(23) Destination Club
Sample a superb second home.
A tastefully furnished 2,600-square-foot ski-in/ski-out log cabin, with stone fireplaces and mountain views, perfectly situated at the foot of Telluride village—and that’s just one of the fantastic second homes available through the Leading Hotels of the World’s new Leading Residences “destination club” (the tasteful way to say “time share”). For the $325,000 joining fee, you can hang your hat at twenty other top properties, like a beachfront villa in Cabo or an 1,800-square-foot suite with spectacular Eiffel Tower views at the Hotel Montalembert in Paris (lrwclub.com).
(24) Okavango Delta, Botswana
Swim with the hippos, scream with the monkeys.
There are powerboat tours through Botswana’s Okavango Delta that offer creature comforts like plush seating, not to mention safety rails, but for a truly at-one-with-nature experience, book a local guide for a predawn ride in a mokoro (a traditional dugout boat, similar to a canoe). As you paddle through the papyrus, the only thing you’ll hear is the unnervingly weird bellow of the hippopotamuses, the splish of the crocodiles, and the chattering of the vervet monkeys (don’t forget the mosquito repellent).
(25) Hoi An, Vietnam
Witness a full-moon ceremony.
The medieval village of Hoi An is exquisite even when the lights are on. But once a month when the moon is full, this jewel box of Chinese merchant houses and French colonial villas turns even more magical. On that night, the locals turn off all the electric lights and decorate every window sill and door with Chinese lanterns. Offerings are set out for the gods, candlelit boats float along Thu Bon River, and paper lanterns are released into the water as traditional music and dancing take place on the main square. Book a terrace table on the north side of the Song Hoai restaurant, at 9 p.m. Bring a wrap for when the goose bumps start (119-121 Nguyen Thai; 84-510-910-369).
(26) Colca, Peru
Get close to condors.
Don’t let the kids fall asleep on the bumpy four-hour bus ride from Arequipa to Colca; they’ll miss the national nature reserve where alpacas are as populous as the squirrels in Central Park. After you’ve checked into one of the seven rooms at El Parador del Colca (your terrace looks right down into the 10,000-foot plummet of Colca Canyon—twice the depth of the Grand Canyon), ramble around the lush grounds, with fishable trout ponds, a garden supplying the restaurant’s menu, and views of seven nearby volcanoes. Go to bed early, though, because you must be out the door by 6 a.m. for the one-hour drive to La Cruz del Condor. Stake out a cliffside spot near the adobe cross that marks the Andean giant-condor sanctuary. With any luck, as many as 25 will rise from the depths of the canyon with the sun, spread their ten-foot wings in unison, and ride the thermals out into the horizon.
(27) The Maldives
Roll out of bed, straight into the ocean.
Even though it’s been a regular on the jet-setter beach circuit for a while, the Maldives has still managed to keep a relatively humble vibe (in other words, no high-rise hotels with wraparound concrete balconies). The new One&Only Maldives at Reethi Rah maintains that low-key feeling. Individual bungalows are generous but not garish, and the thatched roofs and wooden verandas work with the surroundings. Of course, inside is another matter; there are bamboo arches, flat-screen LCD TVs, and espresso machines next to the minibar. And if you book a water villa, you’ll get a hammock suspended over the azure Indian Ocean, so if you want to go for a swim, all you have to do is roll over (from $625; 866-552-0001).
(28) Ome, Japan
Go to the source for sake.
Scotch-whiskey tastings are passé, so go to Japan in winter to catch the height of sake-brewing season. Like New York bagels, the secret is in the water—many brands of Japanese sake are made at small, family-run breweries that draw from local water sites, lending subtle differences in taste and quality from region to region. In Ome, the picturesque Ozawa Shuzo brewery combines well and spring water to create a delightfully light, dry Sawanoi. Savor it amid the 300-year-old brewery’s traditional architecture while admiring the perfectly framed views of the snowcapped mountains and the Tama River outside (81-428-78-8215).
(29) Dublin, Ireland
Remind yourself that theater is a living art.
World-class productions, classically trained actors, fifteen-euro tickets, and Guinness on tap during intermission. Is there still a reason to fight through London’s overcrowded, overhyped, overpriced West End? The hot ticket in Dublin this winter is the Abbey’s production of Lennox Robinson’s satire Drama at Inish. Also, at the Gate until November 29 is Betrayal, by Nobelist Harold Pinter, part of the Pinter 75 Festival (abbeytheatre.ie; gate-theatre.ie).