From the magical City of Light to the crystal-blue waters of the Maldives, our editors reminisce about their best-ever winter getaways.
These magically merry destinations are so heavily adorned for the holidays that you might as well be visiting the North Pole.
The City of Light is downright luminescent come Christmastime, with every corner seemingly touched by Kris Kringle. Strolling the streets was dazzling, whether we were window shopping along the twinkle-light-lined Champs-Élysées, poking around the multiple Christmas markets or marvelling at the elaborate displays at the Galeries Lafayette (which almost rivalled the panoramic view from the roof). When we tired of shopping, we sipped Champagne on a dinner cruise along the Seine, indulged in arguably the world's best hot chocolate at Angelina and burned the calories off touring museums and dancing in our seats at the Crazy Horse cabaret (whose stage was reproduced for Beyonce's “Partition” music video). It's true that Paris feels like one of the most romantic places on Earth—even when you're there with a bonne amie. —Sara Cation, senior features editor
Photography: Daniel Thierry/ParisTOuris Office (Galeries Lafayette)
I first travelled there two years ago with my husband's family (my mother-in-law has been going since she was a kid). I fell for its rocky beaches, salty ocean air, lobster rolls and the annual Christmas Prelude, which kicks off with a tree-lighting ceremony, followed by 10 days of merrymaking. Shops dish out apple cider, the holiday-hat parade is a hoot and Santa rolls in on a lobster boat. This year will be the first time our daughter—who's now two and a half—will be able to truly delight in this place (and grow up to love it as much as her baba does). —Amanda Etty, health & fitness editor
Photography: Maine Office of Tourism
The holiday light displays and exterior decor are simply elegant, featuring white lights and evergreen wreaths with red bows.
Photography: Kharri Tarvainen
Childhood dreams come to life in this winter wonderland on the Arctic Circle, where Santa and Mrs. Claus summer with their favourite elves and 190,000 reindeer roam free. My seven-year-old daughter, Maddie, was equally enamoured with meeting the “celebrity couple,” dogsledding, watching the northern lights dance across the sky and playing in the snow. My highlight was seeing how happy she was. —Ann Marie Favot, home & style director
Photography: Kharri Tarvainen (Snowy cottage)
From November to May, the region is covered in about a metre of snow…and Maddie couldn't get enough of it. She didn't ever seem to get cold!
New York City, New York
Photography: Will Steacy
Maybe it's because I grew up watching Home Alone 2, but visiting New York City over the holidays feels so right. There are the traditional sights to be seen—the happy couples skating at Rockefeller Center, the extravagant window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue, the snow-topped trees in Bryant Park—but the entire city is magical. I visited my S.O. there last year during a glorious snowfall and have the warmest memories (despite how cold and wet we were!). We went to all the clichéd destinations, and along the way, we stopped to do some shopping (hello, Sézane!) and eat decadent meals (Balthazar with its festive trimmings is so dreamy). But my favourite part? Going back to his place to warm up and share a bottle of red, a cozy blanket and lots of laughs. —Renée Reardin, senior digital editor
Photography: Julienne Schaer
While I was there, we strolled through the most magical snowfall, where oversize confetti-like snowflakes made everything glisten.
Though it's the best time to give to others, the holidays are a time to indulge yourself as well. These editors gifted themselves a bucket-list trip they—and the loved ones lucky enough to accompany them—will never forget.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Photography: One&Only Resorts
I've always been fascinated with Dubai's reputation for decadence and over-the-top architecture (remember how the Burj Khalifa surpassed the CN Tower as the world's tallest freestanding structure in 2007?)—and I justified this luxe trip as the ultimate gift to myself. After a crazy-busy year in my new role at Canadian Living (and the 13-hour flight from Toronto, which I only survived thanks to Emirates Airlines' business class!), the soothing elegance of the palatial One&Only Royal Mirage resort was a welcome respite. From the sweeping view of the private coastline from my room to the spectacular service (there's a pool attendant who offers sunglass cleaning), perfection abounded. A short boat ride across the bay took me to the equally opulent One&Only The Palm. A calm oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Dubai, the resort is so spacious it feels empty even when it's at full occupancy. The best part? My beautiful bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom itself. —Erin McLaughlin, editorial director
Must-do: I treated myself to the ultimate indulgence at The Palm: a hammam-inspired Désert d'Orient body treatment at the Guerlain Spa. Merry Christmas, me!
Photography: One&Only Resorts (Swimming pool)
Known for over-the-top luxury, Dubai didn't disappoint—especially when I laid eyes on this incredible 850-square-metre swimming pool.
Beverly Hills, California
Photography: Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau
This storied city has been a dream destination for me, characterized by Old Hollywood glamour and beautiful weather (“swimmin' pools, movie stars…”). Maybe those ideas come from TV, books and movies, but I can honestly say that the reality doesn't fall short. The vibe is casual chic, the people friendly, the stores epic and the palm tree–lined streets are actually drenched in sunshine. And combining my favourite time of year with my favourite vacation spot? Well, that's just the tinsel on my tree. —Suzanne Moutis, executive editor
Photography: Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (Restaurant)
Sipping a cucumber martini at The Rooftop by JG in the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is a sublime way to wind down.
Whistler, British Columbia
Photography: Maria Cuglietta (Ziplining) & Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler (Gondola)
Marrying adventure with relaxation, Whistler is ideal for me. Where else can you zip-line through snow-capped evergreens (it's not as cold as you think!), barrel down an Olympic bobsleigh track (it's the good kind of terrifying, I swear), snowboard endless backcountry powder (and enjoy the best mountain views), unwind at a Scandinavian spa (hot, cold, relax, repeat) and cozy up to a fireplace with wine in hand…all in the same day? In this snow-covered paradise, that's where! —Elaine Song, digital content director
Must do: Even if you don't ski or snowboard, Whistler Blackcomb's Peak 2 Peak Gondola is a must. The highest lift of its kind, it holds the Guinness World Record (and links two lodges, where you can calm your nerves with a cocktail).
EXITS TO EDEN
Sick of this cold Canadian clime? Head to sun and sand for a great escape that'll ease the strain of this snowy season. Paradise, ho!
Maldives, South Asia
Photography: One&Only Resorts
Who could have imagined that the two things I'd love most about my dream trip to the luxurious One&Only Reethi Rah resort in the Maldives would be the bicycle I rode along the manicured beach and the Hawksbill turtle I snorkelled alongside on a shallow reef in the crystal-blue Indian Ocean? That's not to say that this island oasis wasn't amazing in every other way—because it was. Every single detail, from the over-water yoga pavilion to the seaside canopy beds, was a relaxation dream come true. I never wanted to leave. —Erin McLaughlin, editorial director
Photography: One&Only Resorts
Must do: Make a dinner reservation at Botanica and ask to be seated inside the Orchid House, where you'll sit surrounded by hundreds of colourful orchid plants. Don't forget to order from the innovative gin menu.
Saint Lucia, Caribbean
Photography: Saint Lucia Authority
Saint Lucia is one of those places where you have to continually pinch yourself to see if you're dreaming. I went with a group of strangers, but we became close by the end. How can you not foster friendships when sharing fresh guava and coconut water from the side of the road, striking yoga poses in front of picturesque waterfalls, painting mineral-rich mud on one another in the world's only drive-in volcano and stopping traffic to get the perfect picture on the streets of a quaint colourful village? It's an idyllic holiday destination because the only gift better than paradise is new pals. —Sara Cation, senior features editor
Must-do: Visit Stonefield Villa Resort for its incredible cuisine, stunning view of the Piton Mountains and proximity to the charming town Soufrière. It's got the country's best all-in-one stunning spot!
Photography: TheCuriousCreature/Instagram.com (Sara) & Stonefiled Villa Resort (Pool)
What's more soothing than the sounds of a waterfall? Here I am, sun-kissed and blissed out at Diamond Falls.
Ojochal, Costa Rica
Photography: Alexandra Donaldson
Two years ago, my now-husband and I took a vacation in lieu of an engagement ring. We started on the coast, where we ate plates of beans and plantains in Jacó, admired the scenic drive along the Pacific Coast and ended up at an incredible eco-lodge overlooking the ocean. Secluded in our jungle oasis, we spent days swimming in natural pools, hiking to a deserted beach and watching each amazing sunset with a cocktail in hand. I'd take that over a ring any day. —Alexandra Donaldson, fashion & beauty editor
Photography: Alexandra Donaldson
Our holiday tradition is to share experiences instead of buying gifts.