Skip to main content

Which luxury tribe do you belong to: Team Sand? Or Team Snow? Almost everyone has a dream luxury winter vacation that sustains them on the days when work or family (or both) are causing excessive stress, and fantasies of escaping to a better place start to dominate. If we’re lucky, sometimes we even get to take those dream trips. But unless we’re traveling alone, or have unlimited time and money and no need to make tough choices, we are sometimes faced with this pressing issue. Is the best luxury winter vacation destination a beach resort or a ski chalet – is it sand or snow?

Is the best luxury winter vacation sand or snow?

Here at Dandelion Chandelier, there’s a sharp division of opinion on this topic. In fact, the divide is so great that ultimately we had to write two winter vacation guides: one for the people eager for a ski vacation and one for the people longing for the beach

Which made us wonder. Could your preference on this matter in fact be one of the most basic revelations about your character? Whether you love building sand castles or snow forts?



Could it be more indicative of who you really are than the banal categories that we usually divide people into? You know, like love-the-Pats or hate-the-Pats, India Pale Ale or dark lager, and the most important of all: aisle or window?


Which is the best luxury vacation in winter – a beach resort or a ski chalet? Is the perfect escape for a holiday break sand or snow?

what do we observe celebrities doing?

To get to the bottom of this confounding matter, we decided to see if any patterns emerge in the year-end vacation destinations of notable world leaders and celebrities.

Here’s what we found:

Likely (but not always) to be found taking a beach vacation:

Former President Obama and his family; Leonardo DiCaprio; Marc Jacobs; Paul McCartney; Stella McCartney; J-Lo; Gisele and Tom Brady; Bono; Kate Winslet; Jennifer Aniston; Rihanna; Salma Hayek; Penelope Cruz; Javier Bardem; Oprah; Nicki Minaj; Tom Hanks; Russell Simmons; Roman Abramovich; Denzel Washington; Jay-Z and Beyoncé; Richard Branson; DJ Khaled; Matt Damon; Katy Perry; Jamie Foxx; Mick Jagger; Hugh Jackman; George and Amal Clooney; Robert DeNiro; Diane von Furstenberg; and Ellen DeGeneres.

At the end of the year, the luminaries of the fashion industry are generally in the tropics; ditto the music industry, yacht-loving billionaires, and many professional sports figures.

Likely (but not always) to be found taking a ski vacation:

Prince William and his family; David and Victoria Beckham; Queen Latifah; Justin Timberlake; Kate Hudson; Zoe Saldana; Sandra Bullock; Ralph Lauren; Justin Bieber; Mariah Carey, Elton John and David Furnish; Gwen Stefani; Taylor Swift; and Emma Watson. Former first Lady Michelle Obama usually brings her daughters to ski in the Rockies every President’s Day.

At year-end, in terms of industry norms, financiers seem to take to the snow, as do media moguls and royals the world over. Seeing any patterns here?

The first thing we noticed is the disproportionate sizes of the lists.

It’s almost 2:1 sand over snow, and we could have added many more names to the hot-weather camp.

That reflects how the rest of the population rolls: in 2019, Travel Agent Central conducted a survey where close to 25% of respondents said they prefer traveling in winter to summer. Why? It gives them an opportunity to get away from the cold.

That may explain all these winter trips to the beach: people are traveling in winter specifically to find some extra sunshine. It may be hard to believe in these brutal summer days, but we’re sure once the temperature drops below 30 degrees, we’ll feel differently.

The second thing we noticed is that people on Team Snow seem to feel . . . well, just a little bit superior to people on Team Sand.

Which is the best luxury vacation in winter - a beach resort or a ski chalet? Is the perfect escape for a holiday break sand or snow?

Which is the best luxury vacation in winter – a beach resort or a ski chalet? Is the perfect escape for a holiday break sand or snow?

A scan of the Internet will lead you to several entertaining essays written by rare birds who prefer the winter and who want you to know why they love it so much.

Among their beliefs and beefs: sweat is unseemly; humidity ruins your hair; sweaters and scarves are wonderful and so are cute boots; cuddling is important and best done in cold weather; you can always add layers, but at some point you cannot subtract them in public; and hell is a hot place, so what does that tell you?

The third thing we noticed is that sand people often view snow people as, well . . . kind of uptight.

And a bit too competitive. As control freaks who should really just learn to chill (they love the cold, right?)

Rather than listing all the reasons that hot weather is preferable to cold, the sand team just offered us a caipirinha, and it was so good that we forgot what we were asking them about and somehow ended up discussing the virtues of white sand versus pink.

Sorry, where were we?

Right: which is the best luxury vacation in winter – sand or snow?

Which is the best luxury vacation in winter - a beach resort or a ski chalet? Is the perfect escape for a holiday break sand or snow?

our conclusion

We’re declaring this one a tie. And we’re not judging anyone. In our book, one’s preference for beach volleyball over a snowball fight; for shave ice over hot chocolate; for hanging with a parrot instead of a snowman – matters both a great deal, and not at all. It says everything there is to know about you – and reveals almost nothing.

Bottom line? It’s your vacation. Rock the swimwear or the snowsuit exactly as you please.

The only exception? If you’ve got business contacts that you need to initiate or strengthen over the holiday, follow your boss and/or your potential clients. Just be sure to take your real vacation when you can.

For the record, I’m a snow person of long standing, and my husband is strictly a sand person; yet somehow we have made this mixed marriage work. So there’s hope for vacation harmony for us all.

Is the best luxury winter vacation the beach or skiing?

So what say you? Is the best luxury winter vacation the beach or skiing? Discuss among yourselves, and let us know what you think. In the meantime, hey, Team Sand – can we get another round?

Pamela Thomas-Graham

Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. She serves on the boards of several tech companies, and was previously a senior executive in finance, media and fashion, and a partner at McKinsey & Co.