Skip town and ring in the new year with an unforgettable holiday.
New Year's Eve can be frustratingly anticlimactic. How many times have you found yourself stuck at a boring party or on a couch waiting for the ball to drop while you wonder what you’re missing? This year, beat the New Year's pressure by avoiding it all together. Get out of town and spend the final hours of the 365th day at a new and exciting destination. Air fares and hotel rates could drop just before New Year's, which means that for the cost of a few bottles of champagne guaranteed to make your head pound, you can wing your way to an exotic destination and feel your heart pound instead. Plus, there's the fun of being asked what your New Year’s plans are and answering, oh-so-casually, "Actually, I thought I might go to … "
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The city's dramatic brown adobe architecture, set against snow-capped mountains, creates this town's signature aesthetic, which has inspired generations of artists. After a day walking through the capital's famous Plaza, browsing its galleries, and touring the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, head to the 24-room Inn of the Five Graces. Here, Santa Fe's lush colors and bohemian luxury are reflected in a style that is Southwest by way of Asia. Many of the rooms are draped in red and yellow fabrics and feature exotic imported artifacts from the Far East and beyond. To coddle your romantic side, book one of the suites with a mesquite-burning fireplace.
fivegraces.com, (505) 992-0957.
A dreamlike winter wonderland, Lausanne's cobblestone streets can be canvassed in an afternoon and are fronted by charming restaurants; extravagant chocolate, cheese, and wine shops; and jewelry stores to drool over. For a truly decadent experience, settle in at the five-star Beau-Rivage Palace, where many of the guest rooms look out over Lake Geneva to the French Alps. And speaking of decadence, should you overindulge— easy to do with the hotel's 75,000-bottle wine cellar and the rich offerings of both a brasserie and a more formal, Michelin-starred restaurant—detoxing is pain-free at the property’s recently opened $10 million Cinq Monde spa.brp.ch, 01-41-21-613-3333.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Only half an hour from the Cancun airport, this stretch of white-sand beach is as exotic as any South Pacific atoll. Some of the most spectacular waterfront borders Ikal del Mar, a resort that is the definition of romance. (Indeed, many couples find themselves taking the hotel up on its offering of a seaside Mayan wedding ceremony, which isn't legally binding.) There are no cell phones or motorized vehicles allowed on the property, and the only noise to distract you from the lapping waves is that made by the birds singing from their leafy perches. The 30 individual villas each have canopy beds, a large plunge pool, outdoor living space, and a moon shower set among tropical flowers. There's only one good reason to change out of your bathrobe: chef Erick Anguiano's award-winning Yucatan cuisine. ikaldelmar.com, (800) 578-0281