No matter if winter weather at home has been tough or tame, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone opposed to the idea of a little mid-season getaway. Come February, that seasonal affective disorder (yes, it’s real) or post-holiday lull can strike out of nowhere. It leaves many travelers craving a change of scenery, be it at the beach or on the slopes.
“Extreme winter weather is good news for travel advisors,” says Judy Stein, a Virtuoso advisor from New York City. “There’s a direct correlation between snowstorm forecasts and last-minute getaways to warm-weather locales or other new places. Be it the Caribbean or Paris, the point is to get away, stay at a fabulous hotel, and immerse yourself in a destination. With a great trip, winter can become a much brighter season.”
So, where to? Inspired by a trio of recent jaunts by a former head of state, a smitten prince, and a few queens of reality TV, here are three great, Virtuoso-friendly ideas for winter vacations. (Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?)
Head to the Caribbean.
After jetting from the White House to Palm Springs, the Obamas continued their much-deserved vacation at Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s 74-acre private retreat in the British Virgin Islands. Barack and Michelle relaxed, hit the beach, and joined Branson for a kite-surfing excursion seen ‘round the world. Visits to Necker Island are as active or laid-back as you want them to be: Beyond the array of water sports options, choose to spend the afternoon lazing by the pool or zip-lining down to Turtle Beach. While Necker Island is typically rented out for exclusive use (for up to 33 people at a time), guests can book a bungalow a few times a year during one of the island’s “Celebration Weeks.” Virtuoso amenities include breakfast daily and two complimentary one-hour massages.
Live la vida villa in Costa Rica.
With a fleet of paparazzi close behind, the Kardashian clan hopped from L.A. down to Costa Rica for a few days at Villa Manzu, an eight-bedroom, oceanfront estate on the Peninsula Papagayo. The ultra-luxe, 30,000-square-foot rental easily meets the family’s A-list requirements, with two swimming pools, a movie theater, and a 22-person staff. Hop in one of the villa’s Range Rovers or Jeeps (driver included) and head into the surrounding rainforest, full of several Instagram-worthy spots for starring in your own impromptu photo shoot. Virtuoso amenities include breakfast daily and a $500 spa credit.
Quit shoveling snow and ski on it instead.
Royal rumor has it that Prince Harry is taking his girlfriend, Canadian actress Meghan Markle, and friends away to Verbier, Switzerland, for a week of skiing and bonding at The Lodge, Verbier. In the summer, the chalet’s nine rooms can be booked separately, but it’s an exclusive-use rental for up to 18 in the winter. Switzerland’s popular Four Valleys ski resorts keep guests busy by day, who return to the lodge for a chef-prepared dinner, drinks by the fireplace, and rounds of billiards in the party room. Virtuoso amenities include breakfast daily and two complimentary one-hour massages.