The sun. Life on earth could not exist without it. For eons, human civilizations have worshipped it. The sun god Ra was the most important deity to the ancient Egyptians. For the Greeks, Apollo and his flaming chariot crossed the sky each day. And in South America, the sun god Apu-punchau was believed to have been the ancestor of the Incas.
Our culture today is no less worshipful of the sun than our distant ancestors were, though our temples have taken on a slightly different ambiance. They now come in the form of all-inclusive resorts along miles of white sand beaches, boutique inns with infinity pools or eco hotels that surround you in a natural womb of luxury.
Sunny getaways aren’t just an indulgence for the beach worshippers. For those with dreary winter skies, the sun also provides an all-important dose of mood-lifting vitamin D.
Our well-traveled and highly experienced GOT contributors have dipped into their travel bags and have put together a global list of their favorite sunny getaways to inspire your next energizing luxury escape.
Best Sunny Getaways
The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
Nothing says luxury like Ritz-Carlton, and Aruba is an ideal destination for paradisiacal, sunny weather year-round. Not only does it have little precipitation, but also it’s outside of the hurricane belt.
Located on famed Palm Beach on a stellar swath of blindingly white sand and aqua sea, all of the 320 rooms of The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba have ocean views. The resort’s casino and spa are among the best on the island. On-site dining is excellent but opt for the Club Level for even more choices of sustenance. These include creative, complimentary food and drink offerings continuously served in a glassed-in lounge that affords surreal ocean vistas.
Service is top-notch as befits the Ritz brand, but it’s also fun, with beach servers delivering your order via Segways. The complex is mostly accessible for limited mobility, and it offers a complimentary beach wheelchair that can go right into the sea.
Susan Campbell, Issuu.com
Cape Town, South Africa
To mix history, wine and penguins into one luxurious sunshine getaway, consider Cape Town, South Africa. Stay at the elegant Clarendon Bantry Bay, where most rooms and suites feature a glass-walled balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Spend a day at the V&A Waterfront, a cluster of boutiques, sunny restaurant patios, craft markets, a Ferris wheel and other attractions, including the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Hop aboard a boat to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for 18 years; the former jail is now a thought-provoking museum. Tour Bo-Kaap, a multicultural neighborhood where colorful homes line the steep streets. Sip local wines at Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest winery, which dates to 1685.
And don’t miss the chance to see African penguins from a low boardwalk on Boulders Beach.
Laura Byrne Paquet, OttawaRoadTrips.com
You may have heard of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just north of Miami, but have you heard of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea? This gem of a destination is actually a barrier island just north of Ft. Lauderdale. Its miles of sandy beaches, shore diving, lobster season, and easy access to nearby tourist attractions make this enclave on the Atlantic highly desirable.
The charming downtown square packs a wide variety of food options into just a few blocks, from French crepes to sushi to Caribbean-inspired cuisine. A fun way to spend an evening, aside from the beachside option, is lounging in one of the colorful Adirondack chairs on the town square or at one of the pocket parks.
Small and cozy but with everything you need in 1.5 square miles, the Miami modern architecture, relaxed ambiance and gorgeous beaches of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea offer an opportunity to disconnect and step back in time. That’s a luxury we could all use more of.
Penny Sadler, Adventures of a Carryon
Nevis, British West Indies
For white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters, fantastic food, gorgeous accommodations and welcoming locals, head to the island of Nevis in the British West Indies. Pronounced NEE-vis, this hidden gem is the perfect sunny getaway for luxury 50+ travelers who want a posh and low-key destination that caters to discriminating tastes.
The luxe Four Seasons Resort Nevis is the only global brand on the island. Other lush accommodations include Relais & Châteaux properties and elegantly redesigned plantation homes. Cruise ships are not allowed, and the 11,000 residents like it that way. It’s easy to get around and there’s plenty to do.
Try a famous Nevis rum punch before a West Indian buffet and pig roast or a sunset barbecue on the beach. Visit natural hot springs. Explore art, music, food, nature, and more. As Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace, Nevis has a rich history too. Set sail for Nevis, relax, and enjoy.
Sue Reddel & Diana Laskaris, Food Travelist
Pass-a-Grille, St. Petersburg, Florida
There are many reasons to love Pass-a-Grille in St. Petersburg, Florida. Nestled between the gulf beaches and the bay, it’s a quaint and quiet island, a great place to relax. The town has cute shops and casual seafood cafes. There are no high-rise hotels, except for the Don Cesar, a historic hotel at the entrance to the island.
The best part of Pass-a-Grille is the proximity of the small inns or luxurious oceanfront homes (great for multi-gen trips) to the beach. In just a few short steps, you’re there. Or, if you like to cycle, it’s easy to rent a bike for an hour or two and pedal around the island.
Plus, according to the weather bureau, on average, there are 248 sunny days per year in St. Petersburg. And when the sun goes down, wow-oh-wow, the sunsets are absolutely picture-perfect.
Judy Freedman, A Boomer’s Life After 50
Although landing on the island’s tiny runway is a bit harrowing, St. Barth’s promises the ultimate in a sunny luxury getaway. This volcanic Caribbean island may be small—less than 10 square miles—but it’s big on posh places to stay. If you aren’t staying in a private villa, try Hotel Christopher, Le Sereno or Eden Roc. My favorite is the eco-friendly, laid-back Hotel Manapany set on the quiet, intimate Anse des Cayes bay. You can have an outfit custom designed here at the on-site atelier, Cedric & Rodolphe.
To catch those rays, visit one of the many white-sand beaches on St. Barth’s, which are all free and open to the public. A highlight of my stay was a picnic on Gouverneur Beach, where we drank rosé wine and swam in turquoise waters.
Jan Schroder, The Travel 100
St. Moritz, Switzerland
For those who love snowsports and crave sunshine, St. Moritz awaits. With more than 320 days of sunshine annually, this posh Swiss village blends world-class winter sports with five-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Host of the 1928 and 1946 Winter Olympic Games, St. Moritz offers four meticulously groomed, non-contiguous alpine areas. Complementing these are the Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails and winter walking and hiking trails. All surround frozen Lake St. Moritz, where Champagne flows during winter polo matches and horse races.
St. Moritz has attracted A-list celebrities and royals since 1864, when hotel proprietor Johannes Badrutt promised well-heeled guests that if they didn’t enjoy the hotel in winter, he’d reimburse their travel costs. Five-star, castle-like Badrutt’s Palace remains one of St. Moritz’s top properties; expect historical elegance, discreet service, and a full-service contemporary spa. The hotel’s six restaurants include the Michelin-starred Igniv by Andreas Caminada. And, the pampering begins with three Rolls-Royces available for transfers, including a 1968 Royce Phantom once owned by Queen Elizabeth II.
Hilary Nangle, Maine Travel Maven
Tuscany in Southeast Asia, Thailand
Wine harvest in winter? Your choice of Western or homestyle Thai cuisine? Award-winning crémant? A visit to GranMonte Winery and Guesthouse in Thailand’s Asoke Valley answers a resounding “Yes!” to these questions.
The family-owned winery nestles in a valley adjacent to Khao Yai National Park that has a microclimate akin to that of Italy’s best-known wine region. Guests can join the January sparkling-wine harvest party or February grape-picking tours, and year-round, cycle on paths bordered with frangipane, tour the winery, or settle in with a book on a veranda overlooking vineyards.
Eight guest rooms are comfortable and well-appointed, and the restaurant serves elegant meals and a range of fine wines. GranMonte arranges a shuttle service from Bangkok on request and advises on nearby attractions. A stay here can be active or idle. For my husband and me, it was a Thai experience out of the ordinary.
Anita Breland, Anita’s Feast
Villa Del Palmar, Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Villa Del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto in the southernmost part of the Baja Peninsula of Mexico is an ideal spot for a warm-weather luxury getaway. In an area where the desert meets the sea, you can enjoy impeccable service surrounded by natural beauty. You’ll be challenged by the TPC Danzante Golf Course, where you can golf with a stunning clifftop view. Or, just while away the hours on a beachfront hammock.
The resort has five swimming pools (including adults-only pools), a full-service spa, and a natural beach where you can snorkel, kayak, SUP, or catch a boat for a day trip through the Islands of Loreto, an area that is a Marine National Park and World Heritage Site.
And when you are fully rested, take a shuttle van into the historic town of Loreto, where you can shop and visit the museum. Top off your afternoon with a margarita and traditional food in an outdoor restaurant, and you’ll know why I’d love to return.
Elizabeth R. Rose, Wander With Wonder
Exotic Zanzibar is the epitome of paradise. Floating in the Indian Ocean 15 miles off the coast of East Africa, the island’s idyllic, iridescent turquoise beaches often appear on the covers of glossy magazines and top beaches on world lists.
Zanzibar has a rich history as a colony and trading outpost, and offers an eclectic mix of African, Indian, Islamic, and European culture and cuisine. Stone Town, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital, is the heart and soul of the island. Winding alleys meander past minarets, ruins of the Old Fort constructed in 1699 by Omani Arabs, a former sultan’s palace, intricately carved doorways, and the vibrant Darajani souk.
Over-50 travelers will love the all-inclusive Kilindi Zanzibar Resort, the most luxurious place to stay in all of Zanzibar. Originally designed for ABBA’s Benny Andersson, Kilindi boasts 15 secluded, white-domed pavilion guest suites set in 50 acres of oceanfront and tropical gardens for the most romantic ambiance imaginable.
Patti Morrow, Luggage and Lipstick
All photo credits by authors (unless otherwise noted); lead photo credit: Pixabay
Save to Pinterest!