When it comes to celebrating a special occasion, time and place are key factors to its success. Whether it's a special birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, babymoon, reunion or recovery, embarking on a journey with your favorite people is a way to celebrate life, find clarity and create memories. Here are inspiring places and exciting journeys to celebrate and honor the landmarks of life.
Nothing circumvents the weight of a silvery milestone birthday than marking the occasion with a daring trip to the edge of the earth: Patagonia. Torres del Paine National Park is a magnificent region of southern Chile where glaciers creep through valleys of the granite peaks of the Andes Mountains, and delicate species of orchids carve out their survival alongside parakeets, flamingos and gauchos—the area's indigenous cowboys. Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa is a modernist eco-lodge built within the park. Daily excursions led by expert guides explore the awe-inspiring landscape on foot and horseback, allowing guests to experience and interact with this unique environment. After spending the day absorbing the views, watching the wildlife and gaining a perspective on the vast landscape, abscond to the Uma Spa and gather at communal tables to share Chilean wine with new friends.
Gathering generations together in a place that satisfies everyone from grandfather to toddler usually involves compromise—but the dreamy Inn at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina, will please all. Just 40 minutes north of historic Savannah, Georgia, the 20,000-acre Palmetto Bluff property encompasses preserved wetlands and forest along the May River and features 200 homes with space to gather and play. The property boasts an acclaimed golf course, tennis and spa, and there's an elaborate treehouse and kids' pool for the youngsters. The miles of trails to explore by bicycle (each cottage is outfitted with bikes) or on foot can be enjoyed by all. Families can take over a cluster of cottages or a large home for everyone (complete with a kids bunk room for a slumber party). In addition, the staff can arrange boat rides, excursions to nearby islands and private dinners featuring warm Southern comfort food—all under the willow trees draped with Spanish moss.
Celebrate an anniversary at Ireland's Ballyfin, a fully restored 16th-century estate on rolling green hills less than an hour from Dublin. The once-crumbling structure has been revived by a loving Chicago couple, who have filled the estate with works of Irish art from the mid-17th century to today, along with family portraits from residents throughout the generations. Guests can tour the historic property to learn about the renovation, art collection and astounding display of decorative arts. Picnics and horseback riding take place on the expansive grounds, and the home is full of cozy nooks with fireplaces that invite guests to curl up with a book. And with a costume department outfitted by a recent wardrobe acquisition from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, guests can don period attire for dinner and photographs before retreating to their opulent bedchambers. Ballyfin is an experience, a perfect place for a memorable anniversary weekend of old-world elegance.
Well-traveled parents who still think fondly about their days backpacking through Europe as they check into their more comfortable accommodations will delight in the opportunity to share some adventure with their children. Nestled in the Golden Triangle, where the rice paddies of Northern Thailand meet those of Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, sits the Four Seasons Tented Camp, with 15 open-air tents and an elephant rehabilitation retreat on-property. Kids ages 12 and older are welcome and can spend their days interacting with the elephants and their babies, cruising up the Mekong river to visit indigenous tribal villages and exploring the jungle with their own expert guides. It's an unparalleled experience for kids—and their parents.
A girls' getaway is always something to look forward to, and be it bachelorette, multigenerational travel or a weekend spent amongst sisters, you can reconnect and rejuvenate at Lake Austin Spa Resort, just outside Texas' capital. Mild temperatures and a central location make it a convenient gathering place for friends from across the country at any time of the year. A typical day begins with morning yoga by the lake, followed by a leisurely breakfast in the garden and an afternoon of spa treatments, paddling the serene waters of Lake Austin, hiking the nearby canyons, or taking a cooking class with chef Stephane Beaucamp. Evenings culminate with cozy fireside stories and toasting with wine from the extensive cellar, as well as the inevitable promise to return.
For a glamorous birthday extravaganza, La Mamounia in Marrakech is exotic, chic and elegant. The iconic property spans 20 acres, encompassing gardens and its famous pool within the walled compound that separates it from the bustling medina, or neighborhood, outside. You can create a full itinerary to entertain guests throughout the weekend, including touring the Koutoubia and Majorelle gardens, shopping the local markets known as souks, enjoying a picnic lunch in the desert or a cooking class in a local's home, and indulging in an elegant dinner party at a private riad complete with local musicians and snake charmers.
After the party, recover for a few days at Richard Branson's retreat in the Atlas Mountains, Kasbah Tamadot. Just 45 minutes from Marrakech, the serene mountains offer reprieve from the busy medina. Kasbah Tamadot offers traditional rooms and luxurious Berber tents for additional space and privacy. Guests can visit local Berber villages, go on long hikes or just relax by the pool. After the sun sets, the hotel takes on a whole new aura, with lanterns and candles illuminating the property and starry skies overhead.
Traditional honeymoons call for a relaxing itinerary in a romantic setting, and Italy certainly delivers. In particular, the gorgeous scenery, storied history and authentic sense of place make the Lake Como region a dreamy spot to celebrate nuptials. The piercing blue waters of Lake Como punctuate the regal Grigne Mountains, providing a picturesque backdrop certain to elicit Instagram envy. On the banks of Lake Como, lucky honeymooners spend their blissful first days of marriage at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, an Art Nouveau palace-style hotel that dates from the early 1900s. Make sure to check in to one of the new rooftop suites, which each boast a private sun deck and hot tub, as well as a bathroom suite that rivals some spa experiences.
There's no better place to enjoy leisure pursuits than here: linger over late breakfasts, then spend the day sunbathing and boating on the lake. In the evening, head down to L'Escale Fondues & Wine Bar, which specializes in regional cuisine and wines from many local vineyards. Traverse Lake Como on the hotel's own Venetian-style boat, Ruy, and visit the many charming villages around the lake. Don't miss a trip to Bellagio, just a short ferry ride across the lake, for a little lunch and shopping, then enjoy a stroll through the Gardens of Villa Melzi, a private botanical garden founded in 1810.
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