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Off the Grid Getaways

Want a vacation that takes you out of the country but stays in your comfort zone? These three otherworldly destinations deliver the goods with style.

The monotonous beat of business travel has a way of grating on one’s soul. Same destinations, same cabin crew, same hotel, same clients… so much so that when it comes time to do a little traveling for pleasure, the last thing you want to do is the same-old same-old. But we’re not talking Eurail passes and backpacks here—you want a vacation that tweaks your cultural curiosity, stimulates your appreciation of history, excites your sense of adventure, and exceeds your expectations for amenities, epicurean delights and relaxation.

With that in mind, we’ve focused on an eclectic trio of foreign destinations that offer the unique settings, high-end services and attention to detail required to make your next trip off the grid one you’ll remember for the ages.

Jade Mountain

Nestled into the hillside of Soufrière, St. Lucia, and perched above 600 acres of lush tropical estate and beach below, Jade Mountain specializes in spectacular sights and creature comforts that make worries float away. Each of the resort’s 24 luxurious “sanctuaries” has sleeping and living areas that flow seamlessly into an infinity-edge pool—the fourth wall of each room is intentionally missing—delivering a jaw-dropping panoramic view of St. Lucia’s twin Pitons and the Caribbean. If you’re a non-swimmer, there are five large Jacuzzi suites sans infinity pool. When and if you become motivated to actually leave your room—none of which have radio, TV or telephone—there’s plenty to do. Boutique spa services, internationally renowned SSI/PADI scuba diving and snorkeling, biking and full water sports facilities, 12 miles of hiking trails, as well as a host of on-site restaurants and bars are readily available by foot or shuttle, including Jade Mountain Club, which is run by James Beard-award-winning chef Allen Susser.

La Mamounia

Located in between Marrakesh’s old medina and the new city, La Mamounia blends the opulent details of old-world Morocco with contemporary services and amenities. Designed in 1922 and built around a huge, verdant 20-acre park full of exotic fruit trees, the recently renovated hotel—which offers a wide range of well-appointed rooms, suites, and riads—garnered industry awards soon after reopening last year by recapturing the magic, mystery, glamour and tranquility that once prompted Winston Churchill to call it “the most lovely spot in the whole world.” On-site attractions include an enormous pool, a world-class spa, a fitness center, tennis, squash, a driving range and billiards, plus four topnotch restaurants and five acclaimed bars. Only 15 minutes by car from Marrakech-Menara airport, La Mamounia is moments away from the famous Koutoubia mosque, the medina’s spectacle-filled town square, dJemaa el-Fna, and the delightful sensory overload that is Marrakesh, but in a world all its own.

Schloss velden

Built between 1590 and 1603 and rebuilt in 1890 after a fire, the distinctive and stately Schloss Velden is a stylish lakeside manor house—painted a memorable goldenrod hue— that sits elegantly on the shores of Austria’s largest and warmest alpine lake, Wörthersee. Located in Carinthia, the country’s southernmost state in the Eastern Alps, this jewel of the Austrian Riviera is just a few hours’ drive from Vienna, Milan, Munich and other European gateway cities, deftly balancing cosmopolitan shopping, spa, fitness and wellness programs, and luxurious dining experiences with a host of year-round casual and rustic activities, including horseback riding and horse-drawn sleigh rides, access to four golf courses (as well as “white” golf on the world’s largest frozen-lake golf course), mountain climbing, indoor and outdoor pools, walking and skiing (Bad Kleinkirchheim, Nassfeld, Dreiländereck and Gerlitzen, are all nearby).

At a Glance
Schloss Velden
Velden, Austria
Best Rooms: Schloss suites (seasonally from $1,040-$1,570/night) in the original castle, have bedrooms located in turrets (the beds are circular). French doors separate the bedrooms and parlors—many of which overlook the lake. The 3,230-square-foot Kaiser suite (seasonally from $6,290-$7,930/night) includes two bedrooms, a large parlor, a study and a fully equipped conference room, plus a balcony with dining for 8. 

La Mamounia
Marrakesh, Morocco
Best Rooms: Each of the four 1,076-square-foot Prestige Suites ($2,194/night) boasts panoramic balcony views over the gardens, dining and sitting rooms and large walk-in wardrobes. Three 7,500-square-foot riads ($9,750/night), or traditional Moroccan palaces with courtyards, are located in the gardens; each boasts a private terrace with its own swimming pool.

Jade Mountain
Soufrière, St. Lucia, West Indies
1.758.459.4000 or 1.800.223.1108 www.jademountainstlucia.com
Best Rooms: The two 2,000-square-foot Galaxy sanctuaries (seasonally from $2,050-$2,680/night) offer 270-degree panoramic views of the Pitons—the volcanic spires are breathtaking from these sanctuaries’ 900-square-foot infinity pools. All sanctuaries have 15-foot ceilings, infinity pools and air conditioning if nature gets too much to bear.

Morocco’s La Mamounia blends old world majesty with contemporary amenities. 

Schloss velden (top) shares a lakefront location with several notable neighboring homes, including (from left) the former summer retreat of gustav Mahler, an estate owned by the heirs of german industrialist friedrich karl flick, and another belonging to austrian-canadian frank Stronach, founder and former ceo of Magna international.

About Michael Gelfand