Crackling fires and mugs of hot cocoa have their charm, but the skimpy swimsuits and fruity cocktails of sunnier locales are so much more appealing.
With that in mind, the boutique hotel connoisseurs at Mr & Mrs Smith pulled together a list of balmy beaches and jungle hideaways where you can beat the chill without waiting for summertime to roll around. (Couples having winter weddings, this means you.)
Sunbathing is practically a sport in South Beach. And the chaise-lined roof deck of this hip hotel will give you a leg up on the competition. And did we mention that the beach is right across the street? While the surrounding properties are Art Deco, The Betsy is colonial-cool, outfitted with tranquil earth tones that make you want to kick back and relax. But don't get too comfortable -- Miami is fun. Take a night (or two) to hit the town.
Room to book: Number 308, a corner suite, just might have the best views of them all.
To make everyone at home sea-green with envy, snap a shot of yourself in a hammock on the beach that fronts this remote getaway. Like most tropical playgrounds, it has all the necessities like fresh coconuts, a glorious pool, and a spa that will spoil you silly. But an on-site itinerary master can also arrange flights of fancy like an elephant ride or skydiving expedition.
Room to book: Spring for a Sarojin suite; their enormous onyx bathing pools facilitate one of life's perfect moments: soaking under the stars, nightcap in hand.
Getting to this hillside resort, hidden from civilization on the country's Pacific coast, is half the fun. You travel by boat to a secluded beach, then by mule through a frangipani-scented forest. Rooms are all wood and stone with canopy beds, indoor-outdoor living spaces, and views for days. And though there are no TVs, the lush surroundings provide all the entertainment you’ll need.
Room to book: Embrace the coastal calm with a stay in the Tea House. Under a thatched roof, this open-air suite looks out over the rainforest canopy, with a day bed for taking in ocean breezes.
Wiggle your toes in the silky sand at this gorgeous resort, and your feet will instantly forgive you for the near-frostbite experience they had last week. Cool and contemporary, the Amanwella sits on a serene shoreline aptly named Silent Beach. Claim a spot on the sand and watch the colorful fishing boats pass by, or if wanderlust strikes, explore Buddhist temples, terraced rice paddies, and a bird-filled national park.
Room to book: Of the 30 options, the Ocean Suites offer the most striking seascapes. Our faves? Rooms 110, 111, and 112 because they're the most private and are just a short stroll to the beach.
Farms have roosters for alarm clocks. Francis Ford Coppola's Guatemalan getaway has howler monkeys and parakeets. Overlooking glassy Lake Peten Itza, the nature-inspired casitas are so surrounded by trees that the toucans perched in their branches could spy on you in the shower. A palm-frond roof and fire pit lend a Polynesian tiki vibe to the bar and restaurant, but the cuisine is distinctly Central American with meats cooked on a parilla (grill) and piping-hot tortillas.
Room to book: Rates are so affordable you can go big without having to go home early. Upgrade to one of the Lakeview Casitas on the front row (shoot for numbers 1 and 2 for their expansive decks, hammocks, and grandstand-quality vistas).
When the rest of the country is shivering and Vitamin-D deficient, the lucky ducks in “Shangri-LA” bask in sunny warmth. There’s only one way to arrive at this retro-leaning hotel atop the palm-tree lined cliffs of SoCal’s quintessential beach town, and that’s in a convertible. You’ll love your bright, cheery room, but you probably won’t spend much time in it, since you can rent boards, bikes, and Rollerblades nearby. Keep the good vibrations rolling into the night with drinks at the Ocean Lounge bar by the heart-shaped pool.
Room to book: Not only do the accommodations on the ocean side face the water, but they're also larger. It's a no-brainer.
Sun-bleached Hindu temples and fields of sugar cane set the scene on the ride to this dreamscape in the aqua Indian Ocean. The oceanfront villas are oh-so tranquil with four-poster beds and sunken tubs on the cusp of private walled gardens. And the common areas are just as divine. Dive into the serpentine infinity pool decorated with partially submerged statues of local goddesses, then recline on a pair of day beds looking out to Turtle Bay beyond.
Room to book: Surrounded by their own gardens with private pools and dining pavilions, the Royal Villas are the most decadent -- with a price tag to match. If you can't stomach the rates, the romance factor is nearly as high in the Luxury Villas with Private Pool.
Swaying palm trees jut out of white sands on the grounds of this 10-suite escape that feels deliciously off the grid. And as if its tropical-idyll credentials were in question, the hotel supplies hammocks, a warm saltwater pool, and all the dive gear you’ll need to take on the offshore reefs.
Room to book: Nab one of the four stand-alone bungalows for the most square-footage and privacy. They’re around 30 feet high, with huge sliding doors and windows.
Like aquatic trompe l'oeils, each of the private infinity pools at this glamorous collection of treehouses seems suspended in midair. (They're actually built into cantilevered decks off the 16 accommodations, eye-level with the foliage.) Just make sure you dry off in time for dinner, because the property’s own gardens supply most of the produce used in the restaurant’s delicious Euro-African dishes.
Room to book: Sure, the six villas are spacious, but what honeymooners need two bedrooms? Instead, save your pennies and book one of the 10 suites. They’re all created equal with glass walls for gazing, alfresco showers, and those amazing pools.
Turquoise waters, Equatorial sun, and white-as-snow beaches -- you'll be pinching yourself when you get a load of this private-island resort. The term "room" doesn’t do the accommodations justice here. Really, you’ll be taking over a full-on beach house complete with plunge pool, spacious deck, and semi-outdoor tub and shower. During the day, snorkel leisurely around reefs in search of tropical fish, kayak with pods of dolphins. In the evening, dine on macadamia-crusted fish in the open-air restaurant or ask your personal butler to arrange a candlelit dinner on the beach backdropped by an orange-streaked sunset.
Room to book: There are no bad rooms. None. Choose between views of crashing Indian Ocean waves from the more private Ocean Houses, or serene lagoon vistas in the palm-fringed Beach Houses.
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