If you let little things like snow or icy roads deter your actions, you’d never go anywhere between December and March. And oh, what a tragedy that would be, because some of the hottest packages around the globe are only available in the coldest months. From historic Charleston to heavenly Hangzhou, we’ve rounded up some serious trips for the season. All you need to pack are a passport and, possibly, a new parka.
Though it’s considered by many to be the place for summer, the Hamptons is just as lovely, and much less crowded, in the winter off-season. One place to truly find serenity in the vacation town is the 22-room, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Topping Rose House. A combination of an 1842 Greek-revival mansion and contemporary cabins, the intimate hotel is just the ticket for a winter getaway. Curl up in front of the fireplace in the sunny second-floor library or snag a window seat in your room and prop open a good book. Stretch out for a yoga class in the hotel’s bright studio or stroll over to the Dan Flavin Art Institute, a former firehouse that’s now home to nine pieces by the prolific light artist. When the sun’s out, layer up and hop into one of the hotel’s Lexus SUVs for a quick, complimentary ride to the beach. If it’s unseasonably warm, borrow a bike for the two-mile trek. Until the end of March, the two-night Horses and Hamptons promo, in which you’ll gallop through the snow on a horse from neighboring Campbell Stables, will be available.
Sitting right in the center of the city, Belmond Charleston Place is well located for those who’d rather walk than drive. After you settle into your room, stroll along King and Market streets, lined with boutiques and galleries, or walk just down the road to Charleston City Market to pick up locally made goods and handicrafts. For lunch, take a picnic basket from the Four-Star hotel and make your way to White Point Garden, a lovely park, dotted with antique cannons, that sits at the tip of the peninsula. History buffs are well aware that a number of handsome antebellum homes dot the city, but they’ll be delighted to know that four are actually a short walk from the hotel (Heyward-Washington House, Joseph Manigault House, Aiken-Rhett House and Edmondson-Alton House). When the long day of walking Charleston’s famed streets ends, take the elevator to dinner at Belmond Charleston Place’s Four-Star Charleston Grill for fried oysters with a side of live jazz. For those in search of savings around the holidays, the hotel’s Winter In Charleston promotion (10 percent off room rates and a $50 hotel credit) is music to the ears.
If there’s any country that knows how to truly enjoy winter, it’s Switzerland. The Swiss Riviera’s Le Mirador Kempinski is a 62-suite hotel sitting atop Mont Pèlerin that offers guests sweeping views of Lake Geneva, the Alps, the Swiss Riviera and the Rhone Valley. Another of the resort’s fantastic vantage points is from the country’s only Givenchy spa, where you can warm up in the sauna, steam baths and Jacuzzi. Once you’ve had a chance to relax and look around further, you’ll notice that proximity to the slopes is a plus at the property, too; there are nearly a dozen nearby ski resorts, all of which offer children’s programs. Though it’s easiest to hire a car, the hotel does have good public transportation connections as well. You can hop on the train downtown to Vevey in 20 minutes, drive to Lausanne in 30 minutes or be in Geneva in an hour. Gruyere, with a chocolate factory, 13th-century castle and a facility where its namesake cheese is made, makes a great day trip — that is, if you can tear yourself away from the modern Mediterranean fare at hotel restaurant Le Patio.
A 45-minute high-speed train ride from Shanghai, Hangzhou has long been considered one of the most beautiful cities in China and was a favorite of explorer Marco Polo. In spring, summer and fall, picturesque West Lake is surrounded by loads of tourists and thick trees that shade its paths. Come winter, though, it’s quieter and looks completely different: blank and peaceful. Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake sits just off the water, its 78 spacious rooms, starting from 678 square feet, looking out onto the hotel’s manicured garden. Hangzhou winters see temperatures hovering in the low 40s Fahrenheit. But in recent years, it’s been warmer. Things get even hotter over the next few months with the Winter Getaway deal, an offer consisting of daily breakfast, $90 in hotel credit and more. With the sun shining, taking one of the hotel’s complimentary bikes out for a spin is quite pleasant. Afterwards, you can warm up with a cup of local longjing tea, sit down for lunch at the hotel’s excellent restaurant Jin Sha or take a dip in the Balinese-inspired indoor pool.
While icy breezes blow in the rest of the United States, escape to the outskirts of Los Angeles where’s it’s always summer. The 162-room Viceroy Santa Monica certainly helps keep that illusion alive with a bold Kelly Wearstler-helmed design aesthetic and an overall sense of California cool. We can only imagine how glamorous the place will look for its big New Year’s Eve extravaganza. See for yourself by reserving a holiday party package that comes with overnight accommodations and two tickets to the masquerade ball. Before or after you ring in 2016, visit the Santa Monica Pier and walk down bustling Main Street. After a morning of hitting the pavement, cool off in one of the hotel’s two plunge pools. And while good dining can be found in a number of spots just outside the property, the onsite Tony DiSalvo-led Cast Restaurant and Lounge serves farm-to-table, New American-inspired cuisine that’s as popular with Angelenos as it is with out-of-town guests.