Take a break from winter in one of these 10 sunny destinations.
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Early spring is in the forecast, predicted Punxsutawney Phil about a week after a major blizzard buried the northeast in some two feet of snow. Still, you might want to have a cold-weather escape plan in your back pocket just in case the little rodent is really off his rocker. Book a last-minute warm-weather adventure at one of these sun-drenched destinations and make spring, heck, summer come early.
No shortage of sunshine at the beautiful Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa in Nicaragua! The luxe 37-room resort, situated steps away from the Emerald Coast and its immaculate white sands, is the ultimate beach getaway complete with surf lessons and breezy beach massages. Starting March 18, the resort will knock off a few benjamins from its $805 per night rate for a four-night stay, making its “Escape the Cold” package a tropical retreat you won't want to miss. This deal includes breakfast daily, 30-minute massages for two, open bar til 5 p.m., upgrade at time of booking (based on availability), roundtrip airport transfer (the capital, Managua, is a two-hour drive), plus a welcome bottle of local Flor de Caña rum to help set the mood the minute you arrive.
Head to Sea Island Resort, just 60 miles south of Savannah, where you'll find this fragile and extraordinary ecosystem behind the barrier islands. Kayaking is one of the most up-close-and-personal ways to introduce yourself to the local residents—oyster beds, live shrimp and beautiful birds—of the vast tidal grasslands, which make up a third of the country's remaining marshland systems. Once you've made new friends, make some more out on the resort's three championship golf courses. Or step into the future with a cryotherapy treatment at its new Performance Therapy Center, where A-list celebs come to supposedly invigorate endorphin release, improve sleep, increase flexibility, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation. Best part: The resort is offering an exclusive Leap Year 2016 package that's tough to beat.
$29 on February 29 as part of the Leap Year 2016 package, two-night minimum stay required, starting at $425 per night, seaisland.com
Make the rustic, yet posh Caneel Bay Resort your home base as you spend the week exploring each of the seven surrounding Caribbean beaches—Scott, Paradise, Turtle Bay, Caneel, Hawksnest, Little Caneel, and Honeymoon—on the 170 acre peninsula. Grab snorkel or scuba gear and dive in to explore a vibrant array of sea life, from starfish to sea turtles to stingrays. When your skin starts to prune from swimming with the fishies, trade in your fins for hiking boots and head to Virgin Islands National Park, which makes up two-thirds of the island. Too tired to make the trek? Just hang around Caneel Bay. Donkeys, deer, mongoose and iguanas are always roaming the property.
4. Watch athletes and an island prepare for America's Cup
Legendary pink sand beaches, championship golf courses, mild-year-round weather, and a two-hour non-stop flight from most eastern U.S. airports make Bermuda the perfect destination for a winter getaway. Another reason to visit the British island, located off North Carolina's coast, soon: It will host to the 35th America’s Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton, in June 2017. That means the island is 1) getting a mega-makeover (read: new and redeveloped hotels, attractions and restaurants) and 2) becoming a training ground for athletes, especially those preparing for next year's prestigious sailing race. Book a weekend at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and watch the pros turn this 21-square-mile island into their outdoor gym. Get inspired to take your own fitness up a notch and sign up for yoga on the beach or paddleboard, kite surfing lessons, cycling on the historic 18-mile Railway Train, and more.
Gran Fondo is Italian for badass bike race. It doesn't get more badass than biking the lowest surface on the planet: the Dead Sea. This March 5, the International Arad Dead Sea Gran Fondo invites 1,000 cyclists from around the world to roll up to the start line for a chance to pedal through a ~100-mile circuit, beginning and ending at the “Aroma Compound” in the Ein Bokek Dead Sea Resort Area. Just because the one-day race course takes place 1,300-feet below sea level doesn't mean there's no climbing. Expect a vertical gain of nearly 6,000 feet. Because charging full speed ahead through the scenic Judean Desert is not for the faint of heart, competitors will need to provide a doctor's note confirming that they are physically fit to take on this challenge. Afterward, kick up your feet at the event's official accommodations, the Isrotel Ganim Dead Sea Hotel, or float in the Dead Sea, which is a two-minute walk from your room.
Serious scuba divers know that Grand Cayman is where it's at. There's so much to discover—healthy reefs, sweet shipwrecks, and dramatic wall-dives plummeting to depths of up to 2500 feet—you'll never want to come up for air. What's even cooler, er, warmer is that the water always stays a comfy 80 degrees all year round, so you'll literally want to stay underwater forever. Here's a good excuse to get out and dry off: The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa. Back at your hotel, indulge in a Lomi Lomi “Cayman Style” massage at the Hibiscus Spa, than grab cocktails and a delicious dinner at the Beach House before heading to bed and doing it all over again tomorrow.
7. Create your own days of thunder behind the wheel in California
You're not Tom Cruise and this isn't Daytona 500, but the Ritz-Carlton, Ranchero Mirage is offering guests the next best thing at the new BMW Performance Driving School. Just seven miles from Palm Springs International Airport and nestled between the rugged Santa Rosa Mountain range, the Ritz-Carlton has partnered with the highly exclusive, invite-only Thermal Club—home to a 1.6 mile road course that's begging you to burn rubber in a high performance BMW M Series. Let your lead foot hit the gas—under the supervision of a pro driving instructor, of course—and see how well you can navigate at top speeds as part of this once-in-a-lifetime luxury desert experience.
$399 per night in February and $459 per night in March, not including driving school, ritzcarlton.com
8. Take full advantage of the sun and the moon in Turks and Caicos
If you're new to standup paddleboarding, the warm turquoise waters (80+ degrees) surrounding The Palms in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is the perfect place to learn. Falling in is a huge reward! And so is relaxing on the sparkling white sand with your lady friend. Afterward head back to your oceanfront suite, just steps away at The Palms, for drinks and Caribbean-fusion snacks at the infinity pool's swim-up bar (complete with complementary WiFi for all your Snapchat needs). Post-dinner, return to Grace Bay Beach for some moonbathing, an evening under-the-stars experience where guests can indulge in desserts, drinks, and mini-spa treatments right on shore.
If opening day on April 4 seems too far away, catch a spring training game in St. Petersburg/Clearwater this March. The Philadelphia Phillies will be at the Bright House Field, taking to the diamond for practice as they have since 1948. Even if you're not a fan of the east coast team, you might make an exception just to get your fix—of both the sport and the sun. Make the most of your time in the Sunshine State by visiting the city's 35-mile stretch of white sand beaches, where you can go speedboating, stand-up paddleboarding (at night with glow-in-the-dark boards!), windsurfing, kiteboarding, and more. Afterward, go on a beer crawl on the St. Pete/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail, which now boasts 21 breweries.
The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club is offering 20% off for stays through March 14th. Rates start at $211/night, marriot.com.
10. Swing by SXSW, then get your sweat on in Texas
Going to South by Southwest the week of March 11 to 20? Consider crashing at The Westin Austin Downtown, which just opened last summer. It'll be easy to stay healthy and fit at this new hotel that offers roof-top yoga, healthy juices, and private run concierge services, including group runs twice a week. If you prefer to go solo, the run concierge service will put together a customized map where to go and even provide New Balance gear, if you forgot your sneaks and workout clothes at home. Replenish your calories at the hotel’s already famous restaurant, Stella San Jac. Known for its Austin-American fare (aka Southern modern), brunch always sells out, so make a reservation early.