Well, the holiday season is officially behind us and our bank accounts are nearly empty thanks to Christmas shopping and New Year's Eve revelry. And the many "I'll worry about that after the holidays" tasks are now upon us and looking pretty daunting. But, all of this means that we've made it to 2016 and, like most years, we're determined that this will be the best one yet. We've written up our list of New Year's resolutions to make sure that it is.
Since "travel more" is one of ours (and probably one of yours, too -- after all, it is the ninth most popular resolution every year), we've decided to kill two birds with one stone and come up with a list of 10 cool places around the world that are the perfect locales for jump-starting your New Year's resolutions. From a yoga retreat in Costa Rica to a culinary school in California, here are our top picks for 2016.
Practicing yoga is a great resolution; it's wonderful exercise and helps to clear your mind and calm your nerves. And this hotel is a great spot to do it. Asia meets Costa Rica at Horizon Ocean View Hotel , run by an Israeli couple, Gali and Yoav. The walk-up setting (good for the glutes!) offers stunning Pacific Ocean views from the tea house, where healthy fare is served from the organic garden. And there is a wooden yoga deck for daily classes: Sivananda and/or Vinyasa, and sometimes Pilates.
The closest hotel to the Golden Gate Bridge, Cavallo Point has a cooking school that many would say is the closest to culinary heaven and it is continuously ranked as a top spot to learn how to cook. The culinary school offers cooking classes as well as demonstrations, where large flat-screen TVs allow all students to get up close and personal. To help keep your resolution to be healthy, the school is offering a "New Year’s Resolutions: Wholesome Foods" class on Saturday, Jan. 23 for $85 per person.
We often are our own worst critics, and too frequently we judge ourselves or hold back on things because we're scared, we lack confidence, or we're worried about what others will think. In 2016, let go of all of that and release your inhibitions! If you really want to take this resolution to heart, head to the Cypress Cove Nudist Resort, where you have nothing to hide (seriously). This 84-room property caters to families who practice a nudist lifestyle, so you don't need to worry about standing out for a lack of clothing. Open since 1964, there are clearly some parts of the property that could use an update, but rooms are modern enough and there's a nice spa.
"Stay fit and healthy" is the most popular New Year's resolution, according to a Nielsen Study in which 37 percent of participants said that is their focus at the start of each year. The best place for this is Canyon Ranch in Tucson. Probably the world's best-known wellness retreat, Canyon Ranch features scenic hikes, daily wellness classes, fitness assessments and activities like tennis, rock climbing and ropes course. Menus are focused on health and nutrition.
Haramara is arguably one of the most special hotels in Mexico. It is a luxurious yoga retreat located on 12 seaside acres of wild vegetation outside Sayulita. The structures have been built using traditional construction techniques to minimize the environmental impact, and there is no electricity anywhere besides the restaurant and the yoga studio -- not even in the rooms, which also lack Wi-Fi and have very limited cellphone reception. Each room is housed in a private standalone thatched hut with no window panes or screens separating it from the jungle, and only gauze curtains and mosquito nets protect guests from bugs and critters.
Guests come to Costa Rica's upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism and re-connect with nature. The 16-bungalow lodge sits amid 1,000 acres of rainforest filled with wildlife (nearly 2.5 percent of the world's biodiversity can be found here), but -- with a ocean view pool, an excellent restaurant, and luxe rooms -- it's far from a no-frills jungle camp. This is a place to get in touch with nature without roughing it. A typical stay here features sightings of several types of monkeys, a sloth or two, bats, Jesus Christ lizards, a hefty selection of 300 species of birds, colorful starfish, hopping frogs and, of course, endless insects (it is the rainforest after all).
You won’t find a more kid-friendly resort on the island of Turks and Caicos than Beaches, so it's a great place for the family bonding you hope to facilitate this year. Spending more time with friends and family comes in fifth in the results of the Nielsen survey. With 10 pools, a beautiful beach, a 45,000-square-foot water park, an Xbox Games Garage, a Sesame Street kids' camp, and even a DJ-spinning academy, the hotel is determined to rule out any inklings of boredom. Numerous villa and suite options are available so you can soak up as much family time as possible.
"Spend less, save more" also makes the top 10 list, but that doesn't mean you need to sacrifice travel -- "enjoy life to the fullest" ranks above it and we consider travel part of that. So why not take a road trip to an awesome, budget-friendly destination? Virginia's Williamsburg, a historic gem, is a doable drive (six hours and five hours, respectively) from both New York City and Charlotte and just about two hours and 40 minutes from Washington D.C. Located less than a mile from Colonial Williamsburg and 10 minutes from Busch Gardens, the mid-range Hampton Inn caters to tourists on a budget. Rooms feature mini-fridges, microwaves and comfy beds. There aren’t many bells and whistles, but a free breakfast buffet, indoor pool, and modern fitness center make it a good value.
Twelve percent of those surveyed said they hoped to read more in the new year; fortunately, there's a hotel in NYC basically dedicated to making that resolution a reality. A homey, 60-room, literary-themed boutique, the Library Hotel is located down the block from the famous Public Library and Midtown East's corporate skyscrapers. There are six rooms per floor and each is devoted to a theme within one of the larger classifications -- say, love, romance languages or psychology. The hotel features a unique reading room on the 2nd floor lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and fresh orchids on each table; guests can come at any hour to curl up with a book.
We saved the best for last. A new year is the perfect opportunity to try something new; to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to experience something different and extraordinary. This can be accomplished by any sort of travel, whether you're visiting a new city one-hour away or booking a spur-of-the-moment transatlantic flight. We're guessing that Iceland is on the bucket list for a solid number of you. If you're seeking adventure, ION Luxury Adventure Hotel is a great pick. Just getting there necessitates an adventure via a 4x4, and from the remote property guests have access to spectacular natural sights like glaciers, volcanoes and lakes.