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For many New Yorkers, a trip to St. Barts or Bermuda is as common to winter as snowmen and Uggs. Others prefer to stroll the streets of Rio's Ipanema or sit outside La Huella beach club in Uruguay's Jose Ignacio, now a regular stop on the glamour travel circuit. But a few winter getaways aren't so well known -- at least if you get there soon. Vogue fashion shoots and New York Times Travel mentions will surely spoil these secrets:


For Colombians it's no secret Cartagena is getaway gold. Its colonial architecture and Caribbean location are even bringing cruise ships such as the Coral Princess and Royal Caribbean to include it on itineraries.

Colombia's Tcherassi Hotel + Spa has seven uberchic rooms, four pools and VERA Restaurant.

The number of international visitors coming to Cartagena between January and August increased almost 8.9% from the same period last year, according to Colombia's El Universal. The numbers are fueled by increased air connections, including LAN airline's new Lima/Cartagena flight, and growing popularity for its medical -- that could read "cosmetic" -- tourism industry.

Beyond cruise ships and cheap surgery, the city distinguishes itself with the kind of ultrachic luxury boutique hotels one would normally expect to see in Brazil's Bahia or Buzios.

Aqua Hotel

was one of the first, a seven-room boutique hotel hidden inside a 17th century colonial mansion in a village that feels like the Latin version of Marrakech -- albeit one with a casual tropical decor of airy white furnishings and far more scantily clad bodies at a rooftop pool.

For even more glamour, Latin fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi owns the

Tcherassi Hotel + Spa

in her own 250-year old former-colonial mansion, also with seven uberchic hotel rooms. There are four pools, including a glamorous courtyard reflecting pool near the hot VERA Restaurant.


Sure, there are no nonstop flights from the United States and less luxury than the average hotel snob might tweet about, but what Florianopolis lacks in convenience it makes up for simply by being one of Brazil's sexiest beach cities -- free of tourist masses and many of the safety concerns of Rio de Janeiro.

Locals know this city of around 1 million simply as Floripa, a second-home market for wealthy CEOs from Sao Paulo and European expats seeking white-sand beaches, thermal spas and world-champion surf spots. The high-rise skyline and beachfront promenade of impeccably fit joggers looks like Rio without the mosaic tiles.

If visiting and looking for lux, we suggest scouring the local rental market for private beachfront homes and apartments through sites such as


TheStreet Recommends

. The best hotel in town for first-time American visitors is the Sofitel Florianopolis, with its glassy facade and business-minded rooms with modern, dark furnishings that could just as well be in Toulouse or Atlanta. A rooftop pool reminds you are in a Brazilian party city, as well as easy access to hot spot eateries such as Pulau Magik and Confraria nightclub.

Those looking to follow in the sandy foot paths of Giselle and Naomi should stake out

Ponta Dos Ganchos

, only 20 minutes outside of city but bearing the pedigree of a Christian Dior Spa and Relais & Chateaux eatery. The bungalow-style rooms and villas are some of the best and most expensive in South America, mixing tropical and Asian elements for spare but seductive spaces defined by infinite sea views and a private strip of sand for supermodel-size meltdowns.


Much of once remote southern South America has grown common for adventurous Americans; such places as Bariloche, Ushuaia and Mendoza are on regular Argentina travel circuits. Been there, done that. Take a trip to Salta, on the other hand, and it's possible not to see a single fellow American during your stay. Or many, anyway. And at least for now.

Salta was founded by explorer Hernando de Lerma, who picked the spot because it was midway between Lima and Buenos Aires. Visitors today use it as a starting point to exploring the Andes and otherworldly Cafayate, with its dramatic red-earthen landscape. Salta still feels very much the colonial outpost with its bustling town square, folkloric locals and iconic cathedral rising above a cityscape with a mountainous horizon as backdrop.

Two hotels are revving up the fashion factor of this once thoroughly two-star hotel city. Buenos Aires-based

Design Suites

, which has loft-style, all-suite outposts throughout Argentina, opened a dazzling midrise hotel attached to a period colonial house in Salta's city center. Lobby reflection and rooftop pools add a big-city feel with stylish design spaces, a groovy hotel bar and minimalist rooms.

Even more posh,

Legado Mitico

is concealed behind the facade of a historic mansion meticulously converted into a 12-room hotel with suites named after various Latin American icons. With a sibling hotel in the Argentine capital, the Salta property boasts a similar evolved-design aesthetic, with period details such as terra cotta floors and period windows overlooking the residential urban landscape of this still-mostly secret South American hot spot.

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.