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Image: Mondrian, Miami
Courtesy of Mondrian Miami
The Mondrian in Miami is whimsical as well as peaceful. The pool is surrounded by gardens with secluded corners, and an expansive terrace looks out on Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami.
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updated 12/2/2008 9:57:06 AM ET 2008-12-02T14:57:06

As if the holidays weren’t filled with enough choices (Which cookie recipes to try? What to wear on New Year’s Eve?), a new crop of hotels that’s sprung up like gifts under a Christmas tree has suddenly made vacation planning a lot harder. In a good way.

These new properties run the gamut — from over-the-top to affordable, from boutique to gargantuan. And they’re set in some of the world’s most spectacular locales (some well-known, others that many of us haven’t heard of — yet).

Luxury-loving hedonists will find an alluring array of new hotels vying for their attention this season. Among them are the St. Regis Bali Resort — which brings its airy, indigenously decorated villas and private butlers to the swanky beach community of Nusa Dua — and the slick, opulent Mondrian Miami, designed to evoke a mod-whimsical “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle” on South Beach.

More outrageous than either of these, though (perhaps more outrageous than both of them put together) is the 114-acre, 1,539-room Atlantis Dubai — which, like its sister property in the Bahamas, is part posh resort and part extravagant aquatic theme park.

Culture vultures have a plethora of new lodging options too. There’s the Four Seasons’ latest Istanbul property, set right on the Bosporus; Mandarin Oriental’s outpost in the style-and-shopping mecca of Boston’s Back Bay; and W Hotels’ new location in Hong Kong’s bustling West Kowloon district.

Some of the most enticing new hotels, however, are in spots just off the beaten path. Grupo Habita — which runs properties in Mexico City and the Riviera Maya — has opened its newest hotel in the up-and-coming desert city of Monterrey, just north of the starkly beautiful Sierra Madre Mountains. And the Valle Perdido Wine Resort, in the Nequén province of Argentine Patagonia, has a spa where the treatments incorporate wine from the vineyards abutting the property (most of them Malbec grapes).

A Malbec massage ... is it too late to add that to our Christmas list?

Copyright © 2012 American Express Publishing Corporation

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