Winter Travel: Hotel Update
Head south of the equator to Punta del Este and join the jet set at Las Piedras Fasano (doubles from $850), which has 20 sleek bungalows designed by São Paulo–based Isay Weinfeld. The restaurant serves Italian dishes like osso buco and duck ravioli. A private car whisks guests to the exclusive La Barra and José Ignacio beaches, a five-minute drive away.
Culture buffs won’t want to miss the stylish Hotel Matilda (doubles from $295), a modern, white-walled retreat that overlooks San Miguel de Allende. On the walls: art from the owner’s collection, which includes works by such luminaries as Diego Rivera.
After a long-awaited two-year, $24 million renovation, Four Seasons Resort Nevis ($445) is back in business and better than ever. The 196 spruced-up guest rooms are decorated with teak furnishings and have sprawling outdoor verandas.
Play castaway at Anantara Kihavah Villas (doubles from $2,200), where frangipani-scented pool villas come with outdoor showers, private pools, and wooden decks that hover over a blue lagoon.
At the Taj Falaknuma Palace (doubles from $773) in Hyderabad, Rajasthani gardens, Edwardian paintings, and chandelier-filled halls are fit for a maharajah. The hotel, a 19th-century royal guest house, took 11 years to restore.
Four Seasons Resort, Nevis
After a long-awaited two-year, $24 million renovation completed in 2010, the hotel is back in business and better than ever. This 196-room-and-suite resort, fitted out with the requisite tennis courts (10 of them), a fitness center, biomorphic pools, and all the usual stylistic signatures of a global hospitality brand, is one among a handful of discreet, high-end properties on the island.
Taj Falaknuma Palace
You’ll trade your car for a horse and carriage at the gate of the Taj Falaknuma Palace, which crowns a hill above the city, and be showered with rose petals when you ascend the marble steps. After a 10-year restoration, this former palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad (once the world’s richest man) is now a living museum, with 60 opulent guest rooms done up in ivories and golds. Wander the property if you like: nothing is off limits, including the library of rare books. Adding to the fairy-tale setting, at sunset you’ll hear the lilting strains of a flute in the courtyard.
Las Piedras Fasano
When the cult-favorite Fasano Hotel brand opened its new spa retreat in Punta del Este, in-the-know jet-setters started packing their bags. Like the company’s urban properties in Rio and Sao Paulo, Las Piedras is a serious design destination thanks to Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, who opted for cowhide walls and sheepskin rugs in 32 guest casas that dot 1,800 acres of grassland. Though set away from the beach, the resort, which faces a bird-filled estuary and pine forest, is poised between three worlds—bustling Punta del Este, stylish Jose Ignacio, and the quiet countryside. It also shines in every season: in summer (November through February), the white-sand beaches of Punta del Este are a short shuttle-ride away; in spring and fall, guests spend the days on horseback rides and bike tours and evenings in hotel-hosted tango lessons; and in winter, the two restaurants are cozy gathering spots for travelers who prefer to enjoy the rustic estancia without the well-heeled crowds.
Hotel Matilda, located along one of San Miguel de Allende’s cobblestoned streets, stands out for its sleek white exterior and modern décor. Guest rooms are comfortable and contemporary (floor-to-ceiling windows, striking, industrial-style sliding wood doors), and local materials, such as Mexican calcutta marble floors, were incorporated whenever possible. Most rooms also have a patio or terrace with unparalleled views of downtown. The courtyard, with manicured gardens growing native plants, has an infinity pool, while the 4,700-square-foot spa is home to the city’s only hammam. Don’t miss the impressive collection of local art (including prints by Mexico City photographer Eduardo Zaylan) and a stop at the hotel restaurant, which relies on a local organic garden for its seasonal produce (case in point, the signature pork chops served with stone-ground grits and a jalapeño and caramelized onion relish).
Anantara Kihavah Villas
A quick seaplane ride from the capital of Male lands you on a private island ringed by white sand, coconut palms, and a reef that harbors schools of tropical fish. Play castaway here, where frangipani-scented pool villas come with outdoor showers, private pools, and wooden decks that hover over a blue lagoon. Ask for an overwater villa, then dine at one of the world's only underwater restaurants while gazing out at the ocean floor. For a little adventure, a dive master leads expeditions to search for gentle whale sharks in parts of the Indian Ocean beyond the Baa Atoll.