From Caribbean islands to Christmassy tinsel towns, these are Haute Retreats favourite places for a December getaway
Forget summertime: December just might be the best time of year to travel. There are the Christmas classics: the scent of mulled wine and freshly fallen snow wafting from NYC to Wien, or salty-aired, sun-kissed treats such as St Barth’s. Off-season surprises include Bora Bora and Maldives; And with the sunny season it’s an ideal time to discover Mexico and Costa Rica. Plus, our tips on how to do it all as sustainably as possible.
Temperature: 30ºC high; 25ºC low
Season: Dry season
If tropical indolence is what you seek then the Maldives is, let’s face it, heaven at any time of year. December marks the start of the dry season, sees the islands at their best: low rainfall, low humidity, a lovely dry heat, lots of sunshine… You can go swimming with whale sharks and manta rays (at South Ari and the western edges of the atolls). Plus in December (until March) there’s the bonus of a direct flight from the UK to Malé with British Airways, transporting you from cold, dark Britain to the heat and light of the Indian Ocean in as little as 10 hours, and giving you as much as an extra day of beach time.
Sustainable travel tip: While flying to the Maldives presents unavoidable carbon issues, you can minimise your footprint by choosing a resort that has real sustainability practices. Read up thoroughly to check it’s not just paying lip service. Choose dives and day trips with responsible outfits, which contribute to conservation – and be sure not to touch corals or living creatures.
Where to stay: Where indeed. There’s plenty to love within our list of the best resorts and villas in the Maldives. For somewhere shiny and where to enjoy wellness experience, Joali “One of a kind” is a phrase too freely thrown around in relation to new Maldives resorts, but the 2018-opened Joali Maldives genuinely stands out for its originality and flair. The attention to detail that has gone into creating Joali is astounding. The visionary architects at Autoban can be credited with the resort’s fairytale finished look. The elegant villas take inspiration from across Asia, with elements such as large teak panels and terrazzo flooring highlighting the spaces. The villas evoke a sense of luxury and refinement while also being homely. Likewise, the impeccable service is warm rather than overly servile.
For a classic crowd pleaser, Gili Lankanfushi Maldives has a hard to beat location, with only over water villa accommodation ensuring the island stays wild and the beaches are on full dazzling display.
New York City, USA
Temperature: 8°C high; -3°C low
Christmas in New York City is a no-brainer. The scene is cinematically festive, from ice-skating under the Rockefeller Center tree to theatrical window displays in Fifth Avenue department stores. And if you thought your neighbours tried to outdo you every year with the Christmas lights, spare a thought for the residents of Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights. The houses here are so extravagantly bedecked, there’s an official bus tour of the most outrageous blocks. Better still, New York’s best apartments and hotels serve warming nips by a crackling lobby fire: plump for The Ludlow’s Pigalle cocktail, with bourbon and ancho chile.
Where to stay: It’s now possible to find a slice of serenity in midtown please send an email to email@example.com for Haute Retreats apartments in New York City. For a classic Christmas stay, book a sort-after room at The Plaza, which enjoys beautiful views over Central Park.
St Barth’s, Caribbean
Temperature: 30°C high; 24°C low
Simply everyone is in St Barth‘s in December. Partly because the island is the original discreet-A-lister’s sunny paradise of choice with the world’s most perfect beaches, restaurants, hotels and villas, and partly because everyone else is. The super-rich, the super-famous, the beautiful and the blessed. Fail to book your December holiday here and you’ve only got yourself to blame for off-the-charts FOMO as you sit looking out at the rain and scrolling through shots of simply everyone else laughing through perfect teeth on the world’s most perfect beaches.
Where to stay: Haute Retreats offers a chic and new selection of luxury villas in St Barts for rent. our newest entry Villa Bleu located on the beach of Grand-Cul-de-Sac, luxury villa for rent BLEU is a luxurious vacation home with breathtaking views over the lagoon clear waters.
Zermatt, Swiss Alps
Temperature: 2°C high; -6°C low
The sort of snowy-mountain scene that dream Christmases are made of. Horse-drawn sleighs, twinkling trees, glühwein stalls, a pretty village aglow in a lovely little valley beneath the Matterhorn. And, importantly, snow-sure slopes – 200 astoundingly pretty kilometres of them – from the start of December. All of which makes Zermatt one of Europe’s best ski resort.
Where to stay: Zermatt’ luxurious chalet like Zermatt peak, sits in a picture-perfect property with amazing views.
For a winter-sun tinselfest, nobody does it bigger and brighter and sparklier than Dubai. From November to January the weather cools to a more bearable 19-25ºC and the sun shines practically all the time; and in December there’s the Rugby Sevens and a film festival, pre-Christmas designer sales and record-breaking Christmas trees groaning under the weight of lights and Swarovski crystals, for those who like that kind of thing. Everyone says they don’t, then they go to Dubai and find that they kind of do.
Where to stay: see our pick of the best villas in Dubai.
Temperature: 27ºC high; 18ºC low
It’s the most peaceful and easygoing country in Central America, but Costa Rica still has bags of excitement and exoticism. Its Pacific coast draws surfers and bohemians practising yoga on its wave-crashed beaches in groovy little beach towns such as Nosara, while its gentle Caribbean shores and islands bring in backpackers and those looking for castaway escapism on its islands. In its interior: jungles, wildlife and volcanoes, with adrenaline kicks in the form of ziplining through the cloud-forest canopy, white-water rafting, hiking up volcanoes and tracking big cats in Corcovado National Park. December is prime beach weather in Costa Rica, and it’s also when humpback whales start to arrive, heading south in search of warmer waters – this is one of the best places in the world to spot them.
Where to stay: Visit Haute Retreats selection of the best villas in Coast Rica.
Temperature: 24ºC high; 19ºC low
It may be winter, but December is Miami’s driest month, with daytime temperatures a beach-ready 24ºC. December is also party time – and this is a city that knows how to party. And it’s not just festive fiestas, but also Art Basel Miami Beach, which means parties, launches, shows and happenings all over the place – art has never been sexier – swiftly followed by Art Gaysel, the world’s Queerest Art Fair. Even those who don’t give a fig for art can get involved in the buzz of Miami Design District. Don’t miss murals and music at Basel House.
Where to stay: We selected the best villas and private residences where to stay in Miami click here
Season: Winter (mild temperatures)
The city has always been a rich seam of inspiration. Stories of Yves Saint Laurent, Talitha Getty, Bill Willis and their freewheeling bohemian crowd roaming the souks in the 1960s are stitched into its recent history. But today the next generation of creators, combined with a thriving homegrown scene, look deeper into the country’s heritage and approach it with a fresh sensibility, updating crafts and preserving skills with equal amounts of respect and innovation.
Where to Stay: Villa La Brillante
Canouan, The Grenadines
Temperature: 28ºC high; 21ºC low
It’s the month to see and be seen in the Caribbean. But if you’d rather run away and hide, Canouan makes a fine place to fly under the radar. While everyone else swans around St Barth’s, you can feel smug about Canouan’s tag: ‘The place where billionaires go to get away from millionaires’.
Canouan is one of only a small number of islands from which you can access Tobago Cays. The Cays are a protected archipelago of small, uninhabited islands and pristine coral reefs. They’re the major government-owned attraction in St Vincent and the Grenadines, so many local vendors and guides depend on them.
Where to stay: our newest villa The one in the Grenadines