Exotic Getaways Closer to Home

Many travelers want to experience adventure while discovering a remote, exotic destination. But the hassle of long flights and extensive travel can often be a deterrent. For those who want to explore the world without wasting a huge chunk of time on travel, here are some exotic getaways closer to the U.S.

Want Bali?
Try Belize.

For those who want Bali’s ancient ruins, pristine jungles, tranquil seascapes and laid-back lifestyle, try Belize. Located along the tranquil Caribbean Sea, travelers will be able to experience preserved Mayan Temples, lush jungles, rainforest canopies, archaeological sites including the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, and the second largest barrier reef in the world and ultimate world-class destination – The Great Blue Hole. 

Photos courtesy of Belize Tourism Board

Want Ibiza?
Try Cancún.

For those who want Ibiza’s ultimate party scene and beach retreat with world-class DJs, try Cancún. Cancún has long been considered one of the top beach quick getaway vacation destinations in the world with sparkling, turquoise blue water, Ancient Mayan sites, mouthwatering cuisine and a pulsing nightlife. 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Melody Maker Cancun

Want Barcelona?
Try Mexico City.

For those who want Barcelona’s historic streets, world-class museums and mouth-watering culinary offerings, try Mexico City. Cosmopolitan and cultured, Mexico’s largest city boasts a flourishing culinary scene and a cultural renaissance with similar vibes to the Catalan capital. Explore the mysterious Teotihuacan pyramids, become immersed in Mexico city’s vibrant culture, taste local bites and visit Michoacán’s craft workshops.

 

Photos courtesy of Original Travel

Want the Galapagos Islands?
Try Kauai Island.

Known as Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” Kauai Island is filled with tropical rainforests, emerald valleys, and unbelievable mountains. Perfect for adventurists and foodies, Kauai has all the activities and restaurants that guests can ask for. Go ziplining through Kauai’s lush valleys, surf along the heavenly Hanalei Bay, or hike Waimea Canyon aka The Grand Canyon of the Pacific. 

Photo courtesy of Aqua-Aston Hospitality

Want Siquijor, Philippines?
Try Miches, Dominican Republic.

Those seeking a vacation destination with stunning waterfalls, lush palm groves, secluded beaches and Insta-famous swing sets without 24 hours of travel time can head to Miches, Dominican Republic instead of Siquijor, Philippines. 

Photos courtesy of Club Med

With the guidance of experts, travelers are able to experience more than simple sightseeing.

Spanning across Africa, Europe and The United States, these expert-led trips — curated by Architectural Adventures — blend world-class vacations with a deep appreciation for culture, history and architecture. Serving as the official travel program of The American Institute of Architects, Architectural Adventures plans each trip alongside knowledgeable architectural experts — unlocking the historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance behind the world’s most notable architecture.

©istockphoto / Daniel_Keuck

©istockphoto / TomasSereda

“In both Barcelona and Rome, we stay in the same city, and each day discover more about it. Staying in one place affords developing a more intimate look at the architecture and culture of the city.”

Sophia Gruzdys

Barcelona, Spain

Whether she’s embracing the local language, indulging in local cuisine, or exploring historic architecture, Sophia Gruzdys — an Architectural Adventures expert since 2017 — brings her own perspective to each tour she plans.

The licensed architect and educator has led tours in Barcelona and Rome, and will lead two Barcelona tours in 2019. “In both Barcelona and Rome, we stay in the same city, and each day discover more about it. Staying in one place affords developing a more intimate look at the architecture and culture of the city,” Gruzdys explains.

In Rome, travelers explore a wide range of architectural styles — including Contemporary, Fascist-style, Art Deco, and Renaissance. Meanwhile in Barcelona, travelers visit Antoni Gaudí’s iconic Sagrada Família and recently opened Casa Vicens, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s famed Bareclona Pavillion, and the modern urbanism of the @22 District. “It’s fascinating to compare the styles that emerged in our culture in different periods of history in different cities,” Gruzdys says.

Gruzdys, who encourages travelers to engage with local languages and embrace local culture, values the importance of hands-on experience. “It’s so rewarding to travel with people who are interested in the architecture — and to share their enjoyment. Each time I visit the sites, I’ll notice something new, and continue to learn from the experiences of others,” she says.

©istockphoto / TomasSereda

“I have traveled all over the world, but traveling back to San Antonio makes me more aware of its architectural history, and its many layers and textures.”

Jane Martin

San Antonio, Texas, United States

First discovered by Spanish explorers in the 1600s, San Antonio’s identity has always been strongly rooted in Mexican culture, history, art and architecture. From exploring the city’s Spanish colonial past at the Alamo and other UNESCO World Heritage Missions to cruising along the San Antonio Riverwalk, those who travel to San Antonio will be deeply immersed in local culture.

Jane Martin — architecture educator, historian and resident of San Antonio — will lead her first trip with Architectural Adventures in 2019 in her hometown. “I have traveled all over the world, but traveling back to San Antonio makes me more aware of its architectural history, and its many layers and textures,” she says. “There is a lot to see in San Antonio, and I am constantly discovering new things. There are a great variety of architectural styles — with everything from Spanish Colonial, all the way to International Modern.”

Travelers will also visit Sir David Adjaye’s cutting-edge Ruby City, the newest of the city’s world-class museums, and learn about historic Pearl Brewery, now a 22-acre complex with housing, retail and fine dining. “I hope this trip helps to bring San Antonio to the world, encourages people to sign up for the tour and enjoy the city,” Martin says.

©istockphoto / Marco_Bonfanti

Milan, Italy

From marveling at Milan Cathedral, touring Santa Maria delle Grazie (home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper), to visiting the UniCredit Tower, those who travel to Milan will surely learn a great deal from Architecture Adventures expert David Rifkind.

Leading a nine-day tour in 2019, the architectural history professor and practicing architect will explore the city’s range of historic architecture, as well as its recent cultural renaissance — which led to the creation of new museums, sustainable architecture, and Contemporary art exhibits. “I was surprised to learn that architects tend to be very interested in Contemporary architecture,” notes Rifkind, who also finds that non-architects tend to be more interested in historic structures.

Rifkind’s trip to Milan will bring together a unique group of travelers, consisting of both architects and non-architects from around the globe. “The dynamic of the people on the trip really does impact the experience in a really positive way,” Rifkind says. “Experiencing architecture first-hand is a unique pleasure, and alongside a group of diverse people who share your passion is truly magical. It has been rewarding to learn how travelers experience places that I thought I understood.”

While Rifkind understands the importance of an informative lecture, he also highly values hands-on learning. “It is really fascinating when a relatively small group of people experience a city together,” says Rifkind, who made unique contributions for this trip to contrast classroom learning.

“Experiencing architecture first-hand is a unique pleasure, and alongside a group of diverse people who share your passion is truly magical.”

David Rifkind

©istockphoto / Daniel_Keuck

“Although my studies will be very helpful, leading an Architectural Adventures tour will be a new experience for me. It will be very interesting to give tours to travelers who are already immersed in architecture.”

Stanley Ira
Hallet

Morocco

From volunteering in Tunisia for the Peace Corp to lecturing at the University of Kabul in Afghanistan, Architectural Adventures expert Stanley Ira Hallet’s range of cultural experiences has prepared him to lead a tour throughout Morocco in 2019.

“Although my studies will be very helpful, leading an Architectural Adventures tour will be a new experience for me. It will be very interesting to give tours to travelers who are already immersed in architecture,” says Hallet. The trip will include visits to the Hassan II Mosque, the French-designed Habous Quarter, and the Majorelle Garden (a two-and-a-half-acre botanical garden).

Whether travelers are exploring the ancient capital of Mauretania, Volubilis, visiting the medieval school of Bouanania (which was built in the 1300s), or marveling at the Sahara Desert, Hallet says they will partake in a “completely different urban experience.”

Hallet, who also has a passion for photography, hopes the trip will offer travelers a more complete story of Morocco.

Upon entering Puerta Cortés — a 500-plus-acre property in La Paz, Baja California, I was immediately intrigued by its essentially untouched landscape and its proximity to the marvelous Sea of Cortez.

Puerta Cortés, is surrounded by the world’s richest body of water — home to rare sea life such as whale sharks, dolphins, grey whales, humpbacks, orcas, sea lions and more. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s sea life is represented in the Sea of Cortez, making it a prime destination for snorkeling, scuba diving, and sea life exploration.

With seven marinas, Puerta Cortés demanded that I spent a day out on the water to discover Isla Espiritu Santo, swim with whale sharks, and explore sea lions habitats. I followed my day-long boating excursion with an ocean-view dinner as the sun set on the water.

Vista Mar

El Cortés Golf Club

Only two hours from Cabo San Lucas, La Paz offers an experience that heavily contrasts the bustle of a major city. Downtown La Paz offers an authentic Mexican city experience, while Puerta Cortés exudes an unparalleled feeling of privacy, serenity and comfort.

“I love the fact that even though you are in the city, you have this feeling that you are not really in a city,” says President of Ascendancy Antonio Davila, who admires the small town feel of La Paz.

El Cortés Golf Club, boasting sweeping views of the Sea of Cortez from 17 of its 18 holes, is accompanied by a cliffside Clubhouse with views unlike any other. The perfect destination for a Mexican-style breakfast, the Clubhouse evokes a peaceful atmosphere — complete with a calming morning breeze coming off the sea, views of the course’s lush greenery and the crystal blue Sea of Cortez, and an assortment of growing cacti to complete the mountainous desert landscape.

Las Colinas

After spending a morning at the golf course, I headed to Blue Cortés — the signature beach club at Puerta Cortés — to enjoy an afternoon soaking in the sun, relaxing in the infinity pool, and indulging in fine international cuisine while poolside. 

Located only two hours from Cabo San Lucas, La Paz offers an experience that heavily contrasts the bustle of a major city. Downtown La Paz offers an authentic Mexican city experience, while Puerta Cortés exudes an unparalleled feeling of privacy, serenity and comfort.

“I love the fact that even though you are in the city, you have this feeling that you are not really in a city,” says President of Ascendancy Antonio Davila, who admires the authentic, comfortable and small town feel of La Paz. 

When Davila visited the property with his wife six years ago, he immediately fell in love with the serene landscape of La Paz. 

“My wife and I were amazed by the fact that La Paz wasn’t better known, because we just found it to be the most beautiful place we’d ever seen,” he says. “I was mesmerized by its beauty, spectacular scenery and extraordinary amenities.”

Last year, Ascendancy — a Mexican-based family office and asset management firm — purchased the property and launched a $5 million renovation, which should be complete within the next 12 to 18 months. 

Currently the property offers two residential options — Las Colinas and Vista Mar, and Ascendancy is negotiating the construction of two, five-star hotels. The property will also soon sell cliffside, ocean-view lots. Other upgrades will include additional restaurants, an expanded on-site market, and a complete face lift for the beachfront.

“Puerta Cortés is an exclusive hideaway for those seeking unparalleled, coastal living and adventure in one of the most privileged locations in the world. I have met so many well-traveled visitors and residents who have seen and experienced some of the most incredible destinations in the world and have decided Puerta Cortés is where they want to be,” Davila says. 

The biggest draw of Puerta Cortes “to me is the gateway to the Sea of Cortez, its beautiful colors and wonderful sea life.” Davila says his favorite thing about living in La Paz is “being about to go out on the water with my family and experience all of the beautiful sea life. I love the quality of life that my family gets living here.”

Photos courtesy Puerta Cortés

This editorial appeared in the Unique Homes Ultimate ’19 Issue.

Consistently ranked among the world’s top places to visit, Mexico City is a global capital welcoming more than 12.5 million visitors each year with its renowned cuisine, vibrant culture, rich history, unique neighborhoods and modern-day travel offerings.

Over the years, the city has become a sprawling metropolis bursting with a vibrant personality blending old and new. Each of the distinct neighborhoods, or “colonias,” attracts tourists from all over the world to experience their unique culture.

The Roma neighborhood is home to Mexico City’s trendy creative class. Bursting with colors, the streets are filled with restaurants, galleries, bars, foodies, artists and eclectic bed and breakfasts. The neighborhood is the namesake and filming location for Alfonso Cuaron’s internationally acclaimed movie, “Roma,” which won three Academy Awards in 2019.

Located just a few blocks from the house where “Roma” was filmed, Ignacia Guest House is an ideal bed and breakfast for the visitor who wants to embrace the art and culture of the city. Blending history, Mexican artisan tradition and the city’s contemporary culture, Ignacia Guest House opened its doors in February 2017. The name is derived from the housekeeper who looked after this 1913 casona for over 70 years, Ignacia.

 

 

The bed and breakfast allows visitors to immerse themselves in the city’s culture. Each morning, the guest house’s chefs make a trip to the local market to purchase organic, local ingredients for the day. The design of the house itself also proves to blend a contemporary design and a reflection of the city’s timeless culture. With its chromatic color palette and unique interior furniture, the bed and breakfast creates a contemporary living space without losing the charm of the city’s culture.

The Ignacia Guest House is a quintessential example of a spot where visitors can expose themselves to the beauty of Mexico City and all it has to offer to tourists from around the world.

Photos courtesy of Jaime Navarro

Barbados’ most luxurious harbor-front and beachfront resort and luxury real estate properties, Port Ferdinand and Saint Peter’s Bay offer prime real estate and accommodation on the Platinum Coast, the West Coast of the island, which is not only renowned for its calm and clear waters, but also the exclusive selection of restaurants and resorts. Located outside of the hurricane belt, where the West Indies meets the Caribbean sits Barbados – a diverse island, full of rich British history, delicious rums, and of course, white sand beaches along a blue-green sea.

Photo courtesy of Saint Peter’s Bay Oceanfront Residences.

Port Ferdinand Yacht & Beach Club Residence:

Starting at $2.1 million with a collection of two to five-bedroom luxury harbor-front villas, Port Ferdinand Yacht & Beach Club Residences offers homeowners luxury living in a full-service marina and yachting community. Providing a wealth of amenities including 60’ yacht slips, 100’ dockside storage room for each residence, waterfront eateries and bars, expansive Sandbox Tree spa and fitness center and 1.4 acres of pristine beachfront, the resort is perfect for anyone seeking a truly unique and luxurious Caribbean getaway. A new stylish bistro by Barbados’ finest chef, Larry Rogers, Dockside at 13˚/59˚, has also recently opened at Port Ferdinand, offering high quality meals using fresh quality ingredients in a relaxed dockside setting. Port Ferdinand is also home to the newest Nikki Beach Club!

Saint Peter’s Bay Oceanfront Residences:

Located a mere 3km away is Port Ferdinand’s sister resort, Saint Peter’s Bay. Consisting of a unique collection of three- and five-bedroom beachfront homes and penthouses for homeownership and rental, St. Peter’s Bay Resort & Residences boasts a private and discreet environment for all its esteemed guests. With residences starting at $1.6 million, the luxurious, but deeply relaxed beachfront resort, offers villa-style homes spread over 150 ft of pristine beach with crystal clear water – encapsulating Barbados’ appeal in one of its most exclusive settings.  

On nearly 700 acres of coastal Vietnam, Laguna Lang Cô — one of the most luxurious resorts in Asia — is slated to add the palatial Banyan Tree Residences over the next few years to the ambitious resort. Incorporated seamlessly into the oceanfront jungle, each of the 40 new mountainside residences will include its own outdoor infinity pool.

Located on the northern end of the sprawling property, the luxury villas will vary in size from 1,636 square feet for a one-bedroom layout to 2,799 square feet for a three-bedroom. The residences also boast breathtaking views of Laguna’s nearly two-mile stretch of private beach property.

“These residences really showcase everything that is special about this property — its combination of mountains, forest and ocean,” said Gavin Herholdt, Laguna Lang Cô’s managing director. “Not only will owners get to savor the nature and the amenities here, they will also enjoy attractive arrangements at properties around the globe.”

The design of the new residences is inspired by the architecture of Hue, Vietnam’s former imperial capital city, and is complemented by contemporary accents, including specially chosen artwork. Owners of these world-class villas also gain access to amenities including exclusive access to spas, golf courses, excursions, and watersports.

 

Photos courtesy of Laguna Lang Co.

This story previously appeared in the Winter 2019 edition of Unique Homes Magazine.

Whether you’re planning your first vacation on Saint Barths or returning a second or third time to this idyllic Caribbean island, the eclectic, boutique family-owned Les Ilets de la Plage is the perfect hideaway for families, couples, friends and solo travelers.

The new “Le Studio” opened to guests in early December and is the most recent addition to the resort’s villa collection.

Le Studio is a 592 square-foot open-plan, bright and airy studio with its own balcony and gorgeous sea views. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom beautifully designed studio features a fully equipped kitchen, chic teak armchairs with footrests in the living area, teak table and chairs in the dining area, large flat screen smart TV, spectacular ocean view terrace with comfortable seating perfect for sunrise viewings, king size bed (or twins on request), fully air conditioned throughout and more. Based in Saint Barths, Xavier David handled the project with  the following team members: Beatrice David (Interior Designer), Antoine Morisetti (Architect) and Julius Gaume (Project Manager).

Les Ilets de la Plage offers 12 private villas with direct access to the white sand beach and azure sea. Secluded yet central, Les Ilets has been a well-kept secret for years, combining the privacy and serenity of a villa with a hotel concierge service at an affordable price.

Guests staying in Le Studio have access to all of the facilities and services including private beach, pool, concierge services, maid service, bakery delivery, grocery shopping service and more. Rates start from €215- €550 per night, depending on the season.

Guests can fill their days with daily yoga, aqua Pilates and /or island spa treatments.  Hike the beautiful surrounding hills, power walk along the beach at dawn, swim in the ocean or do laps in the resort pool. Enjoy healthy, delicious lunches or dinners using the freshest Caribbean ingredients supplied by Mayas-to-Go.

The remote Caribbean island  of Saint Barths has all the glamour of St. Tropez without all the pretentiousness that accompanies typical celebrity hotspots. Saint Barths is an utterly laid-back, hidden gem of an island, perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It has fabulous beaches, nearly perfect weather and a steady parade of yachts and sailboats to entertain travelers.

There are plenty of posh hotels on the island, but for travelers seeking to escape to a bit of privacy and seclusion, a private villa offers the ultimate haven. Les Ilets has beach side and garden villas that offer the utmost in privacy with luxe accommodations and all the amenities found at a hotel.

Photos courtesy of Gerald Tessier.

Whether you choose to discover the surrounding Caribbean culture, observe the exotic wildlife, visit one of the many new restaurants, or experience all three, it’s evident that Belize should be on your itinerary for 2019.

While Belize was once a best-kept secret among travelers, it has quickly become one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean as tourism arrivals continue to skyrocket. During the first half of 2018, Belize registered a 17.1-percent increase in overnight arrivals, according to Ambergris Today. In the past three years, Belize has also added eight new flights and five major airlines servicing the country.

 

Harvest Caye unveiled its newly built, multi-million-dollar pier in 2017, allowing the country to receive large passenger vessels and cruises. In addition to its new pier, Belize is welcoming a number of resorts that appeal to a broad set of travelers — including the Itz’ana Resort and Residencies in Placencia with its 50 sustainably designed rooms; Blackadore Caye, Leonardo DiCaprio’s eco-resort; and Alaia Belize, a boutique community resort and residential property expected to open in 2020.

 

If you’re not yet convinced, here are some of the most popular — and most exciting — ways to spend time in Belize:

Enjoy Endless Festivities

A melting pot of cultures, Belize is home to endless celebrations — including Belize Carnival, Cashew Fest, Lobsterfest, Costa Maya Festival, Chocolate Festival, the San Pedro Town Love FM Christmas Parade, and more.

Sitting at the ocean’s edge with a vivid view of the Caribbean seascape, Pier 366 Seafood House was recently transformed to offer visitors a distinctive gastronomic experience.

Embrace Diverse Food Options

Recently, the dining scene options have become more diverse with the establishment of restaurants like Tap Room, Midtown and Wok & Wine. Now, there are more options with the opening of three eateries, including Martha’s Cafe, Lerisi Garifuna Restaurant and Mimi’s Bistro. 

Experience Unrivaled Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Belize is home to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the ultimate world-class destination, The Great Blue Hole. Travelers can experience over 100 different coral species, more than 500 endangered and rare marine species, giant stalactites, dripstone sheets, columns and atolls.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve isthe world’s second largest barrier reef in the world.

Discover Local Culture

 

Belize is home to endless historic offerings — including 200 cayes (pronounced “keys,” Belize’s islands) filled with several preserved Mayan Temples, lush jungles, rainforest canopies, and archaeological sites.

For those looking to take a deeper dive and explore the beauty of Belize’s natural underwater locations, the country is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, several wrecked ships, and The Great Blue Hole. 

Observe Exotic Wildlife

Home to the rehabilitated, orphaned and rescued wildlife of Belize, the Belize Zoo is home to exotic wildlife — including tapirs, black jaguars, manatees, spider monkeys, keel-billed toucans, scarlet macaws, and very inquisitive keel billed toucan (Belize’s national bird).

Brand New Resorts & Residences

Belize is welcoming a number of resorts that appeal to a broad set of travelers.

Alaia Belize
 This resort and residential property, expected to open in 2020, was conceived by visionary developer Andrew Ashcroft to embrace the Belizean spirit. The idyllic beachfront property will feature a hotel, 56 two-and-three-bedroom condominiums and eight oceanfront villas with infinity pools.

*pictured right*

Itz’ana Resort and Residencies in Placencia
Recently opened, the complex includes 50 sustainably designed rooms and suite.

 

Blackadore Caye 
Expected to open in early 2019, this is the world’s first truly restorative island development, completely powered by renewable energy and designed to increase the biological health of species on the island and in the waters around it.

 

Unscripted Belize and Dream Belize
The first of two Dream Hotel Group properties planned for Placencia, Unscripted Belize, will debut with 24 beachfront cabanas.

 

Four Seasons Caye Chapel
This resort is slated to open in 2021 with 30 to 40 overwater bungalows on a private island.

All other photos courtesy of the Belize Tourism Board

FOR ISLAND HOPPING FAMILIES

Kukui’ula
Kauai, HI

 

Located on the sunny south shore, Kahalawai #38, a contemporary home designed by Dean Sakamoto and Kelly and Stone Architects and inspired by the designs of mid-century Hawaiian modernist Vladimir Ossipoff, embraces the island landscape with spaces for seamless indoor-outdoor living.

Why it’s a fit for the holidays: With warmer temperatures year-round, Kauai continues to be a popular family destination for the holidays. This home’s open floor plan allows families to enjoy their time together both indoor and outdoor. The ample outdoor space overlooking the lush landscape of the island makes for the perfect backdrop during a Thanksgiving meal with friends and family.

This fully-furnished 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom residence, which is currently on the market for $5,950,000, offers incredible sweeping ocean views.

Why it’s a fit for the holidays: Perched above the famed Kapalua Bay, Residence 1404 offers some of the best views at Montage Kapalua Bay with enough room to comfortably host and entertain the entire family. Additionally, the lanais offer prime viewing to Maui’s world-famous sunsets. The home is just steps away from a variety of activities for all ages including, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, or simply relaxing beachside. Groups of any size can also enjoy two world-class golf courses, hiking, walking and biking trails and so much more.

FOR FAMILIES AVOIDING THE COLD

Maravilla Los Cabos
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Casa Higuera is one of the only fully turnkey custom homes currently available at Maravilla Los Cabos, a private residential community situated between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas on the Sea of Cortez. The community spans both Las Viudas Beach and the renowned Santa Maria Bay, encompassing two of the few year-round, swimmable beaches in Cabo. The five-bedroom, 6.5-bath home features 4,059 square feet inside and 4,908-square feet of outdoor space, as well as a 951-square-foot garage.

Why it’s a fit for the holidays: Built with familial holiday celebrations in mind, Casa Higuera offer multiple spaces for entertainment. The full gourmet kitchens (both indoor and out) boast SubZero, Miele and Wolf appliances, along with a fire pit, barbecue and Kalamazoo pizza oven. The property’s private infinity pool features a floating dining palapa for al-fresco gatherings, while the home’s lower-level basement features a family room equipped with a full bath, 85” flat screen TV, shuffleboard and pool table as well as a walk-in 180-bottle wine cellar.

Tucked into Montage Residences Palmetto Bluff is 119 August Lane. This charming three bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home priced at $1,889,550 is inspired by low-country architecture and features timeless, comfortable design inside and out. Among many features, this home allows for year-round living afforded by expansive porches and Carolina room with fireplace.

Why it’s a fit for the holidays: Ideal for multi-generational families, couples with young children and groups looking to entertain, the residence features spacious gathering areas, including an open living and dining room, expansive kitchen, Carolina room and a fully-appointed screened-in porch.

FOR FAMILIES WHO LOVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS

Nakoma Resort
Cilo, CA

Nakoma Resort is located in Northern California’s eastern Plumas County, a region known as the “Lost Sierra.” Surrounded by mountain peaks and the Plumas National Forest, Nakoma offers an escape from the traffic and crowds around Lake Tahoe. The modern resort is home to a minimalist 42-room Lodge, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Clubhouse, 18-hole championship golf course, Altitude Recreation Center, 12 Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired villas and Ascend Residences at Nakoma, a collection of mountain-modern homes.

Why it’s a fit for the holidays: The snow-capped Lost Sierra is your destination for family winter play away from the crowds. Ascend Residences offer open floor plans with ample space for entertaining family around the annual Christmas tree plucked from the surrounding landscape. Families can avoid the lift lines, whip down the tubing hill or jump on a fat bike to ride atop the snowy trails. Snow permitting, Nakoma will groom 2.5 km of cross-country ski trail steps from a crackling fire in the Wigwam Room. Families who want to explore further into the Lost Sierra can plan an adventurous snowmobiling tour.

Grand View Lodge
Nisswa, MN

Spread over 750 acres, Grand View Lodge offers a variety of private, luxury lodging options with cabins, townhomes, villas and clubhouse suites dotting the shores of popular Roy and Gull Lake. Owners and guests enjoy access to 2,500 feet of sandy beaches along two glacier formed lakes, several tennis courts, an indoor pool with waterslide, 54 holes of championship golf and the award-winning Glacial Waters Spa.

Why it’s a fit for the holidays: The Lodge becomes a winter wonderland during the holidays with ice skating, hockey, skiing and snowboarding nearby, tubing, sleigh rides, ice fishing and snowmobiling. There will also be an abundance of holiday festivities for families, including Santa Elf Tuck-ins, stories with Mrs. Claus, wine tastings and s’mores by the bonfire. After a long day of winter activities, families can gather together in their cabins near the fireplace to share gifts and spread some holiday cheer.

Owners at Costas Palmas have access to the members-only Beach Club, which serves as the heart of the club community, offering organic cuisine, fitness and locker rooms, full-service pools and proximity to the beach.

Owners can also take advantage of “Aventura” guides, offering jet skiing, paddle boarding, wake surfing, sport fishing, ATV adventures to secret caves or waterfalls, and sunset horseback rides on the beach. The Costa Palmas Marina, a deep-water marina with 250 slips, is located just steps away from the marina village offering artisanal boutiques, dining, music and art. — Kelly Potts

rendering & photos courtesy Costa Palmas

Costa Palmas, a 1,000-acre private beachfront resort community on the East Cape of the Baja Peninsula, will soon be home to the first Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences in Los Cabos. Options for owners include a fully furnished, fully managed golf, beach or marina one- to five-bedroom residence, or one of just 18 private, custom-designed villas of 5,000 to 10,000 square feet located on the beach or marina.

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