This holiday season, treat yourself and your family or friends to a memorable travel experience rather than a tchotchke. The best gift for some is a relaxing spot on the beach; for others, it’s a thrilling run down a ski hill. These eight vacation homes—four in warm-weather destinations like Costa Rica and Barbados, four in cold-weather destinations like Chamonix and Whistler—will satisfy either desire.
Villa Pacifica in Punta Mita, Mexico
Villa Pacifica doesn’t just catch the eye, it captures it. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, the bright red exterior is cheery and the interiors are just as eye-popping—from patterned couches to eclectic artwork. The oceanfront Punta Mita oasis provides, as its name suggests, incredible Pacific views from great outdoor living spaces like splendid sun beds and a beachside lounge. To top it off, a stay here affords access to both Kupuri Beach Club and Residents Beach Club, so golf, spa, and dinner reservations are all provided (happy holidays!). You’ll be fully pampered too: Up to 12 guests are serviced by two housekeepers and a waiting staff, and the in-home chef prepares three delicious meals a day.
Closest Beach: Beachfront to Playa Punta Mita
Joya Villas in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Joya Villas is made up of two properties in the quiet town of Santa Teresa. Nestled in the Costa Rica jungle, the minimalist masterpieces (think glass walls and clean lines) are accentuated by designer furnishings throughout the property. Views over the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve stretch all the way to the ocean, creating a spectacular contrast between Costa Rica’s lush greenery and the sparkling blue water. And each of the two units has four bedrooms, making this spot a great choice for two families or more looking to spend a holiday together.
Closest Beach: 10-minute walk to North Santa Teresa Beach
Tradewinds Sandy Lane in Sandy Lane, Barbados
If your idea of an amazing holiday includes days spent lounging by the pool and nights spent dining outdoors or sipping cocktails, then let the Tradewinds blow you in the direction of Tradewinds Sandy Lane. One of Barbados’ most luxurious villas, it’s enclosed within a gated property with its own beach cabana, bar area, and dining gazebo with a wet bar and sofas–it’s as if you and your party are at your own private all-inclusive resort. The elegant interior decor of modern furniture and crisp whites, blacks, and pinks is courtesy the American firm Designer’s Choice.
Closest Beach: 2-minute drive to Sandy Lane Beach
Mele Kohala in Big Island, Hawaii
Built in harmony with its environment on the Big Island in classic Hawaiian fashion, Mele Kohala has everything you’ll need for a blissful tropical escape. Vacation boredom won’t be an issue here: The wide swimming pool is the centerpiece of the outdoor grounds, plus there’s a bocce court and night-lit tennis court. Inside, large living spaces are pleasantly furnished with high-end designer items and a unique art collection. All six bedrooms are spacious, with en-suite bathrooms. And as no Hawaiian landscape is complete without a volcano, and Mele Kohala’s 180-degree views boast three of them: the sacred Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalae are all within eyesight.
Closest Beach: 10-minute drive to Spencer Beach
Mountain Sky in Park City, Utah
Utah’s best skiing, a lively apres-ski scene, plus plenty of luxury shopping and fine dining is what Park City, Utah is all about. And just about 10 minutes from the downtown core, in a quieter subset, lies Park City’s residential quarter, a laid back part of town with expansive mountain views and plenty of space for spacious luxury properties. One of those homes sports a private deck that gazes out over historic Old Town and the base of the ski hills—naturally, it’s called Mountain Sky. And it’s ideal for a winter holiday getaway. A media and games room with a projector TV and a ping pong table will keep everyone in your party entertained, and an outdoor fire pit and hot tub allow you to stay warm, even while outdoors in the cold.
Closest ski hill: 8-minute drive to Park City Mountain Resort base & Canyons Village at Park City
Chalet Couttet in Chamonix, French Alps
Chalet Couttet is a dreamy ski chalet in the French Alps with stylish interiors and elevated amenities. The sphere-shaped light fixtures that hang above the main living area light up the room, and the patterned rug, armchairs, and pillows bring vibrancy to the space. Wood-beamed ceilings add a ski lodge-style warmth to the open-concept area, which combines with a modern kitchen with a marble island breakfast bar and modish stools. The five bedrooms are also whimsically designed with wood panelling and fuzzy comforters for an added level of comfort, and each room’s ensuite bathroom is state-of-the-art, equipped with modern stand-alone showers behind sleek glass doors. Plus, an in-villa sauna, yoga studio, and massage room allows Couttet to double as a private wellness center—exactly what you need to recoup during a holiday break. A little more than a mile away, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc offers a multitude of ski options. Hit the slopes and you’ll see why Chamonix hosted the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924.
Closest ski hill: 1 mile to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
Hood Park Manor in Telluride, Colorado
Ski-obsessed families can unite at this Colorado classic in Telluride. Accommodating up to 20 guests (with plenty of room for everyone!), Hood Park Manor will take your holiday traditions to the next level. As a destination, Telluride provides an authentic mountain town setting and offers some the area’s best skiing on legendary terrain. The slopes will satisfy die-hard skiers, and juxtaposed with the resort-style offerings of nearby Vail and Aspen, it’s a safe bet that everyone will be happy here. Hood Park Manor boasts quick and easy ski-in/ski-out access that’s almost too good to be true. The chalet backs onto Galloping Goose, a beginner’s slope with low traffic, making it perfect for families bringing their kids out for their first runs. Conveniently, the home has a kids room with four bunk beds, a television, and plenty of floor space to play—just in case new toys are on the way.
Closest ski hill: Ski-in/ski out to Telluride’s Galloping Goose ski run
Nita Lake Estate in Whistler, British Columbia
Canada’s white winters turn the the country a picturesque holiday destination each year. And there are few places in the country as scenic and beautiful as Whistler, British Columbia. And beyond its beauty, the town boasts elite ski opportunities, too. Seventy five miles north of Vancouver, Whistler is home to Whistler-Blackcomb, one of North America’s largest ski resorts and home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games’ ski and snowboard events. It also has a vibrant pedestrian town at the base of the mountain and a series of lakes nearby flanked by stunning vacation homes. Nita Lake Estate, next to Nita Lake and just eight minutes from Whistler Village, is designed with dramatic high ceilings and tall windows, allowing generous mountain views to serve as the backdrop to your living spaces. The home’s contemporary design nods to Canada’s First Nations with pieces of art, and the wood fireplace is a place to cozy up near on cold days. Nita Lake Estate is just four minutes by car to the Creekside Village ski slopes.
Closest ski hill: 15-minute walk to Creekside Gondola at Whistler Mountain