The weather throughout the country has been strangely affected by one of the strongest El Niños in years. New York saw temperatures of 78 degrees Fahrenheit for Christmas Day, while Los Angeles saw a mere 37 degrees. Snow blankets the Western half of the country, while the Eastern half has recorded more record-breaking high temperatures in a month than it has in the past 100 years. All good reasons to travel. Then again, does one really need a reason?
Most folks travel in Winter to get away from, or at least to take a break from cold weather, or to take advantage of it at ski resorts. Eastern ski destinations are still suffering from warm temperatures, while some of the Western ones are snowed in with record-breaking snowfalls.
If you’re not into snow sports or cuddling in front of a roaring fire with a hot buttered rum or cocoa, the alternative is to go someplace warm and tropical. American destinations that fit that bill this year are pretty much limited to Southern Florida, though sea temperatures in Winter are not as good there as in more tropic climates.
Places like Antigua, Montserrat, Barbados, the Seychelles or Maldives are idyllic, safe and luxurious places with wonderful places to stay, swim, snorkel, scuba or sail. One of the really nice things about these island getaways is the generally consistent temperatures found there. The sun shines most days and rain storms are usually brief and refreshing. A visit to Montserrat in 2004 was a fun time that helped me lose weight – they have little junk food on the islands. Restaurants were all excellent and local foods were wonderful.
Of course, Australia and New Zealand are interesting, alluring, and wonderful places to go. Being summertime in the Southern hemisphere, they’re in season now for all sorts of great activities. Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland are all great places to go, with many things to see and do, and outstanding food experiences for the gourmet in you.
South Africa is also a great place to go at this time of year, as are Ecuador, Chile and Peru, where it’s Summer. Each of these have their own wonders and points of interest and relaxation. The food in each is unique, delightful and exceptional.
South America is making great strides in promoting its superb cuisine in recent years, so the most discerning gourmand will be in gastronomic heaven in Lima, Quito or anywhere down there. South Africa has also expanded its culinary repertoire, though it somewhat lags behind South America, but not by far. Nonetheless, each has its own individual experiences to enjoy and savor for a lifetime.
If you prefer domestic destinations, there’s one place that makes me feel right at home every time – Palm Beach. Calm, quiet, relaxing, and always refined, the city is nothing less than a treasure. The Breakers is my favorite hotel there, and despite the presence of star chef owned restaurants, I still prefer the casual elegance and superior food at Bistro Chez Jean-Pierre.
If you’re into steak, Palm Beach has one of the finest steakhouses I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at – The Flagler Steakhouse. The food was so good that when the server was about to take my plate he asked “Are you a surgeon?” When I said no, he responded “I’ve never seen anyone clean a steak bone as professionally as you did!” Yes, I left not a morsel of meat on that T-bone, simply because it was so perfectly cooked and deliciously flavored that to leave anything would be a crime.
I’ve been to Palm Beach many times, and stayed also at The Colonial and The Four Seasons but The Breakers is by far, the best. Despite the luxury, it really is a great place for families. Reservations for The Breakers and Bistro Chez Jean-Pierre are strongly recommended.
One South County Road
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Bistro Chez Jean-Pierre
132 North County Road
Palm Beach, Florida 33480