Travel gifts require no gift wrapping. They can even be booked at the last minute. So, do some research and pick out the perfect gift of experience and lasting memories.
FOR THE CRUISERS (OR WATER LOVERS) ON YOUR LIST
Cruising can give you much needed away-from-the-crowds social distancing time with your significant other. Consider these varied experiences for those who love adventure or for the special someone who prefers to simply chill and soak in the gorgeous scenery. You can stay close to shore or venture far away. Or maybe try both.
The Maine Coast
Can’t wait to go sailing but not ready to pull out your passport? Give the gift of a special-interest Windjamming cruise on one of the Maine Windjammer Association’s nine hand-built tall ships. In the middle of coastal Maine, America’s largest fleet of Windjammers offer a thrilling multi-day adventure at sea. Select a classic cruise for your gift or a specialty cruise ranging from wellness and yoga to wine appreciation, a musical voyage, or a sail with culinary master classes. Cruise prices start at $200 per night, depending on the vessel and special theme.
Antarctica with a Touch of Argentina
Gift a bucket-list cruise this holiday season. On the gorgeous Scenic Eclipse, The World’s First Discovery Yacht™, you’ll have a chance to experience the least-populated area on the planet on the 13-day Scenic Antarctica in Depth voyage. Taking a maximum of 200 passengers, the cruise includes two stops in Argentina — Buenos Aires and Ushuaia — as part of the itinerary to the frozen continent where the penguins have been wondering what happened to all the people over the past two years. Priced from $14,695 per person based on double occupancy, this is a special gift, one that you’ll remember forever. Butler service, naturalist lectures and an expedition parka to prepare you for the polar climes are included. Add to that a luxury spa, yoga and Pilates studio, two helicopters and a submarine and you have the makings of a true trip-of-a-lifetime. Multiple dates are available for this Scenic Luxury Cruises special.
River Cruising in the South of France
Stay closer to land as you cruise the Saône and Rhône rivers on the eight-day Sensations of Lyon and Provence itinerary on an Emerald Cruises Star-Ship. The gorgeous Emerald Liberté holds a maximum of 132 guests and celebrates France’s past and present with stops at storied ports including Arles (think Vincent van Gogh), Avignon (le Palais des Papes and the bridge of song fame) and Lyon, the capital city in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and the country’s gastronomic hub. Visits to the area’s beautiful vineyards and towns are the stars of the itinerary with guided port tours along with guided biking, hiking and canoeing. Most meals are included showcasing the world-class cuisine of the region. Priced from $2,395 per person based on double occupancy, the cruise is offered on multiple dates.
Sail the Italian Coast
Plan ahead for a 2022 sailing on a gorgeous clipper ship with Star Clippers Amalfi & Sicily. On multiple dates from mid-June through mid-October, you’ll sail along the Amalfi Coast visiting stunning Sorrento and Amalfi with a stop in Messina, Sicily. Uncrowding is the norm with a maximum of 166 guests on-board, and the scenery is a photographer’s dream. Plus you’ll have the experience of sailing on a four-masted, 16-sail full-rigged tall ship set up for your personal comfort with expansive teak decks, swimming pools, tropical bars, piano lounges and a lively dining room. The price is reasonable, too, starting at $1,850 per person based on double occupancy.
Yachting on the Ecuadorian Coast
Visit western South America with Kontiki Expeditions. The new expedition line offers a one-week cruise along the Ecuadorian coast, visiting seldom-visited ports and offering a cultural, environmentally conscious adventure. Enjoy sailing on a lavishly appointed yacht with a maximum of 18 guests and attentive service. If you’ve been to the Galapagos, this cruise will expand your Ecuadorian repertoire with coastal ports without the tourist throngs. The Kontiki Wayra’s small size lets you glide into harbors that larger ships cannot approach, where you’ll meet with naturalists and locals who will share their chocolate-making secrets, the exclusivity of the Toquilla hat (widely but inaccurately known as a Panama hat), and the blue-footed boobies and other indigenous creatures of the region. If you have a group in mind for this gift, you can charter the yacht for your own private sail, too. Prices for a week begin at $7245 per person, based on double occupancy.
A Houseboat Fantasy
Here’s a bucket-list travel gift for someone who likes boats but doesn’t want to cruise. For an unforgettable Fourth of July. The Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor, Maine is offering an indulgent three-night stay on their luxurious houseboat in Somes Sound, the location of the only fjord in North America. Priced at $25,000, the “Ultimate Nautical Escape” features a floating suite with king-size bed, bathroom with shower and a fully stocked kitchenette. But you won’t be doing any cooking — your personal Boat Butler will stock all cabinets with breakfast essentials and deliver a picnic lunch and spectacular dinner each day. The Boat Butler will also light the gas fire pit each night, set out charcuterie and Champagne, coordinate a massage on the upper deck, arrange a sunset serenade, and attend to any whims. You’ll also receive a departure gift bag of the hotel’s signature items.
Tahiti by Land and Water
How about a combination land-sea holiday? Enjoy Tahiti both ways with Windstar Cruises’ Dreams of Tahiti. The special package includes round-trip air to Papeete, Tahiti from Los Angeles and one night pre-cruise and one night post-cruise accommodations at the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort. The cruise itself on the four-masted sail Wind Spirit holds only 148 guests and sails for seven days among the gorgeous Tahitian islands. The package is priced starting at $4,552 per guest based on double occupancy and includes meals and water sports as well.
Miami Stay and Sail
If leaving the US still doesn’t fit your needs, Stay One Degree and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group have teamed with the Stay & Sail experience for a Miami on-the-water and from-the-sea package, with two nights at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami and a full-day or overnight yacht cruise. To make this combo program even more glam, you’ll be transported to and from the marina via private limousine. The customizable package is priced from $16,750 based on four adults and can be booked by emailing mo****************@mo**.com.
FOR AN EXCEPTIONAL ONE-NIGHT STAY IN NORTH AMERICA
For the Art Lover
Book a one-night stay at the art-filled The Saint Kate, Milwaukee. Dubbed The Arts Hotel, the Saint Kate features a notable collection of modern art in various galleries in the hotel. Works by local and nationally acclaimed artists in permanent residency and revolving exhibits invite exploration of the corridors and rooms where innovative and electric pieces light up the night. To celebrate your self-guided art tour, you’ll have a duet of Champagne at the bar before you retreat to your art-filled room where you’ll find retro touches like a record player (you can borrow records from the vinyl library in the lobby) and a ukulele. Rates start at $211 per night per room.
Step Back in Time
Gift the Streetcar Experience to Be Desired package for a nostalgic trip through New Orleans on a private streetcar ride on the historic 19th-century St. Charles line. Your streetcar will be customized with music and décor to suit your special occasion. A local historian will await your arrival, ready to share the sights and sounds of the Crescent City as you explore one of its most charming neighborhoods. After, at the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, you’ll indulge in a wine-paired dinner at Miss River, Alon Shaya’s “love letter to Louisiana,” before retreating to your suite to relax and recharge. Once home, you’ll receive an online album with professional photographs from your Streetcar Experience to be Desired. Price varies by date.
Foodies, Head North
Member of Relais & Châteaux, boutique Quebec City hotel Auberge Saint-Antoine extends an invitation for dining in a terrace side greenhouse and a comfy winter stay with the Stars & Pillows package. The overnight package is priced starting at $725 per night and includes accommodations in a terrace room with a four-course private dining and wine experience for two in a heated outdoor greenhouse. Enjoy a romantic candle lit dinner with views of the St. Lawrence River, Chateaux Frontenac and Vieux Quebec. Should you decide to capitalize on the romantic appeal of the experience, the concierge will arrange an elopement under the stars with an intimate ceremony in the greenhouse.
Golfing and Spa Luxury
The Take Your Time package at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa gives you all the time you need to relax and rejuvenate in the midst of beautiful Sonoma Valley. Wine, golf and hot springs are taken at a slow pace to encourage the pure act of enjoying the moment. While you could venture off-property to explore the vineyards of the area, you just might want to languish in the European-style spa, in the hot springs, or maybe add a second round of golf to your already packed “relaxation” schedule. If you book by January 5, 2022, you’ll get 30% off any stays until October 31, 2022.
WITH MORE TIME TO SPEND: LONGER NORTH AMERICA VACAYS
Hawaiian Island Dreams
Bask in gracious Hawaiian hospitality and the serenity of the Fairmont Orchid’s coastal retreat in the tradition of the royals. Expect only the best with a stay on the resort’s concierge floor with Fairmont’s Gold Experience with privileged services including private check-in and valet services. You’ll never want to leave the Big Island – not only does it offer white and black sand beaches, but it is also home to lush jungles and two active volcanoes at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
The Romance of the Train
Do you have a train lover on your gift recipient list? Rocky Mountaineer offers two-day, luxury glass-domed train journeys that showcase the gorgeous scenery of North America. Rocky Mountaineer’s four rail routes connect Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper or the Rockies to the Red Rocks between Denver and Moab, Utah. To add to the sensory experience, you’ll enjoy fine cuisine and a relaxing sojourn. Pricing for the Canadian routes begins at $1,271USD per person with the US route priced starting at $1,399USD per person.
When you book three or more nights at a Salt Lake lodging property through the West of Conventional program, you’ll receive two free mid-week Salt Lake Ski Super Passes at the area’s acclaimed Alta, Snowbird, Brighton or Solitude slopes. For the perfect complement to a gorgeous day of skiing, you can choose two Salt Lake Brewery passes to any of Salt Lake’s 14 artisanal breweries or two Salt Lake Connect Attractions passes that include choices like the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Natural Curiosity and the Clark Planetarium Dome Theater.
Spa, Luxe, Rock and Roll
Fête the advent of 2022 with an indulgent music-lovers package at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Designed for two people, the Double Platinum Package includes a two-night stay in a suite, tickets to a show, a VIP Table at the Lobby Bar, a $222 Dining Credit, a couples massage at Rock Spa & Salon, swag bags and an ultra-exclusive private memorabilia tour. This $2022 package, which must be booked by the end of February, is so special that you have a personal contact to arrange and customize it at **@hr****.com
It’s All About Broadway
This holiday season, give the gift of Broadway with a show-and-stay package at two New York City hotels. Crowne Plaza HY36’s Broadway Package gives guests who purchase three Broadway tickets 50% off the final night of a minimum two-night stay plus a curated welcome bag and two complimentary Broadway-themed cocktails at their on-site restaurant Burgerology. Located in the middle of the Theater District, the InterContinental New York Times Square’s Broadway is Back Package gives travelers half off their third weeknight stay, a Broadway history walking tour with Broadway Up Close, and a specially curated Broadway playlist.
TRAVEL TO EUROPE AND BEYOND
The Bordeaux Wine Tour
Appropriately named Decanter Tours will book accommodations and meals to your taste to accompany the ultimate Bordeaux wine tour in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France. For two to five days, the private guided tour with châteaux visits, wine tastings and minibus transportation has rates beginning at 850€ per person. If appellations like Pessac-Leognan, Saint-Émilion, Margaux, Medoc, Pauillac and St. Estephe are only slightly familiar to you when you book the tour, you will come away with an in-depth knowledge so you can create your own wow tasting when you return home.
A Portuguese Wine and Island Holiday
Hide away, enjoy water activities, and eat, drink and take in the beautiful scenery in a setting not overrun with selfie takers. The Portuguese island of Madeira is rich in volcanic hills and pebbly beaches, delectable seafood, bucket list-worthy hiking and canyoning trails, and award-winning Madeira wine. Surf, whale watch, or just hang on the beach – there’s a lot to do or nothing to do if you so choose. Thanks to Inovtravel, there are now nonstop flights from New York to Funchal, Madeira’s capital city, as well as a variety of travel packages to celebrate the new ease of reaching the beautiful Portuguese island. Weeklong packages include flights as well as five-star accommodations and start at $1299 per person.
Love, Italian Style
Has your partner just finished reading “Eat Pray Love?” Then you might want to consider this luxe, “discovery” package for two from Hotel Poseidon Positano. Enveloping you in “la dolce vita,” the package includes a five-night stay in a suite with private terrace overlooking the sea and the dramatic Positano coastline, a three-course lunch or dinner, a couple’s massage, and more, priced at just €2100. You’ll also savor the area’s delights with a welcome bottle of wine, a drive along the Amalfi Coast in the hotel’s vintage VW convertible Beetle (with a driver, of course) and more. The exclusive program can be booked by emailing in**@ho*******************.it.
Truffle Hunting in Provence
Thanks to Relais & Châteaux’ Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa in the heart of France’s Luberon Valley, gastronomes have the option for an earthy behind-the-scenes scavenger hunt in one of the world’s most secretive business. Driving your own Mercedes SMART car, you’ll begin your adventure with an early morning visit to the Provence truffle markets in Vaucluse. At La Truffe du Ventoux third-generation truffle hunters Franck and Alexis Jaumard welcome you for an exclusive tour of their truffle farm led by the noses of two resident truffle hounds, Mirette and Polka. You’ll then indulge in a truffle-themed lunch at the Domaine Jaumard where the “black diamond” is the star of the menu. To add more truffles to your day, dinner is at Coquillade’s Avelan fine dining restaurant where Chef Thierry Enderlin prepares a truffle tasting menu showcasing regional flavors with international classics. The tour can be scheduled from mid-November to mid-March at $1,607 for two people.
Diving in the South Pacific
Give your favorite diver or diver wannabe an all-inclusive package to Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji, the premier eco-luxury and scuba diving destination in the South Pacific. The South Pacific Dive & Rejuvenate Package focuses on meaningful activities designed for guests for a cultural and natural immersion. Included are traditional Fijian storytelling, indigenous healing spa treatments, guided excursions with the resident marine biologist, and diving in the underwater world of the South Pacific. Customize the timing and activities with pricing starting at $330 USD per adult per night.