In New York, February is the cruelest month. Call itcabin fever, winter doldrums, whatever you wish:It’s time to get out of Dodge. Rather thannapping the blues away, why not head south and throwyourself into the pre-Lent fray. From February 27 toMarch 4, scantily clad carnival revelers will let itall hang out in the streets of Mazatlán atMexico’s largest annual pachanga(festival). The waterfront promenade at Olas Altasbeach will be packed day and night with costumeparades, street vendors, and roving bands. It allculminates at the Carnavaldome, where temporary stagesand booths serve up live music—tropicalia,mariachi, rock—and local street foods likebarbecued fish, mango shrimp, and smoked marlin. Booka room near the festivities at Hotel La Siesta (52-669-981-2640) or at the brand-new Hotel PosadaFreeman (52-669-985-6065).
With only 40,000 masqueraders, Trinidad’scarnival may seem like small potatoes compared withthose of New Orleans and Rio. But rest assured: In acountry where women outnumber men by seven to one,there’s no shortage of bikini-mascostumes, those extravagant ensembles that compriseitsy-bitsy two-pieces, feathers, and beads. On March 3and 4, the streets of Port-of-Spain will be floodedwith calypso dancing, steel-drum bands, and streetvendors serving up Trinidadian specialties like roti(flour-wrapped spicy meat and vegetables), doubles(deep-fried salt cakes), and phulorie (deep-friedground split peas). Banwari Experience will plan yourentire carnival adventure, from accommodations andmeals to costumes and tickets to various fêtes.Five-night packages start at $850 per person(868-675-1619).
No serious decisions are made in Rio de Janeirobetween New Year’s Eve and carnival.Cariocas aren’t thinking of much besidesorchestrating their escolas de samba, theoutrageously decadent “samba school”parades that lie at the heart of the city’sweeklong blowout (March 1–4). Beyond parades,there are all-night masquerade balls at hotels andclubs and wild, impromptu street celebrations whereanything goes, from dancing and drinking to musicalimprov to fireworks displays. Try to stay nearCopacabana or Ipanema beach; Brazil Nuts Tours willarrange your lodging, costumes, and tickets to theSambadromo, where the samba schools compete(brazilnuts.com or 800-553-9959).
New York Magazine readers get 10 percent off the rack rate plus free breakfast anddinner daily—at the restaurant or in theirroom—when they book a suite at the swank Mansionon Turtle Creek in Dallas for at least five nightsduring the month of February. Suites start at $675(888-ROSEWOOD).
Paradise Found St. Barth gets one step closerto island-vacation nirvana with the debut of its firstfull-service spa—a Molton Brown spa, at that. TheSpa at Hotel St.-Barth Isle de France offers the usualarray of services to help survive all that gruelingsunning, swimming, and shopping (800-810-4691).Hotel California The super-luxe, 30-acreMontage Resort & Spa opens next month in Laguna Beach,California, with 262 decked-out rooms—feathertopbeds, flat-screen TVs, stunning ocean views—ahuge spa, three pools, and several top-notchrestaurants. Rooms from $450 (888-715-6700). Crazyfor Cocoa Divers take note: The people behindParrot Cay have developed an Indian Ocean outpost justoff the Vadhoo Channel, one of the best diving spotsin the Maldives. Cocoa Island offers 33 luxurybungalows, Indian–Sri Lankan fusion food, and afull-service spa (96-044-1818; rooms from $540). Inn Style SantaMonica continues to ramp up its lodging options withthe opening of the Ambrose, a smallarts-and-crafts-style hotel with a Zen garden (from$145; 877-ambrose). Later this spring, look for theFairmont Miramar’s 32 revamped garden andpoolside bungalows (from $799; 800-441-1414).