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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 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.

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.

Waterfront Estate in Fort Myers, Florida

The coastal city of Fort Myers, Florida, is the setting for this magnificent waterfront estate, which includes a fully furnished Palladian-inspired residence, two acres of landscaped gardens, and two private docks with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Fort Myers, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, has long been a favored vacation destination since Thomas Edison and Henry Ford built their winter retreats along the Caloosahatchee River (their respective estates, Seminole Lodge and the Mangoes, are now a historical museum and botanical garden). Among the draws of this attractive coastal city are its white sand beaches and nature preserves, including Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, Manatee Park, and the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (on nearby Sanibel Island). One of Fort Myers’ finest estates is this magnificent Palladian-inspired residence on two waterfront acres. A long granite driveway introduces the property, which is fully gated and accessed through two private roads. An homage to the Palladian aesthetic of symmetry and balance, the fully furnished, four-bedroom main residence abounds with artisanal details and luxury appointments. The resort-style amenities include indoor and outdoor home cinemas, a gym, elevator, 2,000-bottle wine cellar, 65,000-gallon mosaic-tiled infinity pool, 16-person spa, and a car collector’s garage. The grounds are styled as botanical gardens with exotic fruit trees and 200 plant species. Two docks offer access to the Gulf of Mexico.

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.