Splash around the Caribbean’s newly anointed style capital.
If Colombia’s reputation as a nefarious narco-state hasn’t been fully debunked yet, a week in sexy, urbane Cartagena should change that. Hit the hot tub as soon as you land: Rooftop plunges at increasingly swank boutique hotels like the Anandá (www.anandacartagena.com) are swarming with models. At sundown, join Latin soap stars over rum-spiked limonadas de coco (coconut lemonade) atop the old stone walls at trendy Café del Mar (575-664-6513). Sample the most popular dishes at two of the city’s best restaurants: the tiradito, raw fish marinated in lime juice and aji pepper, at Peruvian chef Gean Carlo Mayorga Macchiavello’s La Perla, and the risotto pescatore at Vera, headed by Lupa and Otto alum Daniel Castaño. Hire a speedboat at the Muelle de los Pegasos pier ($20 per person) and motor to nearby Islas del Rosario for a few days of doing absolutely nothing. The coralline archipelago of 27 protected islands far outdoes crowded city beaches like Bocagrande. Sleep in a private bungalow at Hotel Agua’s property on Isla Barú (from $299; hotelagua.com.co). Back in the walled city, book one of seven suites at Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi’s new hotel and spa (from $360; tcherassihotels.com), a 250-year-old mansion with an impressive vertical garden of 3,000 plants.
OR: Eat your weight in fideuà and nap in the Mediterranean shade.
By summer, Mallorca is overrun with pasty Northern Europeans dehydrating in the 100-plus-degree heat. But the spring is another story. Make the town of Deià your base for exploring the island’s famous olive-tree-lined hills and rock-shored beaches (especially La Cala and Llucalcari). In tiny, quaint Sóller, hop on the tram to reach the beach, with chaises and umbrellas lifted right out of a fifties French Riviera postcard. Try the delicious fideuà (Mallorca’s noodle-based take on paella) at any one of the beach’s casual waterfront cafés, or sample creative, upscale dishes at romantic S’Àtic (hotel-losgeranios.com). Wander the streets of Palma, a miniature Barcelona with a Gaudí-detailed cathedral and designer-shopping, making a pit stop at La Bóveda (tabernadelaboveda.com) for tapas. Stay in a super-spacious room at La Residencia (from $479; hotel-laresidencia.com).
Canyon Point, Utah
Splurge on a spectacular desert disappearance act.
It requires some effort to get to (a five-hour flight to Las Vegas, plus another five in the car) and can be blindingly expensive (some suites are upwards of $3,000 a night), but the new Amangiri hotel on the Utah-Arizona border falls in the once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list-checkoff category. The series of low-slung suites, designed by the minimalist Aman group (arguably the most inventive hotelier in the world right now), is smack in the middle of a seemingly uninhabitable stratified red-rock desert (from $800 for a Desert View suite; amangiri.com). Sign up for a naturalist-guided mini-hike (from $395), which tends toward the low-key and educational but nonetheless provides an acceptable excuse to recover back at Amangiri’s 25,000-square-foot spa. (Another good excuse: You’re in the middle of nowhere, what else is there to do?) Ask for a “journey,” a wrap, massage, and facial combo performed by an actual Navajo healer. For dinner there’s Matthew Lash’s hearty local fare (bison chili and short-rib ravioli), served in a great room with roaring fireplaces on one side and pool views on the other. If you start to miss people, drive twenty miles to the nearest town of Page, Arizona (pop. 7,300), for brews and pool at Gunsmoke Saloon (928-645-2161).
OR: Swap desert sand for the beach—but hang on to the seclusion.
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Vieques’s white-sand beaches, packs of wild horses, and surreal bioluminescent bay aren’t the only reasons to visit the Edenic islet six miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. There’s now an Alain Ducasse restaurant, a spa that treats seaweed wraps like a science, and a poolside cocktail scene, all courtesy of the brand-new W Retreat & Spa–Vieques Island (from $289; whotels.com), which represents the island’s first dalliance with a big-time resort. The hotel can arrange trips to the surrounding cays to snorkel, scuba-dive, and kayak alongside leatherback turtles. Zip around the island on a moped ($50 for 24 hours; rent through the hotel), with a stop at the lush Navio beach. Last stop before sundown: Duffy’s (duffysesperanza.com), for spicy mahi mahi tacos and a Parcharita cocktail.