The idea of giving an experience instead of a material gift at the holidays is nothing new, but this trend has gained even more traction since the world has reopened to travel.
Here are some trips and experiences for each traveler on your list.
For Wildlife Enthusiasts
The wild beauty and unique ecology of the Galápagos Islands make for the perfect expedition cruise destination. With rugged volcanic scenery and tame wildlife, little has changed since Charles Darwin set foot here in 1835. Hurtigruten Expeditions hand-picks guides with many years’ experience in the ecology and wildlife of Galápagos. With about 11 guests per expedition guide, the experience is intimate and memorable with excursions like snorkeling with sea lions, kayaking with penguins and guided nature walks.
Star Clippers is a unique sailing experience reminiscent of the golden age of sailing, but with all the modern amenities of a private yacht. It combines off-the-beaten-path destinations—they sail to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Central America—and exploration of different cultures and histories while still having the unique experience of tall ship sailing. The best part? You can do as much—or as little—of the sailing as you like.
For Scuba Divers
Cabo Pulmo, a protected marine area on the east coast of Baja, California, in Mexico, is only a 90-minute drive from Los Cabos Airport, but it’s a world away in terms of experiences for travelers. Cabo Pulmo boasts one of the largest, most diverse reef systems in North America with over 800 species of sea life including 300 different species of fish. In fact, it’s often referred to as the aquarium of the world due to its diversity.Cabo Pulmo Divers focuses on sustainable practices. It has been offering dive trips for over 30 years and it’s a family-owned and operated agency.
Vail is the largest ski resort in Colorado and with over 5,000 skiable acres, it welcomes skiers of all levels to its world-class slopes. The Sonnenalp, a family-owned hotel, has a ski concierge who provides top-of-the-line Gorsuch ski rentals as well as transportation of gear to and from the hotel. Off the slopes, travelers can indulge in the European-style spa, the indoor/outdoor pool, and six restaurants including Ludwig’s breakfast which serves an over-the-top European-style breakfast buffet. The Sonnenalp also has a Kids Club which is a complimentary recreation program for kids ages 4-10 years old. The program includes exploratory nature walks, sledding & ice skating, educational points of interest, arts & crafts and plenty of fresh air.
The Berkshires, three hours from New York City and a two and a half hours drive from Boston, is home to Stockbridge, made famous by Norman Rockwell’s painting of the village during the holidays. This New England town does the holidays in the a big way with wreaths and festive lights, live performances, historic property tours and holiday markets. The Wheatleigh Hotel, located outside Stockbridge, is one of the smallest Leading Hotels of the World with 19 guest rooms and is a good homebase for exploring a long weekend in the Berkshires. With its Tiffany stained glass windows, sweeping staircase, and 24-karat gold-encrusted china, Wheatleigh sits on 22 manicured acres of lush parkland—landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame.
For the Eco Travelers
Cheetah Plains sets the standard in South Africa for a zero-emission, sustainable 4×4 luxury safari experience traversing over 20,200 acresTaking a singular approach to sustain. ability, within their footprint on the Sabi Sand, Cheetah Plains delivers a next-level eco-safari. The Cheetah Plains experience is ‘off the grid’, harnessing the power of solar to provide a reliable, renewable energy source. Meanwhile, their twice-daily game drives are taken in innovative Toyota Land Cruiser Electric Safari Vehicles powered by Tesla batteries.
For the Adventure Traveler
Be one of a handful of people to step off an airship onto the North Pole. Pelorus and Ocean Sky Cruises in this world’s first expedition to the North Pole by airship. Your journey starts in the most northern city on the planet, Longyearbyen, where you will board the airship. Fly north towards the pole on a unique route, searching for wildlife spotting opportunities of polar bears, whales and many more. With the ability to fly low and slow, with big panoramic windows, will create a flying experience like no other. Sip on cocktails and enjoy a fine dining experience while floating over icebergs. Wake up in the North Pole and enjoy a morning of activities in one of the most remote places on earth. Enjoy a lunch out on the snow before starting your panoramic journey back over the arctic landscape.
The Gangtey Lodge is set high above the Phobjikha (Gangtey) Valley in the Kingdom of Bhutan with sweeping views over the 17th-century monastery and valley floor. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Bhutanese farmhouse-inspired lodge has 12 suites. The Gangtey Lodge embraces Bhutan’s concept of Gross National Happiness by pursuing a harmonious balance between respecting nature and promoting cultural preservation and sustainable development. Since it’s re-opening in September, the government of Bhutan has streamlined the booking process giving travelers more flexibility with visa dates and validity, and travelers are now able to book directly with hotels and tour services in Bhutan.