As opportunities for leisure travel have opened up and Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) are making things easier, it’s time to start dreaming of future trips. Given that many of us have been largely confined to our homes and immediate communities for almost two years, the prospect of venturing somewhere with wide open spaces, close to nature and in an entirely different climate is more than appealing.
If you’ve got your fingers crossed for a winter wonderland vacation at the end of the year or in early 2022, you might consider treating yourself and your travelling companions by checking into one of these grand hotels. Whether you’re one for the ski slopes or prefer kicking back and scanning the skies for the Northern Lights, these digs will let you bask in the snowy glow in luxurious fashion.
For a chic chalet stay in the Trois Vallées ski resort of Méribel, you can’t go wrong with this new opening. Designed by French interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch, the five-star ski-in, ski-out boutique resort boasts 55 guest rooms and suites done up in a contemporary alpine style. Playful pops of colour and geometric furnishings accent wood and stone materials, and most rooms come with balconies with dramatic views of the slopes. There’s also an indoor and outdoor pool, gym, bar and two restaurants: Biananeve’s signature is Italian cuisine (think dishes such as spaghetti al branzino and pizza with truffle sauce and arugula) while Beefbar’s focus on rare cuts of steak will delight meat-lovers. There’s also the Kid’s Club and Teens Lab with plenty of activities to keep young ones entertained.
This much-anticipated hotel in Swedish Lapland finally opened in January 2020. In terms of architecture and design, it’s a marvel: there’s an eye-catching circular main building designed to resemble a giant bird’s nest, plus 12 spacious standalone cabins (six of which “float” above the Lule River during the summer months and become fixed in ice in the winter). Pay a visit to the spa, where you can indulge in a treatment using Kerstin Florian products or opt for a stay in the sauna followed by an icy plunge into the open-air bath. You can also get a taste of Sámi dishes made with local ingredients, such as gahkku (flatbread) and gompa (made with Arctic Angelica and sour milk), at the restaurant. Best part: the hotel provides a great vantage point from which to view the elusive Northern Lights.
3. Skye Niseko, Japan
Located in Japan’s famed ski village, Sky Niseko is a high-end ski-in, ski-out resort comprised of 105 apartments and suites. Built around omotenashi – the Japanese philosophy of hospitality – rooms have a minimalist aesthetic and come with plush furnishings and plenty of sunlight, courtesy of the expansive windows. If you feel like splurging with your group, consider the Annupuri West penthouse, a four-bedroom, 237m² space that comes with an outdoor firepit and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the slopes. You can even contact the hotel to arrange for champagne or wine to be ready for you upon arrival. In need of some rest and relaxation after a full day of skiing? Head over to the onsen, which draws water from nearby thermal streams, for a soothing mineral-rich soak. Penthouses also come equipped with private outdoor onsens. The resort has already rolled out a series of winter deals, including flexible booking terms and up to 30% off with special packages. Visit its website for more information.
4. W Aspen, United States
In August 2019, the hotel debuted as the brand’s first mountain resort, as well as Aspen’s first luxury hotel opening in 25 years. And it certainly lives up to the hype. Located in the heart of Aspen at the base of Aspen Mountain, the hotel’s 88 rooms come fitted out with funky modern décor – think bright orange sofas, colourful throw pillows and royal blue carpets – while amenities include a 24-hour gym, a ski shop that offers equipment rentals during ski season, a rooftop swimming pool, a dining space dubbed the Living Room and a suspended DJ booth that greets you in the lobby. Revellers can knock back a couple of drinks at the rooftop bar – the only one in Aspen that stays open throughout the year – before partying the night away in the underground cocktail bar and nightclub.
5. Levin Iglut, Finland
If you’ve dreamed about spending the night in an igloo, you can get close enough without freezing to death by staying at Levin Iglut, a luxury boutique accommodation in the snowy climes of Finnish Lapland. The site features igloos made using an anti-fogging glass material that were designed and positioned to give guests the best chance of spotting the Northern Lights from the comfort of their beds. The Suite Igloo option offers a private terrace with an outdoor jacuzzi, as well as the requisite panoramic views of the surroundings, and can accommodate a maximum of two adults and two children. If you get peckish, there’s the on-site Aurora Sky restaurant that serves a seasonal menu of Scandinavian dishes made with organic, local and foraged ingredients wherever possible.
China’s ski tourism industry has taken off ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics – scheduled to be hosted by Beijing – with Changbaishan emerging as one of the country’s best ski regions. A snowy adventure here would be made all the more pleasant by checking into Park Hyatt Changbaishan, a luxury five-star resort with 163 elegantly designed rooms spread across 10 villas. While hitting the slopes may be your main priority – the hotel offers ski passes and equipment rental – there’s also lots to do onsite. Take a dip in the spacious indoor heated pool or outdoor mineral pool; treat yourself to a treatment at the spa, which incorporates traditional Chinese medicine and local ingredients such as wild ginseng, birch and volcanic muds from Baekdu Mountain; or dine on home-style meals at the Living Room restaurant.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for booking requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
The information is accurate as of press time. For the latest travel advisory updates, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
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