Forget Italy, California, or even Hong Kong. There are new foodie getaways that offer uniquely unforgettable vacation experiences. From Israel to Portugal these are places boasting unparalleled hotels, restaurants, spas, and sights. Whether you’re looking to travel with your family, a friend, a significant other, or even alone, be prepared for some serious Zen enlightenment… and lots of Instagram envy.
For a look at how you can turn something into nothing look no further than Israel. Two spas have transformed desert stretches into nothing short of an oasis. First head to Mizpe Hayamim, a rustically luxurious hotel located on a 35-acre organic farm. It’s a haven for local celebrities looking to get in shape for the red carpet.
The retreat is located between Rosh Pina and Safed and features a spa, swimming pool, and panoramic terraces overlooking Galilee. While there’s no denying the appeal of pampering time in the spa, the piece de resistance here is a farm tour. You’ll never see such pampered animals again—right down to the organic food they are fed. As for the farm practices the most basic, biblical-inspired techniques are used and you’ll no doubt be awe-inspired by what they are able to do with a dry, hot, hilly land.
The food is out of this world. All of the dishes—and there are dozens upon dozens—are prepared using produce picked on the property just hours before the dishes are served. Expect plenty of salad and vegetarian dishes, but also a wide selection of organic pasta, locally made cheeses, fish and meat, along with a long table of freshly baked breads, cakes, chocolates, cookies, dried fruits (dried on their roof without added sugar or preservatives), and ice cream (also made fresh daily).
Israel’s other unforgettable spa is the Beresheet Hotel—known for their plush pool located smack in the middle of the desert. That’s right an outdoor pool in the middle of the desert with nothing besides sand, rocks, deer and other animals in sight for miles and miles. Located in the Negev Desert, Beresheet is, like Mitzpe Hayamim, about a two-hour drive from Tel Aviv. While the hotel offers cycling tours, jeep tours, camel rides, walking, bike rentals, rappelling, hot air balloons, and more outdoor pursuits most people opt to relax by their pool, which is located on the edge of the towering cliffs that slope down into the Ramon Crater. The hotel’s unique location (800m above sea level) guarantees cool, comfortable weather all year round. And out of the 100 rooms, 40 boast small private pools. Here too the food is exceptional. Ingredients and produce come from small, local farms and there’s a focus on fresh and organic. You can opt for a bed and breakfast option or half board, and, of course, there’s a spa with a solid list of pampering options.
Easily one of Europe’s most underrated cities, you can’t walk a single block in the Austrian capital that won’t leave your jaw dropped given the architectural beauty. The Viennese have gone to great lengths to meticulously restore everything that was destroyed in World War II and every block is lined with intricately detailed buildings. Culturally rich the city is the birthplace of Klimt, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Mozart and many more making it a go-to for museum, opera, ballet, and classical concert lovers. It’s also Mecca for foodies.
You can afford to splurge on accommodations because it’s very easy to eat a delicious meal for just a few euros—cafés serving pastries, the freshest of fresh breads, and small bites abound. With that said there are two luxury standouts. First the Palais Hansen Kempinski, which may be historic, but it’s modern and finished with all the latest amenities. They also have a spa and large fitness center and their lobby lounge is always bustling. The Kempinski is, deservingly so, known around Vienna for offering the best buffet breakfast (and it’s served until 2pm on weekends!). Even if you don’t stay at the spacious hotel, you must opt to try their lavish morning spread. The central location is also key as Vienna is very much a pedestrian city. In the same vein The Ritz, equally central in location, is home to its very own Guerlain spa, boasts the largest pool in Vienna, a large fitness room, and an incredible executive lounge complete with Austrian-inspired small bites and desserts served throughout most of the day. Their Asprey bathroom amenities and hospitable service are just a few more touches that make it a worthy splurge.
Both hotels are also located next to key attractions. You’ll want to make a point to head to Hotel Sacher to taste their famous Sacher torte and to the Hotel Imperial, a go-to for politicians and dignitaries, their cafe serves some of the city’s best pastries including their own Imperial torte. Lastly the world famous Demel serves strudels, cakes, chocolates, savory bites and arguably the city’s best espresso. What other city can offer you a torte tour of this caliber?
Wherever you opt to stay make sure to carve out enough time for one night at Relais & Chateaux Taubenkobel. The 12-room hotel is located just 40 minutes outside of Vienna and is home to a 2-star Michelin restaurant of the same name. Over the course of about four hours expect somewhere around 15 dishes that put Per Se to shame—and at only 118 euros it’s nothing if not a reasonable price. The quaint hotel also has a more casual restaurant, where breakfast is served, and throughout the day it sells chocolates, cakes, snacks, and savory bites (including a steak that could make a vegetarian reconsider their food choices).
While at Taubenkobel head to nearby Gut Oggau, a biodynamic vineyard about 10 minutes from the hotel. Run by a husband and wife team, the duo make their high-end wines (sold at restaurants like Noma), all on their own in a hands on operation (they stomp the grapes by foot!). If you plan in advance they should have time to guide you through a one-on-one tour and tasting making for a truly unique, unforgettable experience.
Move over Mykonos, Capri, and St. Tropez… Portugal is the newest destination for the glitterati. The vibrant city is a paradise for those seeking athletic pursuits, as well as foodies, avid shoppers, and spa enthusiasts. For the ultimate in luxury start your trip in Lisbon at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. Not only are the rooms unbelievably spacious, they have one of the world’s top fitness facilities including an outdoor track, a dedicated boxing room, a dedicated pilates studio, a pool and more. Better yet the facilities have sweeping city views. In addition to a spacious lobby complete with indoor and outdoor dining, lounges, and bars, they have a spa and are located just stets away from the city’s main attractions and shopping areas.
While the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is undeniably the city’s most enviable hotel option, carve out some time to head to Algarve, two hours from Lisbon. Once there check into Vila Vita Parc a luxury resort located along the famous coastline. While there is much to explore outside of the resort, odds are you won’t want to leave. Lush greenery, beach-side relaxation, multiple pools, countless cafes and restaurants (including one with two Michelin stars), a gourmet buffet breakfast, and spa pampering, Vila Vita Parc also has a gym where you can work off the day’s foodie indulgences as well as golf, surfing, and a variety of other active pursuits.
Where are you heading to beat the Long Island winter?