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Top 6 Winter Sunshine Destinations

These tropical, sandy, and sunny luxury locales offer a retreat from northern snow and ice

The darkest, longest nights of winter solstice are behind us now. We know that spring and summer are just over the horizon—but it still feels like an eternity before they’ll arrive. So, rather than await them, why not meet them in those perpetually sunny climes closer to the equator? For those of us in need of seasonal escape, especially during these challenging times, a home in a warm climate is the perfect retreat. Consider a dream beachfront villa in the US Virgin Islands or in sun-soaked Florida, a far-flung escape in the Gulf of Thailand, or perhaps even the ultimate boating estate in Australia’s New South Wales. Let the patient planet slowly tilt its northern faces back to warmer days and ways. For the moment, though, why not settle down southerly and follow the sun?

Villa RKK in Petite Saline, Saint Barthélemy

A verdant retreat in St. Barts blends tranquility with fun and adventure.
This spectacular private compound in St. Barths has a private tennis court surrounded by more than three acres of tropical gardens with an infinity pool facing the sea.

One of the world’s most exclusive tropical escapes, the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy blends French sophistication with a breathtaking landscape of palm-clad hillsides, vast stretches of white sand, and turquoise bays filled with superyachts. Overlooking Lorient Bay, Villa RKK is a unique compound of unsurpassed privacy spanning more than three acres. The sprawling main house has an open-plan living area that invites impromptu gatherings and peaceful relaxation. The appointments include a fully equipped kitchen with breakfast bar and a dining room and lounge that open to an infinity pool with spectacular sea views. The entire estate is enhanced by tropical gardens. Winding paths lead to a tennis court and further accommodations, including a second bedroom with bathroom and, just beyond, a master bedroom with a private plunge pool facing the ocean. At the entrance of the property is an additional two-bedroom dwelling. A gym and garage are additional highlights of this one-of-a-kind property.

Harbour-View Waterfront Estate in Vaucluse, New South Wales, Australia

This private estate in the northern Sydney suburb of Vaucluse is set on a generous waterfront plot and offers sweeping views of Sydney Harbour.

To enjoy summer all year long, head “down under” during the northern hemisphere’s winter months. New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, features everything from a cool oceanic climate along its southern coast to the subtropical conditions of its northern beaches. This private, 17,943-square-foot landholding offers unobstructed views of Sydney Harbour, world-class boating amenities, and a coveted waterfront setting between Vaucluse Beach and Nielsen Park in Sydney’s northern suburbs. The European-inspired mansion was designed by architect Andre Porebski, with bespoke interiors by Thomas Hamel. The residence features magnificent reception rooms, casual living spaces, a chef’s kitchen, entertainer’s terrace, billiards room with cocktail bar, wine cellar, and wellness center with sauna and gym, office, and four-car garage. There are five en suite bedrooms and a self-contained guest house, owner’s wing, home office, and a four-car garage. The landscaped waterfront gardens lead to the heated pool, private jetty, slipway, boatshed, and 69 feet of waterfront and a deepwater mooring on Vaucluse Bay. Marinas and beaches, including Parsley Bay Beach, are all close by.

Villa Playa in Koh Samui, Thailand

Sunseekers will find refuge at Villa Playa, a sumptuous villa with a vast swimming pool on the edge of a white sand beach on the Gulf of Thailand.

Lush jungles, powder sand beaches, and cerulean seas are just part of the appeal of Koh Samui, a small island off the coast of Thailand. The island’s Buddhist temples and charming fishing villages add to the allure. The accommodations on the island include luxury beach resorts and private villas, such as Villa Playa, situated on a lushly landscaped plot just steps from the sand and sea.  The villa’s sleek, ultra-contemporary 3,552-square-foot interior includes five bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms, a fully-fitted gourmet kitchen, and a large open-plan living and dining area transitioning easily to outdoor living space. The spectacular owner’s suite, occupying its own wing across a landscaped terrace from the living area, has a living “green wall” over the bath. High-tech features include electric awnings, closed-circut TV, and solar panels. A spacious sundeck and a 59-foot pool with Jacuzzi are just off the seafront. All this is tucked away in a small gated community with 24-hour reception and security services just 15 minutes from Koh Samui Airport.

Pyramid Point in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

At Pyramid Point, a private beachfront compound on St. Croix, vast walls of glass invite ocean views and sea breezes into the minimalist interiors. The property has direct access to Shoys Beach, one of the finest beaches in the Caribbean.

The azure waters, white sands, and lush greenery of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands create the ultimate tropical escape. Pyramid Point, named for the seven pyramidal spires that define its design, is a private beachfront compound in St. Croix’s prestigious Shoys community, east of the historic town of Christiansted. Inside, six soaring, vaulted ceilings of African mahogany have skylights to welcome in natural daylight and starlit night skies, while a seventh creates a remarkable grand atrium. Minimalist decor harmonizes with the spectacular Caribbean backdrop; the living and dining rooms are surrounded on three sides by sliding glass doors that beckon ocean views and refreshing breezes. All bedrooms are all cross-ventilated, with walk-out glass walls to private patios. Three guest cottages provide five more bedroom suites, bringing the total to eight, and further development is permitted. Outside, a serene haven awaits, with covered terraces, lush native plantings, and a blue-tiled circular pool on a deck of silver-white granite imported from Sicily. Shoys Beach, one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean, is directly accessed from the property. Yachters can moor their craft nearby at the Green Cay Marina.

Coastal Escape in Inlet Beach, Florida

Florida’s Emerald Coast beaches are an idyllic escape for those seeking sun, sand, and seclusion. They are also the setting for this serene beach home designed for the indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

The Florida Panhandle, located in the northwestern corner of the Sunshine State, is famed for its white-sand beaches and emerald waters. The coastal community of Inlet Beach is one of the region’s most coveted beach towns. A luxury retreat there, aptly nicknamed ”Emotional Rescue,” offers three levels of airy, light-filled living space on a quarter-acre of landscaped grounds. Compactly designed for the indoor-outdoor beach lifestyle, it unfolds across 4,780 square feet of interior space, its elegant fixtures and finishes executed in shades of sand, cream, eggshell, and cool gray. With six bedrooms and eight full bathrooms, there are plenty of private spaces and balconies to escape from the world, all the way up to the rooftop sundeck and shaded lounge. At ground level, luxury amenities including a grand L-shaped pool with swim-up cypress bar and submerged barstools. Alfresco spaces also include an outdoor kitchen, gas firepit, whimsical surfboard shower, and a beach volleyball court lined with palms. A perfect family home or vacation rental, the property is moments from the pleasures of Rosemary Beach and its boutique shopping and dining.

Nature Lover’s Paradise in Loulé, Algarve, Portugal

This elegant villa is a sanctuary on the Algarve, yet it’s close to the region’s famous golden beaches and world-class golf courses.

Golden beaches, tranquil bays, and world-class golf courses are among the attractions of the Algarve. Portugal’s southernmost region is surrounded on two sides by the Atlantic, so it’s also a paradise for surfers. This opulent villa’s scenic setting in a pine forest makes it a nature lover’s sanctuary whatever the season. There are six luxurious en suite bedrooms, an open-plan living area, and a fully equipped chef’s kitchen. The extensive grounds include a beautiful cobblestone courtyard, a natural pond with waterfall feature, lush gardens with fruit trees, and a heated grotto-style pool with a resort-inspired artificial beach and pool house with kitchen and bathroom. There are multiple terraces for relaxation and entertaining, including one with a Jacuzzi and seating area arranged around a firepit. Peace and quiet linger here, within walking distance of the picturesque seaside town of Loulé, yet just a few minutes’ drive from Faro Airport.