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The Vacation Compromise


Amara Ocean Resort in Myanmar  

She wants exotic culture, he wants to fish and dive:
Go to Myanmar

For the past 50 years, Myanmar (a.k.a. Burma) has been ruled by an authoritarian regime, which means that, save for the most audacious travelers, visiting has been out of the question. But after the release of opposition-party leader Aung San Syu Kyi from prison and the first free elections in November 2010, the nation is starting to welcome out-of-towners. You’ll have to jump through some hoops to get a tourist visa, but the country’s must-see list is lengthy: Start by wandering the treelined thoroughfares of the colonial capital, Yangon (née Rangoon). Here you can visit the Shwegadon Pagoda and tuck into homeland cuisine like pazunhtok sebyan—king prawns in tomato curry—at Monsoon (monsoonmyanmar.com). See what Rudyard Kipling once gushed about in Mandalay, the once-upon-a-time royal capital that functions as a hub for devout Buddhists; and take in the floating gardens and stilted villages along placid Inle Lake. Immerse yourself in twenties-era grandeur at the Governor’s Residence (from $325; governorsresidence.com) in Yangon, and then finish your jaunt with a few days on the white-sand beaches of the Bay of Bengal; you can book a bungalow at the Amara Ocean Resort (from $290; amaragroup.net) in Ngapali. The hotel will arrange a snorkeling excursion to nearby islands, where you can cast a line for local mackerel and barracuda.


She wants a no-man’s-land, he wants to see fringe art:
Go to the California desert

Palm Springs and Joshua Tree couldn’t be more different, but they make perfect sense as a two-in-one trip. Fly to the former and check into one of four units at Hotel Lautner (from $200; hotellautner.com), the recently renovated mid-century-modern marvel built by famed architect John Lautner in 1947. Cruise the collections at the Palm Springs Art Museum (psmuseum.org) and Michael H. Lord Gallery (michaelhlordgallery.com), then take the Aerial Tramway (pstramway.com) up Jacinto Mountain for a bird’s-eye view of the town, and follow it up with a shake made from date palms at Palm Springs Fudge & Chocolate (psfudge.com). The drive from low to high desert, as they call it, takes less than an hour. Once in, check in at the Mojave Sands Motel (from $200; mojavesands.com), which boasts a sprawling outdoor lounge area with a fireplace, record players in every room, and a soon-to-open on-site diner. Fuel up on house-made kombucha at Natural Sisters Cafe (760-366-3600) before heading to Joshua Tree National Park (nps.gov/jotr), where you can sign up in advance for a healing 30-minute sound-bath session at the Integratron (integratron.com) or explore conceptual artist Andrea Zittel’s High-Desert Test Sites (highdeserttestsites.com).



Bettei Senjyuan in Japan  

She wants hot springs, he wants nightlife:
Go to Tokyo

Though the area around the Fukushima Daiichi power plant remains inaccessible after last year’s nuclear disaster, Tokyo is beckoning: The city’s sky-high prices have even tempered a bit with the continual devaluing of the yen. Check into a handsomely appointed corner room at the Peninsula (from $666; peninsula.com), and spend your days roaming the bustling metropolis. Architecture buffs can seek out works by Kisho Kurokawa and Le Corbusier and, come spring, take in the jaw-dropping view from an observation deck of the Tokyo Sky Tree (tokyo-skytree.jp), which, at 2,080 feet, is only slightly shorter than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Hunt for luxe accessories at elegant department store Takashimaya (takashimaya.co.jp), then head to its basement food hall for fancy French pastries and onigiri; or roam the stalls of Yakitori Alley for a plethora of curious grilled meats. Whatever you do, save enough energy to really dig into the city’s booming cocktail scene: Sip a single malt à la Lost in Translation at the 52nd-floor New York Grill at the Park Hyatt Tokyo (tokyo.park.hyatt.com); try a hard-shake drink at Tender Bar (011-81-3-3571-8343), an upscale speakeasy tucked inside the Ginza Nohgakudo building; and head to Shibuya’s subterranean Shoto-Club (011-81-3-3465-1932) for its namesake green-tea cocktail. Spend the rest of your visit detoxing at an onsen (hot springs) outside the city. The Shinkansen bullet train will have you in Minakami in under two hours; book one of eighteen Zen rooms at Bettei Senjyuan (from $450; senjyuan.jp), a traditional ryokan with private outdoor baths running what is supposedly therapeutic water from nearby Mount Tanigawa.


She wants a shopping mecca, he wants tropical heat:
Go to Miami

Couple azure waters, white-sand beaches, and luxury retail aplenty with two much-ballyhooed hotel openings, and swankness is a near certainty. Beverly Hills’ glamorous SLS Hotels will unveil its first South Beach property (prices upon request; slshotels.com/southbeach) in the former Ritz Plaza, an iconic Art Deco space, in mid-May; expect a José Andrés restaurant and a Floridian take on West Hollywood nightspot Hyde. Another buzzy option is the St. Regis Bal Harbour (from $850; oceanforceadventures.com), and then troll for mid-century-modern furnishings at Las Tias (lastias.com), big-ticket designer vintage at C. Madeleine’s (cmadeleines.com), secondhand threads at Fly Boutique (flyboutiquevintage.com), and avant-garde apparel at the Webster (thewebstermiami.com). Wander the high-end design district for Louboutin, Dior Homme, et al., then cool your (hopefully new) heels with a meal at chef Michelle Bernstein’s celebrated Sra. Martinez (sramartinez.com) or at Fratelli Lyon (fratellilyon.com), where the ultramodern décor by Driade and Vitra is as much a draw as chef Ken Lyon’s Italian cuisine.

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