Happy holidays. We have nothing to put under your tree other than our best wishes for a wonderful Christmas season, but we can fill your heads with dreams of travel.
Last week we were filling heads with dreams of domestic travel. Today? We’re dreaming on an international level. Why not take a few minutes and hitchhike with us to some of our holiday-season dream destinations.
Samoa: American or independent Samoa, it’s all the same to us. Either one gives us everything we want from an exotic beachy getaway (blue skies, pounding surf, warm breezes, and a feeling of utter calm and relaxation) and none of the stuff we don’t, like the skyscraper resorts, the rum-fueled revelries, and the general je ne sais quoi of gettin’ jiggy wit it.
American Samoa, in fact, is the antithesis of jigginess. If it were any more laid-back it would topple into the Pacific without provocation. That’s the way we like it, especially when it comes to places like the Moana O Sina Lodge on Tutuila Island, with its tropical gardens and black lava beaches, or the Vaoto Lodge, just steps from a spectacular beach on Ofu Island. If you can do without WaveRunners and parasailing, this is the place to be. It’s one getaway that really gets you away.
Bermuda: If you ever feel that the Caribbean is not colonial enough for you, Bermuda is the recommended alternative. A scant 650 miles off the North Carolina coast, Bermuda is a veddy British island that still retains vestiges of the days when it was the go-to vacation spot for the East Coast elites. There are reasons: It’s easy to get to and very beautiful, a riot of pastel shades that extends down to the pink sand on the beaches. The perfect place to stay in Hamilton, the island’s largest town, is the Rosedon Hotel (pictured above), the former home of a privateer converted into a delightful inn where afternoon tea is served every day and the garden has the colors of the tropics and the geometric neatness of a fine British green.
Balance the formality of the Rosedon with another typical British experience — pub food from Hog Penny. You can go for the bangers and mash, but a better option is the fish and chips, the Bermuda fish chowder, or the fish of the day, all fresher and more flavorful than what you’ll get over in Mother England. Rent a “pedal bike” from Oleander Cycles to get around and you’ll start to understand what makes this small island so special.
Nevis: If you like your Caribbean on the less-developed, under-the-radar side, Nevis is the place for you. Most cruise ships bypass the distaff end of the St. Kitts and Nevis combo, and that means more opportunities for serious travelers, especially ecotravelers, to explore the volcanic beaches, old sugar-cane plantations, and monkey-filled rainforests. Book a stay in a plantation-home-turned-hotel like the Montpelier or the Hermitage, then kick back on the beaches or book a hiking or biking tour through Nevis Adventure Tours to get a feel for the place.
Kootenay Rockies: Imagine Vail pre-tourists; that’s Nelson, British Columbia. The sleepy ski town is the gateway to some of the world’s finest powder skiing. Make the Whitewater Ski Resort and/or Revelstoke your base of operations; eat right at the hill; stay at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort or the North Shore Inn; and ski your fanny off. The scenery is glorious, the weather is fine, and the mountains are accessible via either Spokane or Calgary. It’s a ski vacation for skiers. Spa-sitters need not apply.
Santorini: We have an in with this particular destination. One of this department’s great friends is the former ambassador to Greece. When we asked him where to go in Greece when you don’t have the luxury/burden of a chauffeured limousine and 24-hour bodyguards, he volunteered this lovely little island, the southernmost of the Cyclades, strategically positioned halfway between Greece and Turkey. Our source cites the island’s romance and natural beauty; we’re more enamored with the fact that you can cross everything off your European-island bucket list in one glorious place. Volcanic beaches? Check. Wineries? Check? Ancient ruins? Check and double-check. Have an authentically rustic bite to eat at tavernas like Aktaion in Firostefani or Nikolas in Fira, and park yourself at the Chromata in Imerovigli, and you will want for nothing. Except a longer vacation, of course.