There’s a common saying that experiences trump things, and research backs up the fact that experiences provide longer-lasting happiness than any material possession.
This holiday season, gift the travelers on your list the luxury vacation of their wildest dreams.
From the most jet-set island in the Caribbean, South Pacific and Indian Ocean paradises to the most decadent slopeside escapes in the Alps and the Rockies, we’ve got you covered when it comes to thinking outside the (gift) box with travel experiences to remember.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Screensavers of Bora Bora’s legendary lagoon, backed by the peaks of Mt. Otemanu, simply can’t do this otherworldly destination in French Polynesia justice. Bora Bora simply has to be experienced at least once in a lifetime for anyone who considers themselves a connoisseur of the tropical good life.
Luxury resorts surround the lagoon, and there’s no shortage of overwater bungalows from which to choose. But if you’re looking for something truly superlative, it’s hard to match what a stay at The St. Regis Bora Bora can offer.
For starters, the overwater bungalows are the most spacious in all of Bora Bora. Step down from yours into the calm lagoon and you can find yourself snorkeling atop colorful coral heads among schooling fish. The resort’s famed restaurant, Lagoon, has incredible views of Mt. Otemanu. The spa at The St. Regis Bora Bora, tucked away on its own private island, offers Polynesian and Balinese-inspired treatments with a backdrop of fragrant flowering trees.
Insider Tip: Ask the hotel’s concierge to arrange an unforgettable day out snorkeling and picnicking on your own private motu (islet) in the lagoon.
Jeff Bezos and Roman Abramovich are a mere sampling of the billionaires who’ve chosen this beautiful and gastronomically-minded Caribbean island as their vacation destination du jour.
In the French West Indies, St. Barts is an overseas territory of France, so don’t be surprised to hear “bonjour » everywhere and see foie gras, Champagne and charcuterie alongside the region’s impeccable fresh seafood on every island menu.
You’ll want to book a stay at one of the island’s toniest hotels like the 61-key Cheval Blanc, offering a collection of rooms, suites and villas fronting the sea, or the legendary Eden Roc in St. Jean Bay, where Greta Garbo and Rockefellers have all bedded down.
For a unique wellness-minded stay, Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa offers guests unique water healing therapies that incorporate La Mer products, Nordic vitality pools and aquatic Tibetan singing bowls into the island’s stunning backdrops of coves and lagoons.
Insider Tip: Beefbar a favorite Monte Carlo restaurant transported to the Caribbean, is opening in time for this winter season and is sure to be one of the island’s most scenic new spots.
For stateside luxury on the slopes with a village-like feel and where everything is pleasantly walkable, it’s impossible to top Colorado’s downhill ski scene. Aspen’s appeal comes in its end-of-the-valley location surrounded by snowy peaks, paired with a town brimming with world-class restaurants, boutiques and bars for when you put away your ski boots for the day (that said, you hardly need to head up the hill to have a sublime time in Aspen).
Aspen’s most decadent address for a stay is right at the base of Aspen Mountain at The Little Nell, a Relais & Châteaux resort where guests enjoy a private ski concierge and end the day at the hotel’s Wine Bar, one of Aspen’s hottest spots for après-ski. The hotel spa is being completely renovated in time for the 2023/2024 ski season, too.
Check into one of the 52 guest rooms overlooking either the mountain or town, all with gas log fireplaces in the sitting area where you can snuggle around after coming in from the cold.
Insider tip: Shop for barely-used designer goods at Aspen’s finest consignment boutique, The Little Bird, near the town’s pretty pedestrian mall.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland’s answer to Aspen is the Alpine enclave of St. Moritz.
Located in Switzerland’s Engadin Valley, the mountain town has twice hosted the Winter Olympics and is as famous for its downhill ski runs and family-fun sledding runs as for the legendary après-ski scene that brings out the beautiful people in droves.
There is simply no address more storied in St. Moritz than Badrutt’s Palace. Open since 1896 and named to the World’s 50 Best Hotels in 2023, it welcomes discerning guests with 155 rooms right in the heart of the town and overlooking either the lake or the charming village center. The hotel has 10 restaurants and three bars inside, including the celebrated La Coupole – Matsuhisa, Chef Nobu’s premium restaurant where sampling the signature black cod with miso is a rite of passage.
Insider Tip: For St. Moritz’s most glam nightlife, hit King’s Social House in Badrutt’s Palace. Said to be Switzerland’s oldest nightclub, it hosts world-class DJs nightly during the busy winter season and has no set closing time, so the party always goes late.
For far-flung tropical island destinations home to the world’s most luxurious retreats, the Maldives always makes the list. But knowing where to go within this remote Indian Ocean chain of over 1,200 coral atolls, islands and sandbanks can be daunting.
Luckily, we’ve researched for you when it comes to one of the Maldives’ most memorable stays.
Guests arrive by private seaplane charter or yacht to Velaa Private Island, some 116 miles from the capital city, Male, and home to just 46 ultra-luxurious villas, including some that are accessible from the main resort only via boat. The resort also boasts the only covered tennis court in all of the Maldives, the country’s only snow room (one of the spa’s many over-the-top features) and a kids club with its own aqua park. Absolutely no amenity gets overlooked here.
Insider Tip: Plan to spend a night or longer in Doha or Dubai on your way to the Maldives to make the most of journeying to the other side of the world.