The Winter Trips You Need to Take

Five ways to take full advantage of this special time of year.

by Ellis Harman

From dogsledding in Megève to whale watching in Maui, embrace the beauty of winter with these memorable trip ideas.

Snow-dusted landscapes, cosy fires crackling in the hearth, a crisp chill in the air: Winter is a magical time to explore new destinations. Here, five ways to enjoy the best of the season’s adventures, both indoors and out, at Four Seasons properties around the globe, with expert tips from our staff members.

Enter a real-life winter wonderland when you explore the ice castles in Dillon, Colorado, a perfect day trip from Denver.
Enter a real-life winter wonderland when you explore the ice castles in Dillon, Colorado, a perfect day trip from Denver.

ICE CASTLES IN COLORADO

One mile (1.6 kilometres) above sea level in the Rocky Mountain metropolis of Denver, you’ll discover a well-kept secret: This urban retreat offers something for everyone all year long – whether that’s fly fishing and hiking in summer or skiing and snowshoeing in winter.

One can’t-miss adventure: Exploring the Ice Castles in Dillon, Colorado, about an hour from Four Seasons Hotel Denver – perfect for a day trip. “It’s an icy winter wonderland crafted by local artists using more than 25 million pounds of ice,” Concierge Annie Spencer says. “It’s filled with igloos, ice sculptures, tunnels and slides. And it really comes to life after sunset, when the numerous caverns are backlit by beautiful, festive lights.”

Back at the Hotel, warm up at the Spa with restorative treatments like a deep-tissue massage featuring anti-inflammatory evergreen oils and a body wrap that uses avocado butter and high-altitude honey, rich in live enzymes.

Four Seasons Hotel Denver

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Let a team of energetic Greenland dogs pull you across the snow-covered terrain.
The quaint town offers another way to enjoy the wintry scenery.

SLEDDING IN MEGÈVE

Tucked away in the French Alps, Megève offers easy access to the slopes of Mont d’Arbois – one of the best wintry playgrounds in the world. “It’s is one of the largest ski resorts in France, but it also offers the most to do, besides skiing, of any French resort,” says Chef Concierge Margaux Pfeiffer of Four Seasons Hotel Megève. “The medieval village is beautifully preserved and exciting to explore, and the town is home to three Michelin-starred chefs – not to mention the unique dining on the slopes.”

The Hotel’s Ski Concierge will have your gear ready and waiting in the Ski Room, if you prefer to tackle the day’s fresh powder. But for the most thrilling run, Pfeiffer says, turn to man’s best friend. Specifically, a team of energetic Greenland dogs – a husky-type breed known for its strength and endurance – perfect for pulling you across the snow-covered terrain on a sled, accompanied by a professional musher. Afterward, return with the dogs to their farm, just a few hundred metres from the Hotel, to play with the frisky pups and help with daily activities like feeding and grooming.

For more Alpine adventures, climb aboard one of the Hotel’s electric snowmobiles – the first in France. You’ll glide through newly fallen snow in the pine-tree forests before returning to the Hotel for a warming après-ski glass of mulled wine, best enjoyed in front of a crackling fire.

Four Seasons Hotel Megeve

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Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia blanketed in snow Photo courtesy of Alamy Stock Images
Peruse Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, among the largest indoor markets on earth. Photo courtesy of Alamy Stock Images

SOAKING AND SHOPPING IN TURKEY

Visitors flock to Istanbul – the most populous city in Europe – to explore world wonders like the sixth-century Hagia Sophia and the circa-1616 Blue Mosque, with its shimmering blue tile interior. But come December, when the temperatures hover around 46 degrees, you might find the lines disappearing as the city is 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 feel the same. And we love to offer hot chocolate and warm winter drinks by the fireplace.”

Before getting cosy at the Hotel, housed in a 10th-century Ottoman palace, make your way to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world, where you’ll find more than 4,000 shops peddling wares like jewellery and naturally dyed textiles. Then, wind down the day with an authentic Turkish bath experience, whether at a local favourite like Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami, built in the 16th century and home to one of the largest Hamam domes in Istanbul, or with the “Hammam Moments” treatment at the Hotel Spa.

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus

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Hop aboard a glowing fibreglass fish at the SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
The youngest in your brood will love ice-skating at The Rink at Brookfield Place. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Escape the cold with a few laps at the Hotel‘s opulent indoor pool. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

HOLIDAY CHARM IN NEW YORK

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 the 30 glowing fibreglass fish, illuminated with LEDs that change colour. Afterwards, head back to the Hotel. “Our indoor 75-foot pool is an urban oasis for those looking to escape the cold,” Nguyen says.

Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

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The winter months are prime whale-watching season in Maui.
Whether aboard a boat or in a helicopter, there are many ways to spot humpback whales in Maui.

WHALE WATCHING IN MAUI

Looking for warmer temperatures this winter? Make like the humpback whale and head to Maui. Every year between December and May, the island’s most beloved visitors flock to its warm waters to calve and nurse their young. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is perfectly positioned to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures in action – whether aboard a kayak, an outrigger or a helicopter. Sometimes there’s even a sighting from the Resort’s Serenity Pool.

“Maui is fabulous any time of year, but the winter months are absolutely magical,” Chef Concierge Sam Wilhelm says. “Witnessing whale behaviours up close is truly transformative.” For an enhanced whale-watching experience, Wilhelm recommends a boat tour with fine-art photographers and brothers Dan and John Cesere – part of the Keiki Kohala research team, dedicated to preserving Maui’s waters as a whale sanctuary. You’ll return to shore with lifelong memories and expertly captured images to show for it.

And while you can’t actually swim with the giant whales, you may be able to hear them during a special in-ocean massage offered by the Resort’s Spa. The Wai Vari water treatment therapy is performed by specialized massage therapists in the tropical waters; at the height of the season, guests are likely to hear the whales singing during the session, a magical (and utterly relaxing) moment you won’t soon forget.

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

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