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The Best Winter Travel Destinations

F&W's top winter trips, from the Swiss Alps (where a Michelin-starred chef serves superb vegetarian tasting menus) to South Africa (where a safari-lodge cooking teacher might offer a lesson in making oxtail stew).

Morocco

Winter Trips: Royal Mansour, Morocco
Courtesy of Royal Mansour

Royal Mansour

King Mohammed VI's ambitious project is at the end of a black-marble road within the city walls of Marrakech's 11th-century medina. The property is a maze of 53 individual two-story riads (traditional Moroccan houses) with silk-paneled walls, extensive hand-laid tilework and rooftop sun beds. The walled complex of Royal Mansour is connected by a network of underground tunnels used by staff, so that guests can have privacy as they stroll among the property's ornate fountains and orange and olive trees. Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno oversees the three restaurants.

Riads from $1,950; Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti; 011-212-529-80-8080 or royalmansour.com.

Switzerland

Winter Trips: Dolder Grand Switzerland
Courtesy of Dolder Grand Switzerland

Dolder Grand

This castle-like hotel is perched on the hillside above downtown Zurich, with a new, Norman Foster-designed wing that has a 43,000-square-foot spa with fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows. The Michelin-starred restaurant from German chef Heiko Nieder serves seven-course tasting dinners as well as a five-course vegetarian tasting menu that includes a potato gnocchi with macadamia nuts and Brillat-Savarin, a triple-cream cow's-milk cheese from Normandy.

Doubles from $785; Kurhausstrasse 65; 011-41-44-456-6000 or thedoldergrand.com.

Puerto Rico

Winter Trips: St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia

St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

A former coconut plantation surrounded by rainforest, this resort 26 miles northeast of San Juan blends with the landscape (no building rises above the tree line). Consulting chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten sampled local cuisine to get inspiration for Fern, which uses produce from the on-site organic garden.

Doubles from $589; State Road 187, Rio Grande; 787-809-8000 or starwoodhotels.com.

India

Winter Trips: Maharajas' Express, India
Courtesy of Maharajas Express

Maharajas' Express

The first luxury train to cross Indian state borders, the Maharajas' Express is as opulent as its name suggests, with blue and green tiled ceilings, velvet upholstery and mother-of-pearl panels; cabins have LCD TVs and even bathtubs. The Express covers more than 1,500 miles and a mix of iconic landmarks (like the Taj Mahal in Agra) and lesser-known spots (like the erotic temples of Khajuraho). F&W Travel Editor Jen Murphy writes, "On my own, I never would have been able to see so much in eight days. Here, I didn't even have to unpack a suitcase." Read more.

Double cabins from $800 per day; maharajas-express.com. Greaves Tours can help plan pre- or post-train travel; greavesindia.com.



Winter Trips: Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, India
Courtesy of Taj Mahal Hotel

Beach Escape   Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Indian fashion photographer Denzil Sequeira has turned his family's 19th-century Goan beach compound into a fabulously off-the-beaten-path hotel whimsically named Elsewhere. Located on a tiny spit of land between a saltwater creek and the Arabian Sea, the three luxury tents and four colonial beach houses (one a former bakery, another the old livestock quarters) are spread out amid a forest of coconut trees and accessed by a rickety wooden bridge. The privacy makes it a favorite of Bollywood stars and American celebs (Sequeira prefers not to share names). At sunset, local fishermen pull their boats ashore and sell guests the day's catch; Elsewhere staff will then turn it into dishes like Goan fish curry. Tents from $400 a week, cottages from $830 a week; near Asvem; 011-91-98-7001-1500 or aseascape.com.

City Hotel   Leela Kempinksi Udaipur

It's difficult to order off the same menu twice at Mumbai's storied Taj Mahal Palace hotel. The grand, 604-room property has 11 restaurants, including Wasabi by Morimoto and Golden Dragon, India's first Sichuan restaurant, plus small bites and excellent Prohibition-era cocktails at the legendary Harbour Bar. The building itself is architecturally stunning—a mix of Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles—with views of the famed Gateway of India and the Arabian Sea. It's also steps from the city's most fabulous shopping. Adjacent to the hotel: Good Earth (goodearthindia.com), a hip and eco-conscious store selling textiles, art and bath products, and Bombay Electric, India's answer to Barneys (bombayelectric.in). Doubles from $525; Apollo Bunder; 011-91-22-6665-3366 or tajhotels.com.

Royal Retreat   Elsewhere Hotel

A 15-minute boat ride across Lake Pichola delivers guests to the Leela Kempinski Udaipur, a new, 80-room Rajasthani palace hotel. Upon arrival, guests can book an Ayurvedic massage in one of nine treatment tents surrounding an ancient Shiva temple or request a private astrology session. Sheesh Mahal, the rooftop restaurant, features recipes from the royal kitchens of India, while the main dining room serves a nine-course, French-influenced tasting menu using ingredients from the hotel's organic garden. Doubles from $600; Lake Pichola, Udaipur; 011-91-29-4670-1234 or theleela.com.

Hiking Trip   Himalayan Tours

Shakti, a small, socially conscious luxury-tour operator, leads four- to 11-day walking trips through local villages in three distinct regions of the Himalayas: Sikkim, Kumaon and Ladakh. Local porters and guides escort guests between remote villages as high as 12,366 feet above sea level. Guests stay in traditional Tibetan-style houses made from sun-baked mud bricks and wooden beams, and a local chef gives cooking lessons and prepares Indian meals with organic local ingredients. Activities range from observing an early-morning Buddhist prayer ceremony at a 600-year-old monastery to rafting down the Shayok river. Three-night package from $1,245 per person, including meals and activities; 866-401-3705 or shaktihimalaya.com.


slideshow   Slideshow: More of the Best Winter Trips


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