With the incessant rise of social media making us all the star of our own timelines, a holiday photo of you with a python wrapped around your neck is just not going to cut it anymore.
Luxury hotels are always conjuring up ways to up the ante and offer their guests something truly unique. Something their friends have never done, an excursion to a place they’ve never heard of, or coming face-to-face with a creature they have only seen on wildlife shows.
So, if you want a holiday snap that will garner you a wealth of ‘likes’ and some very jealous friends, stay at one of these five-star hotels for a jaw-dropping, once-in-a-lifetime experience that will make the Smiths’ package holiday to Alicante look like a trip to the local supermarket.
1. Swim with whale sharks and manta rays in the Maldives
With 103 spacious luxury villas spread across a remote jungle wilderness, a stay at this alluring island hideaway will allow you to experience the charms of nature in a luxurious resort setting. You’ll also get the chance to channel your inner Jacques Cousteau and become a manta ray scientist for a day, in conjunction with the Maldivian Manta Ray Project at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru.
Your journey of discovery into the underwater world begins when you meet up with some of the world’s leading experts on manta rays aboard a dhoni. You will cruise the turquoise waters of the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, where you’ll learn to spot the gentle giants in the water, help record essential environmental information, and learn to take identification photos – a critical component of manta ray conservation. To top it off, you’ll then free-dive into the Indian Ocean to observe manta rays and whale sharks in their natural underwater habitat.
2. Safari in South Africa
Ulusaba is Sir Richard Branson’s private game reserve in South Africa. Set entirely within the Sabi Sand Reserve near Kruger National Park, surrounded by about 33,000 acres of open bush, Ulusaba is the ultimate luxury safari destination.
From bush games and safari walks to cocktails by the pool and treatments in the spa, there’s no shortage of things to do during the day at Ulusaba. However, they do offer one activity that is on most people’s bucket list – and that’s a game drive to see lions, buffalos, leopards, elephants and rhinos, the ‘big five’ as they are known. There are two daily game drives at Ulusaba, one leaving early in the morning and one leaving late afternoon, each lasting around three hours. You’ll traverse over 13,500 hectares of private reserve with your dedicated Ranger and Tracker, who will tailor your game drive just for you. All you have to do is remember to bring your camera!
3. Hot air balloon over the Grand Canyon
Nestled within a natural arena of rugged rock formations, Enchantment offers five-star accommodations and impeccable service in the beautiful Red Rock Country. The luxury resort stands at the doorway of secluded Boynton Canyon, in the American south-west near the spectacular Grand Canyon National Park.
Enchantment Resort offers its guests a number of ways to experience the spectacular scenery of Sedona and beautiful Red Rock Country, but the most impressive, in our view, is from a hot air balloon drifting gently with the wind. Book a sunrise tour for the best views. Hop in the basket, wait with anticipation as the balloon inflates with hot air, then hold on as you start to rise along with the morning sun. Simply stunning!
4. A Private Tour of the Vatican
Perched high above the city on Monte Mario, Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria is one of the most beautiful hotels in the Eternal City. Tradition and luxury go hand-in-hand here, where historic works of art are complemented by Rome’s only Michelin-three-starred restaurant, La Pergola.
A stay at Rome Cavalieri is an experience in itself. But there is one excursion the hotel offers that will make your stay in Rome a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that’s a private tour around the most sacred and revered sights of Rome. Step through a secret entrance to Saint Peter’s Basilica, passing the tombs of Saint Peter and holy Popes, gaining a view of Michelangelo’s Pietá and The Canopy by Bernini. Next, you’ll be taken to key areas of the vast Vatican galleries, culminating in a private tour of the Sistine Chapel, where you can stand alone and contemplate the beauty of Michaelangelo’s ceiling away from the usual crowds.
5. A Week-long Mediterranean Yacht Charter
The Wellesley, in London’s Knightsbridge, is a classy Art Deco-inspired hotel, oozing with luxury and refinement. However, if the chandeliered lobby, bespoke rooms, and fine-dining of one of London’s most glamorous hotels isn’t enough of a treat for you, how about a week-long Mediterranean escape on your own luxury yacht.
Available for €240,000 (approx. £201,392) per week, 56-metre superyacht MY The Wellesley has three decks, a sundeck and Jacuzzi, as well as diving equipment, jet skis, an outdoor cinema and a private chef. It sleeps 12 guests in six ensuite cabins, as well as a permanent crew of 12 - on hand to cater to every whim. Bespoke furniture, black and white portraits and a 1920s style makes the yacht feel like a seamless extension of the hotel. Although, a look at the weather outside and you’ll soon learn the differences between London and Liguria.