Sure, much of Yellowstone hibernates at this time of year, but so does most of the tourist industry – and Old Faithful never takes time off. If you want to skip summer crowds and see the wildlife they frighten away, outfitter Off the Beaten Path can take you by snowcoach, a cross between a tank and a Snowcat. At the rustic Old Faithful Snow Lodge, you can snowshoe or cross-country ski among bison and bald eagles, and relax by the fire at night. Days later, another snowcoach takes you to a mountain lodge on the park’s outskirts for a look at rural Montana in winter. From there, you can mush your own dog team, ski backcountry trails, or go skijoring behind Suffolk Punch horses. Seven-day trips depart from Bozeman, Montana, and cost $1,490 per person, double occupancy; for reservations, call 800-445-2995.
Skiing in Gstaad: It’s not just for billionaires anymore. Glacier 3000, a new 50-person aerial tram, now links the resort to four others, including Les Diablerets and Villars, and skiers can access all five with a $163 six-day pass. Swissair (800-221-4750) offers direct flights from JFK to Geneva, where travelers can catch a train to the resorts right from the airport. (For an additional $15 per bag, Swissair can check your luggage straight through to your hotel.) With the favorable exchange rate of 1.65 Swiss francs to the dollar, one night at Auberge de la Poste, a 200-year-old chalet in Les Diablerets, is only $72 (41-24-492-31-24), and rooms in Alpe Fleuri, a hotel in Villars with panoramic views of the Alps, start at $90 (41-24-495-34-64). For information, call the tourist offices of Les Diablerets (41-24-492-33-58) or Villars (41-24-495-32-32).
An Island Unto Yourself
Now that you have a time-share jet, are you really going to spend your vacation in a hotel with hoi polloi? There’s at least one private island you can have all to yourself: Musha Cay. Located in the Bahamian Exuma Island chain, about 40 minutes from Nassau, the out-island owned by Blockbuster co-founder John Melk and his wife can be booked by only one party at a time, though its five villas can hold up to twenty guests. While you certainly won’t have to worry about overhearing cell-phone conversations – Melk also owns the three neighboring islands – civilization, in the form of wave runners, windsurfing, tennis, electric golf carts, satellite TV, a plane for trips to nearby islands, a staff of 30, and an award-winning chef, is never far away. “This is for people who really want to check out, but it’s not roughing it,” assures Melk’s spokeswoman. “It’s not Survivor.” For $325,000 per week, we hope not. For information, call 877-889-1100.
BETH LANDMAN KEIL
Yoga Party Reservations at the Caribbean hot spot Parrot Cay will be even harder to come by this winter thanks to Shambhala, the resort’s new holistic spa. But rooms are still available for the spa’s first yoga retreat in April, five days of yoga, meditation, and massage. It costs $2,000 per person, double occupancy, and includes accommodations and meals. Call 877-754-0726 for reservations. Worth a Thousand Words For those lacking the time or talent to master a foreign language, consider Point It, a pocket-size book by Dieter Graf Verlang that lets hapless tourists communicate with pictures of what they want. While many of the 1,200 photos seem odd – what’s with the panty hose hanging from a clothesline? – they’re simple enough for anyone. Let the French laugh! Available at Flight 001 (212-691-1001), Takashimaya (212-350-0100), and Amazon.com. Chill Out Ice Hotel Quebec-Canada, modeled after the famous one in Sweden, opens on January 1, and everything in it – walls, furniture, art, even beds – is made of ice. Guests have access to an Absolut bar, two ice-sculpture art galleries, a cinema, and, thankfully, high-tech clothes to keep warm. Rooms start at $98; call 877-505-0423.