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The Escape Calendar

You’ll have Corsica to yourselves in September and fields of blooming bluebells in Ireland come April. Here, getaway options for every month of the year.

January


Casa Fayette  

Guadalajara, Mexico
Art deco hotels + cactus lamb.
Widely recognized as the cradle of two of Mexico’s most iconic exports (tequila and mariachi), Mexico’s second-largest city is also a center for art, design, and food culture. And, in January, the holiday crowds have dispersed and the weather is pleasant enough for daylong exploration (high 70s during the day and cooler in the evenings). Check into a room at Casa Fayette (from $205); the converted 1940s mansion in leafy Colonia Lafayette has elegant Art Deco–style interiors. And then seek out Guadalajara’s many 1920s and ’30s modernist homes designed by architect Luis Barragán (he was born here). The city can also lay claim to some of the most significant works by the Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco; see them up close at the Government Palace and the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, where his massive frescoes cover the ceilings. Admire the new generation of artistic output at Galería Curro, the 1929 Barragán house turned gallery Travesía Cuatro, and the textile workshop Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos. And go digging for treasures of your own at the Trocadero antiques market (held every Sunday on Avenida México). Book a table at Alcalde, whose Noma-trained chef churns out dishes like straw-baked lamb with corn-on-the-cob consommé, cactus, and purslane. End every night with mezcal: At Reyes Salón Cantina and Mezonte, shots of it come with a side of scorpions or grasshoppers (chapulines).

February


The beachfront pool  

A suite at the Owl and the Pussycat  

Southern Sri Lanka
Surf breaks + leopard safaris.
With the years of civil war now in the country’s rearview, Sri Lanka is experiencing a mini hotel boom, from the capital, Colombo, to the inland tea plantations, to the southern coast. Come February, it’s those southern beaches that beckon, with nonstop sunshine and mini­mal ­rainfall — not to mention ideal ­wildlife scoping and surf conditions. Yala National Park claims the world’s highest concen­tration of leopards, plus over 200 bird species as well as wild elephants, crocodiles, and ­flamingos. When the Wild Coast ­Tented Lodge opens later this year, it will be conveniently ­located on a remote beach at the park’s edge. Of the hotel’s 28 “tents” (vaulted, air-conditioned tented suites with freestanding outdoor bathtubs and plunge pools), request one of four beach-facing ones for maximum privacy. Intrepid travelers can take a deep dive in the ocean waters to gawk at old Portuguese treasure galleons; Wild Coast’s sister property, Cape Weligama, has an on-site dive center. For focused beach time, take the three-hour drive west along the coast and check into one of the brightly outfitted suites at the seaside Owl and the Pussycat (from $280; otphotel.com). On arrival, activities abound: Rent a surfboard and head for the barreling breaks, swim with turtles, try your hand at stilt fishing, or visit the famous 400-year-old Galle Fort a few miles away. At night, dine on chef Anthony D’Costa’s crab curry.

March


Belcampo Lodge  

Placencia, Belize
Whale-shark diving + ocean-to-table dining.
March is prime time for Belize, before the humidity of summer and frequent rainfall of autumn. Besides pleasant weather, spring brings clear, calm waters, making it the best time you can dive with whale sharks at Southern Belize’s Gladden Spit. It’s also the ideal season for exploring the country’s magnificent coral reef. (Belize’s waters are a paradise for divers and snorkelers, as the reef runs the entire length of the country.) Schedule time at the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, home to the famous Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Wall’s swarm of manta rays, or Jacques Cousteau’s favorite dive at Glover’s Reef Atoll. Excursions to both can be arranged by Itz’ana (from $295; itzanabelize.com), the newest addition to the Placencia resort scene. The property straddles the lagoon and the ocean and features a design that nods to Belize’s British colonial past, with dark-wood shutters and natural woven accents. Itz’ana also has its own private island nearby for guests, a rum bar where an expert rumlier will guide you through flights, and the restaurant Limilia, where chef Mara Jernigan serves up seafood and produce caught or farmed on-site. Continue your ­journey a couple of hours south to Belcampo Lodge (from $613; ­belcampobz.com), a boutique hotel skirting the rain forest with its own farm producing coffee, cacao, and coconut. Guests can take classes overseen by Belcampo’s Farm Center, like jungle-foraging for cohune palm and fly-fishing in a marine reserve.

April


Finn Lough Resort  

Ireland
Fields of bluebells + Killybegs monkfish.
For those who appreciate the journey as much as the destination, there is the recently debuted Belmond Grand Hibernian train (from $3,500 per person; belmond.com), Ireland’s answer to the Orient Express. After being on hiatus from November through March, the lavishly outfitted train picks back up in April. The line offers two-, four-, and six-night journeys from Dublin, allowing you to take in whiskey distilleries, lakes, castles, and, for devoted golfers, tee time at some of the country’s premier courses. For those who prefer to carve their own path through the Emerald Isle, drive north from Dublin to the Finn Lough Resort (from $122; finnlough.com) in remote Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. In April, bluebells are in their first bloom and best appreciated from the resort’s new “bubble domes,” transparent tents that resemble snow globes. Spend a day hiking the cliffs of the rugged Atlantic coast before feasting on dishes like St. John’s Point langoustine or Killybegs monkfish at the Castle Murray House restaurant. A few hours’ drive south, have your run of the Ballyfin (from $980; ballyfin.com), a restored Regency mansion at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains that’s often empty this time of year. Take advantage of its rugged offerings like falconry, clay-pigeon shooting, and horseback riding before grabbing dinner and a glass of stout at the on-site pub.

May


Il Sereno  

Lake Como
Villa tours + lakefront lunching.
Hordes of Milanese descend on this wishbone-shaped lake in the Northern Italian region of Lombardy in the summertime, so the shoulder month of May is ideal for more manageable weather and thinner crowds. Thanks to the recently opened Pedemontana highway, travelers can zip past city traffic and make the trip from Milan’s airport in about an hour. Stay at Il Sereno (from $840; ilsereno.co), the new lakefront hotel from the same owners of the scene-y Le Sereno in St. Barts. It boasts posh rooms with mid-century-style accents (ask for one of three corner suites for optimal lake-viewing), a heated freshwater infinity pool surrounded by a sun deck, and Michelin chef Andrea Berton in the kitchen. Take the ferry or Sereno’s boat for some villa tours — there’s Villa Carlotta, a 17th-century mansion turned sculpture museum; Villa Melzi with its meandering manicured gardens; and Villa Monastero, a former monastery. Another day, you might walk among the Roman and medieval ruins on the isle of Comacina or hike up to the Volta Lighthouse. As should always be the case in Italy, earmark plenty of eating time. Grab a table on the veranda at Alle Darsene di Loppia and order the mussels soup with homemade cavatelli or asparagus salad with red shrimp and burrata. Or find your way (about a 90-minute trip) to the shoebox-size Agriturismo la Selvaggia in the hills of Mandello del Lario for a simple lunch beneath the trees overlooking the lake.

June


Casa Ellul  

Malta
Pastizzi pastries + empty beaches.
Beat the European-island hoppers who arrive in droves come August. Start out exploring the capital, Valletta (which is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site that was voted the European Capital of Culture for 2018 by the EU), from the home base of the eight-suite Casa Ellul (from $280; casaellul.com), a boutique hotel with rooms offering private terraces with Jacuzzis and views of the Carmelite church. In town, go see the Caravaggio at St. John’s Co-Cathedral or admire the Renzo Piano reboot of the City Gate area, including an overhaul of the Royal Opera House. Have a cozy dinner of rabbit — Malta is one of the largest per-capita consumers of it — at Guzé ­Bistro, followed by drinks at the Harbour Club, an 18th-century warehouse turned bar and jazz club. A 20-minute drive away is the antique capital of Mdina. Grab the national pastry, pastizzi, at Crystal Palace and meander the car-free streets. Then, it’s time for the beach: Go early or late in the day to avoid the crowds at the wildly popular Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino. Ghajn Tuffieha’s red sands are bordered by clay slopes, while Ghar Lapsi is close to the Hagar Qim temples. Bring your own, well, everything to the desolate ­St. Peter’s Pool on the southeast coast. It’s even more empty than usual in June.

July


Juvet Landscape Hotel  

Juvet Landscape Hotel  

Norway
Extra daylight + fjords-by-kayak.
While Norway is spectacular in the colder months, summer brings its own brand of beauty as well as the opportunity to explore the many pristine fjords in their photogenic prime. From Oslo, take a flight to Ålesund, then drive to the Juvet Landscape Hotel (from $400; juvet.com), located near a tiny farming village. Perched above a deep gorge and surrounded by forest, the hideaway was dreamed up by the architects Jensen & Skodvin (and captured in the 2015 film Ex Machina). July brings valleys of strawberries and raspberries, which make their way onto the hotel restaurant’s daily menu. The mid-century-style stilted rooms are glassed in to blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, During Norway’s short and sweet summer stretch, the sun sets around 10:30 p.m., and even then, the light is almost always dusklike. Juvet will help arrange outings for focused fjord-hopping by boat, kayak, or foot. At Nordfjord, in Jostedalsbreen National Park, you will find Europe’s deepest lake, Hornindalsvatnet, and more than 200 hiking trails, while Geirangerfjord is known for its trio of spectacular waterfalls. At the end of each day, unwind in Juvet’s outdoor hot tub amid the stately birch and aspen trees.

August


Aiyana  

Zanzibar
Moringa-leaf spa treatments + humpback whales.
While August is sticky and sweltering in many corners of the world, it’s springtime in Zanzibar. Between the so-called long rains (March through May) and short rains (November and December), August brings comfortable daily temperatures hovering around 80 degrees to this archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. August also offers the best chance of observing the herds of humpback whales, which pass by Zanzibar’s Mafia Island on their migration route every year. Getting here is still a long haul, but with Dubai as a popular connector, coming from New York will require fewer stopovers. New resorts are also a major draw: Per Aquum (from $760; peraquum.com) reboots the Essque Zalu Zanzibar Resort on the northern coast in early 2017, transforming it into an all-suite and villa destination with a luxury spa (the Maasai treatment is a facial, body scrub, and foot ritual using local ingredients like moringa leaves and coconut). The hotel can arrange private tours to Jozani Forest, where you will find the endemic Zanzibar red-colobus monkey, and to Prison Island, a snorkeling haven that is home to Aldabra giant tortoises. For a more off-the-grid feel, head to neighboring island Pemba and settle into a villa with ocean-facing terraces and open-air showers at the new Aiyana (from $676; ­theaiyana .com). While in Pemba, visit the Ngezi Forest Reserve for a peek at shy vervet monkeys, then idle on the white-sand Vumawimbi Beach.

September


Domaine de Murtoli  

Corsica
17th-century hotels + dentex fishing.
The City of Light is typically a honeymoon standard, but if beach time is also a priority, consider Corsica (only a 90-minute flight from Paris). By September, the crowds have gone and hotel rates begin to drop, but the temperatures are still in the pleasant high 70s. Split your time between the country’s northern and southern corners. In the northern village of Oletta, you’ll find U Palazzu Serenu (from $322; upalazzuserenu.com), a 17th-century mansion turned art-filled nine-room hotel towering over the bay below. Then, drive three hours south and live out your escape-to-a-European-farmhouse daydreams at Domaine de Murtoli (from $740; murtoli.com), a collection of 19 ­villas and shepherds’ houses scattered over a 6,100-acre estate. When you’re not taking a dip in your private, rock-hewn swimming pool or napping in your garden, Murtoli offers less­sedentary activities. There’s golf on its 12-hole course, cheese-making classes, horseback riding on the beach, and fishing for local dentex, sarda, and snapper.

October


Amankora  

Bhutan
Bespoke hikes + Buddhist festivals.
Most foreign visitors need to book their trip through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator, obtain a visa, and pay a minimum daily tariff (usually around $250), which includes all meals, internal travel, and a licensed tour guide. So while a trip to Bhutan can’t be a spontaneous affair, planning ahead for October has its perks. Because it’s Shangri-La for hikers, mountain accessibility and visibility is key; summertime monsoons and winter snow can hamper some hiking passes and impact sight lines. October offers the singular opportunity to party with the locals at many colorful Buddhist festivals: Thimphu Tshechu is the country’s biggest celebration, while Gangtey Tshechu demands days of dancing in a valley teeming with rare black-necked cranes. The country’s latest luxury resorts come in sets—Amankora ($1,550; aman.com) recently opened a string of five lodges, and Six Senses ($1,000; sixsenses.com) will follow with its own five-lodge circuit in 2017 — the idea being that to appreciate Bhutan’s beauty, you need to jump around. In the tradition of Aman resorts, Amankora is over-the-top: Each lodge offers spa treatments using traditional Himalayan herbs, and the staff will create custom treks to sites like the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal ­Chorten temple, which is accessed by a hike through fields of chiles and cabbage.

November


The Margaret River coast  

Margaret River, Australia
Big waves + vineyard tours.
Waves comparable to Hawaii’s big breaks abound off the west coast of Australia, and the spring swell is in full effect in November. There are 75 or so surf spots lining the Margaret River region’s coastline, but for easy access, be sure to rent a vehicle with four-wheel drive. (If your surfing skills are nonexistent, book a private session with a pro at Yallingup or Margaret River Surf School.) When you’re not in the water, you should be eating and drinking. A great option for both is November’s famous Gourmet Escape Festival, which draws chef talent from all over the world (buy tickets ahead of time). Thanks to an ideal climate and soil, Margaret River churns out impressive varietals. Stop at Leeuwin Estate for its bone-dry Riesling (paired perhaps with local rock oysters on the restaurant’s deck), Cullen Wines for a biodynamic array, Aravina for mineral-y whites, and Snake + Herring for a berry-redolent Cab. Vasse Felix, the area’s oldest winery, has an art gallery and an award-winning restaurant helmed by chef Aaron Carr. Walk it off along the Bibbulmun Track trail — which, in November, is blanketed with spring wildflowers — before retiring to one of the ten lofty suites at Empire Retreat (from $295; empireretreat.com).

December


Henry Howard  

New Orleans
25 acres of lights + Creole feasts.
This city takes the holidays seriously, and the premier attraction is City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks, a display of glittering lights distributed across 25 acres. Slot in Tales of the Toddy, an evening of boozy revelry hosted by the city’s best bartenders, and the Krewe of Jingle Parade, which features stilt-walkers and an array of Christmas characters. The iconic Hotel Monteleone is worth visiting to gawk at the lobby decorations and to sip a Sazerac in the spinning ­Carousel Bar. Another December-only event is the Reveillon Dinner, a Creole tradition of enjoying a bountiful meal after the midnight Christmas Mass and dining until dawn after fasting the day before. The feast is embraced by historic restaurants like Arnaud’s (home of the city’s best French 75) and Antoine’s, where dinner is served during both the normal and wee hours. If hunger ever strikes again, head to Shaya, a James Beard Award winner specializing in Israeli cuisine. Rest your head at one of two new hotels in the city, both of them far from Bourbon Street: The Ace (from $169; acehotel.com), recently opened in an Art Deco building in the Warehouse District, and, in the Lower Garden District, the Henry Howard ($169; henryhowardhotel.com), an 1867 mansion turned boutique hotel.

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