Surfside Beach, South Carolina
After a $7 million renovation, the Holiday Inn Oceanfront now welcomes guests to take in the sea views from one of the 133 rooms. The six-story property, just south of the entertainment and dining options in bustling Myrtle Beach, has an outdoor pool overlooking the beach, a hot tub, bar and fitness center. It’s also close to waterside piers, sports facilities, amusement parks and mini golf courses. Wildlife lovers won’t want to miss The Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk, a half-mile stroll along a boardwalk flanked by a natural saltwater estuary and home to eight restaurants with views of the natural landscape. Holiday Inn Oceanfront at Surfside Beach $149. 1601 N. Ocean Blvd., Surfside Beach, South Carolina, 29575. 843-238-5601, hisurfsidebeach.com.
Duck Key, Florida
Billed as the only resort destination in the Florida Keys, Hawks Cay is an oasis of water and land activities designed for guests to enjoy without leaving the property. The island’s on-site marina is a launching point for fishing and boating excursions, snorkeling on nearby reefs and sandbars, and private sunset cruises. The saltwater lagoon is the ideal spot for paddleboarding, kayaking and swimming with dolphins. Other activities include tennis, morning walking groups, yoga classes, working out in the 70,000-square-foot fitness center, swimming in one of several pools, relaxing at the spa and dining at one of the five restaurants. Pick from individual rooms or cottages, including spaces in an adults-only section, where a new rum bar has partnered with Papa’s Pilar Rum to offer tastings. Hawks Cay Resort. $569. 61 Hawks Cay Blvd., Duck Key, Florida, 33050. 888-395-5539, hawkscay.com.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
A property-wide, $65 million renovation has brought several changes to the Kingston Resorts, a beachside destination that’s two hotels in one: Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort and Embassy Suites by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort. One of the new attractions is the Black Drum Brewing restaurant, specializing in coastal concepts served amid nautical decor, high vaulted ceilings, exposed beams and floor-to-ceiling windows. The Wet Whistle pool bar and Beachcombers eateries now have new looks and menus. A new pool and two waterparks opened in late August. As part of its family-friendly approach, the resort offers a variety of games for all ages, from cornhole to hula hoops, as well as arts and crafts, a playground, sand volleyball and golf packages at the 80 nearby courses. Kingston Resorts. $230. 9800 Queensway Blvd., Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 29572. 843-449-0006, kingstonresorts.com.
St. Pete Beach, Florida
The TradeWinds Island Resorts, which include the beachfront properties of Island Grand and the RumFish Beach Resort, recently wrapped a major expansion, adding 141 rooms, a new Mexican-themed restaurant and a beach zipline. The project brought the rooms total to 899, with the new spaces featuring one- and two-bedroom suites with complete kitchens. It also added two pools, a covered spa area and seaside bar. The three-story zipline now leads the amenities on site, joining the Aqua-Bana, a floating cabana that seats up to 10, and a water park with a new slide. Together, the two properties share 40 acres of sands along the Gulf of Mexico. Island Grand. $263. 5500 Gulf Blvd. RumFish Beach Resort. $229. 6000 Gulf Blvd. Both located in St. Pete Beach, Florida, 33706. 800-36-4016, tradewindsresort.com.
Those who want some history tossed into their beach getaway will find it in abundance on this island. Explore the gardens, battlements and dungeons of the 1870 Fort Hamilton overlooking the harbor. Other must-see sites are the Royal Naval Dockyard, King’s Square in St. George and the four UNESCO World Heritage forts: St. David’s Battery, Paget Fort, Smith’s Fort and Fort Cunningham. Ecotours that visit the zoo and aquarium highlight the island’s natural beauty and native creatures on land and sea. The historic Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, known as the “Pink Palace,” has been a magnet for famous guests since 1885 from Mark Twain to British royalty. Amenities include an infinity pool, four restaurants, a spa, tennis facilities and a beach club on the private cove of Sinky Bay with water hammocks, snorkeling gear, paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel boards and kids’ beach toys. Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. $880. 76 Pitts Bay Road, HM08, Bermuda. +1 441-295-3000, thehamiltonprincess.com.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Tucked onto the state’s east coastline are two options for a winter getaway. At the new 12-story Max Beach Resort, guests can check into short-term rentals with one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, each with views of the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway, outdoor living spaces and fully equipped kitchens. The property includes a saltwater pool, private cabanas, bike rentals, a rooftop fitness center and sunrise and sunset terraces where guests will find games, billiard tables and sweeping views of the sea. Nearby is the recently restored Art Deco Streamline Hotel, billed as “the birthplace of NASCAR” and decorated with an array of photos and mementos that recount NASCAR history. The 44 rooms, pool, fitness center and two restaurants sit on the famous AIA overlooking the Atlantic, so it’s a short stroll to the 23-mile stretch of sand, boardwalk and the 1,000-foot Daytona Beach pier. Keep the NASCAR theme going with a tour of the nearby Daytona International Speedway and a spin through the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Max Beach Resort. $299. 1901 S. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, 32118. 386-999-2555, maxdaytona.com. Streamline Hotel. $138. 140 South Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach, Florida 32118. 386-947-7470, streamlinehotel.com.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
The luxury, all-inclusive Grand Velas Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is a destination for its pristine beaches, chef-driven dining experiences and the spacious suites. But the resort’s crown jewel is the spa, which just received its third consecutive five-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide for its exceptional service and experience, making it one of six with that ranking in the country. The two-story, 89,000-square-foot space is as stunning as it is relaxing, designed to reflect the jungle and water of the Yucatan Peninsula by incorporating natural stone, plants and streams. Eight water features, including a polar pool, provide relaxing hydrotherapy options to enjoy after visiting the clay and ice rooms. Pamper yourself with signature treatments rooted in Mayan culture that utilize coffee, cacao, vanilla, gourds and local honey. Grand Velas Riviera Maya. $617. Carretera Cancun Tulum Km 62, Playa Del Carmen, 77710 Riviera Maya, Q.R., Mexico, 77710. 877-418-2963, rivieramaya.grandvelas.com.