Winter Getaways off the Beaten Path

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Hoshinoya Okinawa Resort
Taketomi Island, Japan

DSC_0044If you really want to get away from the grind of daily life, choose a destination that takes a good two days to get to, such as the Hoshinoya Okinawa resort on Taketomi Island.  The island itself is 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Taiwan, 500 kilometers (310 miles) from Mainland China, and more than 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) from Tokyo.

Once you arrive, you’re likely to be welcomed by several of the 350 inhabitants, including Matchan Oba (Oba is grandmother), but whose real name is actually Mrs. Sechi Furugen. She is the unofficial mayor or ambassador of the island.

The Hoshinoya resort looks like a small village, and mimics the style of buildings on the island.  The cool ocean breeze that passes through the village is most refreshing.  Each villa has an oversized hot tub in the middle, which is not closed off, providing a wonderful way to relax.  Indeed, the resort’s meditative atmosphere and peacefulness make it ideal for getting away from anything and everything.

A number of activities involve things you simply wouldn’t think of doing elsewhere, including a water buffalo tour (the water buffalo pulls a cart), during which you, the driver, and other passengers sing traditional songs from the island (even if you don’t speak Japanese, you’ll find yourself singing along).

Hôtel La Ferme
Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec, Canada

La Ferme1Pretend that you’re on the Polar Express as it slowly pulls up to secluded Hôtel La Ferme in Quebec, which thoughtfully provides its own train station.

The hotel’s massive glass walls let in tons of natural light, so you don’t have to succumb to the winter blues even though you may be surrounded by snow.  Those ecologically conscientious will appreciate La Ferme being powered by geothermal energy. 

Succumb to the allure of the vast and expansive outdoors and definitely make some time to venture outside the hotel.  Many opportunities are available for skiing, hiking and sledding, as well as some weather-permitting excursions, such as biking and kayaking

Despite its location 60 miles outside of the nearest major city, La Ferme is fully equipped with modern amenities and high-speed wireless Internet.  It’s comforting to know that, even in a wintry nook in Canada, you can stay connected with friends and family back home.

InterContinental Resort Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden, Germany

View at the InterContinental Resort Berchtesgaden

Let’s jet on over to another mountain.  This one is in the Bavarian Alps and is home to the InterContinental Resort Berchtesgaden.

The Berchtesgaden hotel also provides awe-inspiring views of scenic mountains, but if you feel the need to take a break from staring at stationary remains of tectonic collisions, the 15,000 square foot Mountain spa should do the trick.  Nothing quite beats looking out over the zero-degree terrain while you melt into a steaming hot tub.

After relaxing for a few hours, take advantage of the hotel’s many outdoor activities, including snowboarding and cross-country or downhill skiing.  Those seeking solitude should feel free to wander through the snowy hills on their own; the hotel’s arranged excursions are purely optional.

But don’t take our word for it.  We’ve only been here six times.


Well, there it is.  As anybody north of the Mason Dixon line knows, winter can drag on for nearly half a year, and we say why struggle with it when you can embrace it?  If nature gives you an overcast day with sleet, just plunge into the heart of the storm and set up camp in two feet of snow.  Or if that doesn’t work for you, head to the tropics!

We hope this guide serves to provide you with a memorable winter excursion.  Happy holidays!

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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