Next stop: Europe. As the year draws to a close, we can think of nowhere else we would rather be than cosied up next to the fireplace, sipping on a mug of hot chocolate and enjoying the winter holiday in the Northern Hemisphere. Close your eyes and picture yourself strolling along the festive Christmas markets, fairy lights twinkling overhead as the first fall of snow slowly drifts down. What a wonderful world indeed.
With the list of countries in our Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme ever-increasing, there is no better time to put your two years’ worth of belated travel plans into action. The requirements may vary across countries, but for the most part, all you need is a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test to enjoy a quarantine-free trip to the destination of your choice (provided that it is on the list of VTL countries, of course). That said, we recommend that you check up on the latest updates before finalising your plans.
Having spent the last Christmas stuck on our sunny island, a change of scenery is surely in the books for some of us. Which European nation is your destination of choice? From the snow-covered grounds of the Scandinavian region to the popular ski slopes of the Swiss Alps, where will you choose to ring in the year-end festivities? As we count down to the end of 2021, finish the year on a good note with a pampering experience at one of Europe’s top spas. From Kempinski The Spa to Ultima Spa and even the world-renowned Six Senses Spa, wellness is very much on the menu as we ready ourselves for what the new year will bring.
As Michael Bublé croons, “a beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.” Without further ado, here are Vogue Singapore’s top picks for a luxurious winter getaway.
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Finland: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind as you travel to the edge of the wilderness for a stay at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. Boasting one of the most pristine and untouched environments anywhere in the world, experience nature at its best with clean air and water that is sure to rejuvenate your senses. The real joy comes about at nightfall, when you lay back in your Glass Igloo to admire the twinkling sky and the northern lights dancing overhead. Often touted as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s easy to see why Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort deserves a place on your bucket list.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Kiilopääntie 9, 99830 Saariselkä, Finland.
Contact: +358 16 667101
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Discover the charm of Northern Europe with Treehotel. Leave the stresses and demands of everyday life behind as you venture deep into Sweden’s forests and into this landscape hotel. Rooms here are suspended four to six metres above ground, offering unspoiled views of the Lule River valley. If you are lucky, you’ll even see the dazzling aurora borealis in all its vivid glory. Seven treehouses make up the hotel, with each room vastly different from the next. From Mirrorcube, a 64 metre-squared cube covered in reflective glass, to Bird’s Nest, a room swathed in large branches to resemble that of its namesake, trust us—a stay here is unlike any other.
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Germany: Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden
A luxurious retreat in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden offers a unique blend of five-star luxury and Bavarian charm at a cool 1,000 metres above sea level. The unspoiled beauty of nature takes centre stage here, with each of the hotel’s 138 rooms and suites offering an opulent glimpse of the Berchtesgaden valley. Picture verdant hills in the summer, and snow-capped peaks in the wintertime. Regardless of the season, you are in for a treat with the hotel’s panoramic views. Complete your stay with a visit to Kempinski The Spa, an experience that promises a journey of relaxation and wellness inspired by the four seasons. From a refreshing Summer Bliss Balancing massage to a soothing Winter Warmer Energizing treatment, there is something here for everyone, regardless of the time of year.
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Italy: Rosa Alpina
Offering unparalleled access to the Dolomiti Superski, Rosa Alpina is the indulgent stay for those looking to conquer Italy’s Dolomite slopes. Each of the resort’s 52 rooms and suites is individually decorated with local antiques, a reflection of the region’s charming hospitality. Foodies would recognise Rosa Alpina for its three-Michelin-starred Restaurant St. Hubertus. With a philosophy of ‘Cook the Mountain’, expect regional dishes that convey the beauty and vivid character of the surrounding mountains. Only local and seasonal ingredients are used here, a move that saw the acclaimed restaurant be one of 13 recipients to be awarded a Michelin green star as a recognition of its sustainable gastronomy. We can’t wait to pay a visit to this Italian wonderland.
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Spain: Hotel Val de Neu
Located in the heart of the Baqueira Beret ski resort, each of Hotel Val De Neu’s 120 rooms has been carefully designed to offer stunning views of the beautiful Pyrenees Mountain range. Feast your eyes on the less travelled and untouched side of Spain, from the vast alpine meadows of Val d’Aran to the many ibóns dotted along the Pyrenees. After the day’s activities, unwind with a hydrotherapy session at the hotel’s thermal circuit. With underwater jets, cold water wells, steam baths and more, get the rest you deserve–all complete with views of the glacial Ruda Valley.
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France: Ultima Courchevel Belvédère
Ski to new heights with the newest property from Ultima Collection—Ultima Courchevel Belvédère. Opening this December, pamper yourself with the full Ultima experience, complete with a dedicated ski butler, massage therapists, transfers to Courchevel 1850 and access to their famously extravagant breakfasts. In need of some rest and relaxation after your skiing adventures? Look no further than the resort’s Ultima Spa. With two spas, two swimming pools, a state-of-the-art hammam, jacuzzi and sauna spread across the wellness centre’s 350 square meters, expect only the best from the newest addition to the slopes of Les Trois Vallées.
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Switzerland: Alpina Gstaad
Comfort, privacy, artistry and tradition combine for the perfect winter escape at Alpina Gstaad. Located comfortably on the hillside of Oberbort, your stay begins with magnificent views of the Bernese Alps and the Saanenland. Pay a visit to the Six Senses Spa, the only one in the country, for a reinvigorating experience. To truly take your vacation to the next level, a reservation at one (or both) of the hotel’s Michelin recommended restaurants is a must. For modern French cuisine inspired by flavours of Italy, Southeast Asia, and South America, check out the one-Michelin-starred Sommet. If you prefer classic Japanese fare, you can’t go wrong with Megu–Michelin recommended and widely acknowledged as Switzerland’s top Asian restaurant. A-listers George Clooney and Madonna are known to be habitués of this resort and we can clearly see why.
Alpina Gstaad, Alpinastrasse 23, 3780 Gstaad, Switzerland.
Contact: + 41 33 888 9888 / [email protected]