If a trip to Florida won’t cut it, here are nine other adventures you might want to take over the holidays. Just make sure your finances (and your credit score) can handle the trip — prices are subject to change, but, even with some fluctuation, these getaways aren’t exactly frugal.
1. Go on a Ski Safari — by Helicopter
Thanks to The Aplina Gstaad’s new “Ski Safari,” adventurous guests can hit not one, but three slopes in a day, shuttling from one ski area to another by helicopter. First on the to-do list is breathtaking St. Moritz Corvatsch, then it’s off to Zermatt’s Testa Grigia on the Italian side of the Matterhorn. From there, guests are transported back to Gstaad, one of the largest ski spots in the Alps. For CHF 12,000 (about $12,016), the package includes a private shuttle between the airports and slopes in Gstaad, St. Moritz and Zermatt, helicopter flights, all ski passes and one night in a Deluxe Room Schonried — plus breakfast and a CHF 100 culinary credit.
2. Sip Wine by the Fire at a Dude Ranch
Ice fishing? Check. Snowshoeing? Check. Ringing in the new year like John Wayne? That’s how to holiday. The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyo., offers a stellar holiday and new year package, complete with hearty feasts, horseback rides and just about every other winter activity there is to do in the country. Prices vary by group size and accommodations, but a family of four has the option to book two lodge rooms for $3,200 per night and upgrade from there to larger rooms at an additional cost. (Prices start at $800 per person, per night.)
3. Rent a Lakefront Estate
Deep in the pine forests of the Adirondacks is Lake Kora, a historic lakefront property unblemished by time. Built over a century ago and only recently opened to the public, Lake Kora comprises eight buildings, each with its own kitchen. There’s a candlepin bowling alley, media room, three pristine lakes and even a chapel. Guests are served locally sourced meals prepared by an on-site chef. If booking through BeautifulPlaces, a luxury villa rental site, rates start at $14,950 per day for up to 14 guests; additional guests cost extra.
4. Swim in Gianni Versace’s Pool of Gold
In looks and in name, Villa Casa Casuarina is the very definition of opulence. Built in 1930 by architect and author Alden Freeman, heir to the Standard Oil fortune, the South Beach, Fla. mansion was purchased in the ’90s by Italian designer Gianni Versace, who spent $33 million to renovate it. Today the 10-room villa is a luxury hotel, albeit with the kind of amenities even the most worldly travelers aren’t used to — namely a 54-foot-long Million Mosaic Pool lined with thousands — yes, thousands — of glittering 24K gold tiles. Prices vary by suite and date, but a one-night stay can cost $749 and up.
5. Race Dubai’s Yas Marina Circuit
Yes, there are things to do in Dubai besides shopping. Families can soak up views from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, let their kids explore a virtual city and day trip it to Abu Dhabi for a visit to Ferrari World. Speaking of sports cars, they can also head to Yas Marina Circuit, where an elegant Aston Martin GT4 is waiting to be taken for a spin. For AED 1,600 (around $435.62), you can tick that one off of your bucket list.
6. Charter a Private Yacht
You may never set foot on Roberto Cavalli’s Baglietto, but you can always charter your own private yacht instead. Amazing Charters, a boat rental service in the British Virgin Islands, offers seven-cabin superyachts built by Abeking & Rasmussen with en suite showers, jacuzzi tubs and walk-in closets — for starters. An infinity waterfall will impress all your fortunate guests, and it goes without saying there’s a sports bar and gym. All this and more can be had for 595,000 EUR per week or around $648,074. (That’s the high rate. The low rate is 495,000 EUR per week or around $539,154). Did we mention there’s a seven-day minimum?
7. Try “Forage-to-Table” Dining
Rolling hills, sumptuous spas, cooking your own foraged wild mushrooms … No, it’s not the typical getaway, but visitors to Laughing Frog Estate will get a kick out of foraging for food and crashing in the five-bedroom property at night. Operated by No Taste Like Home, a self-described “forage-to-table” company in Asheville, N.C., the tours give people a chance to not only gather their own wild mushrooms and other “extreme cuisine” but transform it into edible dishes (with help from a restaurant or chef, of course). Suggested donations are $75 for adults and $30 for children. The 7,000-square-foot private estate, however, will set you back $1,200 a night.
8. Party Hop in Punta del Este
The airfare to Uruguay doesn’t come cheap, but visiting famed restaurateur Francis Mallmann’s Hotel Garzon will be worth it. Just past the lighthouse at Jose Ignacio Beach, this restored century-old mansion has all the trappings a baqueano (horseback guide) could want (Prices range between $590 and $820 per night, plus tax.) As you sip a cold Quilmes (a favored Argentine beer), relax by the fireplace — every room has one — and strategize how you’ll befriend some locals and weasel your way onto a private party’s guest list. The best parties start well after midnight.
9. Snorkel Among Sea Lions in the Galápagos
Any trip to the Galápagos is essentially a cruise, as they’re accessible only by ship. But rather than opt for a party cruise, you could consider booking Lindblad Expeditions, who lead trips onto eight of the islands. During the day, the company’s trained naturalists lead curious passengers on hikes where they can wave hi to dozens of friendly sea lions and lounging marine iguanas. Later, kids can go snorkeling amid the penguins and brightly colored parrotfish. Lindblad’s MS Polaris cruises year-round, but rates vary widely (from approximately $6,290 to $11,990).
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