×

Master the art of a do-nothing winter vacation

  • A log fire burns in the guest lounge of the Schloss Elmau hotel; the unique resort — composed of a 162-room, family-friendly hotel, a 47-suite retreat, and six spas — is the ultimate digital detox. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Krisztian Bocsi. Krisztian Bocsi—Krisztian Bocs

  • Snow rests in the grounds of the Schloss Elmau hotel in Krun, Germany.The resort brings the best of New York or Berlin to a tranquil valley in the Bavarian Alps in southern Germany. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Krisztian Bocsi. Krisztian Bocsi—Krisztian Bocs



Bloomberg
Friday, December 22, 2017

It’s a request travel experts get more often than you think: What if a person wants to go somewhere wintry, and do .... nothing?

Sure, the snow and cold weather offer plenty of active delights: Skiing, sledding, trekking, ice fishing. But let the masses head to ski resorts and the hardcore head off into the backcountry. For a certain set, it’s other things they’re after: dog sled rides, solving puzzles, going to concert performances, racking up some serious hot tub time, and just parking one’s self in front of the fire. Thanks to the destinations below, you can do all that and less while wrapped in the lap of luxury.

From November through February, 30-foot swells and gale-force winds lash the western shores of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, putting on an awesome show for guests at the Wickaninnish Inn. The Wick, as regulars call it, was designed for storm watching, a favorite childhood pastime of the owner. Each of the 75 rooms has unobstructed Pacific views, a gas fireplace, and a soaking tub. Intrepid guests can don ponchos and wellies and experience a “west coast facial,” which occurs when the rain goes sideways in the wind and massages your face as you walk along Chesterman Beach. Too intense? Book a Pacific Sea Salt Glow facial at the Ancient Cedars Spa and Zen out to the sound of crashing waves. From $340.

There’s nothing cozy about the Alaskan wilderness, unless you’re staying in one of the five knotty pine guest cabins at Winterlake Lodge. Operated by the Dixon family, this remote retreat is set on 15 acres overlooking a frozen lake and primarily accessible by seaplane. The lodge has its own team of huskies, and Carl Dixon gives mushing tutorials, but he’ll happily take the reins while guests enjoy views from the sleigh. Head into the wild on a helicopter safari in search of elk, moose, caribou, and badgers, then return to pre-dinner wine and cheese by the fire. Carl’s wife, Kirsten, is an award-winning chef, so save room for her multi-course dinners of reindeer tenderloin with duck fat potatoes and mushroom-and-truffle gnocchi. From $4,370 for two nights, including meals, activities, and one helicopter adventure.

Set on a 4,200-acre estate at the foothills of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm is the perfect place to hibernate for a winter weekend. With a working farm, craft brewery, and one of the deepest wine collections in America (160,000-plus bottles) this is foodie nirvana. Leisurely days start with digging into fluffy egg-topped cheese grits and crispy bacon while watching the fog roll across the mountains. Read in a rocking chair, get pampered at the Wellhouse Spa, or sign up for a winter-enrichment weekend focused on such obsessions as puzzling or photography. From $695, including meals.

Fogo Island, located off the northern coast of Newfoundland, is about as off-the-grid as one can get. Its austere landscape is even more extraordinary in the winter, when the 29-suite Fogo Island Inn becomes a haven for artists, foodies, and burnt-out urbanites looking for rest and relaxation. Guests looking to connect with nature can track caribou by snowshoe or, in March, view frozen monoliths floating down Iceberg Alley from Greenland to the North Atlantic. An artist-in-residency program and a 37-seat cinema satisfy cultural cravings, while rooftop hot tubs are meant for meditative star-gazing sessions. From $1,429.

Located just a half-hour’s drive from the major ski resorts in southern Vermont, Twin Farms feels like an elevated take on the classic New England bed-and-breakfast. Its famous soufflé pancakes are reason alone to book a stay. A main lodge, housed in an 18th century farmhouse, features four rooms decorated with vintage flags, antique quilts, and other Americana. Sixteen individually designed cottages are scattered across the 300-acre grounds, all with fieldstone fireplaces and screened-in porches. Guests can go sledding out the door then thaw out in the spa’s Japanese furo. For a more social stay, check out the inn’s Art of A Vermont Winter event series, which includes furniture-making workshops with Thomas Shackleton and murder mystery weekends. From $1,500, all-inclusive.

Dude ranches are best known for action-fueled summer activities. When the snow falls, rates drop and the pace slows. At Triple Creek Ranch, an adults-only, all-inclusive property in Montana’s Bitterroot Range, the focus shifts to snowshoeing and ice fishing. Couples hunker down in log cabins equipped with wood-burning fireplaces and, in most cases, hot tubs; oftentimes, they don’t reappear until dinner. Meals at the Relais & Châteaux-approved restaurant are a highlight of every stay. From $1,050.