Sometimes, the journey is about the destination. Because the destination is so special, your whole travel experience is wrapped up inside it. We’ve traveled the world and have been to some pretty special spots. From a western dude ranch to a Florentine palazzo to an African canoe excursion, these 11 trips offer a far richer experience than your typical overnight stay.
Travel may be our specialty, but fortunately our time hitting the road to visit hotels and show you what they’re really like has granted us plenty of time to also hit the links. We’ve teed up at some pretty amazing courses — at some equally amazing resort properties — and each round has had something special about it. But some of our very favorites have been those with spectacular views. So what if you double-bogey when all you can see is crystal-clear ocean for miles? (Well, maybe don’t answer that.) Here are ten courses with amazing views that are worth a trip.
The Four Seasons‘ par-72 championship golf course, designed by Arnold Palmer, has panoramic ocean views from four of its holes, and the surrounding forests are rich with wildlife (including both howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys). It’s a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, meaning its construction was, and its operation is, more environmentally sensitive than your typical golf course.
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The Caribbean, the West Coast, and North America’s ski resorts…. During the winter months, these spots are bustling with tourists who are either looking to escape the cold, or are seeking it out for that fresh powder. But summer months see their crowds dispersing for destinations like the beaches of the East Coast, Europe, and theme parks around the world, where temperatures are generally high — as are the prices. That’s why we think it’s a great idea to not overlook your favorite wintery getaway as a possible summertime escape. Not only are hotel rates nearly cut in half, but winter destinations can be just as fun (dare we say more so?!) in the summer as they are during peak season. Here are eight popular winter destinations where you can enjoy an amazing, and affordable, summer getaway!
Not surprisingly, Cancun’s busiest months are those around winter and spring breaks, when hordes of college students descend upon the white-sand shores to party and lounge poolside. Even early June, though it technically falls during low season, can be a busy time for Cancun tourism as families treat their tots to summer vacations. By the end of the month, however, this beach destination starts to clear out — which means beautiful, uncrowded waters and great deals on hotels. It may be warm, but the crystal-clear ocean is right at your toe tips and the culinary scene is still bustling. September sees particularly low rates — but be prepared for potential hurricane weather!
Where to Stay: Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Resort & Spa
While not all-inclusive, to which many guests attribute the resort’s quiet atmosphere, the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Resort & Spa has three restaurants; three poolside bars, including a swim-up bar; and a lobby bar. The extensive and beautifully designed spa, billed as the only in Latin America with a 10-step hydrotherapy program, is a big draw.
Even during adventurous getaways, we love a chance for some R&R so we almost always book a spa service to treat ourselves. While we could probably enjoy a massage or facial just about anywhere, there’s something to be said for a hotel spa that is truly luxurious and jaw-dropping. Some of the most gorgeous we’ve seen are particularly inspiring because they boast beautiful views of their natural surroundings. So before you close your eyes and drift off to pure relaxation during your treatment, take in these 11 stunning views…from these 11 stunning hotel spas.
On a beautiful stretch of beach on the tiny island of Lanai, this Four Seasons is one of the most luxe properties in Hawaii. Considering the remote location, its no surprise that the hotel attracts couples, and the upscale spa is a major draw for romance as well. The spa features red cedar dry heat saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and rainforest showers, but its most stunning amenity is its outdoor massage cabana with views of the Pacific Ocean.
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Westward Look Resort, Tucson
Tucson is known as one of the country’s top spa destinations, so it’s no surprise that plenty of hotels here deliver health and wellness experiences that are among the best in the world. And those looking for some R&R can visit this fall or winter and still get sunshine; the sun shines here for all but 15 days a year. Take a look at our top picks for the city’s hotel spas.
For outdoorsy types, a tiny basement fitness center at the hotel just isn’t going to cut it. For them, a great vacation is all about getting outdoors — and being in a stunning natural setting to boot. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic resorts around the world offering a range of activities right on-site, from horseback riding to water sports to fishing to stargazing. Check out our faves.
Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, Napa Valley
Calistoga Ranch was designed with Mother Nature in mind: All the modules for the property’s 48 exquisite private lodges were flown in by helicopter to minimize impact on surrounding trees and to maximize privacy. The 157-acre property offers abundant outdoor activities, including hiking (there are a number of trails on-site), outdoor yoga, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, and a fabulous fitness center. After all that exercise, there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging at one of the wine tasting seminars (this is Napa, after all). Read More »
For many of us, long days at the office, stress, and errands can get in the way of a healthy lifestyle. So we often look at our vacations not as a chance for a calorie binge (well, not always), but as a chance to hit the reset button and get back to our exercise and fitness regimens. And those who do manage to stay fit year-round may not want to part with their healthy lifestyle choices when they go away for a week or two. After all, there’s a lot to be said for the mind-body connection, so we found 13 stunning holistic retreats that can help you take your relaxation and well-being to new heights on your next getaway.
Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua
Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe, wellness-focused retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), healthy cuisine (almost every dish comes with a hearty side of vegetables), and an excellent ocean-view yoga platform where group classes are held. Plus, the spa uses local materials, treatments, and techniques. Rooms are adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. The white-sand beach is secluded and beautiful, and guests can get in an extra workout climbing up the hill from the beach to reception.
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The dry desert air may not be for everyone. Then again, neither are humid, tropical climates. While the desert offers its own exciting adventures (gorgeous sand landscapes and an array of impressive creatures, anyone) tropical getaways boast lush greenery and exotic wildlife all of its own. So which one would you prefer — a Desert Destination or Tropical Travel? Take a look at the options below and then enter your adventure pick in the comments section.
Option 1: Trekking the Tucson Desert Terrain
For a true desert escape, Tucson's Tanque Verde Ranch is hard to beat.
Tucson is one of the most popular destinations in the Southwest, attracting outdoor enthusiasts with its expansive desert terrain and year-round warm weather. With countless golf courses, hiking and biking trails, and endless rock-climbing opportunities, Tuscon makes for a great desert getaway almost any time of year. But visitors take note: temperatures reach into the 100s during the summer months — and watch out for scorpions!
For those in search of a great desert retreat, the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson has everything you’d expect from a true Western ranch, with horse stables, a nature center with tons of native creatures, and trails for hiking and biking. Read More »
It happens every year — suddenly it’s May and you have no idea what to do for Mother’s Day. Again. Brunch is handy and easy, and you know she will appreciate you spending some time with her. But how about you surprise her with something different this year? Whether she’s outdoorsy, artsy or just downright stressed out, we’ve got you covered. Check out our top picks for Mother’s Day and make her feel special! You’re welcome in advance.
If Mom is outdoorsy…
PLAN: Play a round of golf (and let her win)
STAY: The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, Sonoma County
Fore! Tiger's got nothing on mom this Sunday.
Housed in a Spanish mission-style building, the upscale Fairmont Sonoma is perfect for some pampering and golf days. It boasts an 18-hole championship golf course, a top-notch spa complete with its own thermal mineral spring, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Round up the day with the free daily wine tastings, and then head to one of the hotel’s homey rooms for some rest.
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Lobby at the Raffles Hotel Singapore, Singapore
1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Back in 1942, soldiers who took part in the Japanese occupation of Singapore found guests at the Raffles Hotel Singapore dancing one final waltz before the property was seized.
2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas both feature a technology that allows guests to order drinks from the slot machines
3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A hotel in Finland is seeking professional sleepers to test the sleep quality of their newly renovated rooms.
4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? New York’s Yotel just launched a zip line that takes guests straight to Times Square from the hotel’s rooftop. The service is included in the nightly rate.
5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Upscale organic supermarket Whole Foods just announced the purchase of Canyon Ranch in Tucson. The hotel will be the first Whole Foods Hotel, and will have a focus on health, weight loss and cholesterol reduction.
Check out the answers after the jump!
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