Glistening winter getaways beckon as the calendar turns to December, a month synonymous with festive sparkle and joyful abandon.
As the winter chill sets in and the festive lights start to twinkle, there’s a palpable sense of magic in the air. December, with its festive cheer and promise of new beginnings, has long beckoned travellers to seek out the extraordinary. It’s a time when luxury and celebration intertwine, inviting us to witness the world in its most stunning winter dress.
It’s a time when luxury travel takes on a new dimension, offering a blend of relaxation, celebration, and indulgence against backdrops of snow-dusted landscapes or sun-kissed shores.
In this feature, we embark on a global tour of the world’s most interesting destinations and experiences, meticulously tailored for the festive season. From the hushed elegance of Alpine peaks to the vibrant warmth of tropical sands, we uncover locales where the charm of winter meets unparalleled luxury, and where the spirit of the season is celebrated in the grandest style.
Enchanting Escapades in Courchevel, France
Courchevel, part of the Les Trois Vallées ski area, boasts an unparalleled festive atmosphere. Check into a chalet at Les Airelles, a palace that would not seem out of place in a fairy tale. With its sumptuous interiors and Michelin-starred cuisine, it’s an abode worthy of royalty. Outside, the slopes offer some of the best skiing in the world, while the village glitters with exclusive boutiques and festive markets.
- Skiing Extravaganza: Experience the thrill of skiing down the carefully groomed slopes of Courchevel, a part of the largest ski area in the world.
- Luxury Shopping: The village’s high-end boutiques offer an exclusive shopping experience for those looking to invest in designer ski wear or bespoke jewellery.
- Gastronomic Wonders: With an array of Michelin-starred restaurants, the taste of France is at its finest here, offering an unmissable culinary journey during the festive season.
A unique experience to enjoy: Courchevel, France: A Flight of Fancy
Courchevel takes luxury to new heights with a private helicopter tour of the French Alps. Soar above the iconic Mont Blanc and the majestic Trois Vallées, toasting to the season with champagne in hand as you fly. Upon landing, you’re greeted by a mountainside picnic prepared by a Michelin-starred chef, offering a gastronomic delight amidst a snowy panorama.
Whimsical Wonder in Whistler, Canada
Whistler, draped in its powdery white splendour, is the first glittering gem. Renowned for its world-class ski resorts, the area transforms into a winter wonderland during the festive season. Stay at the Pan Pacific Mountainside, where the ski-in, ski-out feature ensures that you are never too far from the slopes. Indulge in après-ski massages and gourmet dining with a view of snowflakes dancing down to the enchanting village below.
- Adventure Awaits: Whistler Blackcomb’s slopes offer skiing adventures that cater to all skill levels, while the Peak 2 Peak Gondola provides breathtaking views of the alpine.
- Après-Ski Excellence: After a day on the slopes, unwind with a signature hot chocolate in the village or enjoy a sumptuous spa experience at the Scandinave Spa Whistler.
- Festive Shopping: Whistler Village glows with holiday lights, inviting shoppers to explore its boutiques for unique artisan gifts and fashionable winter gear.
- Culinary Journey: Indulge in a culinary tour through Whistler, savouring festive gourmet meals prepared by top chefs at high-altitude restaurants.
A unique experience to enjoy: Whistler, Canada: A Night with the Stars
In Whistler, elevate your stay by partaking in a bespoke dining experience on the mountaintop. After an exhilarating snowmobile ride through the powdery landscape, arrive at a secluded log cabin aglow with candlelight. Here, a private chef serves a sumptuous feast of local delicacies paired with fine Canadian wines. As the night deepens, step outside to marvel at the constellations, with a professional astronomer explaining the celestial dance above.
Swap the cold for the colourful festivities of Rajasthan’s royal landscapes. The Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur promises a Christmas like no other, with its blend of Indian warmth and grandeur. Enjoy themed dinners under the stars, and elephant polo matches, and explore the rich tapestry of the local culture. It’s a festive season infused with a different kind of splendour.
- Cultural Immersion: Delve into the heart of Rajasthani culture with a visit to the local bustling markets and historical landmarks.
- Starry Nights: Enjoy a desert safari followed by a traditional dinner while watching folk dancers under the vast, starlit sky.
- Royal Spa Retreat: Experience the regal touch with a spa session at the Jiva Grande Spa, infusing ancient royal treatments with modern well-being practices.
A unique experience you cannot miss: Rajasthan, India: A Maharaja’s Evening
In the heart of Rajasthan, Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhawan Palace curates an evening of royal splendour. Guests are invited to dress in traditional attire and enjoy an exclusive dinner on the palace grounds. The meal is followed by a private performance of Kathak dance, telling timeless tales through intricate movements, as the palace façade glows against the night sky, creating an ambience of bygone regality.
Island Idyll in St. Barth’s, Caribbean
The Caribbean island of St. Barth’s is where the jet-set sojourn to soak up the festive sun. Villas like Eden Rock and Le Sereno offer private beaches and bespoke services. Imagine sipping on a chilled cocktail as the Caribbean sun sets, turning the sky into a canvas of festive reds and oranges, a warm embrace against the December chill elsewhere.
- Sunset Sailing: Charter a yacht for a luxurious sail around the island, basking in the warm glow of a Caribbean sunset.
- Beachfront Indulgence: Spend a day at a private beach club, with impeccable service and comfort that defines luxury.
- Gourmet Dining: Enjoy al fresco dining on the beach, where the cuisine is as stunning as the ocean view.
A unique experience to enjoy: St. Barth’s: Yacht Serenade
In St. Barth’s, charter a luxury yacht for a sunset cruise around the island. Aboard, you are serenaded by a live jazz band while a private chef serves a seafood feast sourced from local catches of the day. As dusk falls, anchor in a secluded cove and dive into the bioluminescent waters for a swim among the stars of the sea.
Alpine Allure in St. Moritz, Switzerland
St. Moritz in Switzerland is synonymous with the glitz of high society and the thrill of winter sports. Badrutt’s Palace Hotel is the epitome of luxury with stunning views of the frozen Lake St. Moritz. The town itself is aglow with festive lights, and you can join the glitterati in celebrating the season at the legendary White Turf horse races on the frozen lake.
- White Turf Events: Join the high society in the White Turf horse races, a unique combination of sport, tradition, and entertainment on the frozen lake.
- Mountain Gastronomy: Embark on a gourmet dining experience in mountain huts that combine traditional Swiss cuisine with panoramic alpine views.
- Spa and Wellness: Soothe your senses at the exclusive Spas, with treatments that use the finest natural ingredients.
A unique experience to enjoy: St. Moritz, Switzerland: A Toboggan for Two
St. Moritz offers an adrenaline-fueled descent on the historic Cresta Run toboggan track. With a personal instructor, take on this daring ride, originally crafted out of natural ice. Post-thrills, unwind with a gourmet fondue dinner served in a private igloo, complete with sheepskin throws and a selection of the finest Swiss chocolates.
Festive Flair in New York City, USA
Nothing says ‘festive’ quite like New York City during the holidays. The Plaza Hotel offers a timeless stay, where you can overlook the sparkling lights of Fifth Avenue and Central Park. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, and the iconic Christmas tree that stands as a sentinel to the season’s joy.
- Broadway Magic: Catch a holiday-themed show on Broadway for an evening of unparalleled theatrical wonder.
- Holiday Markets: Wander the festive holiday markets, such as the one at Bryant Park, to find handcrafted gifts and delectable treats.
- Culinary Delights: Explore the city’s iconic eateries and bakeries that offer special festive menus and seasonal delights.
A unique experience to enjoy: New York City, USA: A Broadway Gala
The Plaza Hotel in New York can arrange an evening of glamour with a private box at a Broadway show. After the curtains fall, enjoy a backstage tour to meet the cast and crew. End your night with a rooftop cocktail party overlooking the city, where a private jazz ensemble plays against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.
Celestial Celebrations in Lapland, Finland
In Finnish Lapland, the festive season is a gateway to childhood fantasies. The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort offers glass igloos where you can lie in bed and gaze at the Northern Lights. Santa Claus Village adds to the charm, providing a Christmas experience that’s truly unparalleled.
- Northern Lights Adventure: Take a guided snowmobile tour in pursuit of the elusive and breathtaking Aurora Borealis.
- Reindeer Safari: Embark on a traditional reindeer sledge ride through the snowy forest, culminating in a cosy fireside gathering.
- Santa Claus Meet-and-Greet: Visit Santa Claus in his village and post a letter from the Arctic Circle with a special stamp.
A unique experience to enjoy: Lapland, Finland: Arctic Adventure
The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort’s unique experience involves a thrilling husky safari through the Lappish wilderness. As you mush your team of dogs across the Arctic landscape, you’ll feel a connection to the land and its traditions. The day ends with a Lappish barbecue in a Laavu (traditional tent), enjoying local fare in the warmth of a campfire.
Desert Dreams in Dubai, UAE
Dubai, where the desert meets decadence, presents a Christmas of contrasts. The Burj Al Arab, with its sail-shaped silhouette, provides a backdrop for festivities replete with opulent banquets and gold-infused spa treatments. The city’s malls are a shopper’s paradise with festive sales, while the desert offers a serene escape with luxury tented camps under the stars.
- Desert Safari: Experience the thrill of dune bashing in a 4×4, followed by a tranquil evening at a desert camp with traditional entertainment and a BBQ dinner.
- Shopping Festival: Take advantage of the great shopping Malls for luxury brands and unique gifts at attractive prices.
- Sky-High Views: Take a helicopter tour for a bird’s eye view of the city’s architectural marvels and coastline.
A unique experience to enjoy: Dubai, UAE: Sands of Time
In Dubai, step aboard a hot air balloon at dawn for a silent voyage over the vast desert. Witness the surreal landscape from above as the sun rises, casting a golden hue over endless dunes. Upon landing, a vintage Land Rover whisks you away to a Bedouin camp where you indulge in a gourmet breakfast and a falconry display.
The floating city of Venice presents a quieter, more reflective festive season. The Belmond Hotel Cipriani embraces this serene spirit with elegance, offering a Venetian-style celebration with masquerade balls and gondola rides through the misty canals, the city’s lights reflecting like scattered jewels on the water.
- Gondola Serenades: Enjoy a private gondola ride through the canals, complete with a serenade to enhance the romantic atmosphere.
- Artistic Discovery: Visit Venice’s renowned galleries and artisan workshops to witness the creation of Murano glass and other traditional crafts.
- Culinary Excellence: Relish Venetian cuisine with a festive twist at renowned eateries, celebrating the season with local seafood and Italian wines.
A unique experience to enjoy: Venice, Italy: A Secret Serenade
Venice reveals its charm through an exclusive after-hours tour of St. Mark’s Basilica, culminating in a private classical concert within its hallowed halls. Following the echoes of Vivaldi, drift through the canals on a moonlit gondola ride, where a serenading gondolier enchants with Italian arias, adding a soundtrack to the shimmering waters.
Samba Spirit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Embrace the heat of Rio de Janeiro, where the festive season is a carnival of colours. The Copacabana Palace stands as an art deco monument to indulgence. Experience the Reveillon, Brazil’s New Year’s Eve extravaganza, with champagne on the beach and fireworks that rival the stars.
- Beachfront Festivities: Join the vibrant beach parties and engage in a samba dance with the locals.
- Reveillon Celebration: Don white attire and participate in the awe-inspiring Reveillon, welcoming the New Year with fireworks and festivities on Copacabana Beach.
- Tropical Tours: Explore the rainforests surrounding Rio for a nature retreat and panoramic views of the city from the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
A unique experience to enjoy: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Tropical Tranquility
The Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro arranges for a day on a private island. Reachable only by helicopter, you’re treated to a secluded paradise. A personal wellness coach leads you through a rejuvenating session of yoga and meditation. The retreat continues with a tropical spa treatment and a picnic of Brazilian delicacies, leaving you in harmonious tranquillity as you soak up the sun’s embrace.
A transformation of the spirit
Each of these destinations offers an experience that transcends the traditional holiday getaway, inviting discerning travellers to indulge in the spirit of the festive season through unique, memory-making experiences.
These destinations promise not just a change of scenery, but a transformation of spirit. They invite travellers to bask in the glistening glamour of the season, combining the comforts of luxury with the joy of festive traditions. Whether ensconced in a snowy chalet or baring your feet in warm sands, December’s allure lies in the promise of celebration — a promise that each of these destinations fulfils with its own unique, resplendent touch.
In a world that often moves too fast, these getaways remind us to pause and revel in the sparkle of the moment. So, pack your bags, embrace the festive spirit, and make this December a montage of unforgettable luxury experiences. After all, the season’s magic is out there, waiting in these glistening getaways, each with a story to tell and a memory to gift.
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