Published June 28, 2007
For many of us, travel is an opportunity to step away from our routines and experience life at a different pace. Heading to the beach or relaxing at a spa can certainly take your mind off of your typical daily cares. But, to truly get away from it all, why not seek out a distinctly different destination? Read on to explore some uniquely appealing getaways and unusual places to rest your weary head.
No man is an island – But men and women alike can experience the ultimate in alone time by staying on a private island. If Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island is just out of your vacation budget, don’t despair. Dream Island, a private motu (island of sand) located in a lagoon of Mooréa, French Polynesia, is a fantasy getaway for a more down-to-earth price. With only three houses on the entire island, all crafted in the traditional Polynesian style, you’ll feel like the white-sand beaches and the lush vegetation are part of your own private South Pacific paradise. The Tahitian-inspired bungalows have roofs thatched from local, braided plants and rooms that open to picturesque views of a shimmering blue lagoon and breathtaking ocean sunsets. Now that’s what I call getting away from it all! (www.dream-island.com) Just to warn you, the website is slow, and a bit difficult to navigate, but the destination is said to be a hidden gem, and well worth the behind-the-times website.
Cold as ice – For a uniquely chilling vacation destination, head to the Ice Hotel, 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden. Open from December through the end of the April, this hotel is an architectural wonder, as it is carved from pure ice and snow into a unique and beautiful structure each winter. Incredible ice-artists travel from all over the world to add their creative touch to the hotel, whose walls are covered with original snow-carved artwork, and whose furniture is carved from pure ice blocks. This marvel of ice and snow is an ideal retreat for those who enjoy cold hands and warm hearts. After sipping cocktails in-the-rocks (glasses carved out of pure ice blocks), and dining on regional delicacies in the Ice Hotel restaurant, you’ll retire to your uniquely carved ice room and spend the night snuggled in arctic sleeping bags on snow mattresses covered in reindeer hide. If this arctic experience sounds a little too cold for your blood, Ice Hotel offers warm accommodations, as well. You can tour the magical, sparkling hotel by day (please keep in mind that, during the winter, daytime in the arctic is as dark and beautiful as the night). Then sleep in one of the toasty chalets on the property – such as the Northern Lights Chalet, which has skylights placed above each bed, so that you can fall asleep while gazing at the Northern Lights. Whether your accommodations are cold, warm, or a mix of both, you’re sure to bring home unusually cool stories from this vacation! (www.icehotel.com/winter)
Tree-top travels – You may have thought that your days of playing in tree houses were a thing of the past. Not so if you visit the Green Magic Nature Resort in Kerala, India. Located amidst 500 acres of tropical rainforest, the Green Magic tree houses are eco-lodges built 86 feet above the ground, allowing for uncompromised views of the lush forest and its inhabitants. Natural springs, mosses, tree ferns, flowering plants, brightly colored butterflies and exotic birds all call Kerala home. To reach your tree-top hideaway, you can either use a cane elevator that works with a water based counter-weight, or you can traverse a rope bridge from the side of the main building. Despite its remote locale, the Green Magic Nature Resort offers tree house rooms with modern amenities, including double beds, attached bathrooms (with flushing toilets, sinks and showers), and a veranda that provides truly magical views. Best of all, the houses are made from eco-friendly materials. The fruits and vegetables served at the resort are locally and organically grown and are served, in traditional style, on banana leaves. The Swiss Family Robinson never had it so good! (www.tourindiakerala.com/treehouse)