Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part Perspectives series on last-minute winter escapes for both luxury travelers and the budget-minded.
Nothing chases away the winter doldrums like a hearty dose of sun, sand, and rum or tequila (whether shaken or stirred).
With that in mind, it seems like a good time to offer up a few luxury destination ideas for those who don’t mind dropping big bucks for a few days of R&R where they have no use for snow blowers and sidewalk salt.
A party will surely lighten any mood, and in winter there’s no better bash than Aruba’s Mardi Gras carnival, said Lisa Lubin, author of The Ultimate Travel Tips: Essential Advice for Your Adventures and writer of a popular travel blog.
Although many people associate Mardi Gras with Rio de Janeiro or New Orleans, Aruba’s weeks-long Carnival “rivals those in Rio or New Orleans, with each village on the island competing to have the most outlandish street parades,” Lubin said, adding that the Ritz-Carlton just opened a beachfront hotel on the island nation, giving Aruba its first five-star resort (a three-night stay the week of February 8 costs $1,977, based on current rates, then jumps to $3,057 the following week).
Cindy Richards, editor of web magazine TravelingMom.com, said Hawaii offers a multitude of experiences, from lying on the beach to nature hikes. She prefers Kauai over touristy places like Honolulu and Maui.
“Kauai is more nature-centered,” Richards said. “They have resorts at every price point, up to a St. Regis resort on the beach (mountain-room views start at $517 a night, ocean-view at $692). It’s an incredible place; very warm and welcoming. It’s … one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world.”
Lubin said she likes the island of Lana‘i because it attracts few tourists.
“There are just three hotels on the island, with two of them being run by Four Seasons (rooms starting at $1,100 a night), no stoplights, and only about 3,500 locals. This is old Hawaii and a beautiful, unspoiled place … for now,” she said.
That’s because former Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison recently bought 98% of the island for an estimated $500 million (the state of Hawaii owns the other 2%).
“He has lots of plans in the works for the former pineapple plantation island, such as a fleet of electric cars, extensive solar power, and a huge revitalization of the tourism industry,” she said.
For something different, both Richards and Lubin suggest a cruise through the Galapagos Islands, off the northwest coast of South America. Travelers interested in this experience should “sign on with a high-end tour company so you have a naturalist with you explaining what you are seeing and what the wildlife is,” Richards said.
If money is really no object, a truly unforgettable experience is a safari in Tanzania, which Lubin said she recently took.
“I recently was fortunate enough to visit Tanzania on a safari with Shadows of Africa. I highly recommend a once-in-a-lifetime stay at the luxurious Four Seasons Serengeti. I've never stayed anywhere like it.
“Situated right in the heart of the Serengeti, here the wildlife comes to you. From your own balcony or around the pool, you can take in amazing views of the watering hole where elephants, giraffes, and wildebeests come to quench their thirst,” Lubin said (the Terrace Suite Watering Hole View, which includes a private swimming pool, starts at $2,840 a night).
Check Perspectives on Money Culture next week for some winter getaway ideas that won’t put such a big dent in your bank account.