2018 Gift Guide: Incredible Experience Gifts for Travel Lovers

2018 Gift Guide: Incredible Experience Gifts for Travel Lovers

Whoever said memories can’t be bought clearly isn’t familiar with the concept of experiential travel. Slide a couple tickets for one of these over-the-top trips under the tree, and get ready to win the holidays.

For Thrill Seekers…

Go on safari at British Columbia’s Clayoquot Wilderness Resort

Gift Guide, Experiences: Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Photo by Tom Cahalan.

This may be glamping at its finest, but don’t get your heart set on breakfast in bed; there are so many black bears in the pristine Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve that all guests are strictly prohibited from bringing any food into their tents. And though you won’t likely come face to face with a bear, you will have plenty of opportunities to view orcas, humpbacks, sea lions, bald eagles, and even cougars.

Even Better: Sustainability is at the heart of this resort, where all seafood served is Ocean Wise certified and 3 percent of every stay funds an Environmental Legacy Program to preserve and protect the rainforests and enhance native salmon stock.

For Cosmopolitan Humanists…

Treat yourself to a stay at Switzerland’s Beau-Rivage Genève

Gift Guide, Experiences: Beau-Rivage Genève
Photo courtesy of Beau-Rivage Genève.

Geneva is the most international city in Switzerland and home to the European headquarters of the United Nations. The Beau-Rivage Genève was Kofi Annan’s favorite hotel and Eleanor Roosevelt stayed here while working on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The newly renovated presidential suite is named after her, although all 95 rooms are spacious and elegant. Enjoy panoramic views of the Jet d’Eau, St. Peter’s Cathedral, and Mont Blanc from your private terrace.

Even Better: The last family-owned hotel in town, Beau-Rivage continues its humanitarian legacy as the main sponsor of the Red Cross Ball and defending children’s rights with the Buakhao White Lotus Foundation.

For Animal Lovers…

Support baby sea turtles at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Southwest Florida

Gift Guide, Experiences: LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort
Photo courtesy of LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort.

The loggerhead sea turtle nesting season runs from May to October in Southwest Florida, and guests at LaPlaya in Naples can book a “sea turtle suite” to help save this endangered species. The package includes dinner on the white sandy beach, adopting a sea turtle, and visiting the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and you’ll even receive “turtle tweets” throughout your stay, alerting you to on-property sea turtle sightings and upcoming releases.

Even Better: LaPlaya donates a portion of proceeds from this package to the conservancy, whose mission is to protect Florida’s unique natural environment.

For Feminist Foodies…

Enjoy a kaiseki meal at Tokyo’s women-run restaurant Tsurutokame

Gift Guide, Experiences: Tsurutokame
Photo courtesy of Tsurutokame.

Sexism is still alive and well in the Japanese restaurant industry, but one Tokyo restaurateur is narrowing the gender gap. Three years ago Osamu Mikuni opened Tsurutokame, a restaurant operated entirely by women serving a traditional kaiseki tasting menu. The constantly changing menu features sashimi-style and grilled fish chosen daily from a renowned local fish market, miso-based soup, and delicate small plates. All the women live communally in an apprentice-style environment, attending opera together and taking classes in traditional calligraphy and tea ceremonies. They’re proving doubters wrong one exquisite bite at a time.

Even Better: Here, aspiring female chefs find a level of culinary training that women cannot find elsewhere in Japan.

For Die-Hard Chocoholics…

Make bean-to-bar chocolate at Copal Tree Lodge in Belize

Gift Guide, Experiences: Copal Tree Lodge
Photo courtesy of Copal Tree Lodge.

Tour the 120-acre criollo cacao nursery, the largest organic cacao plantation in Belize, then taste fresh, fruity cacao pulp straight from the pod before learning to crack, winnow, roast, grind, conch, and temper it to a smooth liquor. The sweetest part? Making your own bar to take home.

Even Better: Conservation and local economic development are core values here. Sustainably caught seafood is purchased from local day boat fishermen; chocolate, coffee, and rum are produced on-site; and 70 percent of the food served to guests is from native and heirloom crops grown on the resort’s 3,000-acre organic farm.


Feature photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash.

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