Winter Vacations: Where to Go for the Holidays This Year

As summer comes to a close, we’re turning our attention to the places to be for the holidays this year. To help you plan your holiday travel or winter vacation, we’ve tapped Indagare’s well-informed staff for intel on the most coveted lodges, resorts and tours—but they won’t be available for long. Whether you’re looking for an Alpine 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 a brand-new property in the Cotswolds to behind-the-ropes access at the Pyramids of Egypt, here are 13 reasons to start planning your holiday travel this year.

Contact Indagare to start planning your holiday travel or winter vacation today. Popular destinations like the ones below are booking up quickly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Our dedicated trip designers can secure reservations at the best hotels, restaurants and more.

Winter Vacations For Sun Seekers: Anguilla & the Caribbean

Following the widespread destruction of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, the Caribbean has been making a Herculean effort to reopen its top hotels and beaches in time for the holidays this year. One of our favorite islands that has made particularly successful progress is Anguilla. Starting in December, travelers will once again be able to stay at such beloved resorts as the Four Seasons, the Belmond Cap Juluca, Zemi Beach House and Malliouhana, where they can enjoy miles of private, white-sand beaches, golfing and sailing, followed by evenings on the water with a cocktail in hand and dinner reservations at top restaurants. Now is the time to book your vacation in Anguilla and the other Caribbean islands for the holidays: to encourage the return of tourism, many properties are offering special rates for the 2018 holiday season. Indagare can help you evaluate all the best options, from the Bahamas to St. Barth’s.

In the words of Indagare member Corie Tappin: “We absolutely loved Anguilla and the Four Seasons. The beach this past August was spectacular. We were upgraded to an incredible four-bedroom villa that was probably the nicest place we have ever stayed. It had its own pool, hot tub and outdoor dining area, gorgeous views, came with a golf cart and, best of all, a butler who was a lovely woman named Mercia. The snorkeling was great there as well, and we did a private snorkel boat trip.”

Related: The 17 Best Hotel Pools in the World

Winter Vacations For Skiing in Europe: The Alps

This winter, skiers and snow bunnies should escape to the Alps (French, Swiss, Austrian or Italian) with a private villa rental or a stay at one of our favorite hotels, which vary from intimate, hard-to-reach lodges to glamorous luxury resorts. Of particular note in this area is Chalet Pelerin, a stunning new property from the ultimate adventure brand Eleven Experience that is nestled above a farming village, Le Miroir, on the French and Italian border. The Chalet offers 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. After a full day on the mountain, guests can relax in the outdoor hot tub, indoor freshwater pool or Finnish sauna and steam room. Ideal for a private buyout, the five-bedroom Chalet Pelerin can accommodate up to 14 people and is equally appealing for a romantic couples’ getaway or a fun winter vacation with family and friends.

In the words of Indagare member and ski aficionado Christopher Leach: “France has the most charming ski scene in the Alps. I visited Val d’Isere to meet friends and stayed down the valley at Sainte Foy, which is a little gem of a ski area. I also recommend visiting the lowest altitude village in Tignes, Tignes les Brevieres, which is quaint and has wonderful restaurants. It boasts accessible steep faces with couloirs everywhere (Couloir de la Grande Balme is perhaps the steepest ravine I’ve skied to date).”

Related: What’s New: Stylish Ski Escapes

Winter Vacations For History Buffs: Egypt

As one of the most exciting destinations of 2018, Egypt offers an epic desert escape that’s a considerable value. The country 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), as well as soon-to-open Grand Egyptian Museum—making it a bucket list vacation for history buffs, culture lovers and trailblazers. Indagare can arrange exclusive, behind-the-ropes access to such iconic sites as the Sphinx and charter yachts over the holidays for an unforgettable cruise down the Nile River.

In the words of Indagare member Jason Storm: “Egypt was the trip of a lifetime! Seeing all of the historical sites felt like a dream; I came away feeling like I didn’t miss seeing anything, and I am sure I barely scratched the surface. It is very, very hard to rate the places—every step was breathtaking. My guide was full of energy, knowledge, spirit and passion for Egypt‘s history and even took me off the beaten path to places like little seen Nubian villages on the Nile. We enjoyed the trip together as if we had been friends for years and plan to keep in touch. I would highly recommend him to host others. What an adventure!”

Related: Treasures of Egypt: February 2019

Winter Vacations For Outdoor Adventurers: Swedish Lapland

There are few destinations that deliver on the notion of a “Winter Wonderland” better than Swedish Lapland. Its 42,000 square miles of snowy forests, icy lakes and glittering tundra are ideal for such Arctic activities as dog sledding, ice fishing, cross-country and heliskiing and Northern Lights viewing—plus, children and adults alike will delight in the chance to meet actual reindeer, who are herded by Lapland’s indigenous Sámi people. For hearty meals, cozy, fur-lined beds and invigorating saunas after a day in the wilderness, Lapland offers a variety of hotel options, from the family-friendly Fjellborg Arctic Lodge to the whimsical Treehotel. For adventure-lovers who want to find serenity in a magical, ethereal landscape, Swedish Lapland is a knockout holiday destination.

In the words of Indagare member Stephanie Roberts: “At Fjellborg Arctic Lodge, we loved dog sledding and snowmobiling on a special Christmas-themed treasure hunt that the staff arranged for our children. We also learned how to carve ice sculptures, went ice fishing on the lake and did a polar plunge. The grand finale of our Swedish Lapland trip, however, was at Arthotel Tornedalan. The property is beautiful and we loved our modern cabin. The owner, Gunhild, was amazing and cooked us a traditional Christmas dinner and dined with us. It was a very special evening—so unexpected and genuine and typical of the destination.”

Related: The Top 10: Fun Ideas for a Multigenerational Vacation

Winter Vacations For a Balance of City and Country: London and the Cotswolds

For a winter getaway that combines the charms of the city and the country, look no further than London and the Cotswolds. In London, a host of hot new restaurant openings are sure to entertain in between shopping for presents at Harrods and Selfridges, visits to the theater and cozy afternoon teas at such locales as Sketch, The Ritz and Claridge’s, whose Christmas decorations are absolutely over-the-top (in the best way). To offset the festive bustle of the city, unwind with a few days in the countryside, browsing for antique china, chatting over a pint in the local pub and venturing out for a hack (horseback ride). Although there are plenty of lovely hotels to choose from, we are particularly excited about Heckfield Place, an idyllic estate just a 30-minute drive from London that opens on September 1st. Designed by Ben Thompson, who also worked on Ett Hem, Heckfield Place is a restored Georgian family home that offers farm-to-table dining and 400 secluded acres to lose yourself in.

In the words of Indagare’s Destinations Editor Emma Pierce, who recently scouted the property: “One of the most picturesque countryside hotels I’ve ever been to, Heckfield Place is a true labor of love for its owner, who has been fine-tuning the property for the past seven years prior to opening. With a culinary program by the chef of London’s acclaimed Spring restaurant, plush amenities like a movie theater, spa, fitness center and more—not to mention events like talks with prominent thought leaders, including journalist Christiane Amanpour—Heckfield is much more than a relaxing weekend getaway.”

Related: London Calling: What Not to Miss This Winter

Winter Vacations For Culture Lovers: India

For those looking to start the New Year in a state of inspiration, gratitude and wonder, India is a powerful destination. The country has a variety of regions to choose from, all of which offer good weather and good value for a winter vacation. Delhi is a must-visit for both its colonial history and modern culture, and the Punjab provides access to the Himalayan Mountain Range, while Rajasthan is known for its textiles, colorful architecture, shopping and palatial hotels. Indagare can help you decide which cities and hotels are right for you and plan a once-in-a-lifetime getaway.

In the words of Indagare member Lisa Fine: “Not even The Tales of The Arabian Nights depict the luxury one encounters; Indian hotels are like fairytales. Many like the Rambagh in Jaipur and Umaid Bhawan in Jodphur are glorious old converted maharaja palaces—and then there are the utopian creations of Oberoi’s Udaivilas in Udaipur and Rajvilas in Jaipur.” 

Related: Indagare Picks: 7 Top Shopping Destinations

Winter Vacations For Wine Lovers: Lisbon & the Douro Valley

Lisbon has everything a traveler could want: great food, fabulous art, robust history, sensational wine and a bustling contemporary culture scene that’s reshaping the country’s international reputation as a creative center. During the winter months, mild weather (sunny, in the 50’s and 60’s) makes Lisbon a top choice for travelers who want to spend time exploring outdoors, and many pleasant afternoons can be spent wandering the city’s hilly, cobblestoned streets in search of handmade azulejo tiles and the best grilled seafood. In addition to day (or overnight) trips to the cities of Sintra, Cascais and Porto, the perfect holiday itinerary must include a few nights’ stay at the Six Senses resort in the Douro Valley. After a taste of the health-conscious cuisine, complex regional wines and truly peaceful 24,000-square-foot wellness spa, you’ll never want to leave.

In the words of Indagare member Julie Enderson: “The Six Senses was our favorite hotel. It was just beyond…and definitely a family hotel, too. We could have stayed there the entire time. The activities, restaurants, service, spa, wine—everything was fantastic.”

Related: The Shopping Guide: Lisbon

Winter Vacations For Trailblazers: Zimbabwe Safari

With the recent removal of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe is poised to become a top destination for an African safari adventure. Compared to Botswana and South Africa, Zimbabwe is a relative bargain, and its guides are among the very best in the world. For intrepid travelers in search of unscripted wilderness experiences with unparalleled access to Big Five game and knockout lodges like Singita Pamushana, Zimbabwe is sure to deliver.

Related: On the Rise: Zimbabwe Travel

Winter Vacations For Foodies, Design Lovers & Trendsetters: Mexico City

This year, Mexico City is a must-visit destination for foodies and design lovers. For a holiday getaway that balances art, food and fun, spend a few days in the capital taking in the murals of Diego Rivera and the architecture of Luis Barragán and eating at top restaurants, including Pujol; then, explore the towns of San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca, romantic hotspots with dreamy hotels, impressive craftsmanship and hip dining scenes. Indagare can arrange workshops with artisans, private studio visits and guided street food tours.

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. We loved the hotel, and the food was amazing. Pujol was definitely our favorite restaurant, but every place was fantastic.”

Related: Mexico City for Design Lovers

Winter Vacations For Classic Europe: Vienna, Prague and Budapest

For a European escape filled with chic hotels, Christmas cheer and holiday soirées, Vienna, Prague and Budapest combine urban style and tradition in perfect measure. Spend your days touring decadent imperial palaces, shopping the Christmas markets for festive trinkets, sipping beer and mulled wine in the Ruin Bars and reading by the fire in your hotel’s lounge. For an unforgettable holiday celebration, Indagare can arrange a Champagne cruise down the Danube on a heated boat or book a private table at one of Vienna’s world-famous winter balls.

In the words of Indagare’s Destinations Editor Emma Pierce: “Viennese balls are, of course, legendary. The Austrian city hosts over 450 a year, ranging from small, community-oriented gatherings to exclusive events with calligraphy invitations. The Fête Impériale, which I was lucky enough to attend, most certainly falls into the latter category. Held at the Spanish Riding School, a Baroque monument symbolic of glamour and regal splendor, the lavish event and equally elegant surroundings were still no match for the immaculately dressed attendees. Waltz after waltz passed until the wee hours of the morning, a last reminder that Viennese really do possess a never-ending exuberance for celebrating.”

Related: Unexplored Vienna

Winter Vacations For Multigenerational Families: American West

Finding a destination that logistically suits a group of newlyweds, grandparents, college students, married couples and young families can be daunting, at best. For a trip that’s closer to home, but still offers an exciting array of activities, a buzzy hotel and restaurant scene and a host of comfortable amenities, 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 lodges and slopes. Indagare can help you choose the property that’s right for your family.

In the words of Indagare’s Trip Designer Kelly Brennan: “Aside from an excursion to Discovery Ski Area, there is little other reason to leave The Ranch at Rock Creek‘s vast premises during a winter holiday. Whether bowling at the on-property alley, watching a movie in the private theater, playing darts at the Saloon, ice-skating on the pond or enjoying freshly baked chocolate chip cookies by the fire, guests at the all-inclusive resort can indulge in nearly anything their hearts desire. So while this classic American West destination still shines during summer, the quieter winter season offers equally blissful draws—high-touch service, adventure-filled days and luxurious amenities—that make it a true off-season hidden gem.”

Related: Indagare Matchmaker: Dude Ranches

Winter Vacations For Epic Experiences: New Zealand

New Zealand is a bucket list destination that, for many travelers, is only feasible to visit over the longer break that is offered by the holidays. From bucolic farmland and vineyards to blockbuster film-worthy mountain ranges, the landscapes here are guaranteed to dazzle even the pickiest members of your group. A must-visit for the holidays is the Alpine Lodge at Minaret Station, one of New Zealand’s most epic wilderness experiences. While staying in your own chalet, which is decked out with sheepskin carpets and hot tubs for a comfortable, cozy vibe, you can take in the beauty of your surroundings in total seclusion: the property is set on 65,000 acres of private farmland in a glacial valley and is accessible only by helicopter. In addition to exploring the area by foot, boat, ski or ATV, guests can enjoy farm tours, hunting, fishing and relaxing in the public spaces of the main lodge—our favorite is the library—with an organic snack or a glass of delicious local wine.

In the words of Indagare member Shelby Butterfield: “Minaret Station: I’m in love. Hands down, one of the coolest, best, neatest—wow. It was the best trip. You could confidently send any family on the itinerary you made us and I can’t imagine getting anything but great feedback.”

Related: Gold-Medal Status: Our Favorite Hotels for Winter Sports

Winter Vacations For Nature Explorers: Iguazú National Park

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, where the latest Awasi property opened earlier this year. The resort sits in the heart of the rainforest, 20 minutes away from the legendary waterfalls, and contains 14 eco-friendly private villas with plunge pools that cater to couples and families. Each villa includes a private guide and four-wheeler, so visitors have the freedom to craft their own daily itineraries, which can include such activities as boat trips down the river (in search of more than 400 species of birds, Capuchin monkeys, pumas and jaguars), hiking jungle trails to secret pools, tours of Jesuit ruins, village visits with indigenous Guaraní tribes and wine tastings. Although Awasi Iguazú is a destination in its own right, Indagare can also arrange trip packages that include stops at the Awasi sister properties in the Chilean Patagonia and the Atacama Desert (subject to availability, which may be very limited) for a more dynamic South American adventure.

Related: The Ultimate Exotic Beach Vacations

Contact Indagare to start planning your winter vacation today. Popular destinations like the ones below are booking up quickly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Our dedicated trip designers can secure reservations at the best hotels, restaurants and more.

– Elizabeth Harvey on August 29, 2018

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