With spring break on the horizon, the options for vacations are endless. Here are some of the top places to go for spring break 2020.
I don’t know what time it is, and I don’t care. There are so many activities going on here at Grand Velas, I could be programmed daily. I have my eye on the revolutionary hydrotherapy circuit and avant-garde menu of spa treatments. But what anyone really wants to do, for the first day anyway, is absolutely nothing but embrace the warmth of the sun, the pristine sandy beach, the pools, the servers offering exotic drinks, all surrounded by an 80-acre jungle, mangroves and freshwater wells that throb with the words, relax, take it easy, chill out. This all-inclusive hotel has eight distinct restaurants and bakes 80 different kinds of breads and rolls daily. Dinner at Piaf is classic French cuisine filtered through a bit of Mexican bravado. Enter Piaf and be greeted by a harpist, plucking the strings of a full-sized harp and playing the songs of Edith. The wine flows, the menu makes exotic promises and fulfills them. At the end, the moment of truth. the entire restaurant crew thanks us for coming. A favorite is Lucca for our Italian/Mediterranean food fix. At Frida, a huge portrait of Frida Kalo dominates the entrance. Sen Lin offers interesting Asian gourmet fusion. And the Sky Bar has wonderful entertainment till the witching hour. Family-friendly, there is a fully staffed Kids Club and a Teen Club. At this all-inclusive, there is no tipping, so you can leave your wallet in your room safe. But if shopping is in your DNA, the boutiques in the resort offer beautiful items, the likes of which I have not seen elsewhere.
The cognoscenti who seek rejuvenation by calmness, sailing, and snorkeling, sea and sand and natural surroundings place Anguilla at the top of their list. This is the quiet island with miles of unbelievable fine white sand, luxurious beach lounges, and the discreet attention of beverage servers. City-stress takes a hike. The palatial Four Seasons Resort and Residences immediately gives me a sense of confidence and anticipation of having a great vacation. A golf cart picks me up from my palatial suite (complete with a terrace and plunge pool) to take me to the Sunset Lounge for dinner. A cool live band and an eclectic menu of small plates set the tone perfectly. Every comfort and luxury has been covered in the inimitable Four Seasons style. Breakfast offers a sumptuous buffet as well as a menu. A discerning server noticed that I had a cold, and offered to make me his special herbal tea remedy. It came un-ordered for the next few days when miraculously, my cold disappeared. Dinner at SALT is an experience in delectable dining and is named after the historical island industry. As a decades-long restaurant critic, I am always delighted to taste new dishes in unique presentations such as herbed-shrimp served in a hot plate made of salt. Their magnificent outdoor sports pavilion with its regulation size basketball court has hosted many a vacationing pro player. Tennis courts have pros who offer daily cardio clinics, and if you’re in the mood, try the spectacular rock climbing wall. Tear yourself away and visit Blanchard’s Restaurant for authentic local seafood dishes and amazing home-baked desserts. A wonderful alternative is Zemi, a beautiful luxury boutique hotel, built around ancient Thai principals. Inspired by the ancient healing traditions of the Taino people, Zemi Thai House Spa centers on the belief that all of nature’s elements have the power to heal the mind, body, and spirit. It even includes a traditional Hamam. Lunch under a canopy right on the beach is fresh seafood tacos and a superb Pina Colada. This pretty island remains unsullied by fast-food chains, gambling casinos or cruise ship docking, and single-use plastics have been banned for over a year now.
Lounging on my terrace at the ultra-modern South Point Hotel on Falmouth Bay a vista of world-famous yachts is spread out before me. I stroll over and ask permission to board the extraordinary Rosehearty, a 183.73-meter majestic sailing yacht which had just returned from the Northwest Passage. “Welcome aboard,” they say. Adventurers have come to Antigua from many parts of the world and have chosen to stay and follow their dreams. A must is a visit to Sheer Rocks. With an extraordinary sense of style, young owners Kate Taylor and Alex Grimley have created a divine restaurant and inn that is terraced on a cliffside, protruding over the rocks right on the sea. A more romantic spot you will not find. At Jackie O’s, owner Lance Leonhardt holds court. His sophisticated international clientele leave their yachts and comes to enjoy a brilliant fresh seafood lunch. Soup du jour is Champagne if you get the picture. Arrive on a Sunday, and head over to Shirley Heights Lookout on English Harbour to join hundreds of others to watch the sunset, enjoy the mesmerizing music of the steel bands and enjoy the best barbecue on the island. The feeling of camaraderie is contagious. If you are a history buff, as I am, do take some time to visit the small Museum of Antigua and Barbuda for an eye-opener of the Island’s past.
There are, in this small peninsula in Baja California, powerful forces of nature at play. The mountains meet the desert, the desert meets the ocean, and the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific ocean meet at the tip. Stay at le Blanc Spa Resort, the most luxurious adults-only, all-inclusive of its genre. In the gorgeous ocean view rooms, premium spirits line the bar and the minibar is filled with complimentary goodies. Even long-distance calls to Canada USA and Mexico are free. The hydrotherapy area with its holistic health through water treatment offers sauna detox, an ice room, swimming pool, and whirlpool. A gorgeous, round, landscaped swimming pool invites relaxation, or, since the property is right on the most beautiful, clean white sandy beach, the ocean awaits. Bored? Enjoy taking Spanish lessons, playing bocce ball, ping-pong and any number of activities. Hungry? There are eight unique restaurants and six bars to choose from, making each cocktail hour and each meal a fresh dining experience. On a sailing excursion to see whales cavort with their babies, I stare at tourists who have climbed to the very top of the highest rock formation to pose for selfies. Don’t step backwards. Please. Visit the real Hotel California (The Eagles song) in Todos Santos and browse through the local craft shops and galleries.
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Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.