by Jacqueline M. Wood | Tue., Nov. 26, 2013 3:21 PM
If there's anyone that can be trusted to pick the best winter vacay spot it's Jacqueline M. Wood. As the host of E!'s travel show Party On it's her job to—you guessed it—travel. Year-round, including winter. So that means whether your a slopes or sandy shore kind of vacationer, she's bound to have a destination that fits your idea plans. Here's Jacqueline's top 10 places to visit this time of year.
If your ideal getaway includes a mai tai on a sun-soaked beach while dipping your toes in an aquamarine pool overlooking the ocean or hitting the slopes and warming your feet by a chalet fire happily sipping your hot chocolate, then look no further! Depending on the kind of weather you prefer during the winter months and your level of activity, I've compiled my personal top ten winter travel destinations!
1. Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles is home for me, but I am fortunate to have just about everything I enjoy all around me, which makes it an ideal winter travel spot and the best place for a staycation. Hike Runyon Canyon and you will be surprised how many famous faces do the same thing. Surf in Malibu even if you can't surf just sit on a board and let the waves bring you in just once in your life. People watch on the Venice Beach boardwalk and Santa Monica Thirdstreet promenade. Party at Beachers and Bootsy Bellows and savor the food at the delectable Mr Chows and Hakkansan. When I like to escape for a couple days I usually stay at the Montage Beverly Hills or the Chateau Marmont.
2. Mont Tremblant, Quebec: Utterly fantastic in the winter, but make sure you wear layers. If you can get a group to travel with you I suggest renting a chalet or spoil yourself and book the Fairmont Tremblant hotel and go for a swim in their outdoor heated pool after you've hit the slopes all day. Lots of great bars including some with table-top dancers, eat the incredible fattening Poutine (a local favorite) and see the speed demon skiers in action.
3. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: If you are not a certified diver I suggest attaining it before you travel or take the course while on the island, it's one of the best scuba and snorkeling places in the world and the best place to travel during the winter. Seven Mile Beach is a must, it's so beautiful and pristine you will never even notice how long the walk is (especially if you stop by the Ritz along the way for their special Mojito cocktail). Rent a motorcycle and go to "Hell" (a group of short, black limestone formations) and back just so you can say went there once. And yes, you have to go swimming with the Sting Rays—it's a must do for first timers!
4. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: To call Cabo a celebrity hot spot is an understatement, they are everywhere as it is an easy two hour getaway from Los Angeles, which is why so many people travel here during the holidays. The gorgeous Jennifer Lopez and Cindy Crawford are just a couple of the rich and famous who own homes in Cabo. I like to stay at the Esperanza Hotel, each room has its own private hot tub on the balcony and their hotel spa is beyond heavenly. Most importantly, I always feel very safe in Cabo unlike some of the other Mexican destinations. You have to party the nights away at Squid Roe and Mandala. If you are a sushi addict like I am, make sure you try out Hacienda or Nik-San. Watch whales from your balcony or splurge a little and take half a day and go deep sea fishing, utterly fantastic.
5. New York City: Who says New York is not as much fun in the winter as it is in the summer? It's awesome anytime of the year to me. Grimaldi's in Brooklyn is the best mom and pop pizza place, but don't forget to swing by the ATM before, it's cash only! If you like sushi as much as I do, you have to try Morimoto NYC and then head to Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club to end the night, it's right on the water and perfect for a chill and laid back night. Rooftop bar at the Dream downtown PH-D is always a hot spot and brings out really fun eclectic crowds. I also like to hit up Beauty and Essex when I'm in town. Sleep No More, an interactive theatre in NYC based off of the British theatre company, Punchdrunk's original production and their collaboration with Boston's American Repertory Theatre and William Shakespeare's Macbeth was by far one of the most bizarre, but awesome experiences I've ever had I my life. If you're in NYC you have to check it out! Sleep No More and the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center round out my favorite things to do in NYC in the winter.
6. Cape Town, South Africa: The 30-hour trek is worth every minute for a winter getaway. South Africa is so spectacular from the views from Table Top Mountain, which are absolutely breathtaking to their night clubs, which will astound you so much so you might still be dancing until sunrise! Cape Town has a great vibe and is culturally different in a great way. The people are super friendly. Of course, you cannot leave South Africa without going on safari. Just a two hour scenic drive and you reach Aquila Game Reserve. The sights and the sounds especially at night are almost mystical. One morning I had to call for assistance as a wild boar was standing of my front porch. Ha! When they tell you don't lean your head or arms out of the jeep when you near the lions, definitely listen closely. Cape Town is a dream vacation for an adventurer.
7. Miami, Florida: Miami is the primo spot in the U.S. for nightlife and terrific weather. It doesn't hurt that the beaches are beautiful as well! Be sure to check out these wickedly fun clubs (LIV Night Club and Story). I usually stay at the SLS or Fontainebleau, both hotels are impressive in every aspect. Fontainebleau even has eight different and unique restaurants to chose from. MC Kitchen is a definite go-to on each visit when it comes to dining as well as the SLS Bazaar tapas spot, you won't be disappointed. As far as shopping if you want it Miami has got it, so be prepared to leave extra room in your suitcase. If you want to get out of the craziness for a few hours go play with the gators. Approximately an hour drive out you can experience the thrill of an airboat flying over the Everglades, it's a total rush. hen when they spot a gator you just drift so close you wish you had sat in the middle. Don't forget to tip your Captain for a crazy ass ride.
8. Aspen, Colorado: Another celeb hot spot is the luxurious and decadent, Aspen. Right at the base of the mountain Aspen Resort has been the winter home to the rich and famous for the last two decades and is one of the largest ski resorts in the nation. Obviously known for its stupendous skiing and snowboarding, it also overwhelms you with its wide array of fantastic bars and lounges. When I head that way I usually rent a chalet with some friends or stay at the Little Nell, another fun-filled celebrity hot spot during the holidays. After a long day of challenging skiing I just like to hang by the fire pit complete with mountain views and chat with people from around the world sharing funny stories of our ski mishaps. I also enjoy Sky Hotel, inside they have a terrific lounge and wonderful fire that is super cozy. Outside is complete with hot tub, pool and fire pits. My usual dinner spot is the mouth-watering restaurant, Matsuhisa Sushi. Later after a few cocktails with friends (note I said after a few cocktails), you must try the Ultimate Taxi it's hysterically fun. Belly up to one of Aspen's best places for live music, yep it's called Belly Up! When your muscles can't take it any more pop into the St. Regis and enjoy the splendor of the most pampering Spa.
9. St. Barth's: White sand beaches, calm aqua waters, world renown fine dining, this place explodes at Christmas with the who's who jet-setting to warmer weather. Saline Beach, ranked one of the Top 10 beaches in the world is dripping in micro mini bikinis that probably cost an insane amount of money for three inches of material. Coolest place to stay Eden Rock, get ready for WOW factor. Fresh fish everywhere on the island, a very popular spot to dine with many of the jet setters is La Langouste. A terrific spot to play and people watch is the celeb-studded Baie De St Jean. This Caribbean Island is like no other, it's like being swept away in fairytale land while wearing a three inch bikini.
10. Maui, Hawaii: When Conde Nast votes this island a top travel destination year after year, I just had to go and check it out for myself. A geologists dream and perfect for a holiday beach vacation! The variety of lava sand beaches is insane, just pick your favorite color, mine is the Red Sand Beach, Kaihalulu. Don't forget the Black Sand Beach, Waiapanapa, the blow holes are wonderful to see in action. Daredevil Beach, a surfers dream or nightmare should you hit any of those rocks sticking out of the water! Steven Tyler, Oprah Winfrey and Owen Wilson own homes in Maui. Willy Nelson doesn't just own a home, but also has a bar called Charlie's. He didn't play the day I went, but the staff told me he pops in quite often and surprises guests with a song or two. Maui is also the breeding ground for the humpback whale, they winter in Maui before heading back to Alaska. There's so much to do here and so many incredible activities, I would recommend trying new spots on the island every time you visit, but a glorious place to start is, the hotel Ho'olei at Grand Wailea.
Party On premieres Thursday, Dec. 5 at 10 p.m. only on E!
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