Where To Find Winter Sun In 2023
Kate Lough shares the places on her radar for a sun-drenched jaunt this winter — from a destination hotel in the Cayman Islands to South Africa’s wine country
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
With its soft pink sands and turquoise sea, a dose of the Caribbean in the depths of winter is never a bad idea. The place of the moment? It has to be Palm Heights, the destination hotel which put Grand Cayman on the map when it opened in 2019. Set on a dreamy stretch of Seven Mile Beach and the island’s only boutique hotel, it brings back more than a dash of old Caribbean glamour with its 70s mansion style. For the new season, Palm Heights has opened its Garden Club Spa, a 60,000 sq ft open-air wellbeing hub that takes its inspiration from the gardens of the ancient world. Expect an outdoor hammam, hot and cold plunge pools and an Athletics Club.
South Africa Winelands
Sun-drenched days, endless wineries and farm-to-table restaurants make South Africa’s wine lands an incredibly tempting option for some vitamin D — especially when you are in the mood for something more than a beach break. Fly into Cape Town and from there it is an easy drive to all of our favorite hotels. Your first stop should be the new Sterrekopje, a biodiverse farm hotel in the foothills of the Franschhoek mountains that is exactly the right kind of luxurious. Designed to regenerate earth, body, and soul, you can opt to stay for one of its 2,3,5, or 7-night journeys. Next up, make your way to Montagu and the Jonkmanshof country estate. Days are easily spent here; dips in the swimming pool, relaxing in the citrus garden and serious wine tasting at the Montagu winery.
Costa Careyes, Pacific Coast of Mexico
On a remote and raw stretch of virgin coast between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo like Mexico’s most closely guarded secret: Costa Careyes. A private retreat for a Burning Man-style crowd of creatives and spiritualists, it was founded by an Italian artist and financier in the 1960s and remains one of Mexico’s most magical destinations. The place to stay is Cuixmala, a domed yellow castle with panoramic views over the Pacific Ocean below, as well as the Chamela-Cuixmala nature reserve.
St. Barths, Caribbean
The diminutive, French fancy island of St Barths will always be one of our go-to spots in the Caribbean. We love the boutique and kaleidoscopic Villa Marie St Barths, which overlooks one of the island’s most spectacular and secluded beaches, Flamand Bay. Set in beautiful tropical gardens, this hotel is intimate, exotic and pure bliss. Its bungalow rooms afford its guests some much needed space and privacy, but if you want a real showstopper, opt for one of the four villas with their own private pools. Since it launched its Gyp Sea Beach Club in 2021, you don’t even need to leave the hotel in search of a vibe.
After enduring a turbulent time, Sri Lanka is open and ready to receive visitors with open arms. There are several exciting new openings that make 2023 even more appealing, including Kurulu Bay. Immersed in tranquility near Lake Koggala, there are treehouses and garden cottages dressed in perfect simplicity, alongside grounding wellness rituals and three beautiful pools. Nearby, Trebartha East is set to open this season on a working cinnamon plantation, while further down the coast towards the Yala National Park, stylish new hotel brand Reverie will launch the beautiful and beach-front Kayaam House, with Ahu Bay following in February.
For a low-key but super chic Bahamas experience, skip over Harbour Island in favor of its under-the-radar neighbour Eleuthera, which is just a seven-minute boat ride away. Stay at The Other Side, Ben Simmons’ solar-powered hideaway where guests sleep in glamorous tented villas with just pristine white sands and swaying palms for company. There is a striking pool that juts out over the ocean, paddleboards to keep up with the turtles, and other gentle activities to pass your days, like yoga sessions. It is all about going slow here.
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