5 International Escapes from Miami

The terrace at Casa Palopó overlooking Guatemala's Lake Atitlán.

Looking for an escape from 2017 already? Here are five far-flung getaways in Europe, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.


1. Slide into the Swiss Alps

Gstaad Palace in the Swiss Alps.

Nestled in the Swiss Alps, the chic, chalet-lined village of Gstaad has been a playground for the rich, famous and royal for over a century with illustrious visitors ranging from the British Royal Family to French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and a bevy of American movie stars. Madonna is a regular.

Standing sentry on a hilltop overlooking the picture-perfect village and cradled by rugged mountain peaks, Gstaad Palace was built in 1913 as the area’s first luxury hotel and it’s been the center of this glitzy social scene ever since.

With two distinct seasons: winter (mid-December to mid-March) and summer (mid-June to mid-September), the great outdoors is the main attraction in Gstaad.

In winter, hit the slopes with elevations as high as 6,500-feet. In summer, hike through lush green trails to Schönried.

Of course, make time to visit the village’s luxury shops from Moncler to Hermès, and dine at Michelin-star restaurants like Leonard’s and Chesery.

The après-ski scene is just as sought after in Gstaad as skiing itself with the Palace’s GreenGo nightclub amongst the hottest in town.

Current rates at Gstaad Palace from $1,130 per night. Flights to Zurich on Swiss Air from $1,228.

How far away: 9 hour nonstop flight to Zurich + 3 hour train ride to Gstaad.

Pro Tip: Spend a night or two at Hotel Widder in Zurich.

2. Medieval Times in Croatia

With its chalky white limestone facades and orange terracotta tile roofs dating back to the 11th century, Dubrovnik’s Old Town cuts a striking profile against the crisp, emerald Adriatic Sea. The spectacle extends to the dramatic and otherworldly Elaphiti Islands and Pelješac Peninsula with their rolling hills piercing the horizon.

Croatia was part of one of the most complex and bloody civil wars of the modern era with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and the Croatian War of Independence, fought from 1991 to 1995. Today, though, it leads a peaceful existence bordered by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro.

With Italy just across the Adriatic,  Venetian influences can be felt in everything from the city’s famed Medieval architecture to its food. All of this makes it a popular destination, especially from May to August.

The luxurious, newly renovated boutique Hotel Kompas is found in a tranquil and chic residential neighborhood positioned around Lapad Bay, about a 15 minute drive from the walled city of Old Town.

Current rates at Hotel Kompas from $84 per night. Flights to Dubrovnik from $705.

How far away: 13 hour flight to Dubrovnik with connections.

3. Ancient Incas & Machu Picchu

Views from Machu Picchu. Photo by Eduardo Gonzalez.

The 153-room JW Marriott El Convento Cusco embodies a piece of Peru’s Pre-Inca history by restoring a 16th  century San Agustin Convent to create the luxury hotel. Located just two blocks from Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s historic main square, restoration unearthed Killke remains (a style of pottery distinct from those characteristic of Inca), a ceremonial burial site and a chapel.

The hotel preserved these findings with portions of the original Inca walls integrated into the design, a cloister arcade encircling a central courtyard and archeological exhibitions on view.

Machu Picchu accessible by train from Cusco via Inca Rail. There’s plenty to explore on a day trip, but intrepid travelers may wish to embark on a two- to four-day hike with an expert guide.

Current rates at JW Marriott Cusco from $189 per night. Flights on American from $952.

How far away: 10 hour flight to Cusco with connection in Lima.

4. Eternal Spring in Guatemala's Highlands

A guest room at Casa Palopó on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán.

Perched in Guatemala’s highlands, the seven-room boutique hotel Casa Palopó overlooks Lake Atitlán from the village of Santa Catarina Palopó.

Formed by an ancient volcanic caldera that plunges 1,000 subaquatic feet into the earth, the lake spreads 10 profound miles, its shores surrounded by volcanic peaks with elevations as high as 11,600-feet.

Known as the country of eternal spring, everything is in bloom along the lake where the diverse indigenous Mayan culture still thrives in villages like Panajachel, San Marcos La Laguna, Santiago Atitlán and San Juan La Laguna where day trips by boat and car can be arranged.

Each village has its own unique identity, dialect and trademark woven textiles still worn by Mayan women today. Agriculture, like coffee, avocados and corn are grown widely throughout the region and the rich biodiversity makes for excellent hikes to scenic vistas and ancient sites. There are also opportunities to meet Mayan shamans and artisan women who run their own cooperative businesses.

Current rates at Casa Palopó from $299 per night. Flights on American from $508.

How far away: 3 hour nonstop flight to Guatemala City + 3.5 hour drive to Lake Atitlán.

5. Jamaica Me Crazy

A villa at Jamaica’s Tryall Club near Montego Bay.

Perched on a cliff a half hour’s drive from the Montego Bay airport, Tryall Club is an all-villa club and resort spanning 2,200 acres. With 75 villas to choose from, it’s set on a golf course and private beach anchored by The Great House where you’ll find tennis courts, a restaurant and swimming pool.

The sprawling resort is a world unto itself and each villa offers has its own character, style and interior design motif, although similarities are found in pitched cathedral ceilings with shingled roofs, louvered shutters and breezy indoor/outdoor floor plans.

With a dedicated private chef and waitstaff at each of the 75 villas, dining experiences are one-of-a-kind.

Rates at Tryall Club from $5,000 per week. Flights on American from $234.

How far away: 2 hour nonstop flight to Montego Bay.