The Vacation Compromise

Firefly Plantation in BequiaPhoto: Courtesy of Firefly Plantation

She wants a Caribbean idyll, he wants to avoid crowds:
Go to Bequia and St. Vincent

There are still corners of the Caribbean that remain (relatively) untainted by megaresort sprawl. The largest of the Grenadines, Bequia has the same desert-island feel (only some 5,000 people live there full-time) as neighboring Mustique, but at a far friendlier price point. Getting there—right now you fly to Barbados and then take an island-hopper 55 minutes—should get easier in 2013, when a new international airport breaks ground in nearby St. Vincent. Once you arrive, head to Firefly Plantation (from $395;, the island’s solo boutique hotel. Located on the grounds of a 30-acre working farm, the resort has four main rooms, each with king-size beds, mosquito nets, twin showerheads, and private patios. All the fruits grown there—coconuts, plantains, papaya—show up on the hotel-restaurant menu, and you can spend your days lounging around Crescent Beach, picnicking at Lower Bay Beach (the hotel will pack a lunch for you), or sailing the Friendship Rose schooner (from $140 per person; to the Tobago Cays. Should you wish to explore the rest of the tiny island, taxis are cheap and plentiful: Experience the buzz of the open-air food market in Port Elizabeth, visit the turtle sanctuary, or dig into toothsome Creole specialties like callaloo and fish roti at the Fig Tree (

Six Senses Evason Ma'In in JordanPhoto: Courtesy of Six Senses Evason Ma'In

She wants spa time, he wants camel rides:
Go to Jordan

Ongoing political turmoil means that a large swath of the Middle East remains off-limits to tourists, but Jordan has been immune to most of the crises. Airline giant easyJet recently started flying there, and as of this summer, Jordan-bound passengers will deplane in a swish new Sir Norman Foster–designed terminal at Queen Alia airport. From there, a one-hour drive will land you in the mountain-abutting Six Senses Evason Ma’In resort (from $200;, which is a stone’s throw from Petra’s ancient Nabataean city, a 9,000-year-old enclave that was recently declared one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Enjoy the view from the holy site at Mt. Nebo; visit the town of Madiba, renowned for its mosaic traditions; and check out the ancient hippodrome in Jerash. Then make like Lawrence of Arabia (the movie was set here) on a guided camel trek through the breathtaking Wadi Rum, a.k.a. the Valley of the Moon. The vast and barren landscape, punctuated with unusual rock formations and prehistoric petroglyphs, earned a unesco world-heritage badge last year. If you need more than an afternoon to absorb the scenery, Six Senses can arrange an overnight stay in a desert tent, complete with a traditional Bedouin zarb dinner. Leave plenty of time for pampering: The hotel’s luxurious spa is perched beneath waterfalls in a hot spring. Try a Dates Journey ($360), a two-and-a-half-hour affair that includes a ground-date body polish, honey wrap, healing thermal bath, and massage. Just save the salt treatment for the real thing: The famously buoyant Dead Sea is a short drive away.

Thompson Toronto in CanadaPhoto: Courtesy of Thompson Toronto

She wants a cool foreign city, he wants a short flight:
Go to Toronto

With an increasingly influential film festival, a booming nightlife scene, and a host of soon-to-open restaurants and hotels (e.g., the Shangri-La, one of David Chang’s first non–New York ventures), Canada’s alpha city is more inviting than ever. Snag a suite at the Thompson Toronto (from $259;, and the concierge can arrange a private viewing of an old movie in its 40-seat screening room ($75). Ogle modern art at the Frank Gehry–designed Art Gallery of Ontario ( and the MoCCA (, a power plant turned contemporary-art museum; shop the gourmet-food stands at St. Lawrence Market (; and then hop the ten-minute ferry for a beach picnic at Toronto Islands ( Come nightfall, dig in to hearty fare cooked in a wood-burning oven at the rustic Woodlot (, or sample creamy burrata at Origin’s mozzarella bar (; catch a performance by the progressive Soulpepper theater company (; and end the evening with Sazerac nightcaps at the speakeasy-esque Goodnight! (

She wants to white-water raft, he wants to go on safari:
Go to Uganda

There’s no better time than now to visit the country Winston Churchill dubbed “the pearl of Africa”: Uganda celebrates a half-century of independence this year. It’s a long flight from New York, so bookend your adventuring with a night’s stay in the burgeoning capital of Kampala. Check in to the Emin Pasha Hotel (from $145;; have a meal at the Pearl (256-412-35606), which serves homegrown dishes like stewed goat; and use any free time to comb the Portal Avenue market for coffee (the country’s biggest export), handcrafted jewelry, and pottery. Next, head north to Jinja, the source of the Nile and home to Class V rapids. Use the Jinja Nile Resort (from $220;, set along the river gorge, as base camp; local rafting company Adrift (from $125 per person; has fair day rates and knowledgeable guides. Continue your Ugandan exploration at the Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp (from $295;, located deep within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; each of its eight roomy tents have soaking tubs and terraces. Sanctuary can arrange primate-focused safaris, as well as a meet-and-greet with members of the local Batwa Pygmy tribe.

She wants buzzy restaurants, he wants to bike all day:
Go to Copenhagen

No gastronomic visit to this waterfront capital would be complete without a pilgrimage to its food mecca, Noma ( Chef René Redzepi’s eatery has topped San Pellegrino’s list of the world’s best restaurants two years running, and his industry peers consistently sing its praises. Redzepi has also done his part to train the up-and-comers: Chef Christian Puglisi at the vegetarian-friendly Relae ( is a Noma graduate, and Anders Selmer, Noma’s former sommelier, now runs the seafood-heavy Fiskebaren ( For dessert, head to new deluxe food market Torvehallerne ( and stuff yourself with gourmet Danish treats, then work off your calorie spree like the Danes do: by renting some wheels at City Bike (from $3.50; and following the path along the Nyhavn Canal, an idyllic waterway dotted with brightly hued houses. Peddle around the laid-back Christiania neighborhood, then check out the leafy Assistens Cemetery ( or visit the famed Tivoli Gardens ( Finally, retire to one of the 61 artist-designed rooms at the budget-friendly Hotel Fox (from $100;

Amara Ocean Resort in MyanmarPhoto: Courtesy of Amara Ocean Resort

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 ( 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; 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; 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;, the recently renovated mid-century-modern marvel built by famed architect John Lautner in 1947. Cruise the collections at the Palm Springs Art Museum ( and Michael H. Lord Gallery (, then take the Aerial Tramway ( 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 ( 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;, 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 (, where you can sign up in advance for a healing 30-minute sound-bath session at the Integratron ( or explore conceptual artist Andrea Zittel’s High-Desert Test Sites (

Bettei Senjyuan in JapanPhoto: Courtesy of Bettei Senjyuan

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;, 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 (, which, at 2,080 feet, is only slightly shorter than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Hunt for luxe accessories at elegant department store Takashimaya (, 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 (; 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;, 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; 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;

The Vacation Compromise