|Windmills Plantation, Turks and Caicos. Photo Courtesy of Windmills Plantation|
The wintry weekend getaway: Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont, $1,900 (twinfarms.com).
Includes: two nights in the main house ($950 a night), with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner; unlimited alcohol; access to all resort facilities.
Valerie Wilson, head of the eponymous luxury-travel agency, sends her clients here for a dose of laid-back country elegance and cozy romance. Twin Farms’ 300 acres of rustic Vermont countryside have the requisite towering maples and snow-covered birches, extensive cross-country trails, and a frozen lake that’s perfect for skating (with a warming hut nearby that includes s’mores-making facilities). And while her clients always return raving about the food—the chef will make anything you want, but don’t miss the soufflé pancakes—Wilson singles out the accommodations. Each romantic suite is decorated with the owners’ collection of antiques and standout pieces (one features a bed carved from tree branches, another a copper soaking tub), alongside luxe coddling elements like crackling fireplaces and plush linens. “If you had the funds,” says Wilson, “you’d want these pieces in your own home.”
The sunny reprieve: One week at Windmills Plantation, Turks and Caicos, $4,700 (windmillsplantation.com).
Includes: five nights in a standard room ($594 per night), with breakfast, lunch, and dinner; two round-trip tickets (about $865 each).
Windmills Plantation is sort of the anti–Parrot Cay of the Caribbean,” says Lisa Lindblad, founder of Lindblad Travel. “It’s meticulous yet comfortable—wonderfully lacking in glitz and glamour.” Located on the tiny island of Salt Cay—where gingerbread-style houses sport sherbet-colored roofs, locals get around largely by golf cart, and donkeys roam freely on dusty roads—the owner-operated resort is set on an otherwise empty two-and-a-half-mile stretch of powdery sand. Guests of the eight-room hotel can wade into the water right in front of their rooms for some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, or ask the owners to arrange a diving excursion to the H.M.S. Endymion, a wooden British warship that sunk in 1792. Alternatively, there’s bicycling, bird-watching (see osprey, bananaquit, hummingbirds), or simply playing backgammon in the shade of a palm tree. Sweet, simple rooms are outfitted with cool tile floors and handsome four-posters; dinners are prepared with fish caught that day. Says Lindblad, “It’s the quintessential barefoot-in-the-sand holiday.”
The superdeluxe exotic adventure: One week at the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand, $24,200 (kauricliffs.com).
Includes: six nights in the owner’s cottage ($3,200 a night), with breakfast and dinner daily; round-trip airfare for two (about $2,500 each).
For sheer breathtaking impact, Kauri Cliffs (opened two years ago by Julian Robertson) is the way to go, says Bill Fischer, known for his roster of superstar clients. “Fjords, glaciers, rain forests, beaches—northern New Zealand is one of the most beautiful spots on earth,” he enthuses. If you can tear yourself away from the view over the Bay of Islands, there are 6,000 acres over which to mountain-bike and hike. Alongside more predictable activities like tennis, yoga, and golf on the David Harman–designed course, there’s also big-game fishing, hunting (pheasant, waterfowl, boar), sea kayaking, and diving. Book the owner’s cottage: 4,200 square feet with Pacific Ocean views, a private infinity pool and hot tub, and wood-burning fireplaces throughout. “It’s like you’re staying at someone’s house,” he explains. “And the staff are super-nice. You ask them how to get someplace, and they don’t give you directions—they take you there.”