There’s no better way to lift spirits in the gloom of January than with a trip. Whether you’re a snow bunny itching to hit the slopes, or a sandfly who needs a dose of winter sun, we’ve got you covered.
British Virgin Islands
Thanks to a marked uptick in airlift this season, this tony cluster of islands will soon be much easier to reach. New carrier BVI Airways should finally launch its (much-delayed) direct route from Miami to the main island of Tortola in January, while Inter-Caribbean has boosted its shuttle service from San Juan to as many as 18 flights per week. The major event this month is the Full Moon party on January 12 that unspools across various venues in the 15 inhabited islands. The best perch from which to enjoy it is undoubtedly Guana Island, the 850-acre private hideout with just 18 rooms set amid a largely unspoiled nature sanctuary; Michelin favorite Paul Liebrandt will be cooking here that weekend as part of the resort’s visiting chef series.
Australia was Remliel Traveler’s country of the year for 2016, but our curiosity about Down Under remains boundless—especially the city of Melbourne, a laneway-crammed hub often overshadowed by splashier Sydney. If the Australian Open weren’t enough of an incentive for a visit now—will the final be another battle royale between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray?—the food scene should clinch it. Chef Ben Shewry’s Attica remains the only restaurant in the country on the World’s Best Restaurants list, thanks to the 16,000-square-foot garden where he grows much of the produce used for the 21-course tasting menu. Australians are proud coffee snobs, and Melbourne is acknowledged as java Shangri-La. Even better, for a quirky crash pad, there’s a months-old outpost of Australia’s disco-fied boutique hotel chainlet, QT.
Park City, Utah
Robert Redford’s indie filmfest Sundance has turned Park City from an also-ran ski resort into one of the hottest winter destinations since it first appeared three decades ago. The 10-day extravaganza runs January 19-29, and should draw similar star wattage as last year, when Ewan McGregor, Lena Dunham, and Kerry Washington hit the frosted red carpet. For star spotting, book a table at the town’s hottest new restaurant, chef John Murcko’s Firewood, with its open-plan kitchen and flame-grilled menu, or local mainstay The Eating Establishment, which Modern Family’s Ty Burrell just relaunched. Warm up with a dram or two of local whisky at High West Saloon—or head to the ranch which houses its distillery in nearby Wanship for newly offered tours.
Indulge your inner MAMIL or make good on a get-fit resolution with a trip to Israel in January, when it hosts not one but two extreme sports events. On January 6, Tiberias on Lake Kinneret hosts the 40th iteration of the Sea of Galilee Marathon, renowned among the sweat set for its speedy pace (if you’re more of a fun-runner, opt for the 10K which operates concurrently with the longer course). Otherwise, the last weekend of the month is ISRAMAN, held in the far southern tip of the country in the mountain range in and around Eilat, a town usually famed for its duty free shopping scene. Once you’ve completed the swimming component in the warmish waters of the Red Sea, local terrain makes this Iron Man especially challenging on bike and foot, as the roads snake around the rocky course and there are often windy conditions to pile on the pressure. First-timers can sign up for both the full and half triathlon.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Then again, if you want to blow every healthy living resolution in style, why not head down to Grand Cayman for this year’s Cayman Cookout? This is the ninth year for the Caribbean’s swankiest food fest, where the likes of Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés will join host Eric Ripert (chef-owner of local five-star spot Blue) for three days of indulgence. Traditionally, it’s been centered around the Ritz-Carlton on the island’s best stretch of sand, Seven Mile Beach, but this year, the fest is expanding beyond this hotel to another new property which also sits on the same beach: the Kimpton-run Seafire, which opened in late 2016 and is the first large-scale hotel to debut here in more than a decade.
In 1967, a trio of expat Californians in French Polynesia accidentally changed the way the world would honeymoon: They invented the overwater bungalow. The so-called “Bali Hai Boys” were looking for a gimmick to help juice customers at a hotel they owned on Raiatea, though the latter proved challenging—the problem, they realized, was this atoll’s lack of guest-accessible beaches. As a solution, the BHBs built bungalows on concrete pillars that edged out across the lagoon to give guests easier access to the water, inspired by the grass-thatched fishing huts long built by locals. Since then, the trio’s idea has spread worldwide—but why not mark the 50th anniversary with a trip to the archipelago where the idea was invented, especially when the water’s temperature hovers around 80 degrees all month? The most recent plush perch to open with this local amenity was the Four Seasons in Bora Bora, and in early spring a new Conrad will debut on the same stretch of sand—with the bonus of the only sunset views beside your personal pool.
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Whistler-Blackcomb is arguably British Columbia’s best winter hideaway – and with 8,000 skiiable areas, claims to be the largest ski resort in the whole of North America. Artificially reclaimed from the rugged landscape as a sop to the unsuccessful Canadian bid for the winter Olympics in 1968, the new facilities were repurposed for mass tourism (and ended up hosting the games in 2010, anyway). Renowned for its astonishing snowfall, with an average of 40 feet per year, Whistler’s mostly considered a late-season getaway, often supplied with good powder through June. January, though, is the party month, in large part thanks to the huge expat Aussie contingent in the city, who celebrate Australia Day on January 26 with a massive weekend-long bash. The best one is always at the Longhorn Saloon, run by local hospitality legends the Gibbons family.