The polar vortex left many of us feeling permanently chilled to the bone, so we don’t blame you if you feel like you need more than just a winter warm-up. It’s time to completely thaw out!
While not all of these escapes are to warm-weather destinations, they do all go above and beyond to bring the heat. Here are seven spots that are great for a toasty, mid-winter vacation.
Warm up along a hot springs loop in Colorado’s mountains
The Rocky Mountains are Colorado’s famed amenity. In addition to the requisite spots to schuss down the slopes on skis, many resorts here have been adding amenities like mountain coasters and tubing hills to round out the fun. But the perfect grand finale to your ski vacation? Visiting one of the state’s thermal hot springs that are ideal for après-ski soaking. Colorado celebrates its geothermal hot tubs with a 720-mile “historic hot springs loop” that connects five hot springs towns. The hot springs in these towns range from small, private baths to large, hot springs pools. Among the towns on the hot springs circuit is Glenwood Springs, which is just an hour away from some of Colorado’s most popular ski towns, including Aspen, Vail, and Beaver Creek. The Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is a family-friendly hotel with a steamy, outdoor pool.
Stay in a new hotel in Mexico’s Riviera Maya that brings the heat with a cabaret
Skip the Cancun crowds and soak up the sun in nearby Costa Mujeres, which is a relatively undiscovered gem in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The TRS Coral Hotel debuted in November in Costa Mujeres, which is about 25 minutes north of Cancun’s airport. The adults-only, all-inclusive hotel boasts a private beach, as well as swim-up suites and floating chairs in the hotel’s canals. But turning up the heat even higher is an on-property cabaret. The CHIC Cabaret hosts shows with sensual choreography, glitz, and glam — transporting guests to Moulin Rouge in Paris and the old cabarets in Berlin. The adjacent Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa is a family-friendly hotel with a water park and clubs for kids and teens. Both hotels are close to Isla Mujeres, a 5-mile tranquil island. The crystal-clear turquoise waters are great for snorkeling, plus the island is home to a sea turtle protection center.
Indulge in a staycation and afternoon tea at an English-inspired inn in Lake Forest
Star in your own fairy tale by enjoying a cozy staycation at the Deer Path Inn, an idyllic and English-inspired inn that’s located in Lake Forest. When it comes to staying warm, guests here have plenty of options. Sidle up next to a crackling fireplace, take a bubble bath in a spacious bathtub that fills from the ceiling, or sip a cocktail in The Bar, a wood-paneled bar that exudes warmth. A main draw at the inn is enjoying afternoon tea in The English Room, which has a glass-enclosed courtyard and an impressive tea menu, with teas from around the world as well as the hotel’s own special blends. If you need an extra nudge, let us remind you that tea-drinking is associated with all types of health benefits.
Enjoy a bright lights festival in Toronto
Our neighbors to the north in Toronto are especially great at embracing the cold, with outdoor festivals to light up the winter nights even after the holiday season has wrapped up. Take for instance the Toronto Light Festival that runs until March 3 and is a free kaleidoscopic light festival in the city’s buzzy Distillery District. The festival features local and international artists. The purpose, according to organizers? “We want to help transform a moment of consciousness, from the cold and the dark into the warmth and the light.” The gallery of light sculptures includes bright neon signs, sculptures that look like fireworks, plus a 35-foot polar bear sculpture made from recycled car hoods and a large, Instagram-ready rainbow. To continue in spirit of lights and warmth, book a room The Delta, Toronto and, to really get this right, request a room that faces the CN Tower. The Corner Skyline Soaker Rooms aren’t just the perfect spot to watch the lights illuminate the tower, but they also come with bathtubs that have floor-to-ceiling windows to show off spectacular city views. P.S.: Be sure to have a cocktail at Char No. 5, which is inside the hotel and boasts an impressive collection of whiskeys from Canada and around the world.
Soak and stargaze in this Arizona dark sky resort
Tucked away in the Sonoran Desert and surrounded by a cactus-studded landscape is the historic Castle Hot Springs, which recently underwent a renovation and is reopening in February. The hot springs is located in a rock canyon and produces more than 200,000 gallons of 120-degree mineral water every day. The majority of the 32 accommodations are Spring Bungalows and Sky View Cabins, which feature oversized tubs that are piped directly from the hot springs. The rooms even have an open ceiling so that you can soak and stargaze simultaneously. The resort is in a Dark Sky area, meaning measures are in place to preserve the night sky above so stargazers can see an abundance of stars glittering above. Also, an astronomer at the resort will help point out the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter through a telescope. Castle Hot Springs has a storied history, originally opening in 1896 as a luxury resort for those suffering from respiratory and rheumatoid ailments. It was discovered and visited by big names like the Roosevelts, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and Wrigleys, putting it on the map as a luxe desert getaway. The reopening will mark a new chapter. The best way to say cheers to it? With a Lithium Lager beer that’s brewed from the water from the hot springs. Then get back to your regular scheduled soaking. The resort has three natural rock grotto soaking pools.
Thaw out in a geothermal crater in Utah’s mountains
After you click out of your ski boots for the day in Park City, there’s a unique, subterranean hot spring ready to warm you up nearby. The 10,000-year-old Homestead Crater is a geologic marvel: The hot spring is hidden inside a 55-foot tall beehive-shaped limestone rock, and the water is consistently 96 degrees. You can go for a swim or a soak (rates start at just $13), but the crater also plays host to stand-up paddleboard yoga, scuba diving, and snorkeling. To round out the experience, book your stay at the Washington School House Hotel, an opulent 13-room boutique hotel that, in a past life, was a school house. The hotel is a block away from Park City’s Main Street, and it boasts a heated pool, hot tub, and, for its next trick, an outdoor fireplace that was crafted from a steel Olympic torch used in the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Park City.
Enjoy an aromatherapy bath at this hotel in Newport, Rhode Island
Take in panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean while staying curled up by an in-room fireplace at The Chanler at Cliff Walk, a famously romantic hotel in Newport, Rhode Island. The hotel is perched on Newport’s cliff walk, which is an architectural lineup of some of New England’s most stunning mansions lining the Atlantic. Other luxe and cozy amenities at this mansion-turned-boutique hotel include roasting marshmallows and making s’mores at The Chanler’s fire pit or enjoying a gourmet hot chocolate at The Café. Aside from satiating your sweet tooth while providing stunning views, the hotel also has an “Aromatherapy Associates” custom bath program. Think of this as a bath butler who will draw a bath for you, infusing the experience with therapeutic essential oils. You can pick a blend from a menu to help troubleshoot sore muscles or de-stress you. For example, a deep sleep blend is made with vertivert, chamomile, and sandalwood.
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Brittany Anas is a freelance writer who specializes in health, fitness, and travel writing. She also contributes to Men’s Journal, Women’s Health, Trip Savvy, Simplemost, Orbitz, and Eat This, Not That! She spent a decade working at daily newspapers, including The Denver Post and the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, and she is a former federal background investigator. In her free time, Brittany enjoys hiking with her gremlin-pot belly pig mix that the rescue described as a “Boston Terrier” and coaching youth basketball. She also works with domestic abuse survivors, helping them regain financial stability through career coaching. Follower her on Twitter and Instagram.