Adventure

The Best Tropical Luxury Escapes this Holiday

Winter is coming, and it’s time to clear out of town, you hot-weather loving people! So many choices, and so little time. To help you make your great escape, we here at Dandelion Chandelier have talked to our friends who belong in the “never winter” camp and who have the means to go wherever they choose in the world.

Herewith is a sampling of some of the places south of the border where the glamour crowd will be soaking up the sun to mark the end of the year. Depending on what kind of vacation you’re after, and who you’re bringing along, we hope one of these ideas will inspire you to start packing.

Gorgeous beaches and old-school luxury accommodations:

–The king of them all is St. Barth’s. If they’re not staying on someone’s yacht, our friends always stay at the swanky Eden Rock, which was the first hotel to open on the 8-square-mile island, and was the playground of the Rockefeller and Rothschild families in the 1950s. The New Year’s Eve scene remains legendary – call in some favors to take a spin in Paul Allen’s personal submarine, or to snag an invitation to Roman Abramovich’s famous star-studded party.

Turks & Caicos‘s Amanyara resort is the ultimate in jaw-dropping luxury: gorgeous guest pavilions overlooking the water, some with private pools; excellent scuba diving; horse-back riding; tropical forest expeditions and a white sand beach.

–Phuket is cooling off among the uber-rich; the new destination of choice for the jet set is the award-winning Nihiwatu Resort on the remote island of Sumba in Indonesia.

–The Thai Islands, especially Koh Samui with its destination spa Kamalaya, would normally be popular at this time of year, but the word on the street is that with the recent death of the King, and possible instability, this may not be the year to go.

–The super-yacht crowd can always be found in the Caribbean this time of year (the Lyford Cay Club in Nassau and the Mill Reef Club in Antigua both have 5-year waiting lists for rooms at this time of year).

–The yacht crowd will also be in the Indian Ocean in Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives. We’re keen to visit the Amilla Fushi Resort on Baa Atoll in the Maldives, and stay in a private Wellness Tree House 12 meters up. Kate Moss likes it, so we’re in.

Bora Bora, Tahiti and French Polynesia are never a bad idea. The Four Seasons Bora Bora is offering a First Class Festive Experience from December 23 to January 1: for $27,500 per person, 12 guests will fly directly to the resort by private jet from LAX (avoiding the hassles of changing planes) and stay in overwater bungalow suites.

Adventurous Experiences:

Marrakech, Morocco offers desert tours and camel rides, and the Royal Mansour just reopened directly across the street from the main square and the Medina; this is a perfect time to check it out.

–If you want a camel ride, but a bit closer to the ocean, The One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico offers both deep-sea fishing and a beach camel safari.

Mozambique is still an insider secret with beautiful beaches and coral reefs – our friends say you need to go now before it becomes over-run. The Azura Benguerra Island Resort is a 5-star property – each villa has its own pool and private butler.

Australia in December is warm with low humidity and very little rain, making it the perfect time to visit Perth, Cairns (for the Great Barrier reef), the Daintree Rainforest, and of course Sydney.

Family-friendly Destinations:

–We took a family trip on the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco and it was one of the best vacations ever. If you take your time and allow for detours (Malibu, San Luis Obispo, Carmel, Monterey, and Big Sur) you’ll see gorgeous views and sunsets and interact with sea animals on the beach. The Hearst Castle is totally over-the-top and worth a quick visit. Yes, you should totally rent a cool car. That’s part of the fun!

The Maldives can be terrific for family vacations if you choose the right resort: the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, the Kanuhura Resort & Spa, and the Kuramathi Island Resort are all good options.

–We’ve also done family vacations in Hawaii. Snorkeling, shave ice, poke — what’s not to like? The Four Seasons Maui is excellent; hire a private car for the Road to Hana, and charter a private yacht for whale-watching. Go horseback riding, take private surfing lessons, and hit the luxury mall for Gucci and LV handbags. Be sure to hop over to Honolulu by helicopter to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial for a day.

–You can never go wrong staying with kids at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida — they know how to make the trip perfect for all ages. Bike rides, pool time, great restaurants, and outstanding service make this a totally hassle-free way to spend time as a family. Designed to capture the architectural style of the 16th-century Villa Medici in Rome, the main building of the hotel was completed in 1926 and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The shopping and the spa are both excellent.

Cultural Explorations:

–Year-end is a perfect time to explore India. The weather is reasonably good, and you’ll want to spend at least a week. Goa, Kerala, Jaipur and Udaipur would all be excellent ways to immerse yourself in the culture and history of the country.

–December is high season in Myanmar, so finding luxury accommodations can be a challenge. The Strand Cruise is a luxury riverboat that cruises the Irrawaddy River between Bagan and Mandalay, with stops at temples, jade markets and monasteries.

Cambodia is also popular at year-end, with no rain and comfortable temperatures – it’s the right time to visit Angkor, Angkor Wat, Bayon, the Terrace of the Elephants, and Phnom Penh. The beaches and scuba diving are also terrific.

South Africa’s climate is temperate at year-end, so explore the wineries, take in Cape Town’s culture, and stay for the Cape Minstrel Carnival, which celebrates freedom after the abolition of slavery.

–The devaluation of the pound from the “leave” vote has made London a big draw this year. There are fantastic exhibits through year-end at the Tate and the National Gallery.

Culinary Adventures:

Los Angeles is always a good idea, and if you’re a foodie in search of warm weather, this is a great spot. You could split your time between Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica and the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills (ask for a room in the original wing and check out the private terrace at the LV store on Rodeo Drive) – you can indulge in great shopping, dining and people-watching in one fell swoop.

Langkawi, Malaysia‘s Four Seasons Hotel is wonderful for foodies: choose from three restaurants or have a romantic tent dinner under a starlit sky.

Vietnam is an emerging hot spot for the global traveling elites interested in history, food, and white sand beaches. The weather at year-end is usually great in the north and south, but not the central part of the country, so think Hanoi; Ho Chi Minh City; and the beaches in the south like Phu Quoc. The Four Seasons opens its first property in Vietnam in late December in Hoi An.

St. Lucia is a Caribbean idyll with outstanding food: our experts swear by either the Sugar Beach Viceroy Resort or the Jade Mountain Resort.

Japan is always a perfect foodie spot, and if you love fashion, what you see on the streets in Tokyo is likely to make its way first to Paris and then to New York — so you’ll also get a first look at the future of style.

We’ll devote future posts to other urgent vacation matters, such as the best private jets, how to find the perfect villa, the best suitcases on the market right now, and the right camera or drone to buy to record your adventures. But for now, let’s just close our eyes and dream a little dream of the tropics. Ah, yes. We can almost feel the sand beneath our feet.

Take a look at our Elegant Expeditions Pinterest board for more info!

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