ten ways to avoid mainstream merriment

October 26th, 2011

Escape the humdrum of the holidays and leave behind the crowded stores, traffic, gift-wrapping, and tangled lights in exchange for a stress-free season at one of these 10 alternative spots. Whether it’s close by or halfway around the world, it’ll surely be unforgettable.

Enjoy the holidays stateside…

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Where: White Elephant and Jared Coffin House

What: A New England holiday

Why: Nantucket Island celebrates the season with Nantucket Noël, a month-long celebration that runs November 25–December 31. The highlight event is the Annual Christmas Stroll Weekend, December 2–4.  Stores, shops, and restaurants open their doors for shoppers (almost everything on the island is on sale!), carolers sing favorite holiday tunes, and Santa Claus arrives aboard a Coast Guard vessel. Steps from historic downtown, White Elephant is the perfect place to spend the weekend. For a longer stay, the Jared Coffin House is ideal. Open all season long and built in 1845, this historic hotel will have you feeling the spirit of the holidays.

When: White Elephant rates start at $195 per night from December 1–5. Jared Coffin House rates start at $155 per night during this special season.

Jump the pond…

Provence, France

Where: Hotel Crillon le Brave

What: A traditional French holiday experience

Why: Hidden in a tranquil town in France, Hotel Crillon le Brave is the perfect place to go for a peaceful escape. Festivities start on December 23 with a classical music concert in the local village church. On Christmas Eve, the hotel hosts an elaborate dinner that is sure to get guests into the Christmas spirit, who are also invited to celebrate the New Year with champagne in La Grange, the cozy bar, followed by a decadent dinner in the restaurant by a roaring log fire.

When: Holiday rates start at $329 dollars per night from December 23–January 2.


Salisbury and Canterbury, U.K.

Where: Onboard Belmond British Pullman

What: Festive seasonal journeys that rival the magical Polar Express (and you don’t have to go as far as the North Pole!)

Why: Hop on the British Pullman and enjoy the caroling in Canterbury or Salisbury’s world famous cathedrals. Following the concerts, guests are welcome to roam freely through the festive cities. With each excursion, they can look forward to a delectable brunch served with a Bellini on the outward journey and a four-course meal with wine and champagne on the way home. To make the trip even more unforgettable, upon return to London, guests visiting Salisbury may choose to stay overnight at The Goring, a luxurious hotel adjacent to Buckingham Palace, where Kate Middleton spent her last night as a commoner.

When: Rates begin at £350 ($550) per person and include brunch and a four-course dinner with champagne and wine. Dates for the Canterbury journey are December 6 and 13, 2011, and for the Salisbury journey, on December 15, 2011.


Paris, France

Where: Le Pavillon des Lettres

What: A cozy Parisian getaway

Why: The new Le Pavillon des Lettres is housed in a classic Haussman townhouse in the 8th arrondissement. The hotel features 26 rooms – each devoted to a letter of the alphabet and an international writer corresponding to that letter. Shakespeare, Baudelaire and Rousseau are among the authors whose quotes are elegantly scrawled on the walls en Français. Settle down in the hotel’s library, next to the fireplace, and spend the holidays relaxing and reading while sipping a sumptuous cocktail from the honesty bar.

When: Rates start at £250 ($345) per night.

Farther still…

Marrakech, Morocco

Where: Royal Mansour Marrakech

What: A Rockin’ Moroccan New Years

Why: Spend the advent of a new year in utmost relaxation unwinding in a private riad, a Moroccan style house decorated with luxurious hand-done tile work and mosaic-covered courtyard floors. Visit Royal Mansour’s own traditional-style hammam, while the children are entertained at the exciting Kids Club, before a luxurious meal with menus created by three Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno, or escape into the city of Marrakech for a bite while soaking in the unique rhythms of the centuries-old city.

When: Holiday rates start at $2,228 for a one-bedroom riad from December 15 to January 7.

As far as you can get…

Paro Valley, Bhutan

Where: Uma Paro

What: Ten days of exploration in this culture-rich Himalayan Kingdom

Why: With sweeping mountain views, there is no shortage of adventure at Uma Paro. Bring the whole family during Uma Paro’s 10-day holiday program and attend lectures on Buddhism, go for hikes in the Himalayas, watch an archery contest, or participate in candlelit yoga sessions. There will also be a special mask performance, a Bhutanese film night, and an evening of traditional music and dance. Children 12 and under who are sharing a villa with their parents stay free.

When: rates start at $330 until December 31, 2011.


Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, Thailand

Where: Anantara Lawana Resort & Spa and Rasananda Phangan Island Resort & Spa

What: Two island experiences for the price of one

Why: For anyone wanting to get away for a week of relaxation and exploration before the holiday season kicks into high gear, the “Two Island Experience” package from Anantara is a perfect fit. The six-night island hopping adventure begins with a three-night stay at Anantara Lawana Resort & Spa on beautiful Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, to be whisked away by speedboat to the more remote yet infamous island of the full moon parties, Koh Phangan, for an additional three-night stay at Rasananda Phangan Island Resort & Spa.

When: rates start at $578 through December 20 and include accommodations, daily breakfast, speedboat transfer, and roundtrip airport transfers.


Bali, Indonesia

Where: Uma Ubud and COMO Shambhala Estate

What: A Balinese escape for the mind, body, and soul

Why: The holidays can be exhausting, so treat the family to a well deserved break at Uma Ubud. This exotic retreat overlooking a valley is the perfect place to unwind and explore with its lush forests, sweeping rice paddies, and COMO Shambhala Retreat spa. Nearby in the town of Ubud is COMO Shambhala Estate, a secluded, residential health retreat with a focus on wellness and relaxation. The Discover COMO Shambhala program allows guests to design their own wellness experiences at the retreat and is the perfect way to decompress during this stressful season.

When: Holiday season rates start at $290 per night from December 20–January 6 at Uma Ubud, and the Discover COMO Shambhala program at COMO Shambhala Estate starts at $1,400 for three nights.


Uttarakhand, India

Where: Shakti Kumaon Village Experience and Shakti 360° Leti

What: A unique getaway that’s far off the beaten path

Why: Experience the culture and beauty of India this fall with Shakti’s Kumaon village walking experience followed by a stay at 360° Leti, the boutique hotel set at 8,000 feet elevation.

When: Season is from October 1 until April 30, 2012.

A four-day, three-night Shakti Kumaon village experience is $1,307 per person, based on two or three adults, and includes accommodations, food and beverage, activities, English-speaking guide and porters, car at disposal, and roundtrip transfer between Kathgodam train station or Pantnagar airport and village houses, and taxes. Rates for a three-night, four-day package at 360˚ Leti start at $1,916 per adult, based on two traveling on a twin/double share basis. Rates include accommodation in a private cottage, all food and beverage, activities, English-speaking guide and porters, car at disposal, roundtrip transfer between Shakti Kumaon village experience and Shakti 360˚ Leti, and all taxes.


Chiang Rai, Thailand

Where: Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa

What: An elephant adventure in Northern Thailand

Why: For anyone seeking an unforgettable holiday adventure with the whole family, Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa’s Mahout Discovery package is just the ticket! Learn how to feed, bathe, and ride these gentle giants through the forest during a 3-day mahout training course. Perched on a lush hillside near the borders of Burma and Laos, the resort, so rich in culture, is a blissful escape for adults and children alike.

When: rates start at $342 per night based on double occupancy through December 31.

giving back to the community

September 27th, 2011

COMO Hotels and Resorts is giving back to the community with your help! In 2010, COMO partnered with MasterCard for the Purchase with Purpose program which helps raise funds for local community projects. Last year, the project raised $35,580 and COMO has decided to bring the program back for 2011!

For every transaction made with a MasterCard card at a COMO property between 1 October and 31 December 2011, MasterCard will donate $30 to a community project with which the COMO property is closely affiliated. The money raised goes to educational and wellbeing initiatives as well as to local schools to improve nutrition and sanitation. In 2010, the funds helped stock the libraries of Tirta Kumara Kindergarten in Bali and the Maafushi and Guraidhoo schools in the Maldives. The program also helped deliver sanitary essentials to the nuns of Kela Goemba in Bhutan and improve sanitation and cooking facilities in the Wat Bangploeng School in Thailand.

With this program, guests have the opportunity to make a real difference in the communities they visit. As if you needed a better reason to go on vacation!

3…2…1… SHHH!!!!

March 4th, 2011

Anantara Seminyak penthouse terrace

Bali residents celebrate New Year Day, or Nyepi, in total silence as a way to start afresh, contemplate, and reassess one’s values in life. On this day, Baliense abstain from traveling, working, and all forms of entertainment.  No flights depart from or arrive at the airport, the streets are closed to pedestrians and vehicles, and even street lights are turned off for the evening.  Guests and travelers are expected to follow the same rules.

Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa is a tempting silent haven. It will be easy to win the quiet game while relaxing in your Anantara Suite’s signature deep terrazzo tub or looking out at the Indian Ocean from the deck of an Ocean Suite. Don’t miss Anantara’s Thai Culinary Journey with a cooking class guided by Wild Orchid’s experienced Thai chefs, followed by a lunch of the students’ own creations.  Spend a peaceful afternoon at the Anantara Spa with an expert therapist who will tailor a package according to guests’ needs, to be enjoyed in a single or couple’s treatment suites, each complete with private terrazzo showers or bathtubs, a personal iPod connection, and views of verdant tree tops and Mount Batukaru.  Now that’s something to shout about.

Celebrate the “Day of Silence” at Uma Ubud with the Nyepi Package. To honor the tradition, the hotel asks guests to remain on the grounds of the resort where complimentary yoga is offered, the Kemiri restaurant is serving a traditional Balinese Rijstaffel dinner, and guests can experience quiet seclusion with a one-hour COMO Shambhala treatment. The package includes two nights’ accommodation and a daily a la carte breakfast, one two-course set lunch at Kemiri restaurant (excluding beverages), one thre-course dinner at Kemiri restaurant (excluding beverages), a 60-minutes COMO Shambhala or Indonesian massage treatment per person, a three-hour guided tour of Ubud, and private return airport transfers. Rates start at $756

where should the royal lovebirds honeymoon?

November 17th, 2010

These two got engaged on a Kenyan safari, so we’re sure the honeymoon will be equally as cool and unique. Here are our picks for the Royal Honeymoon.


 Parrot Cay

Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos

The private isle is the ultimate place to hide away from the cameras and unwind after all of the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding.

Royal Treatment: Rent out the COMO Shambhala Cottage for a night of Champagne, spa treatments, and candlelit dining.


Rosewood Mayakobá, Mexico 

Let loose after escaping to the beautiful Mexican Riviera hotel and test tequilas recommended by the resident tequila sommelier.

Royal Treatment: With Mayasutra, newlyweds can get intimate with a Moonlight Tantric Yoga class and a couples massage instruction session followed by 30 minutes of “alone time”.


Geejam, Jamaica 

No stranger to celebrities, the luxury property was originally a residential recording studio where the likes of No Doubt and Amy Winehouse laid down some tracks.

Royal Treatment: Stay at the amazing Sanwood villa designed by British architect Anthony Wade in the 60s and relax in the private pool or bask in the Jamaican sun and take in the views on the sun deck.

 Fleming Villa 

GoldenEye, Jamaica 

Next to the man in line for the throne, James Bond might be the most enviable Brit we know, so vacationing at this Jamaican hideaway where Fleming penned all the Bond books would be quite fitting.

Royal Treatment: Stay in the Fleming Villa for a private beach and the spirit of James Bond lingering in the air and compelling the swilling of shaken-not-stirred martinis.


The Caves, Jamaica 

Dodge the paparazzi at the romantic Caribbean resort where couple feeling like a dip can leap off a cliff for a private swim.

Royal Treatment: It doesn’t get much more private than a candlelit dinner for two in a hidden cave looking out on the water.


Strawberry Hill, Jamaica 

Following in his parents’ footsteps, William would love to vacation at this mountain resort where, besides Charles and Diana, the guests list boasts Mick Jagger and Bob Marley.

Royal Treatment: Get away from the photographers 3,100 feet above sea level and take in the sweeping views from the Blue Mountains.




Jakes, Jamaica

Kick off those shoes and lose the fancy cap; this charming seaside resort is the perfect antidote to structured courtly life.

Royal Treatment: Enjoy a private yoga session by starlight and listen to the waves.



White Elephant, Nantucket

What’s more fitting for English newlyweds than a trip to New England? This harborside Nantucket hotel is a classic (and classy) spot for postnuptial bonding.

Royal Treatment: Only on Nantucket (at Brant Point Grill) does a Bloody Mary come equipped with lobster.



Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The luxurious Thai resort is tucked away in the beautiful Golden Triangle, away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.

Royal Treatment: Take a romantic ride atop an elephant – sure beats a limo!


Anantara Phuket Villas, Phuket, Thailand

After the long awaited ‘I do,’ couples can celebrate the occasion with a wide selection of live entertainment – including a seven-piece band at this Thai property.

Royal Treatment: Hidden in the mangroves, the lavish villas have a 355 ft. sq. private pool, outdoor showers, and a terrazzo tub built to accommodate two (and only two).



 Anantara Veli

Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa and Anantara Veli Resort & Spa, Maldives

These romantic spots embody what a honeymoon should be – nothing but sun, water, sand, and a newlywed couple pampered and sunkissed.

Royal Treatment: Answer to only your whims on a private a romantic island getaway with Anantara Dhigu, Veli, Naladhu, and the soon-to-be, Anantara Kihavah Villas opening in early 2011. The best part about Anantara in the Maldives is that at whatever resort couples choose to stay, free transfer is available between islands to enjoy the benefits of all.


Cocoa Island, Maldives

The private island resort in the South Male Atoll is just over 1000 feet long and is surrounded by pristine, turquoise water.

Royal Treatment: Honeymooners get a complimentary sunset cruise with vino and an antipasti plate.



Uma Paro,

No tabloid photographers here; the remote mountain lodge is a great spot from which to explore Bhutan’s monasteries and temples and get spiritually in tune before returning to palace life.

Royal Treatment: After trekking through the country by bike or raft, couples can be pampered in the COMO Shambhala Retreat.



Uma Ubud, Bali
The luxurious retreat set in the tangled jungle is perfect for the couple that likes an exotic locale without giving up modern comforts.

Royal Treatment: The COMO Suite allows guests to have spa treatments in private in its private treatment area.


High Seas

Crystal Cruises

Couples can sail away on a luxurious cruise to spots around the globe – no need to pick just one. Romantic “must-sees” include Rome, Mykonos, and Casablanca, to name a few.

Royal Treatment: Enjoy a Couples Massage in the Feng-Shui inspired Crystal Spa or cozy up in the back row of the Hollywood Movie Theater and watch a first-run movie while sipping champagne.

fear not, travel far

September 15th, 2010

Anantara Lawana Exclusive Beachside Premier Private Pool Villa

Do the recent rumblings of a double-dip recession have you fearful to plan your next big trip? We come with good news – not only is travel a great stress reliever, but Lonely Planet just released a list of their favorite cheap countries for travel… and we have some insider information that won’t cause any harm on the NYSE. (more…)


June 14th, 2010

This summer, David Thompson, following the success of nahm at The Halkin in London, will be opening a second edition of the restaurant at the Metropolitan hotel in Bangkok – a return to the city that inspired his culinary path.  Following a soft opening in mid July, the restaurant will officially open by the end of the month.  Launched in 2001, nahm was the first Thai restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin star.  With the move, Thompson and nahm up the ante for diners, using local ingredients and letting the infamous Thai markets guide the menus.  Key dishes will include a jungle curry with snake-headed local fish known as pla chorn indigenous to the clear waters of rice paddies.  The restaurant will also be open for lunch and, for a fun take on a popular Bangkok tradition, will feature “street food” dishes.  (Speaking of which, don’t miss the September release of Thompson’s second cookbook, Thai Street Food.)


                           Ma hor                                             Crushed prawn curry with turmeric and coconut

The restaurant will occupy the former Cy’an and will be designed by Japanese interior architect Koichiro Ikebuchi, who also designed Uma Ubud in Bali and Aoki, a heralded Japanese restaurant in Singapore.  It will feature natural wood, including screens for privacy, and warm oranges and browns with shimmering bronze plates on tables. The space will be steeped in natural daylight and, in the evening, enriched by the soft lighting of the nearby outdoor pool.  Other features include a private dining room and terrace dining.


David Thompson is universally acknowledged as a leading authority on Thai food. Originally from Australia, he first travelled to Thailand in 1986 and moved to Bangkok a year later.  When he returned to Sydney in 1991, he opened his iconic Darley Street Thai restaurant, and, in 1995, he followed with Sailor’s Thai, which continues today.

congrats! you are engaged, now what?

March 8th, 2010

Is it just me or is everyone getting engaged?  Perhaps you love birds took advantage of Valentine’s Day falling on a long weekend this year. Congratulations if you are one of the lucky few we have spotted around town recently betrothed. Now let the planning begin! To help, here are few suggestions of locales to have the perfect destination wedding.

Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos
Getting married at a private island resort in the Caribbean is a fantastic kick-off to a new life.  Parrot Cay offers two beachfront setting for wedding ceremonies – a boardwalk aisle that leads to an unspoiled beach, or the beachfront of a private villa available for rent.  Parrot Cay also insists that stress need not be a part of the preparations; all weddings include the dedication of a planner to assist with all preparations, including reserving the dates, food and beverage details, music and entertainment, photography, and any other service requested.   Parrot Cay can accommodate small, intimate weddings, or can be bought out for larger weddings (up to 120 guests). 

Rosewood Mayakobá
, Mexico
Weddings at Rosewood Mayakobá are all about choices – choose stunning outdoor venues like the white sand beach or the Plaza with views of the resort, lagoon, and tropical jungle.  Three different restaurants are available to cater.  Retreat to the privacy of a private plunge pool after the ceremony, or come down a day early with the wedding party and receive treatments at the resort’s spa, Sense, which is its own private island. 

happy new year (again) at uma ubud

February 5th, 2010

Middle photo courtesy of balionstages.blogspot.com

Middle photo courtesy of balionstages.blogspot.com

2010 resolutions already abandoned? Start fresh and toast to another New Year with COMO Hotels and Resorts Uma Ubud in Bali. Celebrate Nyepi Day, the Balinese New Year and annual Day of Silence, by booking the resort’s special two-night package, March 15-17.

Arrive in Bali on the Day of the Dead Moon for a three-hour guided tour of Ubud and a taste of the New Year festivities: dancing, parades, and entertainment characteristic of the night before Nyepi Day (much like our New Year’s Eve!). Guests will find themselves immersed in the rich spirituality of Balinese culture through a host of Nyepi rituals and colorful processions of Ogoh-Ogoh, intricately crafted paper mâché models symbolizing evil spirits.

Make sure to satisfy your thirst for exploring on the Day of the Dead Moon. Uma Ubud asks guests to respect the Balinese traditions and remain on the grounds of the resort during the following Day of Silence, when villagers remain indoors, stores close, and lighting is kept to a soft mellow glow. This custom is meant to trick demons and bad spirits (the Ogoh-Ogoh) into abandoning the island, thereby establishing a healthier and happier start to the New Year.

Bask in the calm of the island through self-reflection and meditation with complimentary yoga classes or a relaxing 60-minute COMO Shambhala treatment. Guests will also enjoy a quiet, traditional Balinese Rijstaffel dinner (numerous side dishes served with rice) at the resort’s Kemiri restaurant. Package rates start from $780 based on two people sharing.

Other inclusions:
- Two-nights of accommodation
- Daily breakfast
- One three-course set lunch and dinner
- Return airport transfers

trips for the waist-conscious traveler…

September 21st, 2009

Fitness programs

There’s a new chill to the wind, with autumn just around the corner, but you can still work up a sweat with these three heart-pumping fitness programs from Crystal Cruises, Anantara Resorts & Spas and COMO Hotels.

Crystal Cruises: Illustrating its commitment to offering innovative wellness programs, luxury specialist Crystal Cruises is introducing Nordic Walking, fitness walking with lightweight poles, aboard its ships. Through an exclusive new partnership with LEKI USA, a leading manufacturer of skiing, trekking and Nordic Walking Poles, Crystal continues to break new ground in fitness options at sea. Specifically designed to engage the entire body, the Nordic Walking poles will be available complimentarily to guests aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity this October. Nordic Walking Poles specialist Rick Deutsch will be on board Crystal Serenity’s October 8 cruise from Athens to Venice, and Crystal Sympony’s October 19 cruise from New York to Montreal to teach the opening classes and train the ships’ fitness instructors, who will lead demonstrations on following voyages.

Anantara Madives: Surf’s up dude! Hang ten and conquer the wild waves with the Anantara Madives’ 5-star service ‘Ticket to Ride’ program. Anantara Resorts & Spas has partnered with the award winning Australian company Tropic Surf to offer an unforgettable experience for all – from beginners, to intermediate and advanced surfers. Your surf-pass entitles you to quite the package: two dhoni boat transfers per day to your designated surfing area, as well as expert guides, board valet, surf reports, movie and information nights, and more. The lessons are intimate, too – only eight surfers are permitted to book the program at any one time to ensure personal, one-on-one coaching and safe, un-crowded seas. Make sure to book in advance to save. Depending on which program you choose, costs can range from $175-$990 for prepaid bookings prior to your arrival, and from $195-$1,120 for payments at the resort.

COMO Hotels: COMO Hotels’ exclusive, luxurious, and life-changing yoga retreats are taught by top yogis in unbelievable settings. Judy Krupp, who led a retreat at Uma Paro in July, was the returning guru this year, joined by newcomers Elena Brower and Sarah Powers. The workshops provide nearly five hours of daily practice with the masters and are held at COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali, Parrot Cay in Bali, and Uma Paro in Bhutan. Students at all levels have unparalleled access to these yoga rock stars, as well as to the renowned COMO Shambhala Retreat spas. The weeklong programs include six nights accommodation, most meals, and airport transfers. Single occupancy rates start at $5,681 at Parrot Cay, $3,515 at The Estate, $4,668 at Uma Paro; and double occupancy rates begin at $8,669 at Parrot Cay, and $7,056 at Uma Paro. All three properties offer daily yoga classes, as do most other COMO Hotels including Cocoa Island in the Maldives, and Uma Ubud, also in Bali. Daily Pilates classes are also offered at COMO Shambhala Estate and Parrot Cay.

alternative holidays

September 15th, 2009

Not looking forward to packing the beach gear or the skis this holiday season?

These unconventional end-of-year getaways will scratch the travel itch. Rounded up here are cozy and kid-friendly locales for families, unique spots for adventurers and enriching destinations for those craving cultural stimuli.  

Family Festivities

89 Church Lawn

WHAT:  Getaway to a Country Cottage

WHERE: National Trust Holiday Cottages – UK

WHY: Because a trip to the English countryside with a family membership in the Royal Oak Foundation to see old castles and gardens (for free!) could just be the best present for the Harry Potter-loving kids (or parents).

DETAILS, DETAILS: With over 360 cottages from which to choose, here are a few:

  • Emley Farmhouse in Surrey sleeps up to 10 and has a traditional country kitchen, perfect for that big Christmas dinner. A three night stay starts at $740.35, a seven night stay, $1416.75.
  • 89 Church Lawn in Wiltshire sleeps up to seven and has exclusive access to the National Trust’s stunning winter gardens. You can even go fishing in the beautiful lake. A three night stay starts at $590, a seven night stay, $1065.50.
  • Abermydyr in Wales sits on the banks of the River Aeron and sleeps up to six. Brings the kids here for the Christmas food and craft fair at Llanerchaeron, a Trust protected gentry estate. A three night stay starts at $493.50, a seven night stay, $957.30.

Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa

WHAT: Swiss Family Reunion

WHERE: The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa – Interlaken, Switzerland

WHY: Christmas dinners, a Children’s Party for New Year’s Eve, and Dad treating Mom to a Festive Foam Bath with winter aromas and champagne all conspire for festive fun.

DETAILS, DETAILS: Splash Hour at the pool, the Zurich Zoo and the St. Beatus caves will thrill the kids, and fitness classes, Turkish baths, and professional childcare will restore their parents’ sanity. Rates start at $877 per night for double occupancy.


Adventurers Only

Extraordinary Animal Encounters at Anantara Desert Islands

WHAT:  Arabian Eco-experience

WHERE: Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa – Sir Bani Yas Island, UAE

WHY: It feeds the craving for sun while heeding the call of the wild.

DETAILS, DETAILS: Home to one of Abu Dhabi’s largest Arabian wildlife conservancies, guests can go hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, take a game drive, or learn archery. Double occupancy rates start at $537 per night; book at least 30 days in advance to receive a 15% discount.

Uma Paro, Bhutan

 WHAT: Modern Day Pilgrimage

WHERE: Uma Paro – Bhutan  

WHY: Because hiking to a Buddhist monastery sure beats waiting in line at a department store with frantic holiday shoppers.

DETAILS, DETAILS: One of its many active adventures includes a trek to Tiger’s Nest monastery, located in the sheer cliffs 2,700 feet above Paro Valley and a peaceful orchard picnic with spectacular views. For the month of December, double occupancy rates start at $330 per night.

 Crystal Cruise's Symphony in Antarctica

WHAT: Chance to Step Foot on Antarctica

WHERE: Crystal Cruise’s Symphony departs from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile.   

WHY: Due to an upcoming ban on cruise ships in the Antarctic Ocean, this will be Crystal’s final voyage to the area.

DETAILS, DETAILS: In addition to visiting amazing locales in South America, six thrill-seekers will take the rare overland trip to Antarctica to see remote villages, a petrified forest, and a penguin breeding ground. Rates start at $8,995, double occupancy.

Cultural Cravings

 The Royal Mansour, Marrakech

WHAT: Revelation in the Red City 

WHERE: Royal Mansour Marrakech – Morocco 

WHY: It will be impossible to miss the carolers when exploring Djemma El-fna, a square in the historical district of town known for having the best musicians, dancers and storytellers.

DETAILS, DETAILS:  When in this city of cultural fusions be sure to visit the Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian Tombs, and the largest souk (traditional market) in Morocco to bargain for spices or clothing or tea pots. Riads start at €1,500 a night.     

      Uma Ubud Terrace Room

WHAT: Balinese New Beginning

WHERE: Uma Ubud – Bali  

WHY: What better way to start the year then with the New Year package’s complimentary massage on the first day of 2010.   

DETAILS, DETAILS: Guests will see the village decorated with traditional bamboo poles and banana leaves and enjoy a Balinese-inspired New Year’s Eve dinner, followed by a cocktail party with DJ at the pool bar. Rates start at $260 per night, double occupancy.

Mahout Training at Elephant Camp 

WHAT: A Resolution Well-Kept

WHERE: Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa, Chiang Rai, Thailand 

WHY: Utilizing those new Thai cooking skills back home will keep the post-holiday gloom at bay.

DETAILS, DETAILS: The cooking lessons are just the beginning of the cultural immersion; at the Elephant Camp (part of the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre), a 30-minute lesson will teach adventurers to drive an elephant. Rates start at $520, double occupancy.