Wonderful Resorts to Escape to this Winter


Four Seasons Resort Oahu.
A private cabana at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu.

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

It took the Four Seasons nearly two decades to find the best location for its Oahu property and the search was worth the wait. With a $250 million resort transformation that took 18 months, the hotel now occupies the location of the erstwhile classic Ihilani, designed by famed architect Edward A. Killingsworth in 1993. Killingsworth’s other buildings include Kahala Hilton (1964), Kapalua Bay Hotel (1977), Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows (1983) and Halekulani (1990). Situated on one of the four pristine lagoons of the Ko Olina Resort, this new high-end Four Seasons shares a crescent-shaped white sand beach with Disney’s Aulani resort.

EAT Mornings start with the famous over-the-top Four Seasons buffet breakfast, offering fresh island fruit, dim sum, miso soup and other treats. Sunday’s more opulent Brunch for All Seasons includes lobster and prime rib along with a mimosa and bloody mary bar. In December, Michael Mina will be taking over Fish House, the signature open-air restaurant with views of the Pacific from every table. Diners can expect Mina’s usual culinary magic, incorporating the freshest ingredients from local organic farms, ranches and fisherman.

FIT Besides the fitness center and beach path fronting the property, Four Seasons Oahu’s #FSWayfinder program offers many unique opportunities for guests, including hula lessons and a signature guided hike with Kumu Hula Laakea Perry to the remote Kaena Point, which features tidepools large enough to float in as well as significant cultural points historically rich enough to give you chicken skin, as the locals say.

Paddleboarding near the Four Seasons.

SPA Given the proximity to the spiritual and deeprooted Hawaiian culture of Oahu’s West Side, Naupaka Spa employs a team of authentic lomilomi practitioners who will introduce you to the true essence of this ancient healing art form. A series of treatments during your stay is highly recommended.

DON’T MISS The Yamaguchi Salon, with visits by celebrity stylist Billy Yamaguchi, is famous for his feng shui approach to beauty. Yamaguchi teaches around the planet and runs one of the top salons in Southern California, in addition to being on property every month and available to Four Seasons guests.

PROPERTY DETAILS The resort features 370 rooms (most with full ocean views), three pools with private cabanas available, five restaurants and bars and an elegant spa with yet another pool. Beach activities and gear rentals are offered on site as well as sun-shaded lounges with amenities on the beach. Guests can also enjoy tennis courts and the Ko Olina Golf Club and Ko Olina Marina. Ocean view rooms start at $775.


Wailea resort
An ocean view cabana at Wailea.

Wailea Beach Resort

The newly refreshed Wailea Beach Resort has quickly become a favorite with families, groups, and couples. For years this Marriott property was known as the value spot in Wailea, surrounded by uberluxe neighbors, and with a $519 starting rate, it can still be considered priced comparably for the location. Because it is on the site of the area’s first hotel — built in 1973, before setback laws — its restaurant and guest rooms are closer to the ocean than any other lodgings on this side of the island. And since it’s in the middle of the famed Wailea Beach Path, guests can easily stroll to surrounding properties.

EAT A pioneer of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, chef Roy Yamaguchi created Humble Market Kitchin, an open-air luxe eatery, as an ode to his grandfather Henry, who immigrated to the islands, pulling inspiration from various local cuisines — Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, native Hawaiian — to create an internationally influenced, Hawaiian-inspired menu.

FIT On the 2.1-mile beachfront path, guests can walk, jog, jump in the water and swog (swim jog) on Wailea Beach. For more focused workouts, the gym is packed with state-of-the-art equipment.

SPA For anyone seeking wellness in Wailea, it would be a crime not to partake in the Wailea Spa Crawl. All the participating spas are world-famous award-winning stress busters. At Fairmont Kea Lani, the signature experience is enhanced with the three Hawaiian Rain Experience Showers and the Pālolo (mud) bar and a heated stone mud bench and foot bed. The Four Seasons spa is known for excellent therapists, and the Aquacranial treatment, which happens in the ocean, is a standout. Spa Grande at The Grand Wailea is the largest spa in the state, with 40 treatment rooms in a 50,000-square-foot facility, and features the exclusive Healing Waters of Maui treatment, plus such aquatic offerings as a Roman tub, saunas, Swiss jet showers, a Japanese furo, and five specialty baths. The Wailea Beach Resort has the Mandara Spa, inspired by the island traditions of Bali. And the award-winning Awili Spa and Salon at Andaz Maui at Wailea is famous for its apothecary-style spin on the traditional Japanese spa experience.

DON’T MISS Family fun here includes the longest slide on the island (325 feet); the Kolohe (translates as rascal) Keiki Club for little ones; GameSpace, a teen (and up) venue with foosball, billiards, shuffleboard, and vintage arcade and Xbox games; and Movie House, with a 90-foot screen, thunderous surround sound, beanbag seating for 60 and cinema snacks.

PROPERTY DETAILS Set on 22 beachfront acres, the resort has 47 guest rooms and 56 suites, four restaurants, a Starbucks, four pools with optional private cabanas, and a fitness center. Rooms start at $519.



Comal at Chileno Bay.
Comal at Chileno Bay.

Chileno Bay Resorts and Residences

Opened in 2016, Auberge’s newest Baja California property, Chileno Bay Resorts and Residences, provides all the luxuries guests have come to expect from the Mill Valley-based group, plus a distinctly warm-yet-modern Mexican flair. A quick 20-minute drive from its sister hotel Esperanza, the resort boasts fine dining, loads of on-site activities and rejuvenating spa treatments, all next to one of Cabo’s most swimmable beaches.

EAT Whether you choose to indulge on vacation or are committed to preserving a gym-wrought body, Comal’s menu satisfies a range of cravings and desires. Helmed by chef Yvan Mucharraz, formerly of the French Laundry, the restaurant highlights innovative Latin American cuisine, from duck carnitas to the lighter cauliflower “steak” romesco, with panoramic views of the Sea of Cortez as the backdrop. Designed by Los Angeles firm Gulla Jonsdottir Architecture + Design, the three-level indoor-outdoor space also includes an oceanfront bar serving artisan cocktails plus a raw bar with fresh local seafood.

FIT Chileno Bay’s tranquil waters are a great setting for first-time paddleboarders regardless of season; more adventurous types can ride one of the resort’s sea bikes. Both boards and bikes are available at the property’s equipment center. ClassPass holders will appreciate the many fitness center group activities — TRX, yoga, pilates, and spinning, it has them all. Golfers aren’t left out either: the Tom Fazio–designed Chileno Bay course is exclusive to members and resort guests only.

SPA The Spa in Los Cabos draws inspiration from the healing traditions of the Baja region, including handcrafted treatments infused with natural elements. Lifelong sun worshippers are invited to turn back the clock with a Blue Agave Sun Renewal massage; the head-to-toe signature service combats the harmful effects of overexposure. Meanwhile, the Spa Journey beckons to those looking to totally zen out. Starting with a mist alcove and ending in a reflexology pool, the experience includes time in the aromatherapy steam room, ice fountain and salt inhalation room. Spa guests can also make use of amenities like outdoor sanctuary gardens, a hydrotherapy pool or open-air treatment rooms for true Baja bliss.

DON’T MISS Lounge poolside in one of the resort’s five private pool bungalows. Located alongside the adult pool, the bungalows feature views of the three-tiered infinity-edge pool and Chileno Bay. But here’s the real draw: bungalow reservations also get you foot massages, oxygen shots, sunscreen and lotions, a minibar and bottle service along with an array of games.

PROPERTY DETAILS All 60 guest rooms and 32 villas have private terraces with ocean, pool or garden views, as well as spacious bathrooms with deep freestanding bathtubs and private outdoor showers. Villas also have plunge pools. Rooms start at $675.


Thompson Playa del Carmen.
Rooftop view at Thompson Playa del Carmen.

Thompson Playa del Carmen

Situated in the middle of buzzworthy Riviera Maya, the Thompson Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue Building is a chameleon — it’s both party central and a sanctuary on the city’s main drag, La Quinta Avenida. A favorite with bachelor and bachelorette crowds drawn to the vibrant nightlife scene, the hotel also has a more demure side, evidenced by half-submerged pool loungers and an intimate spa. A more low-key vibe prevails in the Thompson’s cozier Beach House down the street.

EAT For a taste of Manhattan sophistication there’s no better bet in town than Catch. Much like its Meatpacking District location, the restaurant features globally influenced, locally sourced fare served family-style. Dishes here include bourbon-miso black cod lettuce wraps, crispy whole red snapper for two, and grilled and raw items. As of this past summer, Catch also offers brunch — waffle towers and cinnamon roll pancakes — plus made-to-order bloody marys, Aperol spritzes and micheladas. Over at the Beach House’s C Grill, diners will find wood-oven-fired seafood, ceviche and other regional favorites.

FIT There are myriad ways for the active traveler to stay on track with fitness goals. Guests have access to stand-up paddleboards, diving equipment, a 24-hour fitness center, bikes, and beach yoga classes. Off-property and just outside the city, you can get physical by exploring Tulum’s ruins and snorkeling in the cenotes.

SPA Ever dreamed of getting pampered without having to leave the bed? The Thompson is here to fulfill that dream. Guests seeking utter relaxation can book a series of massages and spa treatments in-room, on-terrace or in-cabana.

DON’T MISS The Fifth Avenue building’s rooftop deck provides 30,000 square feet of resort-quality pool features. In addition to cabanas, submerged daybeds, and an in-water living room, an infinity pool stretches the length of the property for an entire city block.

PROPERTY DETAILS The building, including its 92 guest rooms, was designed by Mexico City-based team Niz+Chauvet. Modern touches like whitewashed panels mix with indigenous stone; room numbers are accompanied by the corresponding Mayan number. All 27 Beach House suites have a private balcony, midcentury furnishings, and hand-pressed Guadalajara tiles and stone. The Fifth Avenue Building rates start at $229; Beach House’s rates start at $309.


San Diego

Rancho Valencia

Tucked into the lush greenery and rolling hills of Rancho Santa Fe, this hacienda-style retreat feels like a Garden of Eden, dotted with casitas and bungalow suites, whispering fountains, hand-painted tiles and terra-cotta, olive and citrus groves, bird-of-paradise, eucalyptus copses, and reflecting pools, with hot air balloons floating above at dusk. A $30 million renovation completed five years ago and five-star service ensure luxury at every turn.

• EAT Farm-to-table reigns here with healthy delicious eats, whether it’s a spa lunch of sashimi or kale salad by the pool, slow-pressed green juice post-yoga, rustic American cuisine and craft tequilas in the Pony Room bar or elegant Mediterranean-inspired plates in the restaurant Veladora, further enhanced by Damien Hirst’s butterfly artwork.

• FIT With 95 classes to choose from per week, RV is a fitness haven. Top-notch trainers, TRX classes, spin, reformer, and mat Pilates, barre, power sculpt, meditation and Qi Gong are all on offer here, and the open-air Yoga Pavilion with its reflecting pool and surrounding gardens is the most exquisite place to do downward dogs in all of San Diego.

• SPA This spa wows with tiled plunge pools, hidden hot tubs, fountains and thickets of greenery, offering everything from honey-and-goji-berry facials, citrus body polishes, sexy firelit couples’ massages, and divine Natura Bisse products from Barcelona.

• DON’T MISS The Wellness Collective: three, five- and seven-day preventive programs based on the cutting-edge science of epigenetics. Intimate workshops and enlightening lectures, designed by the LifeWellness Institute of San Diego, focus on fitness, attitude, nutrition, toxicity, sleep, stress, connection, meditation and more.

• PROPERTY DETAILS Southern Cal’s only Relais & Châteaux property sprawls over 45 acres with 49 guest casitas, a private three-bedroom hacienda with its own pool, and 12 villas. Guests enjoy a world-class spa and tennis program, a cabana-lined pool, alfresco and fireside dining, and a private wine cave. Rooms start at $639.


Beach vila at Hotel del Coronado.
Beach vila at Hotel del Coronado.

Beach Village At The Del

Coronado’s iconic Hotel del Coronado has been a seaside wellness retreat since opening back in 1888, and its swanky Beach Village ushers in the modern with a private enclave of villas and cottages just steps from the sand. Peppermint-striped cabanas speckle the exclusive beach club; private chefs, personal shoppers and concierge hosts stand ready to indulge every whim; and a 1905 beach bungalow, once home to the Duchess of Windsor, welcomes Beach Village guests as the private social and dining hub.

• EAT Grab a fresh smoothie, latte or hot breakfast at the charming Windsor Cottage, or dine there by the fire pits at sunset enjoying a seafood tower of lobster, shrimp, oysters and snow crab. Savor gourmet Baja-style eats by the pool or champagne-laced afternoons in your cabana. For white tablecloth dining, head to 1500 Ocean, where chef Patrick Pontsay whips up memorable coastal cuisine.

• FIT Start the day with Beach Spin on the Paseo Lawn and keep an eye out for dolphins frolicking in the surf. Don a mermaid’s tail for an aquatic aerobics class, or salute the sun during a beach yoga session. Explore the island on a bike, stand-up paddle in the marina, or charge some waves out your front door. Burn some serious calories during a beach boot camp workout with a personal trainer.

• SPA Lounge by the infinity pool at the Del’s main spa after your “Some Like It Hot” Stone Massage — a nod to the Marilyn Monroe classic film shot at the hotel. Or indulge in an ocean pedicure or Swedish massage in the privacy of your Beach Village cabana.

DON’T MISS A private chef experience for a romantic dinner on the sand with a custom menu, wine pairings and crafted cocktails; or a family clambake followed by s’mores and spirits under the stars with crashing waves as the soundtrack.

PROPERTY DETAILS The 78 airy, bright cottages (one, two and three bedrooms) have ocean views, lavish comforts and thoughtful design echoing the seaside vibe. Guests can enjoy three private pools, hot tubs and high-tech cabanas. Some cottages have private plunge pools and state-of-theart full kitchens. Rooms start at $799.


This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Escape and Explore”.

Mimi Towle

Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.