Travel Picks: Top 10 winter sun escapes

Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:04am EST

LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Feeling that northern hemisphere
chill? Luckily, boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith [here
] have rounded up 10 of the best escapes for winter sun, from
Caribbean coastal retreats to beach-blessed beauties in Miami
and Mexico. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1.  Surfing: The Modern Honolulu, Honolulu, United States
   Serious surfers, or those who like the vibe, should check
into designer-den The Modern Honolulu boutique hotel in Hawaii
[here
], a hip white haunt near buzzy Waikiki Beach. Set by the
marina, it flaunts four bars, a nightclub and the most in-demand
restaurant in town (sushi-serving Morimoto Waikiki, headed up by
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto). Many of the 353 bedrooms sport sea
views, as well as cute Hawaiian touches such as ukuleles and
tropical-print sarongs. Enjoy a local Lomi Lomi massage at the
spa, unwind in one of the two gorgeous pools (sunrise- or
sunset-facing, your call) or take a surf class on the beach.

2.  James Bond: Goldeneye Hotel & Resort, Jamaica, Caribbean
    Once the home of James Bond author Ian Fleming, Goldeneye
Hotel & Resort in Jamaica [here
] offers a combination of romance, hedonism and action worthy of
the British spy himself. Fleming penned all 14 of his Bond
novels in his house here, now dubbed the Fleming Villa and
sleeping up to 10. Set amid banyans and beaches, there are also
six one-bed and five two-bed cottages. Flex your muscles
walking, mountain-biking or kayaking up to the Field Spa, or
work out with guided runs or open-water swims. Afterwards,
treetop restaurant Gazebo and shoreside Bizot Bar beckon, with
Jamaican-inspired organic dishes and cheeky rum cocktails. 

3.  Sophistication: King & Grove Tides, Miami, Florida
    Languishing on opulent Ocean Drive, 45-room Miami boutique
hotel King & Grove Tides [here
] radiates old-world tropical glamour as soon as you set foot in
the grand art deco entrance. Let your personal assistant guide
you to your ocean-view suite or secure you a table at La Marea
restaurant, where seafood risotto and luxe lobster celebrate
coastal cuisine. If Marilyn Monroe and the Rat Pack were around
today, you'd be sure to spy them lounging in the pool cabanas or
slugging Miami Mojitos in the lobby bar. You'll also love the
Coral Bar, a cream- and gold-hued wateringhole for stylish sips.

4.  Jungle-meets-beach jaunts: Cuixmala, Jalisco, Mexico
    Set on a sprawling plantation estate fringed by the jungle
and beach, Cuixmala boutique hotel in Jalisco [here
] is just a few hours' drive from Puerto Vallarta on Mexico's
Pacific-hugging west coast. It resembles a magnificent Moorish
palace for good reason; once home to British billionaire James
Goldsmith (and now run by his daughter), this plush pad has
hosted Kissinger, Nixon and Reagan. With just 13 rooms,
including nine casitas and four private villas, you'll have
plenty of space to roam. Go sailing, saddle up for a horseback
jungle trek, admire the wildlife or seek out the beach for
snorkelling and sunbathing sessions.

5.  Chilling: Cotton Tree Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
    If you had to dream up your ideal Caribbean Eden, Cotton
Tree Grand Cayman boutique hotel in the Cayman Islands [here
] would probably spring to mind. There's a real intimacy here,
with just four pastel-pretty two-bedroom cottages dotted around
seaside gardens, shaded by banana trees. Each comes with vibrant
art, gourmet kitchens and a spa-style ensuite. Foodies can enjoy
a cooking lesson using local produce or art, yoga and Pilates
classes are all up for grabs. Then again, you could just lie
back on that sunlounger, in between dips in the freshwater pool,
Jacuzzi and nearby ocean (there are two tempting beaches
nearby).

6.  Barefoot bliss: The Harmony Hotel, Costa Rica, Costa Rica
    If you want to swap stress for serenity, The Harmony Hotel
in Costa Rica [here
] is for you. At this barefoot-luxe, 24-room beach retreat
howler monkeys signal sunrise, when surfers can catch some of
the best waves on this side of the Pacific. Prefer to chill out?
There's a refreshing pool and the Healing Centre offers daily
yoga, guided meditations and massages using tropical plants.
Spend the days slumbering in your hammock, smoothie in hand,
before strolling to the restaurant where ceviche, grilled fish
and plantains are served under whirring fans. Wrap up the night
at the open-air bar, quaffing a cool daiquiri and dreaming of
your next wave.

7.  Desert design: The Saguaro Scottsdale, Scottsdale, USA
    A desert mirage of bright colours and pop art, The Saguaro
Scottsdale hotel near Phoenix [here
] was named after the cactus that produces Arizona's state
wildflower. Inspired by artists David Hockney and Matisse, this
bold resort boasts two palm-fringed pools, a Nueva Latin spa and
a sizzling restaurant serving Mexican street food. The 194 rooms
continue the rainbow colours you'll spot around the pools (think
hot pink, orange and sun-kissed yellow). Make time for
slow-roasted meats and tacos at Distrito eatery, before ordering
Prohibition-era cocktails at Old Town Whiskey bar, where the
outdoor fireplace will keep you cosy come nightfall.

8.  Island idyll: Laluna, Grenada, Caribbean
    Set between verdant hills and white sands, Laluna boutique
hotel in Grenada [here&utm_medium=media&utm_campaign=apac_280812_reuters_top10
] is as enticing as the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Given
the owner and interior designer both have serious fashion
credentials (one's a former Prada consultant, the other worked
on a villa for Armani), it's no surprise that the 16
boho-Balinese beach cottages here are pretty stylish. Expect
floaty four-poster beds, monk-made Italian toiletries and
private pools on the veranda. Snorkel, sample the Sanctuary Spa
or cool off after exploring the island at the deck-fringed main
pool down by the beach. Italian delicacies await at the
restaurant, washed down with chill prosecco.

9.  Kicking back: Casa Morada, Florida Keys, USA
    Florida Keys boutique hotel Casa Morada [here
] is a minimalist bayside beauty on a palm-shaded strip of
Islamorada. The soothing, serene decor in the 16 suites is a
refreshing antidote to the kitsch of the Keys, with the balmy
waters of the Gulf of Mexico just a meander away. Simple rooms
star Mexican antiques, but only Sea View Suites proffer
picture-perfect views of the bay and private terraces for
sipping sundowners. Don't miss the island-set freshwater pool,
flanked by a snack cabana, gazebos and hammocks. Breakfast and
lunch are served at the hotel, but head out to town for dining
at night.

10.  Beach: Inn at English Harbour, Antigua & Barbuda
    Antigua boutique retreat Inn at English Habour [here
] is just minutes from Nelson's Dockyard, the spiritual heart of
this most English of Caribbean islands. Famous for cricket,
carnival and its colourful colonial past, Antigua is also
beloved for its blissful beaches. All 28 airy, indoor-outdoor
cottages here face the ocean, but opt for a Beach Suite if you
want to be mere steps from the shore. And what a beach it is,
with a sweep of white sand seducing you to swim, sail or try
your hand at watersports. Landlubbers can take to the tennis
courts; sybarites will love the Asian-influenced spa.

 (Editing by Paul Casciato)
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