If you live in the U.S. somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of Arizona, chances are you’ve had one tough, cold winter. And that’s what Spring Break is supposed to cure. Spring Break falls somewhere between March 1 and April 15, and provides a needed thaw in people’s lives before things really start to melt down. While, according to the latest Travelocity surveys, most Americans are looking toward Las Vegas and Florida for this change in mood and season, many are choosing to travel farther afield for their time and make the break a worthy week of wonder and indulgence in life well lived.
The following Spring Break travel options offer an absolute break from boredom, cost more than a few bucks and come with bragging rights attached.
Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa
Nicaragua’s first venture into the uber-luxury resort business, Mukul has all the markings of one of the wealthiest barons (Pellas family of sugarcane fame) in Latin America and offers answers to the question: what would like-minded wealthy souls want in a getaway vacation? If Costa Rica was the rage of the ‘80s and Belize was the hot spot of the ‘90s, Nicaragua and its Emerald Coast on the Pacific has claimed the present with the 37-suite resort that opened last year on an endless coved beach along Guacalito de la Isla. Stay in a beach villa or a “bohio” treehouse at the edge of the forest. Showers here are outside and come with a view. Mukul Spa mixes philosophies and treatments from India, Turkey, Japan and local rainforests with secret gardens and sybaritic temples.
Where: Southwest region of Nicaragua, a scenic two-hour drive from Managua. Airport meet & greet and transfers handled by guests’ personal resort butler. Or private heli transfers can be arranged.
Rates: Golf, Spa and Romance packages are available for rates that start at $880 and add plentiful inclusions. Standard nightly rates start at $550 with full breakfast and airport transfers (if four nights are booked).
Spend a night or a few in a 15th century Medici-era palazzo where every room is a recovered work of lost art. Il Salviatino has 45 guest rooms and suites amid a 12-acre spread of Mediterranean gardens. Guests can choose to stay in a converted antique glass greenhouse and watch the night sky, or choose a suite with a ceiling covered in frescoes and a marble bathtub carved into a Roman sarcophagus. Many rooms overlook the duomo of Florence and the city’s carpet of red-tiled rooftops. Expect pressed Italian linens, oversized fireplaces, lots of Carrara marble. Gourmet Tuscan cooking is part of the property’s attraction as food is celebrated here with cooking classes and in-depth discussion.
Where: Fiesole, just outside of Florence.
Rates: Seasonal “dine-around” packages start at $574 per night, including some meals. Focus is on Florence’s legendary gastronomy — showing off Il Salviatino’s homegrown gourmet attractions and highlighting some of the best Tuscan kitchens around Florence.
The Siam opened in 2012 on the banks of Bangkok’s River of Kings, a hotel of 39 keys where each room somehow recreates a colonial or literary vision as designed by socialites of a certain time some six decades ago. Those socialites would include silk tycoon/pilot/spy Jim Thompson (whose bio peaks with his final plunge into the jungles of Malaysia never to be seen again) and his notorious companion Connie Mangskau, once the toast of Bangkok and whose parties attracted the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy, Henry Ford, John Rockefeller and Roger Moore.
The legend lives on in each room and suite filled with antiques collected by the property owner’s family and managed by creative director Krissada Sukosol Clapp, a member of the family who initially made his own fortune as a Thai-American rock star and film star. The reconfigured three-acre space of prime riverfront in the royal Dusit neighborhood (the Royal Palace is just around the corner) combines to form a restaurant, teaching kitchen and the Siam’s top suite, Connie’s House. It’s the type of place to find couples in white linen attire lingering over breakfast or afternoon tea as they watch the barges go by. The library puts first edition collectors’ books on the shelves. Every room presents an odd and whimsical fortress of antiques. And there is the Opium Spa for a full array of massages and body treatments.
The Muay Thai ring in the gym adjacent to the spa is perfect for Thai boxing lessons, weight loss, fitness tune-ups and couples who want to settle a score.
Where: The Siam’s location in the center of Bangkok puts all the attractions and compelling shopping options of Bangkok within walking distance, barge ride or tuk tuk range.
Rates: The Siam offers a multitude of packages, including a Muay Thai Master Class Suite & Retreat, a Romance Package stay and an on and off stay-four-pay-three promo. Standard nightly rates start at $425, including WiFi, daily breakfast and butler service.
Armani Hotel Dubai
If you are going to build a hotel in Dubai, it better be bold, it must be in a tall building with views that can practically see Saudi Arabia, and it has to make an impact. The Armani succeeds on all three fronts as a style statement in a city where every statement is a shout. The Armani Dubai is built into the 38th and 39th floors of the world’s tallest tower to date: the 160-story Burj Khalifa (formerly called Burj Dubai). And with the King of Style built into the branding, this designer hotel is nothing short of riveting.
Check-in is done in the guest quarters (Mr. Armani does not believe in lines). In fact, the only lines you will see are the clean, unencumbered lines of the contemporary furnishings and accents. Within the hotel’s 160 studios, guestrooms, premier rooms and ambassador suites you can experience all the wonder you’ve probably not pondered lately about Armani Casa design: Italian linens, hand-crafted beds, smooth metallic tones, a medley of handsome tech toys, and soft modes of illumination. A personal lifestyle manager is assigned to each guest and ready to assist: what to wear, where to shop, where to dine.
And while Dubai is one of the world’s most dynamic centers of architecture and elevated living, all that one needs is actually right there – in the world’s tallest building and one of the planet’s largest shopping malls. Dining can be done onsite amid eight international restaurants. Then there is the 12,000-square-foot spa, the Armani/Privé club, a wrap-around deck pool looking over the city and Gulf, and the lofty Armani/Lounge overlooking the elaborate water works anchoring Burj Khalifa.
Dubai is a tax-free enclave where all the world’s fashions converge. Deals in textiles, precious metals and gems, rare goods, carpets, spices and first world fashion do not disappoint.
Where: Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Weather at this time of year is clear and warm, not too hot.
Rates: average rates start at $550 per night.
Ananda in the Himalayas
Jumpstart the rest of your life in a converted raj palace in the Himalayan foothills over the Ganges River. What’s your goal? Stop smoking? Slim down? Simplify? Quiet the mind? This is the place to get it done and with pampering attached — where treatments benefit from Vedic wisdom of more than 5,000 years. Guests spend their days indulging in yoga and meditation, as well as hiking in the Himalayan elevations, listening to wise teachers, and learning lessons that can last a lifetime.
Rooms here have windows and private balconies overlooking the Palace and the Rishikesh valley. Dining follows principles of Ayurveda for added energy in consuming foods that fit the body. Healing experiences balance energies with gems, reiki and chakra focus. Conscious living is guaranteed.
Where: Rishikesh, India: an hour flight or 4-hour train trip from New Delhi.
Rates: Ananda has a bundle of specials and deals for every season. An easy intro is the Himalayan Bliss, which starts at three nights inclusive of room, meals (breakfast & dinner) and spa experiences. $960 per night for two. Spring Break nightly rates start at $750, including breakfast and WiFi.