Over-the-Top End-of-Year Trips

Nov 14, 2019

Whether you’ve come into a sweet year-end bonus, or found your stash of Grandma’s gift cards, or—no justification needed—you’re just feeling a little spendy, we’re happy to help you go big around the globe. From a street-level look at Myanmar to a sky safari through East Africa, here’s how and where to treat yourself this winter.

Myanmar beyond the (absurdly gorgeous) temples 

Granted: Even the most cursory look around Myanmar feels over-the-top. But in crafting a new worldwide Limited Edition experience collection, Rosewood has come up with several ways to go deeper here. Highlights include afternoon tea with noted Burmese historian Dr. Thant Myint-U; a whiskey cocktail tasting at a favorite local bar and cigar lounge; a private tour of the U Thant House (onetime home to the UN Secretary General of the same name) and—maybe coolest of all—a street painting session in the city's back alleys.  Of course, doesn't hurt that your home base is the Rosewood Yangon, a newly reimagined 1927 heritage building in the old capital. Side note: If you've got about $100K burning a hole in your pocket, you may also want to consider some of the bigger-ticket items in the Rosewood Limited Edition collection. Maybe you've always wanted to design the interior of your own vintage Jaguar in Paris? Or search the waters of the Caribbean for buried treasure (that you keep, natch)? Sky's the limit (but then, so's the seabed).

Celebrity (chef) apprentice

Whether you routinely wow friends with house-made everything—or you're more comfortable popping a jar of supermarket sauce—we guarantee you'll up your kitchen game at Virginia's Inn at Little Washington, part-boutique hotel, part-award-winning restaurant (the first in the DC area to win three Michelin stars). Thanks to the fun new Stagiaire Program, you’ll get to apprentice in Chef Patrick O’Connell's celebrated kitchen for one or two days, when you'll master everything from kitchen prep to making the perfect gnocchi. You’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor over a lunch for the books, and take home a piece of the Inn’s famous Dalmatian-spotted chef’s wardrobe. Oh, a coveted dinner reservation at the restaurant (complete with complementary Champagne) and a gift certificate to the Inn’s shop are also included.

Rails to (Inca) trails in Peru

Machu Picchu has never not been known to locals. But in 1911, when Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham probably became the first outsider to discover the site (there's a rival claim, of course), he and his crew had endured a treacherous, multi-week journey through dense jungle foliage and steep mountain slopes. Ironically, on a train bearing Bingham's name, you can reach this Andean outpost without so much as spilling your drink—in all likelihood, the classic Pisco Sour you've been sipping amid the cushy banquettes and wood paneling of the bar car. Or just at your super-swanky seat. Point is, if you're not going to hike to Machu Picchu, the Belmond Hiram Bingham is a close second on the Bucket List. And though there are gorgeous places to stay in the neighborhood, none is closer to the ruins than the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. Staying just outside the entrance gate, you'll beat the crowds by being the first in (with the exception of the hikers)—and if you want, you can also be among the last out (no transport to catch). There's also an onsite spa, orchid garden, meditation space and restaurant. Pro tip: If you're staying at the site, and you don't mind a challenging hike in service of unreal views, ask Belmond to help get you on one of two 200-person lists to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain in the morning. Either hike can be combined with a day of touring the ruins, and whichever way you go, your Insta followers will thank (or hate) you, even as your quads protest. 

A moveable feast in Hawaii

New restaurants from noted chefs, a wealth of homegrown ingredients and an Insta-fueled awareness of local favorites (poi, poke and malasada donuts, anyone?) have turned Hawaii into a foodie pilgrimage site. One of the most indulgent ways to experience the phenomenon for yourself (because what would be the point of not indulging?): Destination Hotels' new Destination Delicacies culinary adventure, which lets you taste your way around the island of Hawaii in a day. You'll start with a private helicopter ride—you know, just for some establishing shots of the local volcanoes and a champagne-paired waterfall landing. Then you’ll switch to a car for visits to a local farmer’s market, the Kahi Ola Mau Farm (home of the Honoka’a Chocolate Co.), the Mauna Kea Tea fields and the upcountry Honopua organic veggie and flower farm. Each stop comes with a hands-on tour and generous tasting, so just be mindful of saving some room: The day ends with a three-course meal at Pueo’s Osteria, where Italian recipes meet Hawaiian farm-raised ingredients to glorious effect.

Wildlife sightings on the fly in East Africa

One of the best things about going on safari is how different each stop (and game drive) can be, whether you're talking about the landscapes, the wildlife—or some combination thereof. But not-so-convenient airports and limited connections can make this look like child's play when you're trying to string together just the right itinerary. Which is where SkySafari comes in. Created by Elewana, a beloved operator of safari camps in Kenya and Tanzania, the ingenious offering puts you (and any other guests on a similar itinerary) on a private plane between camps, minimizing hassle and maximizing your time among the Big Five (for starters). All options are on the table, but one favorite is the Tanzania Classic, with stops in the Serengeti, The Ngorongoro Crater and the elephant-mobbed Tarangire National Park—and consider a beachy add-on in Zanzibar. 

Heli-sundowners in the Cascades

Part of the Pacific Ocean’s volcanic Ring of Fire, The Cascades are a particularly stunning—and active—collection of peaks. And now is a famously good time to check them out, as the lower-setting sun floodlights them daily in beams of golden pink (at least if the weather’s feeling cooperative). So the Huntington Lodge—a new woodsy-chic hideaway at the Pronghorn Resort in Bend, OR—has partnered with Big Mountain Heli Tours to offer guests a sunset helicopter tour. Your ride will land directly on the resort’s golf course to pick you up, then whisk you off in time to catch sunset over the mountains. You’ll land back on the course, then venture into a natural lava tube on the 8th hole for a look around—and a bottle of Veuve. Of course, this being Bend, you'll find plenty of ways to get around on two wheels, too. In fact, the resort itself will set you up with ebikes, cruisers or phat scooters. You'll also find a stellar spa on property, and—as you might have noticed during your heli-tour takeoff and landing—greens to spare (Proghorn's home to two award-winning golf courses). 

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