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Top 7 Destinations for Winter Sunshine

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

The long, dark night of winter solstice is behind us, but the short, dark days of early 2022 can try even the sunniest of souls. Surely springtime and summer are just over the horizon—but it still feels like an eternity before they come. So, rather than await them here in the Northern Hemisphere, why not go meet them in sunny places 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 Turks and Caicos or in sun-soaked Florida, or a far-flung escape to the jungles of Costa Rica. So let the patient planet tilt its northern faces slowly back to warmer days and ways. For the moment, though, let’s follow the sun.

Cascade Villa in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

There are more than 40 islands and cays in the Turks and Caicos archipelago. The largest is Providenciales, home to Grace Bay Beach, which forms part of the Princess Alexandra National Park barrier reef—one of the best places in the world to scuba dive. Blue Mountain, on the central north coast of the island, is the setting for Cascade Villa. The 9,800-square-foot, six-bedroom home by architect R.A. Shaw uses crisp angles and striking white exteriors to complement the tranquil, turquoise seas. Six generous bedrooms feature outdoor showers and private balconies with panoramic ocean views. A modern chef’s kitchen, open-air grill, and wet bar allow for easy entertaining indoors and out. The pool is spectacular: A narrow strip of water joins Its two distinct geometric forms to access the swim-up bar. The upper pool cascades down the walls of a staircase into wading pools below. Four matching white pitched-roof gazebos provide the shade, and there is an outdoor kitchen for alfresco dining. Another staircase accesses a third deck with a large sitting area around a fire pit. Steps away are the sugar white sands of Babalua Beach.

Highland Beach, Florida, sited on a barrier island along the northern shores of Boca Raton, is an exclusive coastal enclave of unspoiled beaches, upscale shops and restaurants, and lavish oceanfront estates, including this grand 16,582-square-foot mansion formerly owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. Inspired by the villas of Cap d’Antibes, France, the stone and stucco residence is set in an acre of lush, landscaped grounds bordered by 120 feet of Atlantic shoreline. A two-story rotunda encased in Macedonia stone opens to the grand salon, with its double-height wall of windows overlooking the infinity pool and the sea. Within the north wing is a formal dining room, gourmet kitchen, two catering kitchens, family room, wine room, club room, and VIP suite. The south wing houses a wood-panelled oceanfront office/library, guest suite with private poolside loggia, and eight-seat screening room with bar. A private elevator rises to the primary suite. Three additional guest suites, all with balconies, round out the upper floor. The lower level is dedicated to the luxury wellness center with sauna, massage room, and a gym with juice bar, a pageant room with stage, six-bay auto museum with workshop, and an air-conditioned, eight-bay garage. The luxury continues outside with a resort-style infinity pool, a grand loggia with grilling station and fireplace, oceanfront guest suite with terrace, and lawned gardens leading down to a beachfront observation deck.

Apsara on Old Fort Bay, New Providence, Bahamas

Apsara in Old Fort Bay, New Providence, is a boater’s paradise with 150 feet of waterfront and a private beach and 150 feet of canal frontage. The glitz and glamour of Nassau is just 30 minutes away.

The 700 islands and 2,400 cays of the Bahamas are fringed by coral reefs and azure seas. The archipelago begins at Bimini, just 45 miles off the coast of Miami, and stretches southwest for 500 miles to the islands of Great Inagua and Little Inagua. Nassau, the capital, is on the island of New Providence. On the western shore of the island is the private waterfront community of Old Fort Bay, which surrounds a restored 18th-century fort built by the British to fend off pirates. Apsara, a stunning beachfront villa spans a one-acre sea-to-sea parcel with a private beach and 150 feet of canal frontage. This luxurious eight-bedroom, 10-bathroom home offers 18,500 square feet of living space under roof and 12,600 square feet of outdoor space. Oversized sliding doors with impact-resistant glass allow a seamless transition between the interior and exterior spaces. A koi pond, outdoor steam room, infinity pool, private sandy beach, and a protected dock with boat lift and boathouse are among the home’s resort-style amenities. The property also includes a two-bedroom guest/staff suite, two-car garage, elevator, and generator.

Villa Rose in Lurin, Saint Barthélemy

Villa Rose is a tropical escape overlooking verdant hillsides and azure waters above Gouverneur Beach on the paradise island of Saint Barthélemy.

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. Gouverneur Beach, on the southern cape of the island, is a picture-postcard white-sand cove. It’s rumored that the notorious 17th-century buccaneer Captain Montbars, “The Exterminator,” buried his stolen treasure in a hidden cave nearby. In the hills above the beach stands Villa Rose, a serene hilltop compound designed by architect François Pécard. The property is at one with its lush surroundings. The Italian-style kitchen, dining room, and airy living room with vast glass doors are connected via a covered terrace bordered by a Japanese-style pond, mirror pool, and sun deck facing the sea. A palm-lined path through the gardens leads to the private quarters, housed in three separate pavilions, all with private pools, sun terraces, and covered sitting areas. The decor, a blend of beautiful wood finishes, white tones, and minimalist furniture by interior designer Catherine Pawson, lends to the atmosphere of chic, laid-back luxury.

Casa Chameleon at Mal País, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Secluded with the jungle canopy, Casa Chameleon is a piece of paradise between the surfing mecca of Santa Teresa and the Cabo Blanco Nature Preserve on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.

The Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is one of seven Blue Zones (areas of the world in which people live exceptionally long lives). It’s also an international wellness destination. Among the area’s holistic resorts is Casa Chameleon at Mal Pais, a luxury wellness retreat envisioned to create a balance with nature. This lush tropical oasis, situated between the surfing mecca of Santa Teresa and the Cabo Blanco Nature Preserve, could also be reimagined as a private family compound or corporate retreat. The property comprises 10 elegant villas, each with a private swimming pool, open-plan living areas with glass walls and verandas to capture the sea and jungle views, and gardens alive with native flora and fauna. ​​Accessible only by 4×4 vehicle, the property is secluded under a rainforest canopy with the sandy shores just beyond. Nearby is the coastal town of Mal País, as well as two international airports, medical centers, and English-speaking private schools.

Reef House on Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Set into a gently sloping verdant oasis overlooking the ever-changing blues of the elite Eustatia Sound and neighboring Necker Island, Reef House on Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, is an exclusive island retreat for those dreaming of a luxurious escape from the everyday.

Virgin Gorda, the third-largest island in the British Virgin Islands is internationally renowned for its powder-sand beaches, hidden coves, and world-famous Baths, a boulder-strewn beach on the southern end of the island. On Virgin Gorda’s eastern tip is Oil Nut Bay, an ultra-exclusive beachfront community accessible only by boat or helicopter. Reef House is built into a palm-clad hillside with uninterrupted vistas of Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island and Eustatia Sound. The pod-style layout ensures maximum privacy for residents and guests. Four separate bedroom suites have private bathrooms (with indoor and outdoor showers) and private balconies. The heart of the home is the great room: Its floor-to-ceiling windows take in the surrounding islands and tropical reefs. It looks onto a veranda with a spectacular heated infinity lap pool with tiki huts at either end, one for sitting and relaxing, the other for outdoor dining. Adjacent is the chef’s kitchen, equipped with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances. The cozy media room has a full bathroom, and doubles as a children’s bedroom. The property is offered fully furnished with pieces sourced from around the world—and includes a 40-foot boat slip.

Villa Shanti in Phang-Nga, Thailand

This spectacular beachfront villa in the Phang-Nga province of Thailand is set within idyllic tropical gardens with panoramic views of the Andaman sea.

Tropical rainforests, white sand beaches, and cerulean seas with coral reefs and limestone karsts are just part of the appeal of Thailand’s Phang-Nga province. Furthering the allure of this beautiful region on the Andaman Sea are luxury beach resorts and private villas, such as Villa Shanti, situated just steps from the sand and sea. Villa Shanti features five contemporary Thai-style pavilions housing six elegant en suite bedrooms, a spacious “Great Room” for lounging and dining, a family room, and a vast modern kitchen. The indoor and outdoor living spaces balance comfort and simplicity with rich teakwood features, crisp white lines, and lush gardens that reflect the rural landscape of the region. The pavilions are all connected by a series of walkways leading toward an immense garden interspersed with soaring coconut palms and views of the Andaman Sea. A stylish, black-tiled infinity pool sits at the center of the estate, with breezy covered living spaces either side for elegant alfresco dining poolside, or massage treatments by the beach. Villa Shanti is an idyllic setting for special events and comes fully staffed with a villa manager, attendants, and a live-in chef.