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During lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people used their free time to take up new hobbies or develop current ones. As the world opens up again, it’s the perfect time to plan a trip that brings the opportunity to indulge in one of your favorite new (or old) passions. Some took up a new sport, with outdoor activities usually a great way to social distance, and we’ve got plenty of those on this list, from surfing to rock climbing. But you’ll find culinary experiences, creative pursuits and many other options too.
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Iceland is renowned for its breathtaking scenery with everything from countless waterfalls to soaring volcanic mountains and black sand beaches. Aspiring stargazers should consider a stay at Hotel Rangá. Located in the southern part of the country close to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and some of the most famous waterfalls, including Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Brush up on your constellations and look forward to evenings at the hotel’s advanced stargazing observatory, a custom-built observatory with a roll-off roof, two high quality telescopes, and an on-site astronomy expert if you need any guidance. On a clear night with aurora activity (most often during the winter though anytime from mid-September through early April), you might catch the Northern Lights too.
Many people spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen creating new recipes or perfecting old ones. If you’re into cooking, the Dutch Caribbean Island of Bonaire offers a burgeoning culinary scene along with everything else the region is known for like beautiful beaches and turquoise water. There are a wide range of eateries from gourmet food trucks to fine dining. At Delfins Beach Resort you’ll find a locally-inspired oceanfront restaurant, Brass Boer, whose owner is a renowned chef with a Michelin star, making it a no-brainer for a stay. But you can also enjoy intimate live cooking and a fine dining experience at CHEFS and local dishes like goat stew and iguana soup at Posada Para Mira.
The hip Thompson Zihuatanejo is a lifestyle boutique hotel along La Playa Ropa on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. It’s perfectly situated for longboard and shortboard surfing which is excellent off the beaches of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, a charming fishing village. There’s no need for a wetsuit as the water is warm year-round. You can fuel up with the Surf Champion’s Breakfast and then indulge in a spa treatment afterwards. There are three outdoor pools and a poolside bar/cafe, tennis courts, a fitness center, yoga, and even cookery classes. Plus, the restaurant offers a shady thatched roof with sea views. Rooms offer high-end touches like flat-screen TVs, Bluetooth speakers, Wi-Fi, minibars, and designer toiletries. Some boast open-air plunge pools, swim-up or direct beach access.
Those who are passionate about art and design should consider Villa Bokeh, an exclusive property that accommodates just 12 bookings per night. You’ll have plenty of privacy as all are spaciously distributed throughout the villa’s first and second stories. The rooms and suites feature private balconies, enclosed gardens with fire pits, and volcano views. Each one includes works of art from a private art collection, all of which are sourced locally to support the country’s artisans, the foundation of its enchanting Mayan culture. The hotel is also launching a new initiative that gives guests 10% off their nightly rate in vouchers to shop from local artisans for the perfect souvenir.
Tuscany is on the bucket lists of many wine enthusiasts, but the city of Lucca itself has remained one of its best kept secrets. Home to the new Grand Universe Lucca, this former palazzo turned luxury hotel features three immersive Tuscan Wine tasting experiences: the Montalcino, Montecarlo, and Super Tuscan and Chianiti Classico. Enjoy the distinctive flavor profiles and outstanding pairings in the ancient Eterno Wine Cellar at the base of the property which includes remnants of an ancient wall and an extensive collection of Tuscan wines. There’s also the fantastic Sommitá rooftop bar which overlooks the walled city. For the fall of 2021, guests can also book the “Tuscan Wine & Olive Oil Experience” package.
Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis is nestled in the heart of the city that’s known as the ‘Home of the Blues’ as well as being the hometown of Elvis. Newly built, it’s the first and only hotel to acquire the famous Beale Street address, with a modern music-inspired design that gives subtle nods to the city’s vibrant spirit and rich music culture. Music lovers of all types, including those who recently picked up a new instrument, will appreciate a stay here. There’s wall art that resembles an old speaker, treble clef inspired light fixtures, hallway carpet designed to mimic sound-waves, and peeps of music-note wallpaper in the rooms. The Beck & Call bar even has wallpaper made to look like the acoustic foam of a recording studio and it hosts live music featuring local artists. Live music can also be enjoyed at the pool deck or multiple venues within a short walk away.
If you’re a die-hard baseball fan, the kind that doesn’t just go to home games but travels to support your team or experience legendary stadiums like Fenway Park, you’ve got to stay at Hotel Commonwealth in Boston. You might even want to plan your trip around it having missed so many games during lockdowns. It’s the official hotel of the Sox, a ball’s throw away from the park, and it offers a wide range of packages like one that includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the famed Green Monster and VIP on-the-field access to batting practice. You don’t have to be a Red Sox fan, the “Baseball Suite” pays homage to greats like Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth as well as including 40+ classic baseball films.
Hilton Head is often referred to as “Golf Island.” It hosts the ultimate golfer’s paradise, Sea Pines Resort with its crown jewel the 18-hole Harbour Town Golf Links, a perennial favorite among PGA Tour players often named among the world’s top courses. Instead of putting around in your backyard or your local course, you’ll be able to play on one of the best while also enjoying fabulous beaches and trails for biking too. It offers a wide range of accommodation, including luxury villas with plenty of room for the whole family or a group of golfers traveling together, sleeping up to a dozen guests.
The Lodge at Woodloch is the ideal spot for those who enjoy tending the garden, another very popular activity during the warmer months of the year. The lakeside hotel offers gardening classes, greenhouse tours and workshops on composting along with tasty, health-conscious cuisine made from its own three gardens, including baby greens, tomatoes and just-dug radishes. The spa even hosts vegetable-focused tasting dinners in the whimsical garden shed, with wine pairings. Plus the herbs grown in the healing garden are used to make essential oils for spa treatments.
If you like to fly-fish, relieving stress through the rhythmic cadence of casting, book this remote premier fly-fishing lodge. Located on the northern tip of Puna Pajaros, you’ll have immediate access to the prime fishing areas of Ascension Bay. It was built right on the water overlooking a flat that’s visited daily by bonefish schools and tarpon. There’s little development to disturb the peace, with hidden lagoons, varied flats, and even a lighted pier for after-dark fishing. Guests get complimentary satellite phones while rooms offer beautiful views and Wi-Fi.
Located in the most southerly isle of the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Islay is home to eight distilleries producing many famous whiskies. The Ballygrant Inn is the perfect base for exploring them — not only does it have a bar that offers more than 400 different Islay whiskies to sample right on-site, but whisky tours and tastings can be arranged too. Its restaurant makes the most of the drink with a whisky and food pairing menu that features a four-course meal made with the highest quality island ingredients carefully matched with four different Islay whiskies.
The area around Moab has long been a hot spot for rock climbing with its close proximity to Arches and Canyonlands national parks. Arches is particularly impressive with a variety of routes for all levels from beginners to the experts. The Finger of Fate climb on The Titan, the largest of the Fisher Towers, is one of the most popular in the country. The Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa on the banks of the Colorado River amid majestic red rocks and mesas is in the heart of it all. A world-class luxury destination, it offers a menu of canyoneering and climbing tours in the national and state parks and local recreational areas.
Of course it’s not only about rock climbing. Guests can also enjoy yoga classes, spa treatments, a riverside pool and a wide range of new programming like Sunday football watch parties in JJs Lounge. Special stay packages can include all sorts of unforgettable extras – there’s even skydiving for the ultimate adventurer.
Nestled in the heart of Tokyo with impressively lush grounds overlooking the Imperial Palace moat, Palace Hotel Tokyo offers an ideal location that feels surprisingly spacious for the city. And, if origami kept you busy during lockdowns, or you’ve always wanted to learn how to create delicate cranes, samurai hats, floral bouquets, and other creations out of paper, the hotel even offers intro origami classes. Each lesson includes a set of origami and chiyogami paper along with a take-home kit that has illustrative folding instructions.
Plein air painting is a French style of painting landscapes which translates to “in the open air.” Terranea, overlooking the California coast in Rancho Palos Verdes, offers the most idyllic landscapes to gaze out at and paint during its plein air workshops. Learn a new style while enjoying the salty sea air and embracing the beauty of the natural surroundings. You’ll be guided by an expert to explore your inner artist, creating your own original work of art to bring back home.
Bread baking is an art, something you might have discovered with all that time at home, but if you want to learn how to make your own bread like the experts, book a stay at Hotel Praktik Rambla. Enjoy all Barcelona has to offer, including world-renowned art and architecture, while learning the secrets of four generations of bakers who have been preparing some of the best bread in the city for over a century. Held in the hotel bakery, the workshop covers the entire process: kneading, dividing, rounding, forming, fermenting, resting and baking.