Villa Montaña Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
On a quiet patch in northwestern Puerto Rico, a 90-minute drive from San Juan, Villa Montaña Beach Resort occupies 35 acres along a secluded beach in Isabela. The look is rustic-elegant, with breezy linen curtains and carved wooden beds. There’s plenty to do: Villa Montaña offers tennis courts, pools, and two restaurants, and guests can snorkel, scuba, fish, hike and bike nearby. From $475 a night for a family of four, villamontana.com
Terranea Resort, Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif.
The trip to Terranea is shorter than many Los Angeles commutes: The resort occupies 102 acres on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, about a 40- minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport. Though just nine years old, Terranea evokes a classic grand resort, with Mediterranean-inspired architecture and an abundance of amenities. In addition to the nine restaurants, there are four swimming pools (two adults only), a spa, a kids club and a nine-hole golf course. From $475 a night for a family of four, terranea.com
Acantilados, El Salvador
Serious surfers have long flocked to this tiny country’s coastline, but El Salvador’s troubled history and lack of infrastructure has kept it off most travelers’ radar. Now, it’s emerging as a new adventure destination, and its upscale hotels are straight-up cheap. The Acantilados opened this fall on a rocky ocean bluff in La Libertad, about an hour from San Salvador. The hotel has 19 ocean-facing rooms and two saltwater pools, one set into the side of the cliff. From about $260 a night for a family of four, acantilados.sv
The Reach, Key West, Fla.
If you’re looking for a discount destination during the holidays, quirky, colorful Key West is generally just too popular. But luxury-seeking travelers can still find some relative value at the Reach, a Waldorf Astoria resort set on a private natural-sand beach. While it lacks the grandeur of its sister property, Casa Marina, the Reach comes at half the price—and guests can use the spa and other amenities around the corner. From $759 a night for a family of four, reachresort.com
Izia Beachfront Hotel, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Petite Isla Mujeres is almost as accessible as Cancún minus the mega-resorts. Attractions include a turtle sanctuary and rehabilitation center, Garrafon Natural Reef Park, with its sculpture garden and minor Mayan ruins, and the Cancún Underwater Museum of Art, whose hundreds of sunken statues offer snorkelers rare diversion. Izla Beachfront Hotel is a whitewashed horseshoe of a boutique hotel facing the Caribbean Sea. It has a swimming pool for families and another for adults, a small spa and a fitness center. From $260 a night for a double (a family of four would need two rooms), izlahotel.com.
Petite Anse, Grenada
If you want to take “getting away” to an extreme, the northern tip of Grenada awaits. Though it’s just an hour-long drive from the capital of St. George, this part of the island nation feels incredibly removed—as does Petite Anse. The hotel consists of 11 casual, colorful cottages and two hotel rooms set within 5 acres of gardens. There’s an empty palm-fringed beach, a swimming pool and a restaurant that serves simple Caribbean fare made from homegrown ingredients. From $283 a night for a family of four, petiteanse.com
Hotel del Cornado, San Diego
There’s no snow in Southern California, but there is ice. Every winter, the Hotel del Coronado constructs a real skating rink overlooking the Pacific Ocean—and it’s just one of the ways to enjoy the resort’s wide stretch of white sand. The Del offers yoga and spin classes on the beach, watersports and bicycles. Guests can book a simple evening fire pit—or opt for the s’mores service with housemade marshmallows. If you want to venture beyond the resort’s signature Victorian architecture, it’s just a 15-minute drive from local attractions like the San Diego Zoo and the USS Midway Museum. From $379 a night for a family of four, hoteldel.com