Skip to content

Feeling the Christmas Heat

It hit 38 C (100 F) in Toronto this July. And that’s before the humidex (it’s a Canadian thing—if you’re American, you have the heat index) pushed it up to something otherworldly like 49 C.

I know it’s taboo to think of winter in the midst of our too-short ever-sweet summers, but my mind couldn’t help but stray just a little bit toward thoughts of snow—and Christmas. And where the heck am I going to go for Christmas, anyway? Realistically, I’ll be neck deep in trip planning, chained to a chilly desk. But if I could slip away for a week or two, these are the places that would be on my wish list:

South Africa 
Spectacular summer (remember those southern hemisphere seasons) sunshine, warm seas, coastal breezes. Blend a dash of safari with epic food and wine in Cape Town, and slather a spoiling of supreme hotels and endless activities on top.

Paris, France
It’s chilly to silly in Paris at this time of year, but it doesn’t really matter. The city is always fun, always romantic, and always gorgeous. And if you like truffles, it’s peak season. Have a meal (or at least a sniff of the adjacent store) at Maison de la Truffe.

Two weeks cruising through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia is my idea of a perfect present. These three countries fit together like a glove, all have lovely weather at this time, and the depth of food and culture is outstanding. Visit an elephant sanctuary, sleep on a junk, or soak up the luxury at one of the newest Aman resorts.

New Zealand 
Everyone seems to think it’s too far for two weeks, but I’ve been and I can tell you it’s not. Sure you lose a couple of days flying there, but you gain them on the way home. December is primo summer weather and the landscape is indeed nature’s greatest gift. If you’ve been especially, remarkably good, ask for a couple of nights at the heli-access only Minaret Station.

If you get in and out before mid-January, you’ll catch the tail end of the nice weather. Not hot, but pleasantly warm and usually sunny. 7-10 days will do it, and it often makes logistical sense to tack on a couple of days in Paris before or after.

Argentina & Chile 
The Patagonia region (which straddles both countries) is at its best during the southern hemisphere summer. Clear blue skies, icy glaciers, and rugged mountainscapes to melt your heart. Need more? How about a few days in Buenos Aires, learning how to tango, drinking up the Euro-Latino vibe, and checking out local graffiti?

I’m not sure when Guatemala will find its justified spot on the top of the tourist charts, but it probably doesn’t matter so long as you know it’s more than worth a week of your time. The weather is always spring-like, the small boutique hotels are amazing (and so reasonable), and the delicious mix of scenery and culture keep the mind and body in perfect balance.

If you’re willing to bite off 2-3 weeks for an epic journey, this is the bull’s eye. Temperatures are not too hot, nor too cold. Everything else is extreme in the most fantastic way. Case in point, the latest contemporary design hotels (like Devi Ratn and Raas), which flip classic Rajasthan on its turban.

Charlie Scott is blaspheming during the summer for a good cause—get your winter vacations nailed down now to make sure the sun doesn’t leave you behind.

December is primo summer weather and the landscape is indeed nature's greatest gift.