Whether you are a sun worshipper, a surfer or a couch potato, winter vacations have something to offer every proclivity.
January's the right time to hop on that flight to Hawaii or St. Maarten or San Juan because no matter how much you think you like L.A., once you have that blue drink with the paper umbrella by your side that'll all be pixie dust. Rear-view mirror time.
And for sure you don't want to go north. Who needs blizzards and five-hour airport delays caused by ice on the tarmac in Chicago when you can return to work with a tan (and a newfound love of Buddhist retreats?)
Plus, you're still going to save a bundle traveling this time of year; even if you have to spend hours at the Charlotte airport rib house making small talk with that cute cowboy.
Counterintuitively, and in part due to climate change, traditionally warm locales such as ours are actually becoming more winterish (when they're not excessively hot). Forties in Palm Desert? What's next, snow in Hermosa Beach?
So, for the die-hard warm weather lovers, consider even warmer alternatives:
- Kauai. The once actively volcanic Garden Island, at over six million years old is the first in the Hawaiian chain. Hotspots include Hanalei Bay, renowned for sailing, swimming and miles of pristine beach hugged by mountains. Top hotels include Hotel Coral Reef in Kapaa, Wyndham Koloa at Papua Beach, and the #1 Ranked U.S. News & World Report pick, St. Regis Princeville. For fun, one local says, "Hanalei Bay is number one, and Hanakapiai is a gorgeous hike." This Examiner enjoyed the stunning Waimea Canyon -- a.k.a. "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific" -- with her family back in the 80's. On the western side of this easily-day-trippable island, soak in lush flora, waterfalls, and red soiled mountains. And according to the local, "lots of goats!"
- New Orleans. Come before the Superbowl and you'll make the hoteliers happy. They're booked during the game, but until then you can have your pick of hot deals. Check out: Loews overlooking the Mighty Mississippi, Astor Crowne Plaza on Canal and Maison Dupuy in the heart of the French Quarter. Loews has something in store for your pooch, too, in case hubby's in the doghouse. This is a hotel that doesn't sneer at guests with pets, but rather pulls out all the stops, i.e. with its special weekend pampering package. And Creole Gardens in the Garden District is not only pet-friendly too, but artsy, funky and very economical this time of year. Creole's marketing manager says if you mention the promo code WINTER you'll save.
- Acapulco.A little pricey, but you can swing a weekend for less than the cost of that spa date in Malibu you're considering, and the eye candy is so much more worth it. It's also a perfect way to catch up on your college Spanish, practice your jackknife, find out what real Mexican food is and snag some sweet souvneirs. Whether you're a foodie, beachcomber or clubber, this is the ideal spot to unwind for a few days. Check out Grand Hotel Acapulco for loftier stays or, if you are want to figure out why you're still here after Dec. 21, visit the Mayan Palace Acapulco.
Don't forget the SPF!