With its sparkly, snow-dusted landscapes and cosy fireside nights, winter is a magical season to travel. Here, five surprising places to enjoy the best outdoorsy and indoorsy escapades of the season – plus pampering après-activity ideas to warm up with – at Four Seasons properties around the globe, with tips from expert local Four Seasons staffers.
Colorado locals don’t want to reveal the secret, but winters are fairly mild and sunny there, on average, even if they’re snowy. “Colorado is the ideal place to enjoy the winter months,” says Four Seasons Hotel Denver Concierge and Front Desk Manager Joern Howind. One of his favourite recommendations: Frisco Adventure Park, about an hour and a half from Denver – ideal for a day trip. “They have a great tubing hill that’s perfect for families and the young at heart, plus snowshoeing and sleigh rides,” he says.
In Denver itself, Howind recommends ice skating at Skyline Park, just a short walk from the Hotel, and the Denver Botanic Gardens: “It’s another favourite winter destination of mine for their ‘Blossoms of Light’ annual display. Over one million lights will be twinkling in the holiday-themed gardens, with holiday treats and hot cocoa along the way. This is especially enchanting (and romantic) after some fresh snow has blanketed the city.” Back at the Hotel, warm up at the Spa with restorative treatments like Dead Sea mud wraps and rosemary and sage body scrubs.
Four Seasons Hotel Denver
Santa Fe’s reputation as a red sandstone high desert is well deserved – but the landscape is every bit as eye-popping in winter. The snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains are about 20 miles from town, and viewed from the city’s altitude of more than 7,000 feet (2,100 metres), skies are impossibly clear – the better to take in the fuchsia sunset. But for Ismar ‘Izzy’ Uzicanin, the Manager of Adventure Programming at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, winter means one thing: snowshoeing.
“It allows you to experience the distinct serenity of a winter walk in the woods, but without the hassle of trudging through deep powder,” Uzicanin says. “With one of our guides as your companion, you’ll float atop the pristine snowpack in the domain of the ponderosa pine, blue spruce and Douglas fir and learn about the importance of the dormant winter months in alpine forest ecology. After you’re done with your adventure, you can enjoy a uniquely New Mexican red chile–infused hot chocolate.” Another must-do: the 75-minute Hot Stone Pedicure in the Resort’s spa, which rubs away any lingering exhaustion from your calves and feet with warm river stones.
Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe
The most populous city in Europe is chockablock with world wonders – from the sixth-century Hagia Sophia to the circa-1616 Blue Mosque, with its shimmering blue tile interior – that can often be packed with tourists. But come December, when temperatures hover around 46 degrees, you may find the lines disappearing . . . and the city dusted with fresh snow.
“As staff members, we love to take pictures and capture our beautiful city wearing its white dress,” says Sibel Benli, Director of Public Relations and Communications at
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus. “I think our guests also feel the same. And we love to offer hot chocolate and warm winter drinks by the fireplace.” Before you get cosy in the Hotel, which is housed in a 19th-century Ottoman building, attend to a couple of Turkish delights. One is the Grand Bazaar, among the largest indoor markets on earth, containing more than 4,000 shops. The other: an authentic Turkish bath experience, perhaps at Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam – built in the 16th century, with one of the largest Hamam domes in Istanbul.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus
Chestnuts roasting on street corners, shop windows glitzed out for the holidays – is there anything more intoxicating than New York in the winter holiday season? “This is the most magical time of the year to be in New York City, and Lower Manhattan is definitely the place to be,” says Sandy Nguyen, Core Manager at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. “Unique holiday markets and restaurants line the streets of the Seaport District, Tribeca, SoHo. Our youngest guests love to ice-skate at The Rink at Brookfield Place near our Hotel, overlooking New York Harbor.” Also nearby: the SeaGlass Carousel at Battery Park, where you can ride any of 30 glowing fibreglass fish, illuminated with LEDs that change colour. Afterwards, head back to the Hotel to imitate fish yourselves. “Our indoor 75-foot pool is an urban oasis for those looking to escape the cold,” Nguyen says.
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown
The idea of a Russian winter calls to mind frosted cityscapes and twinkling shop windows – and the real thing is even better. “St. Petersburg is so charming during the winter months,” says Olga Kachalova, Chief Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg, set within a 19th-century royal palace. She loves recommending the just-restored ice rink at New Holland and troika rides (horse-drawn sled) through Catherine’s Palace Park.
But one of her favourite winter activities is back inside. “Traditional Russian banyas [saunas] include steam, a treatment by a bath-tender with birch brooms, ice font and then soap massages, all of which detox, cleanse and create a positive mind-set in the body,” Kachalova says. “We arrange a special banya visit for our guests to Verkhnie Mandrogi, which sits on the bank of the Sivr River and is only accessible by sleigh.”
Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg
Your Journey Begins Here
Where will you choose to spend your favorite season?