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Top hotels for a hip New Year's away from home

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

New Year's travel picks

Looking for something a little more exotic when it comes to ringing in the New Year? We have you covered! Check out the top spots across the globe for a glitz-filled end to 2012.
Eden Rock, St Barths

1. Eden Rock, St. Barts

Feel like a celebrity for a few nights (or ideally longer) as you sip Champagne and mingle with jet-setters from across the globe at the famous New Year's Eve bash at Eden Rock St. Barts, one of the world's most exclusive hotels. Guests can choose from one of three ambiances for a gourmet celebratory dinner featuring dishes handpicked by Master Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Options include The On the Rocks restaurant (complete with stunning views overlooking the lighted coral reef), the gorgeous Angels Terrace or The Sand Bar, situated next to the white sandy beach of stunning St. Jean Bay. Entertainment, live music, fireworks and dancing on the beach will follow.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi

2. Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi

If having the world's largest desert as the backdrop to an exotic, ultra-luxe New Year's Eve sounds good to you (it does to us), there's no better place to celebrate than among the sand and stars at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. Guests can ring in the New Year with the choice of three gala dinners in the resort's restaurants and ballrooms. Al Wahu, the resort's all-day dining restaurant, will host a live four-piece band and a lavish gala dinner buffet featuring European, Arabic and Asian dishes. The rooftop restaurant will also host a celebration, complete with six-course gala dinner paired wines, a live jazz duo and a glass of Champagne at the stroke of midnight, all overlooking the rolling sand dunes. All guests are invited to join in the celebration in the resort's courtyard, where a live DJ, traditional Ayala dancing, African drummer and fire show make way to spectacular fireworks at midnight.

Timberline Lodge, Portland OR

3. Timberline Lodge, Portland, Oregon

Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood is a luxury ski-in/ski-out lodge with character and history to spare. Its New Year's events play up three of its strengths — skiing, the natural beauty of the environment and impressive cuisine. Skiing until 12:30 a.m., midnight fireworks display, formal dinner and dancing in the lodge with live big band swing music — snow bunnies couldn't ask for a better way to ring in 2013. Guests can enjoy night skiing through the New Year, warm up in the Market Cafe bar and really celebrate with a fireworks show at midnight. As the only year-round skiing in North America, Timberline offers a great opportunity to hit the slopes this winter.

Vomo Private Island Resort, Fiji

4. Vomo Private Island Resort, Fiji

If you're really hoping to get away from it all and revel in luxury for New Year's, Vomo Private Island Resort in Fiji offers an especially unique way to welcome 2013. Because Fiji is located close to the international date line, guests will actually get a head start on the holiday, almost a full day ahead of their friends and family in the U.S.! Celebrated in traditional Fijian style, the resort will make New Year's Eve a night to remember with an elaborate, beach-chic bash on their famous Rocks Beach. The beach will be converted into an exotic, open-air lounge with couches and cocktail tables crafted right from the beach's white sand, creating a unique space perfect for sipping cocktails alfresco and enjoying a midnight fireworks display. Guests can also ring in the New Year with a bang on the dance floor and socialize around a roaring bonfire, all while enjoying a stunning view of the blue Pacific.

Photo credit: Vomo Island Resort
Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham Spa, UK

5. Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham Spa, UK

Ellenborough Park, located just outside of Cheltenham Spa, UK, offers the chance for a romantic New Year's Eve spent in the heart of the Cotswolds. A 15th century manor house situated in the historic English countryside, Ellenborough is the perfect place to count down to midnight with loved ones. The evening begins with a Champagne and canape reception before guests sit down to a luxurious seven-course dinner in proper English style at Ellenborough Park's award-winning restaurant. Guests can dance the night away to The Pete Long Big Band, one of Britain's leading swing bands, before heading out onto the grounds to watch fireworks just as the clock strikes midnight.

Photo credit: Jonathon Watkins (PhotoGlow Photography)
Vinoy Renaissance, St. Petersburg FL

6. Vinoy Renaissance, St. Petersburg, Florida

New Year's Eve guests at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club in St. Pete won't just be celebrating the beginning of a new year, they'll also be attending a birthday party. The historic hotel originally opened in 1925 on Dec. 31 and is still one of the most popular spots for ringing in the new year in the area. To welcome 2013, the legendary property will be offering a five-course tasting menu at Marchand's Bar & Grill featuring decadent dishes like butternut squash flan, Maine lobster tail, roast cod, Wagyu short rib and black and white marquise. The night will continue with live entertainment from Trio del Sol, a popular local Jazz band, followed by a balloon drop and Champagne toast at midnight.

7. Grand Lucayan, Grand Bahama Island

One of the closest Caribbean destinations to the U.S., Grand Bahama Island makes a great spot for anyone who wants to get away without going too far. The Grand Lucayan will be ringing in 2013 with the biggest New Year's Eve bash on Grand Bahama Island. The resort's 26,000 square foot Great Lawn will be transformed into an oceanfront lounge featuring live entertainment and the soulful tunes of local Bahamian artist Gino D. VIP tickets include a grand buffet at Churchill's with a live sushi bar, seafood raw bar, carving station, sweet treats and more, plus exclusive seating and service.

Hotel Matilda, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

8. Hotel Matilda, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Recently named the No. 2 hotel in Mexico by Conde Nast Traveler, Hotel Matilda is located in the 500-year-old center of the country's colonial city of San Miguel de Allende and will play host to a New Year's Eve masquerade ball with a Marie Antoinette theme. The evening will begin with a special New Year's Eve menu designed by famed Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, served in the hotel's Moxi restaurant. Following dinner, horse-drawn carriages will take party-goers from Hotel Matilda through the cobbled streets of the colonial center of San Miguel de Allende to the party venue, Matilda Gardens. A former European ambassador's vacation home, dating from the 1930s, Matilda Gardens has both a large indoor main room and an extensive flower-filled garden, the perfect setting for a romantic, ethereal countdown.

Happy New Year and happy travels!

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