Summer Travel: Surprise Yourself There are no new places in the world, only new experiences--and you don't necessarily have to go somewhere exotic. Laura Begley rounds up 18 ways to get your kicks on vacation.
(FORTUNE Magazine) – 1 Sleep above the waves
Who needs a wave machine when you have an over-water bungalow? French Polynesia practically coined the concept of rooms built above the sea. At the new St. Regis Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, glass floor panels allow you to spy the fish swimming beneath (doubles from $1,045; 800-782-9488 or 011-689-86-48-48, www.boraboranui.com). Also recently opened: Pearl Beach Resort & Spa on Taha'a, an island off Tahiti considered sacred by the ancient Tahitians (doubles from $685; 011-689-50-84-54, www.pearlresorts.com). Another alternative is the Sheraton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa (doubles from around $600; 800-782-9488 or 011-689-55-11-11, www.starwood.com).
Off the coast of India, the Maldives were quick to copy the trend, and the 1,190 powder-white islets make for an ideal setting. The big news is Cocoa Island, where the cottages, shaped like traditional fishing boats, are linked by a boardwalk above a lagoon (doubles from $420; 011-960-441-818, www.cocoamaldives.com). A few islands over, the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa (doubles from $650; 800-223-6800 or 011-960-444-451, www.tajhotels.com/maldives) is decorated with Indian fabrics; the spa villas are also on stilts.
Closer to home, in Panama, is Punta Caracol, where palm-leaf-topped cabins hover above the Caribbean (doubles from $215; 011-507-612-1088, www.puntacaracol. com).
2 Shower in the sun
At Ikal del Mar, a new resort south of Cancun on Mexico's "Riviera Maya," each of the 29 villas has a private pool and a shower under tropical vegetation (doubles from $450; 888-230-7330 or 011-52-984-877-3000, www.ikaldelmar.com). Hawaii's top outdoor-bathing spot--besides myriad waterfalls--is the Four Seasons Hualalai, where a third of the lower-level guest rooms are decked out with a lava-rock shower set in a lush garden (doubles from $520; 888-340-5662 or 808-325-8000, www.fourseasons.com).
3 Learn a high-wire act
Ditch the skis. At Whistler, in British Columbia, the new Ziptrek Ecotours will have you whistling through the sky between mountains and over creeks and forested valleys. Strap yourself into a harness and fly along 3,000 feet of cable on a hair-raising three-hour adventure. Ziplining (as it's often called) is based on similar rides in Central and South America. Open year-round; from $72 per adult ($86 in winter); 866-935-0001 or 604-935-0001, www.ziptrek.com.
4 Ski in summer
When it's sweltering back at home, cool off in Portillo, Chile, where ski season starts June 14. Last summer (a.k.a. winter) this Andes resort on the shores of Lake of the Incas recorded 40 feet of powder; meteorologists forecast another banner year. After mastering the expert terrain--funnels, rocky chutes, off-piste bowls--everyone gathers for the weekly torch-light downhill parade. Then it's back to the Hotel Portillo's bar for pisco sours and sing-alongs with Pedro the piano player. Weekly from $920 per person, including meals and lift tickets; 800-829-5325 or 011-56-2-263-0606, www.skiportillo.com.
5 Eat a camp-stove breakfast
Nothing wakes you up after sleeping under the stars like the aroma of coffee brewing over a camp stove--and it's the perfect warm-up to wild-blueberry pancakes or eggs Florentine. On Rivers & Oceans' upscale rafting and kayaking trips in Alaska and British Columbia, this breakfast of champions fortifies adventurers for days of navigating the white water. Six-night trips start at $1,875 per person; 800-360-7238 or 604-892-5678, www.riversandoceans.com.
6 Soak up the view
Satisfy your inner exhibitionist with a sky-high bubble bath. On the top floors of a San Francisco skyscraper, the Mandarin Oriental is renowned for its sudsy scenery. You'll want to request a Mandarin King room, where a picture window above the marble tub reveals a panorama of bay and bridges--if the fog behaves (the hotel is offering a deal until September, with doubles from $400; 800-622-0404 or 415-276-9888, www.mandarin-oriental.com). Down the coast at the Post Ranch Inn, some rooms have tubs practically teetering on the edge of Big Sur (coast-view doubles from $765; 800-527-2200 or 831-667-2200, www.postranchinn.com). Best of all is the Park Hyatt Tokyo, where 28 bathrooms feature sweeping views across town, including one from which you can see all the way to the Meiji shrine (800-633-7313 or 011-81-3-5322-1234, www.tokyo.park.hyatt.com).
7 Spend the night in a teepee
An outfitter called Western Encounters runs weeklong horseback tours in Wyoming, led by half-Cherokee guide Skip Ashley. A 150-mile trek into the Great Divide Basin might sound grueling, but Ashley's five-man team does all the work, setting up the camp of eight-foot-high teepee-style tents while you're off inspecting 19th-century covered wagon ruts. At night, the lonely howls of coyotes will lull you to sleep--or not. $1,530 per person; 800-572-1230 or 307-332-5434; www.horseriders.com.
8 Start a fire from scratch
The cavemen made it look so easy, as did Tom Hanks in Cast Away (well, he at least made it look possible). But starting a fire without matches is no easy task, unless you sign up with Boulder Outdoor Survival School, which includes tips on flame building in every course--and was where the screenwriter of Cast Away learned authentic survival tactics. Programs range from survival-skills training at a Utah base camp to 28-day field courses--treks through the mountains and deserts of southern Utah with little equipment, food, or water. So how do you start a blaze, anyway? We're not telling. Four-day intro field course, $575; 800-335-7504 or 303-444-9779, www.boss-inc.com.
9 Watch a silent movie
Three movie houses in L.A. are screening vintage silent flicks to sold-out audiences. In a 1940s space that has seen its share of real-life drama--a former owner was killed in the lobby--the Silent Movie Theatre plays Charlie Chaplin classics (323-655-2520, www.silentmovietheatre.com). For silent shows accompanied by a Wurlitzer pipe organ, check out Hollywood's landmark Egyptian Theatre (323-466-3456, www.egyptiantheatre.com) or the homey Old Town Music Hall, in El Segundo (310-322-2592, www.otmh.org).
10 Cuddle on a train
Reserve one of the "deluxe" cabins aboard Europe's sleek CityNightLine train service, and you get a private bathroom, a comfortable bed (alas, they're twin-sized, so be prepared to get cozy), room service, blinds for the panoramic windows--if you're feeling a little shy--and a welcome cocktail. The service currently runs between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (and will add routes to the Netherlands in October). Deluxe doubles from $115 plus ticket price, includes breakfast; book online at https://www.elca-services.ch/citynightline.
11 Fly in a floatplane
The best way to reach King Pacific Lodge, a floating hotel on the north coast of British Columbia, is by air. On the hourlong trip from Prince Rupert, your floatplane soars over the Inside Passage, full of breathtaking fjords and whale-inhabited waters. After touching down on the placid harbor in front of the lodge, you can hike in the nearby rain-forest or indulge in aromatherapy massages at the new spa. But after an arrival like that, who wants to remain landlocked? Take off on a "heli-venture"--this time in a helicopter--in which your pilot picks a pristine spot in the middle of nowhere for a day of fishing, kayaking, or hiking. Three-night packages start at $2,300 per person (heli-ventures cost extra); 888-592-5464 or 604-987-5452, www.kingpacificlodge.com.
12 Vespa in Italy
In Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn inspired generations of moviegoers to fantasize about a Vespa trip in Italy. Problem was, nobody offered such a thing. Now Italy by Vespa brings Hollywood to life with a weeklong whirl around the Tuscan countryside atop a bright red scooter. Days are spent visiting castles, hobnobbing with countesses, and lunching at wineries. For fashionistas, there's a visit to designer Salvatore Ferragamo's estate and a stop at the Prada outlet in Montevarchi. Bring a big backpack. From $3,895 per person, not including airfare; 866-297-7725 or 303-669-5237, www.italybyvespa.com.
13 Take the cure
Europeans sure know how to live. In many countries a doctor can prescribe time off from work to "take the cure"--for everything from corpulence to smoking--at a spa. All expenses are paid by the national health-care system. And what more glamorous prescription: a morning spent soaking in a seawater pool, followed by a eucalyptus sauna, maybe a little light exercise, and organic food. But European spas can verge on the hospital-like with their scary-sounding cell-replacement therapy and blood cleansing. You'd be wise to avoid anything invasive. A good bet: Clinique La Prairie, in Clarens-Montreux, Switzerland (minimum six-night stay, $13,456 per person; 011-41-21-989-3311; www.laprairie.ch).
14 Catch your own dinner
Catch-and-release policies designed to protect wild trout make it hard to dine on a just-snagged fish. But it's not impossible. "Trout's a fun fish," says Jason Willenbrock, chef at Darby, Montana's Triple Creek Ranch, which built three ponds for hungry fly guys. His forte is French--think trout amandine--but for some Japanese guests, he wrapped the fish in seaweed and pan-seared it ($510 to $995 per person per day, all-inclusive; 800-654-2943 or 406-821-4600, www.triplecreekranch.com). At the Complete Fly Fisher, above, a resort on Montana's Big Hole River, look for a pond full of shrimp; the trout eat the shrimp and their flesh turns crimson. (Six-night trips cost $2,800 per person, all-inclusive; 866-832-3175 or 406-832-3175, www.completeflyfisher.com).
15 Stay in a star's home
At Parrot Cay, a private-island resort in the Caribbean archipelago of Turks and Caicos, Bruce Willis rents out the Residence, his nine-bedroom beachfront compound, for a cool $8,190 a night (or you can rent one of the Residence's three-bedroom villas, from just $2,630; 877-754-0726, www.parrot-cay.com). Villas of the World specializes in the digs of the rich and famous, including Mick Jagger's Japanese-style hideaway on the Caribbean island of Mustique (from $13,000 a week), Jane Seymour's 14th-century manor house in Bath, England (from $23,000 a week), and singer Charo's seven-bedroom villa on Kauai (from $8,500 a week; 888-728-4552 or 631-725-9308, www. villasoftheworld.com). And for Mamas & Papas fans, Time & Place rents the Palm Springs palace once owned by John Phillips. Let the California dreamin' begin (866-244-1800, www.timeandplacehomes.com; from $3,086 for three nights).
16 Ride a camel
Thousands of years ago, camels dwelled in the Utah desert. Former Hollywood animal trainer Terry Moore, owner of Moab's Camelot Adventure Lodge, is returning the creatures to their native habitat. Two-to four-hour treks depart from the lodge, located on the banks of the Colorado River. Rooms cost $110 per person per night, including meals; camel rides, $70 to $140; 435-260-1783, www.camelotlodge.com.
17 Go skinnydipping
Many of the cottages at Wisconsin's Canoe Bay are hidden away from prying eyes, allowing you to drop your drawers in the inn's private lake. "We're built for A leading to B, if you know what I mean," says owner Dan Dobrowolski. "Nature runs its course." The best spot is the Lakeside Cottage, which also has a personal sauna (doubles from $290; Lakeside Cottage from $775; 715-924-4594, www.canoebay.com). Sneak down off the rocks into the water at the Wawbeek, a "great camp" built in 1902 in a protected corner of Upper Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. The downside: chilly willies. The water doesn't really warm up until midsummer (doubles from $170 to $495; 800-953-2656 or 518-359-2656, www.wawbeek.com).
18 See an eclipse
This November, combine two once-in-a-lifetime experiences: viewing a total solar eclipse and venturing to the bottom of the world. Thanks to Antarctica's lack of pollution, the blackout should be extraordinary. TravelQuest International is staging a two-week journey. On the big day, a plane whisks you off to an ideal sun-spotting perch (from $35,000 per person; 800-830-1998 or 928-445-7754, www.tq-international.com). Meanwhile, during its epic 30-day cruise centered on the event, polar specialist Quark Expeditions lets you observe the eclipse from the deck of an icebreaker (doubles from $24,995 per person; 800-356-5699 or 203-656-0499, www.quarkexpeditions.com).