The holiday season is quickly approaching, bringing with it the eternal question: Where is the best place to escape, unwind, and recharge so you can face the New Year at the top of your game? Whether you are looking for an under-the radar ski spot, an out-of-this-world spa destination or a local retreat, these are my top picks for a festive getaway this year.
Where to stay: Amangani, at the foot of the Teton Mountains, is Jackson Hole’s most luxurious resort. A 20-minute drive from the ski slopes, it is the perfect spot to unwind and take in the area’s incredible natural scenery and wildlife. After a long day on the slopes, there is nothing better than returning for a soak in the outdoor jacuzzi, with its panoramic views over the snow-topped mountains.
Where to eat: For breakfast, head on over to the stylish Persephone Bakery – its handmade bread and pastries are baked fresh every day. Rendezvous Bistro is one of the area’s most loved restaurants, for a good reason. The sophisticated dining spot brings a slice of Paris to Wyoming, with dishes like escargot, oysters and duck confit on the menu.
Where to shop: Head to the locally-owned Mountain Dandy Showroom for carefully curated home furnishings with a focus on American-made goods.
What to pack
Situated on the rugged stretch of coast between Carmel and San Simeon, Big Sur is one of California’s most beautiful natural spots. With its breath taking views, tranquil setting and first-rate spas, it is the ultimate location to switch off and reset ahead of the New Year.
Where to stay: Tucked away between the redwood forests and the ocean sits Ventana, an exclusive spa resort that blends seamlessly with its majestic natural surroundings. The cozy cabin-style rooms boast crackling fireplaces and deep tubs for soaking, with huge windows offering ocean views. The spa is rooted in ancient Asian methods, with a focus on healing and rejuvenating treatments – visit the wood-panelled Japanese hot baths before settling in for an herbal massage with eucalyptus, lavender, pine and sage.
Where to eat: Ventana’s restaurant, the Sur House, rises high above the Pacific and offers a stellar ocean view. Dishes like blue corn tamale with charred tomato salsa and sole with smoked beet are created with sustainable, local ingredients, including some picked from their own organic garden. For a quick lunch head to Nepenthe, the local favorite perched on the edge of a cliff, and order their signature burger.
Where to shop: The Phoenix is the perfect place to pick up a piece of Big Sur to take home with you – the boutique stocks everything from elegant earrings crafted out of locally sourced jade to natural plant-based skincare products made on the Californian coast.
What to pack:
Tokyo and Ise-Shima National Park, Japan
Japan is a country of contradictions – it is well known for its bustling cities, filled with modern marvels and incredible architecture, yet there is nowhere quite like Japan to connect with nature and find your zen. A trip that combines both makes for the perfect holiday getaway.
Where to stay: Aman owns two of Japan’s finest hotels. The sleekly designed Aman Tokyo, which overlooks the city’s skyline and Mount Fuji, offers the perfect balance of urban dynamism and cultural sensibility. Amanemu, set within the Ise-Shima National Park, was inspired by classic Japanese ryokan tradition, with soothing pale wood and windows overlooking the surrounding forests. Built around a hot spring, the water-inspired spa offers 2,000 square metres of relaxation, including two private pavilions, a watsu pool and four treatment suites.
Where to eat: The Aman Tokyo has several dining spots, including Arva, which pays tribute to Italy’s rich culinary heritage, and Musashi, where high quality sushi is paired with specially selected sakes and wines. Amanemu’s restaurant serves local delicacies, like spiny lobster, abalone and marbled Wagyu beef.
Where to shop: Tokyo is home to some of the world’s finest shopping areas, from Harajuku’s street fashion to Ginza’s high-end boutiques. Take a stroll around Chuo-dori, the most prominent shopping street in Ginza, where you will find everything from Fendi and Valentino to the world’s largest Bulgari store.