According to the Chinese Zodiac, the 2014 Year of the Horse is a fortuitous year for travel, social success and good luck. That said, the Lunar New Year is the perfect excuse to go big if you’re up for a far-flung adventure. But if you thought said adventures were only in the cards for Asian revelers, you’ve got another thing coming. Here is a rundown of five places around the globe that aren’t horsing around when it comes to properly ringing in the Chinese New Year.
Boasting a rich, shared heritage with the Chinese culture, Sydney, Australia serves up true foodie events during one of the biggest CNY festivals outside of China. For a haute kickoff, sip luxuriously from Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney’s Chinese-influenced high tea menu, which includes an inspired lychee and lemongrass cream Mille-Feuille with caramelized puff pastry and raspberries, and a matcha green tea macaron with toasted pandan marshmallow. Eat up through February 9 at Lunar Feasts, when 29 Asian restaurants offer prix fixe meals, including chef-restaurateur Chui Lee Luk’s new hit Chow Bar & Eating House and the world-famous Din Tai Fung dumpling bar. Or make your own way to David Chang’s artful Momofuku Seiōbo after a day at the annual Dragon Boat Races (February 8 and 9) at Cockle Bay Wharf or before a sparkling evening under the lanterns at the Chinese New Year Twilight Parade (February 2).
The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta lights up the February 5 night sky with a celebration that showcases the hotel group’s cultural roots with a little southern flair. In homage to 2014’s honorary animal, a horse from nearby Chastain Horse Park will greet hotel guests. From the stately steed at check-in and the property being outfitted in red and gold, to a traditional lion performance and a special menu that includes Peking duck carved to order with scallion pancakes and hoisin sauce, roasted suckling pig with sweet and sour sauce, and steamed ginger-crusted red snapper, the party will delight all five senses.
To get you in the festive mood, Wynn Las Vegas flaunts three towering, 9-foot-tall, 800-pound gold Tang Dynasty horses, the handiwork of master sculptor Sillipachai “Mod” Toonrud of Sin City-based firm FORTE Specialty Contractors, at the Wynn atrium through Valentine’s Day. Lavish indulgences available during the celebration include a dim sum buffet at Four-Star Wing Lei (January 30 to February 9) and an exclusive Liuli glass trunk show (January 31 to February 2) at the Encore Esplanade. On February 1 at 6 p.m., the hotel will treat guests to a spectacular traditional dragon dance — highlights include a 90-foot-long dragon, firecrackers and acrobatic shows performed by eight roaring lions — winding its way from the South Valet, through the casino and ending at Four-Star Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.
For a truly bohemian escape, jet to Mexico and book a stunning villa in Costa Careyes (the resort is situated between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo), where they’ve been partying it up for Chinese New Year since the 1980s under the artistic guidance of the exclusive enclave’s eccentric founder Gian Franco Brignone. Chic residents and visitors wearing the designated jorongo (poncho) of their Chinese Zodiac sign fill the town square for an abundant alfresco dinner. The event’s dazzler is a breathtaking performance of a giant, prancing paper mache horse that is backed by fireworks and the release of wish-filled lanterns into the starry night sky. Isaac Borsegui, a former professor of Prehispanic Music at the University of Guadalajara Music Conservatory, and his family compose special musical scores and create the handmade sculpture for the party each year. Aptly, one of the other highlights surrounding Costa Careyes’ 2014 Chinese New Year festivities (January 30 to February 3) is the Polo Cup.
If you crave more discreet indulgences, tuck into Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco and enjoy a decadent 80-minute spa treatment inspired by the cosmos. From January 31 to February 9, the luxe urban retreat will offer the Inner Strength Aromatherapy Massage to celebrate strength, balance and other attributes said to flourish during the Year of the Horse. This is executed through massage techniques, essential oils and the empowering essences of clary sage, frankincense and cardamom. Follow your deeply relaxing treatment with a stop at the onsite restaurant Brasserie S&P to savor the appropriately labeled Noble Stallion, a cocktail made with Cyrus Noble bourbon, Fever-Tree ginger ale, Bar Keep Chinese bitters and a lemon twist that should rev up your energy enough to properly kick off the Lunar New Year.
Photos Courtesy of Hamilton Lund-Destination NSW and Jeff Green