This petite island in the French West Indies – once the whisperingly private enclave of Rothschilds, Rockefellers and artists the likes of Twyla Tharp, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lauren Hutton – has become increasingly popular, with a seductive allure more powerful than ever. More villas dot the densely developing hillsides, more traffic certainly beep-beeps in Smart Cars and rusted Mini-Mokes, more epicurean bistros vie for your dining euro, and more breathlessly gorgeous, size-two French girls saunter the beaches seemingly unaware of their wow factor. Known as the trendy Caribbean destination for glamourazzi and celebrities, St. Barts actually provides an experience that is natural, uncontrived, elegantly casual and serene. It’s a safe, magical, warm and welcoming place. Whether you see yourself as Uma Thurman or Ugly Betty, being on St. Barts translates into losing inhibitions, stripping pretenses and inhaling confidence. The French call it bien-être – the state of well-being – and it can be addictive.
Getting away from it all has never been more real than it is at Musha Cay at Copperfield Bay in the Bahamas, where ,250 a day gives you and up to 12 guests a private island with five homes and access to 11 other small private islands. The five homes range from a 10,000-square-foot space on the crest of Musha Cay’s hill to the romantically secluded one-bedroom thatched-roof cottage on its own stretch of private beach. Visitors can access the 11 islands via a fleet of small boats. All meals and beverages are included; for parties of 13-24, an additional ,500 per-person, per-day charge is added, although no more than 24 guests can stay at Musha Cay at one time. The resort’s most magnificent attraction emerges for only a few hours each day?a sandbar that extends for more than two miles into the sea with water lapping at both sides. (www.mushacay.com)
If you still haven’t decided how to spend New Year’s Eve 2009, consider an intimate dinner in Hong Kong, hosted by an expert in local cuisine, followed by a private cruise in Victoria Harbor, complete with a rooftop pyrotechnic show involving more than 40 buildings on both sides of the harbor. The evening’s festivities are part of the premier stop on Abercrombie and Kent travel company’s private jet trip through Asia and the South Pacific, leaving Seattle on December 27, 2008, and returning to Los Angeles January 19, 2009, with stops in Hong Kong, Hanoi, Siem Reap, Bangkok, Bora Bora, Australia, and Tahiti, feasting on local cuisine along the way. The “Southward from the Peak” trip offers 52 guests a seat on the 757-200ER jet, which flies from city to city. Abercrombie and Kent will tailor activities at each destination, arranging access to ruins from the Khmer Empire, a private botanical garden in Australia’s tropical rainforest, and a performance of classical Apsara dancers during a poolside feast in Cambodia. Accommodations throughout the trip include Hanoi’s Metropole Hotel, the Oriental in Bangkok, the St. Regis in Bora Bora, and the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. The trip is ,350 per person, assuming double occupancy. (800.554.7094, www.akprivatejet.com)