Heli-bike in Nepal
We all know the most boring part of a cycling trip is the quad-burning schlep uphill. The cyclists in the office might disagree, but wouldn’t it be better if a chopper just whisked you to the top of that mountain, saving you energy so you can come back down really, really fast? Lost Earth Adventures can sort that for you, with an epic, exhilarating seven-night heli-biking trip in the Nepalese Himalayas.
The over-the-mountain flights will bring you face-to-face with the giants of the Himalayas, including eight of the world’s 14 8,000m peaks. Trails will be suited to your riding ability, but expect steep chutes, sharp turns and a flipping quick descent.
When you hit the bottom you’ll be deposited at the top of yet another mountain, while evenings will be spent in a combination of Nepalese teahouses and cool hotels. And there we were thinking that a helicopter ride over the Isle of Wight was pretty decent fun.
Travel details: Lost Earth Adventures offers trips from £12,500pp, lostearthadventures.co.uk
Taste Bowmore whisky on Islay, Scotland
Some people travel for food, some for music, and some for the finest, most expensive whisky on the planet. For that you need to head north to the rugged Scottish island of Islay (aka the ‘whisky isle’), and make straight for the Bowmore distillery, home to a £16,000-a-bottle malt.
If you don’t have the spare change to stick that in next Christmas’s stocking, try the Craftsman’s Tour, where you’ll have the chance to try the Bowmore 23-Year-Old Port Cask Matured (£379 a bottle), along with an in-depth tour specially crafted for single malt know-it-alls. Continue the luxury mission at Islay Woollen Mill, where fine fabrics are produced for Savile Row and Hollywood hotshots.
Your crash pad – dare we call it that – should be Islay House, a mansion that’s been converted into a grand boutique hotel, with four-poster beds, free-standing baths and mega views over Loch Indaal.
Drone the world with Black Tomato
Photography holidays are so not hot right now. Ditch the chunky SLR and check out Black Tomato’s new Drone the World trips, which are about as epic as they sound.
Book your regular Black Tomato adventure (in countries where drone use is permitted) and you’ll be hooked up with a professional drone photographer who’ll help you explore and document some of the most untouched, unseen scenery on earth. You’ll leave with a video of your trip, while also having had the chance to use a Phantom 2 drone yourself.
Destinations include the Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon in Iceland, the dramatic peaks of the Lofoten Archipelago in Norway and Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. And you thought those sea-level iPhone snaps were great – your Instagram feed’s about to get a whole lot more likes.
Travel details: Black Tomato offers trips from £4,000pp including flights, accommodation and drone experience/photographer, blacktomato.com
Surf via a seaplane in the Maldives
Turns out the words ‘luxury’ and ‘scruffy surf dude’ can go hand in hand, particularly in a place like the Maldives. These idyllic islands have some pretty decent breaks, but accessing 90,000sq km of seas on your own isn’t so easy.
Step up Tropicsurf, an Australian luxury surf company that specialises in combining the best waves, top-draw accommodation and your own personal sea plane to deposit you at the very best surf spots situated around the 1,200ish low-lying islands. That means you’ll find yourself 100 miles from other surfers, and you’ll get to experience the Maldives’ best waves all to yourself. Lovely.
Travel details: Tropicsurf offers trips from £1,700 per hour with seven-day options available, tropicsurf.net; to continue the luxe experience, try Huvafen Fushi with its underwater spa. Standard stuff in the Maldives… Nightly rates from £60, minorhotels.com; Emirates offers return flights from £450, emirates.com
Charter a phinisi in Indonesia
Fancy a honeymoon at sea? Are you a hopeless romantic? Or do you just really hate sharing your space with other holidaymakers? We know that feeling. Whatever your holiday preferences, spending three nights sailing around the islands of Indonesia on a giant, crisp-white phinisi (that’s a boat) doesn’t sound too shabby.
With Alexa Private Cruises you can do just that, on one very special billowing-sailed ship (formerly used to carry spices between the islands) fully kitted out with some of the best fabrics and furniture on the planet.
You’ll be joined by seven crew who’ll take you to all of the best spots in Flores and Komodo National Park (home to the komodo dragon), and you’ll also spend pretty substantial amounts of time snorkelling among brightly coloured fish in turquoise water and lounging on a giant boat deck which you’ll have all to yourself. For three whole nights. And don’t get us started on the on-board dive master and masseuse.
Go fine dining in Rome, Italy
We can’t think of too many better reasons to travel than to eat yourself silly. For one of the most luxurious dining experiences in Europe, and the only three-Michelin-star restaurant in Rome, try La Pergola at the super-swish Rome Cavalieri hotel. It’s about as good as fine dining gets, with sweeping views over the Eternal City, a glitzy setting and a whole chair provided just for your handbag (handbags on the floor is a big no-no here).
And the food? How about fagotottelli ‘La Pergola’ (chef Heinz Beck’s signature dish that’s a quirky reinvention of carbonara) followed by ‘venison on an autumn field’. In fact, you’d be absolutely crazy not to try the whole ten-course menu.
Take it easy in Bermuda
If chilling out on Insta-worthy beaches, snorkelling, diving and lolling around in one of the world’s only natural spas are important factors on your holiday agenda, then try Bermuda.
The tiny island – just 20 miles long and two wide – is home to a diverse range of cultures, including British, North American, African and Portuguese, while stately mansions dot the lush green landscape. For full-on relaxation, try the Natura Spa at Grotto Bay, where you’ll be massaged in a stalactite-heavy cave while floating on a pontoon.
Next up: beaches. Visit the south of the island for those famous blush-coloured swathes of sand, and Parson’s Bay, which has a hidden beach vibe. Don’t forget your digs – this is a luxury holiday after all – and try the 88-bedroom Rosewood Tucker’s Point for some of the best rooms on the entire island.
Travel details: British Airways Holidays offers seven nights from £2,049pp including flights, ba.com/bermuda
Hike the Atlas mountains in Morocco
Hiking isn’t necessarily a luxury experience. Well, wearing hiking boots certainly isn’t. But if you find yourself some spectacular views and some even more snazzy accommodation, you’re onto a pretty great thing.
Case in point: Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson’s Moroccan hotel venture, set in the country’s Atlas Mountains. Guests here are encouraged to switch off by lounging around the hotel’s pool, sweating it out in the hammam and flopping into the poofy-cushioned beds. But when all that chillin’ gets a bit too taxing, there’s majestic mountain scenery to explore.
Use the hotel as a base and head out with a berber guide to explore the Atlas Mountains and rugged landscape of the Toubkal National Park, checking in to local villages for mint tea along the way.
From here you can also visit the intricately designed, 12th-century Tin Mal Mosque, one of the only two mosques in the country that is open to non-Muslims, or take the picnic of a lifetime on the side of a mountain. The hotel arranges it all, so you don’t even need to carry the picnic basket. Or make anyone else carry it. Winner.
Stay in a fort in Rajasthan, India
If you’re the sort who shuns modern technology for history, then a stay in a 230-year-old fortress hidden in the Aravalli hills in Rajasthan, India, may be just your bag. Opening in spring this year, the Alila Fort Bishangarh has been through a seven-year makeover to whip it into its current state of luxe, with 59 swanky suites set in the imposing, turreted structure.
Expect 360-degree views over the surrounding Rajasthani villages and temples, which you can admire from your arched bedroom window, or do the sensible thing and take one of the hotel’s hot air balloon tours. If that’s a bit slow-paced, then there’s horse riding, quad biking, and a cooking school – no, perhaps not traditionally thrilling, but definitely a fun way to learn about the heady flavours of the region’s local dishes.
Twin a safari with the beach in Kenya
A luxe safari is a pretty sweet break, but lob a couple of nights on the beaches of Kenya’s coast on the end and you’re onto a winning holiday combo. Try basing yourself for four nights at Sanctuary Olonana, set on the Mara river in the heart of Kenya’s most famous game reserve. Game drives will be a big part of your trip, but your wildlife spotting can begin from the camp itself – a pod of hippos live in the river directly below the balcony of your canvas tent (complete with four-poster bed, obviously).
Then it’s onto the Saruni Ocean, where you can lap up Kenya’s secluded south coast and 4km of pristine white-sand beach around Msambweni, while staying in one of 14 verrrry sophisticated suites.
Travel details: Abercrombie & Kent offers four nights at both properties on a full-board basis from £4,779pp including flights and transfers, abercrombiekent.co.uk
Taste great wine in New York State, US
Once upon a time, drinking wine on holiday meant guzzling cheap stuff from a battered box on a beach in Australia. Luckily we’ve grown up since then. Well, grown up enough. Nowadays our tastes are for the slightly more sophisticated, and that’s why we’re into central New York state, specifically the Finger Lakes area, which is the largest wine-growing area in this US region.
Try a private tasting at one of the wineries (there are 120 to choose from), cruise the wine trails or just check out the beer scene, which is also pretty decent. If you’re making the pilgrimage for the best of the region’s produce, don’t leave without delving into the food scene.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns from chef Dan Barber was a pioneer in the farm-to-table food culture, and is listed as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants. It’s located in Pocantico Hills, which is around a four-hour drive – fine if you’re road tripping the area (and we suggest you do).
Travel details: Work a couple of nights at The Point into your itinerary – it has lodges next to a lake and comes in at £1,310 a night based on two sharing, thepointsaranac.com. Virgin Atlantic offers return flights to New York from £450, virginatlantic.com
Ski at sunrise in Arosa, Switzerland
If you’re going to have a 4am wake-up call, you want to make sure it’s worth your while. And this probably will be. Head to the Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa in the Swiss Alps over 23 February or 9 March this year, and you’ll have the chance to take an in-the-dark cable car to the summit of the Grison Alps before watching the sun rise over the mountains while tucking into a full-on breakfast. Obviously you’ll need to come back down, and you’ll be the first to make trails in the mountain on your descent.
Travel details: Sunrise skiing is available from £86 a day including breakfast and a day’s ski pass. Tschuggen Grand Hotel has nightly rates from £485 per room. tschuggen.ch; Swiss Airlines offers flights to Zurich from £67 one way. To book, see swiss.com
Island hop the Cook Islands
To get away – and we’re talking about as far as you can travel away – try the Cook Islands. Located off northeast New Zealand, in the South Pacific Ocean, the 15 splodges of land are marooned in some of the finest turquoise water you’ll ever lay your eyes on.
There’s plenty of culture to embrace, but a big draw is the organic and artisan food scene, and the café culture. Base yourself on the biggest island– Rarotonga – but be sure to visit Aitutaki, the prettiest lagoon we ever did see, and try to get to Mitiaro to swim in underground caves and see the islands’ only fort.
Travel details: Travel Nation will help make your island-hopping dreams a reality and book flights from £900 return, travelnation.co.uk