-century riad full of carpets, weapons, and wedding chests, some of which are for sale.
Dar Batha Museum
Visit the Dar Batha Museum to see its impressive collection of pottery, antique instruments, and Fassi embroidery.
La Maison Bleue Restaurant
Embedded in the warren of narrow passageways that make up Fez's medievalmedina, this luxurious riad has a design sense that reflects itsBerber, Andalusian, and European influences. The 26 rooms and suites—decoratedwith tile mosaics, carved cedar furnishings, locally woven rugs, and tadelakt or Carrara marble baths—are lovely, but the riad’s common areasare the true showstoppers. As well as a grand Moorish atrium, with twostories of painstakingly restored carved arches and columns, there’s alsoa colonnaded patio with a fountain-fed reflecting pool and an alfrescobar offering cigars and cocktails. At day's end, the place to be is theatmospheric roof terrace, with its panoramic view of the medina and theAtlas Mountains beyond.
La Maison Bleue
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
This 201-room property, has huge marble bathrooms and borders a marine reserve that’s home to spinner dolphins. At the pool, attendants nicknamed Dr. Lotion and Dr. Shade will refresh your sunscreen and clean or repair your sunglasses.
Located in the West End of Negril, the Rockhouse Restaurant features the creative Jamaican cuisine of chef Kevin Broderick. The deck, lit by tiki torches, is perched on top of the coral cliffs and overlooks the sea. In addition to a game room with brightly patterned sofas and lounges and wooden games such as chess and Connect Four, the casual, thatched roof restaurant offers a more grown-up space for relaxing—an open-air bar with orange, white, and green zigzag walls. Broderick's menu focuses on locally-inspired dishes such as chicken coated in crispy, shredded coconut and pineapple relish or stir fry with callaloo, chayote, rice, and peas.
Taking a sleigh ride to a log cabin may feel touristy, but when that cabin features the contemporary culinary creations of Beano's, it's hardly a tourist trap. Take the Snowcat-powered sleigh on a 20-minute journey (about as long as one wants to be exposed to a Rocky Mountain winter evening) and warm up by the hearth before sitting down to chef Steven Topple's five-course prix-fixe menu. While the seasonal dishes may sound familiar (Colorado rack of lamb, almond-crusted Rocky Mountain trout), the flawless preparation (like the braised short rib that barely clings to the bone) and unique accompaniments (saffron mashed potato, white cheddar mac and cheese) make the Beano's experience truly unique.
The three-story shop features cutting-edge local Brazilian clothing designs, luxe wood interiors, and a bird aviary.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa
To be a standout for families and spa-goers may seem an odd combination, but this 190-room, native-stone-and-timber Park Hyatt at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain (just 200 feet from the peak’s ski school) pulls it off with luxury to boot. Wander past the lobby’s elk-horn chandelier to rooms with oversize beds and baths featuring products from the hotel’s Allegria Spa. The spa, with a $12 million overhaul in 2006 that practically doubled its size to 30,000 square feet, is the perfect place to wind down after skiing to the hotel’s doorstep and handing off your gear to the ski valet. But kids are decidedly a focus here, with activities organized by Camp Hyatt (for kids 3–12), the village’s best heated outdoor pool and five hot tubs (two are adult-only), and daily story time in front of the Great Room fireplace, complete with complimentary hot cocoa.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele
An upcountry Hawaiian sensibility pervades this 20-acre central-highland property on sparsely populated Lanai. The 102 rooms and suites have verandas, many fronting the perfectly manicured lawns where croquet and lawn bowling are played. The backdrop is green hills, tall pines, and colorful gardens interspersed with glimpses of ocean from the Lodge's entrance. After a day of jeep tours, hiking, horseback riding, or skeet shooting, relax by the enormous stone fireplaces in the rustic Great Hall, sumptuous with dark rich wood, skylights, and libraries and sitting rooms in the wings.
This glass-and-marble tower has 57 white-on-white rooms accented with furniture designed by the Compana Brothers and Eames. Relax in the renovated spa or in your bathroom’s claw-foot tub. Best for Stylish travelers seeking easy access to the city’s top boutiques.
Ideally situated for exploring, dining, and clubbing in Central City, the Berns isn’t just an 82-room boutique hotel—there’s also a shockingly large restaurant-bar-nightclub in the landmark building. And by “large,” think Grand Central Station’s little sister (but with an evening-wear makeover). Many mistakenly wander into the glass-enclosed main entry with its spiral staircase and get lost; there’s also a discreet entry for hotel guests wishing to avoid the weekend crowds. Guest rooms come in an array of sizes, most are fairly spacious, and all are decorated with a tasteful mid-century-meets-modern touch: Akariesque light sculptures, curvilinear armchairs, and a mix of woods. As an added bonus, guests get free access to Sturebadet—an exclusive Moorish-style spa-fitness center a few blocks away that is well worth the visit, if just for the architecture.
Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa
Set amid lush foliage between Cancún and Tulum, Maroma is one a clutch of standout hotels along a prime swath of Riviera Maya beachfront. There you’ll find nine new Sian Nah (Mayan for “house of heaven”) Suites, each with its own plunge pool; a unique self-serve mud bar at the 7,000-square-foot, Mayan-inspired Kinan Spa; El Sol restaurant, serving modern Mayan-Creole dishes; and a fleet of waterfront beds. The 65 original, thatched-roof bungalows have also been spruced up with luxe linens, handpainted Mexican tiles, and handwoven hammocks and rugs. The charming staff, from the maids who scatter bougainvillea blossoms on your bed to the waiters who prepare guacamole tableside, elevate the experience from mundane to genuinely personal.
Inn of the Five Graces
This ultrahip hangout takes its name from its cluster of thatched-roof bungalows built atop rock cliffs that jut just above an aquamarine cove. Most of the 34 so-called rock houses are outfitted with private patios or sundecks; a few have private ladders leading right down into the sea. With four-poster beds made of local timber and covered in the softest linens, soaring ceilings, and giant windows facing the sea or gardens, the rooms encourage ordering breakfast in bed before venturing out for snorkeling in the sheltered waters of the reef or an “On the Rocks” massage (ask for Joy or Maureen) in the new open-air, cliff-top spa. Your dollars do double duty; your vacation helps build and repair local schools and expand libraries. Since 2004, the Rockhouse Foundation has donated over $500,000 to its community.
Shaped like a slice of watermelon, this 95-room property created by renowned Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake is a design junkie’s dream; the interiors have features including curved hallways, sloped walls, and oversize round windows. Best for Architecture geeks.
Brazilian innovators Isay Weinfeld and Marcio Kogan designed this sexy retreat with clubby leather armchairs and Brazilian modern art. Downstairs, there’s the see-and-be-seen Italian restaurant, where São Paulo’s creative set gathers. Best for Sophisticates and fashion gurus.
Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
With its own high-speed lift steps from the hotel and Wolfgang Puck's only Colorado outlet, the Ritz-Carlton—a giant lodgepole-and-timber cabin built in classic National Park-lodge style—is Beaver Creek's answer to convenience and luxury. It dominates the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, creating a postcard-pretty image as skiers schuss down the corduroy Cabin Fever trail to it, where ski valets stand at the ready. The 180 guest rooms and suites are decked out in Colorado rustic, with custom millwork and plenty of wood, while the marble bathrooms all have soaking tubs. Dip into the Bachelor Gulch spa, which has 19 treatment rooms, before dinner at Spago, which opened here in 2007.
Pushcart Restaurant & Rumbar
Order a Red Stripe by the pool from affable barmen Adrian and John, followed by curry goat or jerk pork. Try the Cartini cocktail, with rum, mint, cucumber, and brown sugar.
Trappers Cabin, a private house at Beaver Creek Resort, in Colorado, with four bedrooms, a personal chef, a housekeeper, and a roustabout (general man Friday).