Photo: Skistar Trysil via Flickr
It’s true that the temptation to hibernate until winter’s end is difficult to resist. And when we’re actually motivated to pack our bags and head out of town, the siren song of warmer weather often wins.
Yet we’d argue there’s a sensible approach to winter travel: What if we set out to visit destinations that are actually improved by the chill?
Places with snow-covered paths, piping hot chocolate, wood-burning fireplaces and old-timey sleigh rides. The kinds of places Santa Claus might visit on frequent-flier miles.
With this in mind, we found a surprising number of honest-to-goodness winter wonderlands. The best international spa in Prague is tucked inside a Renaissance chapel. Switzerland’s premier chef is just steps away from an ice-skating rink. Ski destinations in Park City, Breckenridge and Deer Valley are heating up their services; those cities also have you covered if you only après-ski. If you are a snowboarder, Japan is where it’s at. If you are a shopper, venture to New York. And adventures can often be had via seasonal transportation. Ride a snowcat in Oregon to reach a memorable meal, or board a train in London.
Herewith, 10 destinations worth escaping to when the temperature drops. Whatever you do, don’t let summer have all the fun.
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This story was originally published by Departures.
There's a reason Coco Chanel retired at the Beau-Rivage Palace: The five-star luxury property is a Swiss slice of heaven. Perched on the shores of Lake Geneva--just 30 minutes from the Geneva airport--this property has been a go-to destination since 1861.
But while the palatial layout and impeccable service recall a lost era, the outrageous 15,000-square-foot Cinq Mondes spa and namesake restaurant of Michelin three-star chef Anne-Sophie Pic have a thoroughly modern appeal. This winter, for the second year, the hotel will transform its terrace into an ice rink and serve mulled wine and raclette in a nearby chalet.
Often dubbed Japan's answer to Vail, we'd argue that Niseko is much more. With its international vibe, luxury hotels, medley of gourmet restaurants and more than 400 inches of annual snowfall, it's any snow-bunny's dream.
This jaw-dropping ski destination has always been a point of national pride, but it didn't hit the radar until Australian travellers began seeking its plentiful snowfall. Fortunately, Niseko's inconvenient geography (two hours by train from Sapporo) keeps its slopes swarm-free. This month, LUXE City Guides released an iPhone application travel guide to Niseko.
Its editor, Kee Foong, suggests that Departures readers may particularly enjoy staying at the Vale Niseko and dining at Kamimura, a seven- to 12-course gastronomy restaurant.
As any New Yorker knows, the city is at its prettiest covered in a clean, white snow. For a getaway that shows off the best of Manhattan's cold weather, this year the Ritz-Carlton New York offers a Culture and Couture package.
It begins with high tea at Bergdorf Goodman, followed by a gift-buying blitz with a personal shopper and ends with an evening at the New York City Ballet (Paul McCartney and Peter Martins's Ocean's Kingdom in January and Peter Martins's Romeo and Juliet in February).
Finally, guests tuck into the one-bedroom Parkview Suite, to be greeted in the morning with a treetop view of Central Park and breakfast.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered the construction of Oregon's Timberline Lodge as part of the New Deal and dedicated the structure in 1937. Today, the property remains low-key and family-friendly. Two St. Bernards, named Heidi and Bruno, roam the premises.
While the lodge itself has its own throwback charm, the apple of the property's eye is the WPA-era hut 1,000 feet above. Silcox Hut, which is included in the National Register of Historic Places, is near the top of Mt. Hood, and accessible by ski, snowcat or chairlift.
Originally designed as a warming hut for climbers, the hut now accepts up to 24 adventurous overnight guests. The best way to see it, however, may be through the Winemaker's Dinner Series. The lodge invites Oregon winemakers and local chefs to create a six-course dinner with wine pairings for 24 lucky guests.
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