Come this time of year, we're already tired of winter's dark, short, snowy days. Lucky for us, there are plenty of quick getaways from Logan, many of them just a nonstop flight away. We've tracked down the best places to go and the hottest places to stay, shop, and dine once you get there. All of which means that a luxurious winter reprieve — whether in a postcard-perfect ski town, or a European capital, or on a tropical island — is as close as the airport. Here are 10 great destinations that are cleared for takeoff.
For most people, Jamaica conjures visions of awful all-inclusive, couples' resorts. But there are still plenty of places on the island where food and drink are not just plentiful but premium, seclusion is paramount, and no one will ever force you to wear a plastic wristband. At the classic Round Hill Hotel and Villas (Montego Bay, 800-972-2159, www.roundhilljamaica.com), the 27 two-, three-, and four-bedroom villas are privately owned and rented out when not in use by their owners. Round Hill retains its traditional, old-money charm — each villa comes with a staff of cooks and housekeepers to see to your every need. For something even more intimate, check into Negril's the Caves (Negril, 800-688-7678, www.islandoutpost.com), a tiny 10-room resort that's part of music czar Chris Blackwell's Island Outpost group (which also operates Strawberry Hill, a 19th-century-style mountaintop classic perched above Kingston Harbor). With its secluded and simple but colorful suites and bungalows, oceanside location, and laid-back charm, the Caves is a romantic retreat (the 16-and-over age requirement keeps the atmosphere sophisticated).
Flights: Air Jamaica flies from Logan to Montego Bay daily, complete with complimentary Champagne.
It's not the weather that draws us to Vegas. We go to Sin City for indulgence and excess. Decadence starts with ornate surroundings, preferably at a place where guests are encouraged to exercise their inner high roller. The Bellagio Hotel and Casino (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 888-987-7111) opened a new 928-room tower in December, complete with a lavish spa. Just a hop, strip, and a jump away is THEhotel, the new luxury suites at Mandalay Bay, (3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 877-632-7800). It's the place to stay — and sunbathe topless, if that feels right. The Palms Hotel and Casino (4321 W. Flamingo Rd., 866-942-7770) is where Britney famously stayed before saying “I do” for the first time. Is shopping your version of gluttony? Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Armani, and Prada are among the hedonistic haunts at Via Bellagio at the Bellagio. The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian (3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-414-4500) include Burberry and Jimmy Choo along with mall standards. Mealtime in Vegas is no time to start exercising restraint. Charlie Palmer has an Aureole outpost with a four-story wine tower at Mandalay Bay (877-632-7401). Michael Mina brought a version of his San Francisco namesake restaurant to the Bellagio, which also boasts Le Cirque and Olives (All three restaurants: 877-234-6358). Work off dinner into the wee hours at nightspots including Bellagio's Light (702-693-8300), Mandalay Bay's Rumjungle (702-632-7408), or Drai's (3595 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-737-0555) — where the after-hours debauchery doesn't really get going until 3 a.m.
Flights: America West offers three flights from Boston daily; Song has flights Thursday through Monday.
With the pound worth nearly twice as much as the dollar, London is no bargain for Americans these days. But we can't let a winter go by without crossing the pond for a fix of civility and style. London's cadre of visionary hotels alone puts it at the fore — the Halkin (Halkin St., Belgravia, 011-44-207-333-1000), for example, where suites are padded with rich wood paneling and just about every luxury imaginable. Its Eastern minimalism rears up in full at Nahm, the property's Michelin-starred Thai restaurant. If you're dying for a dash of proper-pudding England but refuse to sacrifice modernity, check into the Goring (Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens, 011-44-207-396-9000), London's oldest privately owned hotel and the darling of such Brits as Elizabeth Hurley. For British frippery, browse the Library (268 Brompton Rd., Chelsea, 011-44-207-589-6569), where we hear Bono shops for Alexander McQueen fur vests and his female fans troll for multicolored denim before dining in all their bourgeois-bohemian glory at Sketch (9 Conduit St., Mayfair, 011-44-870-777-4488). Nothing shy here, from the rhinestone curtains and the pure white, egg-shaped VIP bar to the flirtatious clientele and outrageous menu of lovelies such as, when we visited, creamed spider crab with sherry. Just call it Britain, emboldened — all of it gloriously over the top.
Flights: Just about everybody and his brother flies to London, but we love the perks (like seatback TVs and amen-ity kits with eyeshades and Virgin Vie lip balm) on Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com) and the low fares ($228 roundtrip at presstime) on British Airways (www.britishairways.com).
It's easy to feel a little out of place in L.A., where most everyone is fit, tanned, and refreshed, even in January. Luckily for winter-weary New Englanders, practically everything in Los Angeles caters to beautification. Head-to-toe pampering is on order at the Peninsula Beverly Hills (9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-551-2888, beverlyhills.peninsula.com), where splurging on a regal room means access to the rooftop pool. Aestheticians at Peninsula's spa slough, buff, and polish bodies back to happier versions of themselves. Stylists at the hotel's Parlour, where Cameron Diaz has her blond locks made blonder, can help anyone lighten up. Complete the SoCal look with sexy-trendy togs from Fred Segal (8100 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323-655-3734). Even an L.A.-induced glow can be improved by candlelight. Book a table at the ultraromantic Little Door (8164 W. Third St., West Hollywood, 323-951-1210) and enjoy creative French-Mediterranean fare prepared with organic ingredients. Pacific Rim flavors rule at the newish hot spot, Kai (101 Broadway Ave., Santa Monica, 310-434-1511), which has a vibrant attitude and plenty of flavorful small plates. Mix and mingle at the ethereal Skybar (8440 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 323-848-6025). It may be slightly past its peak as the nightclub of the moment, but at least there's a chance of getting in. Famous faces still show up every night — we sat next to Alias costar Michael Vartan. In this wheels-dependent city — where cabs are almost as tough to snag as a table at the Ivy (113 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-274-8303) — even the cars are gorgeous. If the rental Taurus doesn't cut it, guests of the Mosaic Hotel (125 S. Spalding Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-278-0303) can tool around in the hotel's Mini Cooper or Mercedes C240.
Flights: American, United, and America West all have daily flights from Logan to LAX. JetBlue goes direct to Long Beach twice a day.
Don't listen to those who claim that Miami's days in the sun as a destination for style are over. Sure, there are plenty of tourists packing the tables at the News Café. But there's also plenty happening in Miami, both in South Beach and beyond. Miami's Design District (www.designmiami.com), a reemerging neighborhood just north of downtown, is now home to the city's best art galleries and home furnishings stores — think Kartell (170 NE 40th St., 305-573-4010) and others. While there, stop in for dinner at Grass (28 NE 40th St., 305-573-3355), a sleekly designed restaurant serving Asian-Peruvian food in a lush outdoor garden setting. The 44-acre island Brickell Key is home to the city's Mandarin Oriental hotel (500 Brickell Key Dr., 305-913-8288, www.mandarinoriental.com), which has just opened a man-made private beach, a tranquil spot with views of Biscayne Bay where Sybarites can sip cocktails while indulging in deep-tissue massages in private open-air cabanas. Back in South Beach, boutique hotel the Setai (2001 Collins Ave., 305-520-6000, www.setai.com) opens its doors on Collins Avenue this month, not far from the posh new Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. But the stylish still check in at the three-year-old Shore Club, whose onsite Scoop and Me&Ro boutiques offer a shopping fix for any pieces, from silver hoop earrings to Marc Jacobs dresses (1901 Collins Ave., 305-695-3100, www.shoreclub.com). After dark — after midnight, for that matter — head to Mansion (1235 Washington Ave., 305-531-5535), the nightclub of the moment, where Britney Spears, J.Lo, and Justin Timberlake have reportedly made appearances. Skip the velvet rope by gathering friends and reserving a table (which means purchasing a bottle of liquor at $180 and up), where you can watch the revelers dance to house and electronica until the sun rises.
Flights: American flies to Miami. JetBlue and Song fly from Boston to Fort Lauderdale daily.
Fashion followers know there's really no place like Italy for expertly tailored, worth-every-penny designer clothes. But with the dollar taking a nosedive against the euro, the sartorially minded have been second-guessing their usual pilgrimages abroad. This winter, book a direct flight to Milan (fares dip as low as $350 roundtrip) and make your way to the many designer outlets surrounding the city. Tax refunds for U.S. citizens reduce prices on goods by an additional 20 percent, making the Prada pumps that line the shelves at the Italian outlets more like $100. At FoxTown in the Swiss border town of Mendrisio, a quick 40-minute drive from Milan (www.foxtown.ch), you'll find bargains on Gucci, Prada, Etro, Missoni, Versace, and Dolce & Gabbana, among others. At the McArthurGlen outlets in Serravalle, a quick day trip from Milan (www.mcarthurglen.com), Frette, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana can be had for up to 70 percent off retail prices. In Milan, indulge at the newly opened Bulgari Hotel and Spa (Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7/b, 011-39-02-805-8051, www.bulgarihotels.com), a new concept hotel operated by the parent company of Ritz-Carlton. Or save your euros for shopping by checking into the sleek and minimalist Hotel Straf (Via San Raffaele 3, 011-39-02-805-081, www.straf.it), next to the Duomo and Milan's best shopping street.
Flights: Alitalia offers service from Boston to Milan's Malpensa airport daily.
The quick four-hour flight to the Big Easy lands you in another world. Taking that flight during the annual chaos that is Mardi Gras lands you in another galaxy. So those who like the Big Easy when it's easy should skip this year's festivities, concentrated between January 28 and February 8. Besides its gorgeous Spanish-colonial architecture and long history as an epicenter for jazz, New Orleans has lately seen a number of stylish new hotels and restaurants open to liven up a city with one foot in the past. The two-year-old Loft 523 (523 Gravier St., 888-813-9373, www.loft523.com), sister to the equally hip International House, is a former carriage house transformed into 16 New York-style lofts decked out with high-tech gadgets like Sony DVD players and wireless Internet. After a drink at the sleekly designed downstairs bar, head to La Petite Grocery (4238 Magazine St., 504-891-3377), tucked away uptown, where locals go to sample chef Anton Schulte's (recently of another esteemed New Orleans restaurant, Peristyle) bistro menu. For real Cajun and Creole cooking, join the hordes lined up for tables at Jacques-Imo's Café (8324 Oak St., 504-861-0886), where the fried chicken with beans and rice is transcendent. And after checking out all that's new in this historic town, reserve time to savor an old tradition: listening to the live jazz band at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter (726 St. Peter St., 504-522-2841), where just $8 gains you entrance to the packed, dingy old storefront where local jazz legends take the stage nightly.
Flights: American flies from Logan to New Orleans daily.
Forget about its name. Come mid-January, Iceland can be balmier than Boston. Just a five-hour flight away, its capital city has all the utopian qualities of Scandinavia and a bona fide coolness that would rattle the overpriced shades off of even the most hard-core Euro café rat. The epicenter of style these days is 101 Hotel (Hverfisgata 10, 011-354-580-0101), the new, super-sleek hostelry outfitted with gleaming Nordic furniture that is a quick walk to some of the best restaurants in town. Almost none of Reykjavik gets going — or even eating — until midnight, so grab an early nap before snagging a much-coveted table at new Sjávarkjallarinn (translation: seafood cellar) (Austurstraeti 2, 011-354-511-1212) next to flaxen-haired locals who look like Viking gods. Dig into the seafood-centric menu (Icelandic lobster with truffles, foie gras, and cauliflower), or into turf specialties like reindeer steak with huckleberries. Since it opened three years ago, Ap?otek (Austurstraeti 16, 011-354-575-7900) has only gained steam as the go-to place for young and beautiful diners, all there to down plates of cod with cardamom sauce. Nightcaps abound at Rex Bar (Austurstraeti 9), owned by U.K. design giant Terence Conran and packed with, if not the likes of Björk herself, style mavens in daring dress. But before you envision banquettes full of obnoxious hipper-than-thou poseurs, know this: Reykjavikians are some of the planet's friendliest people. Most are happy to talk into the late hours when the bars shut down, and the sidewalk vendors start serving tasty grilled lamb hot dogs — as street food goes, every bit as civilized as Icelandic society.
Flights: Flights on Icelandair start at about $304 roundtrip (with tax) to the modern Keflavik Airport, just a quick drive from Reykjavik center.
Turks and Caicos
When American added its direct service to this island chain two years ago, scores of New Englanders headed south to check out the sugary white-sand beaches, exemplary diving, and laid-back, civilized vibe. Though the islands suffered some damage from last year's hurricanes, most properties are repaired, like new, and open for business. Providenciales, the largest island and center of most tourism, is the gateway to one of the region's most exclusive resorts and spas, Parrot Cay (Parrot Cay, 649-946-7788, www.parrot-cay.com). Housed on a private island, a short boat ride from Provo, the resort has Balinese-style private bungalows for day rentals and a yoga center and spa that combine minimalist design with pampering details. On Provo's Grace Bay, a several-mile-long swath of beach, lies Grace Bay Club (Providenciales, 649-946-5050), a Spanish-style complex of suites decked out with fully stocked kitchens should you tire of dinner at the resort's acclaimed open-air dining room. For something more casual, take a taxi to the locals' favorite lunch spot, Boogaloo's, a beachside shack where divers jump into the ocean on cue and retrieve fresh conch for fritters or salad. After dark, spend the night stargazing. There isn't much to do on these islands, but that's the point. With bright sunny skies most days and perfect 80-degree temperatures in winter, it's the ideal antidote to a New England freeze.
Flights: American flies direct from Boston to Providenciales on Saturdays and Sundays.
There's something about the romance of a classic Swiss ski town that makes a day on the slopes seem so much more civilized. With Zurich an easy seven-hour flight from Boston and the mountains a fast connection by efficient Swiss rail (or, better yet, chauffeur-driven car), experiencing skiing the way it was meant to be with glamour, Champagne, and general après-ski revelry has never been easier — even over a long weekend. In the village of St. Moritz, Badrutt's Palace (27 Via Serlas, St. Moritz, 011-41-81-837-1000, www.badruttspalace.com) has been the ultimate style-set destination for more than 100 years, where Audrey Hepburn vacationed years ago and Hugh Grant does today. “The Palace,” to those in the know, is as luxurious as ever, with newly refurbished guest rooms, a full spa, and the same level of service (an army of concierges at your disposal) that has kept the rich and famous coming back for a century. This season, the latest outpost of celebrity chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa's empire opens inside the hotel, bringing haute Japanese-Peruvian cooking to the table. (Or reserve a table at Le Restaurant, where ladies and gentlemen still dress for dinner.) Before you head home, spend some time in Zurich, no longer just an efficient stopover for banking and business. Browse the shops on the Bahnhofstrasse, where a stop at the chocolatier and café Sprüngli (Bahnhofstrasse 21, Zurich, 011-41-1-224-4646, www.spruengli.ch) for a truffle or two is a must. When it's time to sleep, head to the Widder Hotel (Rennweg 7, Zurich, 011-41-1-224-2526, www.widderhotel.ch), one of the city's first boutique hotels.
Flights: Swiss offers daily flights from Boston.