So you couldn’t get the whole family on the same page in time to coordinate a trip over the holidays. Instead, you’re even more desperate for a vacation after the constant stream of visiting or welcoming relatives, shuttling back and forth between parties and overloading on holiday cheer. Well, you’re in luck, because January offers an abundance of great travel opportunities with smaller crowds and lower prices than during the busy festive season. Start the new year off right with one of these last-minute getaways.
Still haven’t gotten a chance to hit the slopes? There are great deals to be had, such as 20 percent off for stays of five or more nights at Virtuoso-preferred Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail or a seventh night free at Richard Branson’s The Lodge in Verbier, Switzerland. One particularly enchanting itinerary is Alpine Adventures’ South Tyrol ski safari. The seven-night adventure includes four-star lodging in Alta Badia and Val Gardena in Italy’s Dolomite mountains, plus three nights in charming rifugi (mountain inns) as you traverse nearly 750 miles of prepared pistes in 12 ski areas, all on one ski pass. Breakfasts and dinners are included, even at two-Michelin-star restaurants in Alta Badia and Val Gardena to fuel your time on the slopes.
There’s no use denying it, it’s cold outside, and that is unpleasant. On a frigid night, many of us dream of jetting off to a tropical island, kicking back with a drink and soaking up the sun’s warmth. To satisfy that craving, head to beautiful St. Lucia, where a whole host of great resorts is waiting with open arms to welcome you in from the cold. Save between 15 and 35 percent at Virtuoso-preferred Cap Maison high above picturesque Smugglers Cove and enjoy a private dinner at Rock Maison, a deck perched above the Caribbean Sea equipped with a “champagne zipline” for delivering drinks with maximum efficiency.
You don’t have to stray far to visit some world-class cities chock full of culture. To the north, Quebec City is an undiscovered gem that really sparkles as a winter wonderland. Yes, it’s cold, but the Quebecois have perfected the art of staying warm with outdoor activities galore, including the Carnaval de Quebec, which runs Jan. 26-Feb. 11. With Virtuoso-preferred tour operator Discover Holidays, you can check out North America’s only ice hotel, immerse yourself in First Nations culture and get a taste of French refinement on this side of the Atlantic. Plus, there’s plenty of poutine. For warmer climes, look no further than Mexico City. Swiftly emerging as a foodie paradise (with a great exchange rate), Mexico’s capital is a sprawling metropolis combining Aztec and colonial history with chic modern neighborhoods such as Polanco, Roma and Condesa. There is excellent hiking just outside the city, and the metropolis itself has drastically improved in terms of safety in recent years.
Our national parks receive the bulk of their visitors during the summer, when things can get pretty congested. If you’re willing to brave the elements, there are some spectacular wildlife experiences to be had. Yellowstone and Grand Teton in particular yield amazing opportunities, as wolves stalk their prey through the snowy landscape, offering a glimpse of roaming bison and elk. Virtuoso-preferred Natural Habitat Adventures provides wolf and wildlife safaris in the parks, with one itinerary emphasizing photography in the playful winter light. With all the geothermal activity in Yellowstone, it’s quite nice to warm up next to a geyser as you watch the wildlife go by.