I felt skeptical when I reserved a suite at the Viceroy Snowmass, a 173-room ski-in/ski-out resort at the base of Snowmass Mountain, because the “village” that surrounds it is only half-complete. However, the finished section is surprisingly attractive, and it affords access to an array of ski runs suited to a wide range of skill levels. Aspen Mountain has notably fewer options for families with novice skiers. Accommodations are spacious and well-priced. Our one-bedroom suite came with a den, two full baths, two pull-out sofas, a full galley kitchen and a washer/dryer. Those requiring more space can book suites with up to four bedrooms. The nearby Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center offers engaging activities throughout the year, from snowboarding lessons to organized mountain bike rides.
Just north of Tortola in the BVI, Guana Island is mostly given over to a wildlife reserve. Among its unspoiled natural assets are several glorious beaches, the prettiest of which is the main strand on the southern shore. A short golf cart ride from The Club, the central gathering spot of the resort, the beach epitomizes all that I want on a Caribbean trip: powdery white sand; azure waters with reefs just offshore for convenient snorkeling; and a little beach house with changing rooms, a shower and a bar. There, an attendant was always on hand to arrange for water skiing, fishing and boating.
It’s not easy to find a pretty village in Provence that virtually no one has heard of. But they do exist: The commune of Tourtour is perched on a hillside with spectacular views over the Var region. Located on a 99-acre estate just outside of town, the gorgeous new 15-room Domaine de la Baume is an ochre-painted 18th-century manor with sage-green shutters. Formerly the home of French painter Bernard Buffet, it has been beautifully decorated with toile de Jouy fabrics and Provençal antiques by talented hotelier Jocelyne Sibuet. The atmosphere is like that of a country residence owned by a worldly and well-heeled friend, and the regional cuisine in the restaurant is consistently delicious.
From my bath on the 44th floor of Renzo Piano’s glass-clad, pyramidal 1,016-foot tower, the view was simply astounding. A soaking tub stood less than three feet from the floor-to-ceiling windows, and lying back in the foam, I could gaze down at the neoclassical façade of the old Custom House 500 feet below. To the east, the Thames snaked past Tower Bridge and the Tower of London down Canary Wharf; on the northern horizon, I could make out the latticework of the 2012 Olympic Stadium; directly opposite, a clump of startling glass towers rose abruptly from the Square Mile of the financial district. At their base lay the walls of Roman Londinium and streets that Dickens once trod — or at least those that survived the destruction of The Blitz. London’s past, present and future were all contained within one stupendous panorama.
Aside from its striking architecture and magnificent setting in a national park overlooking the South China Sea, the best feature of Amanoi is its superlative spa, one of the most sumptuous in Asia. Housed within a teak-and-granite pavilion with a glazed-tile roof, it overlooks a lake and includes a state-of-the-art fitness center. The menu features traditional ingredients such as local aromatic herbs; we also tried a Vietnamese cupping treatment that employs small glass bell jars. Complimentary yoga classes are offered daily, and Pilates and other guided workouts are also available. For spa lovers, this is a major new destination.
The path to the pool at this lovely Tuscan resort meanders past borders fragrant with lavender and rosemary. The pool itself is an exquisite oasis, set in stone and surrounded by chaises longues and big umbrellas. From an infinity edge, the shimmering waters seem to fade into hills topped by the ancient towers of medieval Montalcino.
Virtually invisible from the street, Le Bar in the Sans Souci hotel is something of a secret — even our Viennese friends were unaware of it. Pass through the unmarked black double doors connecting the lobby to Le Bar, and you enter a cozy jewel box of a space seemingly inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Romantically dim brass chandeliers cast flattering light on Louis XV-style canopy chairs and gilt armchairs upholstered in rich velvet, accented by marble-topped art deco side tables. The drink menu includes seven Champagnes by the glass, which can also be sampled in flights, and an impressive selection of cocktails both classic and innovative. It felt truly luxurious to relax with flutes of Ruinart Rosé in such opulent and intimate surroundings.