As temperatures drop, we’re turning our attention to the places to be this winter. To help you plan your winter vacation—for 2021 and beyond—we’ve rounded up our favorite destinations that are currently open to American travelers for a much-deserved escape somewhere cozy, seaside, stylish, tropical, stimulating or serene—whatever you find yourself needing in the months between November and March. Whether you’re looking for a snowy chalet where you can sip après ski cocktails by a roaring fire, a tropical island where you can relax with a beach read or a far-flung destination with adventures to satisfy every member of your family, these are the winter vacations that should be on your radar. From new resorts in the French Alps to behind-the-ropes access at the Pyramids of Egypt, here are 22 reasons to start planning your next winter escape.
Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning winter vacations for this year and the future. Beloved destinations like the ones below are booking up quickly. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on coronavirus travel safety, destinations that are open to travel, Covid-19 hotel policies, transportation options, private villas and charters and more.
Winter Vacations for Skiing in Europe: The Alps
This winter, skiers and snow bunnies should escape to the Alps (French, Swiss or Italian) with a private villa rental or a stay at one of our favorite hotels. Of particular note in this area are Chalet Pelerin and Chalet Hibou, two stunning properties from the ultimate adventure brand Eleven Experience that are nestled above Le Miroir, a farming village on the French and Italian border, and offer unparalleled access to seven world-class ski resorts—including Val d’Isѐre, Sainte Foy, Tignes, Les Arcs and La Rosiѐre—which can be reached in less than an hour by car or by helicopter (and Eleven Experience’s heli-skiing program is unparalleled). Both properties are designed for full buyouts with family or friends, with Hibou offering six bedrooms and one bunk room, and Pelerin offering four bedrooms and one bunk room. Other amenities include a media room, an indoor freshwater pool, an outdoor hot tub, sauna and steam room.
Winter Vacations for Sun and Scene Seekers: The Caribbean
The Caribbean has long drawn couples, families and friends for easy warm-weather getaways, thanks to its powdery white-sand beaches, warm turquoise waters and pampering resorts—but every island has its own atmosphere and specialties. For a jet-set scene, St. Barth’s is not to be missed—with top hotels including the legendary Le Toiny (which offers 14 freestanding villa suites and a 72-hour cancellation policy), Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, Eden Rock, Le Sereno and buzzy Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa. With just a 3.5-hour direct flight from New York, travelers looking for a more romantic, secluded atmosphere should visit Turks & Caicos, where they can retreat into the private pavilions at the sleek and serene Amanyara (which offers open-air pavilion rooms with direct ocean access, as well as free-standing villas with infinity pools) or the exclusive villas at COMO Parrot Cay, while Grace Bay Club offers separate accommodations and pools to keep both couples and families happy. Another top family-friendly option, also accessible via direct flights from the U.S., is Antigua, where the all-inclusive Jumby Bay offers a private island location, friendly atmosphere and top-notch amenities on a spectacular beachfront—while the island’s first luxury hotel, Curtain Bluff, guarantees personalized service and a host of activities (including squash, waterskiing, snorkeling, kayaking, tennis and more) that are well-suited to families with older children.
Winter Vacations for Nature and Wellness Devotees: Belize, Panama and Costa Rica
The Central American nations of Belize, Panama and Costa Rica are home to lush jungles, white-sand beaches and azure seas that protect astounding biodiversity. Here, ancient ways of life survive in modern culture, emphasizing a spiritual harmony with Mother Earth—known in Costa Rica as “pura vida”—that manifests itself in a plethora of outdoor activities that will get your blood pumping and a holistic, nature-based approach to healing, nutrition and wellness. Creating a haven for true disconnection and restoration, a handful of singular eco-lodges—like Belize’s Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn, Panama’s Islas Secas and Sweet Bocas and Costa Rica’s Kasiiya Papagayo and Nayara Springs—offer intimate, outdoor-centric settings, with just a few standalone accommodations and mindfulness, beauty, spa, adventure and fitness programs.
Winter Vacations for Multigenerational Families: American West
For a trip that’s closer to home, but still offers a robust array of outdoor and wellness activities—as well as a luxe set of hotels and restaurants and wide-open, snow-dusted vistas—the ski towns of the American West could be the solution you’ve been searching for. While Aspen, Vail and Deer Valley will suit those looking for a bit of glamour, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Beaver Creek and Sun Valley are known for their easy charm—as well as top-notch slopes. Indagare-adored properties like Montana’s The Ranch at Rock Creek, Colorado’s Dunton Hot Springs and Utah’s The Lodge at Blue Sky will satisfy the non-skiers in your group with horseback riding, ice-skating, private movie theaters, spa treatments and more.
Winter Vacations for Outdoor Adventurers: Rwanda and Namibia
If you’re looking to get far, far away from your own backyard, both Rwanda and Namibia offer temperate weather and the chance to immerse yourself in nature, privately. While Rwanda’s strong response to the pandemic means that you will be able to trek to see the endangered mountain gorillas—a major highlight of the itinerary—at a time when the forests feel virtually tourist-free, Namibia continues to be one of the least-densely populated countries in the world, with huge open spaces and great swaths of silence stretching over desert dunes. A retreat to our favorite luxury safari lodges—like Rwanda’s Bisate Lodge, Magashi Camp and One&Only Gorilla’s Nest and Namibia’s Little Kulala, Hoanib Skeleton Camp and Serra Cafema—will include days scouting for lions, elephants and rhinos; the chance to engage with local communities and culture; dining under the stars; and connection with the beating heart of Africa.
To quote Indagare Founder Melissa Biggs Bradley on the impact of traveling to both of these places—of Rwanda, she has said: “Go see for yourself how a country can rebuild after a massacre; you cannot help but feel hope for humanity;” of Namibia, she has written: “The silence isn’t just something you hear; you feel it. The open skies and unbroken horizons seem to reach into forever in a way that shifts perspective.”
Winter Vacations for a Mix of City and Country: London and Hampshire
If your winter vacations preferences err on the side of cozy, London, its surrounds and the Cotswolds are open to travelers. We recommend holing up at an idyllic country estate like Heckfield Place, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons or Cliveden House, or else your own private rental, where you will have plenty of time to make your way through The Holiday, Love Actually, Pride & Prejudice and perhaps even a Harry Potter marathon. Then, transfer back into the city for socially-distanced afternoon teas at such locales as Claridge’s and Sketch—whose winter decorations are absolutely over-the-top (in the best way)—trips to Harrods and the National Gallery and meals at our favorite restaurants.
Related: The Best Afternoon Teas in London
Winter Vacations for Wine Lovers: Croatia and the American South
For oenophiles seeking new experiences, Croatia’s northwestern region of Istria should be next on your list. In addition to producing a wide variety of wines (including Malvasia, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Teran, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera and Syrah), the region is home to a truly impressive food scene (particularly celebrated for its truffles), with noted restaurants ranging from the Slow Food establishment Toklarija, which is housed in a medieval olive mill, to Monte, the first restaurant in Croatia to receive a Michelin star. If you desire to explore beyond Istria’s rolling hills and medieval towns, the region also has the added benefit of direct access to the Adriatic, with seaside spots like Rovinj drawing insiders, thanks to art gallery-lined streets, a growing number of luxury hotels and, of course, plenty of wine bars. If you’re planning to remain within the U.S. this winter, the American South is also home to a few charming wine destinations that offer temperate weather, a few luxury hotel options and hallmarks of national history—such as Monticello, Virginia and the Verde Valley in Arizona (where we also recommend adding on a spa retreat at Enchantment, Miraval or Canyon Ranch!).
Winter Vacations for Classic Safari: Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe
In times of transition, travel can be a salve for the soul—and perhaps there is no better place to reflect on the end of another year, and the change of seasons, than the so-called Cradle of Humankind: East Africa. Kenya and Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, are all open to U.S. travelers, and our favorite camps—including Segera, Angama Mara, Singita Grumeti Sabora, and Mwiba—are reporting some of the most vibrant wildlife activity that the reserves have seen in years, thanks to a decreased human presence. For a classic safari experience, with few other travelers and a renewed sense of meaning, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe can be combined or enjoyed on their own for a romantic or family-friendly winter vacation.
In the words of Indagare Founder Melissa Biggs Bradley, who visited Kenya last year: “As I went to bed on my first night, I started ticking off the regained joys of travel: The sound of foreign languages (Swahili greetings at the airport). Exotic nighttime smells (acacia fires). The novelty of an alien popular culture (local radio). Warm welcomes (hot soup on arrival). Remembered rituals (a hot-water bottle between the sheets). Missed sights (the Southern Cross) and beloved habits (falling asleep far from home, ready to awaken in discovery mode). And the lost pleasures kept returning as the days went on. We hiked along the ridge of the Great Rift Valley and the Laikipia plains, spotting elephants, giraffes and buffalo and relishing the return to Africa’s bush. Deep in Samburu country, we had sundowners around an impromptu fire. Kenya’s landscapes, with its forever views, made me feel miniscule and filled with humility, awe and wonder; they also emphasized the brevity of time. This year has seemed to drag on forever, but in the cradle of mankind, where our ancestors first walked upright, time stretched. Of course, at home I could have shifted my perspective, seen the current crisis as one in a long series, but distance itself provided a vantage point that had eluded me. Here, on a remote rock at sunset, I felt that urgency had been swallowed by eternity.”
Winter Vacations for Foodies and Design Lovers & Trendsetters: Mexico, Colombia and Peru
Central and South America is beginning to reopen—and for foodies and design lovers who are hungry for stimulation, now is the perfect time to start planning your next winter vacation. Together, Mexico City, Lima and Bogotá are home to five of 2019’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants—and all but one are open for reservations, which would normally be quite difficult to get; additionally, Indagare can arrange special-access tours of highlights like Mexico City’s Anthropology Museum (in the words of an Indagare member: “The night tour at the anthropology museum in Mexico City was absolutely incredible. We had the entire museum to ourselves—literally, no other visitors were there, just the security guards.”). For a quieter escape that is no less exceptional when it comes to cuisine, crafts and boutique hotels, smaller towns like San Miguel de Allende, Cartagena and Cusco are ideal. If you are not ready to travel to urban areas, Mexico‘s mountain and beach regions are home to indulgent, spacious resorts where you can hide away for a week, like Rosewood Mayakoba, Hacienda de San Antonio, Cuixmala and One&Only Palmilla—while Colombia’s Andean coffee region provides a taste of adventure and culture, and Peru‘s Sacred Valley offers plenty of outdoor activities and supremely comfortable lodges like Belmond Sanctuary Lodge and Sol y Luna.
Winter Vacations for History Buffs: Egypt
For lovers of history and ancient artifacts, the treasures of Egypt can now be enjoyed—without the crowds—for a far-flung winter vacation. Egypt is home to one-third of the world’s antiquities and the only remaining monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (the Pyramids at Giza). Beyond the awe-inspiring temples of the Valley of the Kings, this destination also offers storied retreats (like the Old Cataract Hotel) and the chance to cruise along the Nile River. The next travelers to this ancient world will be the first to feel its magnitude with a post-Covid perspective—and hopefully become ardent stewards of its protection.
Related: Treasures of Egypt
Winter Vacations for Top Shoppers and Ultimate Indulgers: Morocco
Marrakech is a shopaholic’s dream, where you can pick up everything from latticed lanterns and Berber kilim rugs to argan oil, leather bags, kaftans, glassware, ceramics, slippers and one-of-a-kind furniture. For ultimate indulgers, palatial hotels and resorts like La Mamounia, Le Royal Mansour, Kasbah Tamadot and Dar Ahlam are worth the trip alone.
Winter Vacations for Nature Explorers: Iguazú National Park, Chilean Patagonia and Hawaii
For a winter getaway that offers tropical temperatures, bright colors and otherworldly wildlife, look no further than the banks of the Iguazú river in Argentina, home to Awasi Iguazú. The secluded resort sits in the heart of the rainforest, 20 minutes from the legendary waterfalls, and contains 14 eco-friendly private villas with plunge pools that cater to couples and families. Although Awasi Iguazú is a destination in its own right, Indagare can also arrange trips that include stops at the Awasi sister properties in Chilean Patagonia and the Atacama Desert (subject to availability, which may be very limited) for a more dynamic South American adventure, where outdoor enthusiasts can trek, bike or horseback ride through mountain ranges and glacial valleys that are home to wildlife such as condors, guanacos and pumas.
For nature lovers who also want to lounge on the beach, Hawaii offers the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation. The 50th state abounds in breathtaking natural beauty as well as spectacular ways for active travelers to experience it, from surfing on Oahu and snorkeling on the Big Island to hiking through Kauai’s jungle and climbing Mauna Kea volcano on the island of Hawaii.
Indagare Tip: Protect your skin and the Hawaiian ecosystem with reef-safe sunscreen, made without the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been shown to stunt the growth of juvenile coral and cause bleaching.
Related: The Ultimate Exotic Beach Vacations
Contact Indagare or email your Trip Designer to start planning winter vacations for this year and the future. Beloved destinations like the ones listed here are booking up quickly, due to increased re-booking policies. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on coronavirus travel safety, destinations that are open to travel, Covid-19 hotel policies, transportation options, private villas and charters and more.