If you've ever caught yourself thinking, "Sleeping at a luxury resort is just not enough," you're in luck: these hotels around the globe offer over-the-top, one-of-a-kind experiences guaranteed to take your stay to the next level—and beyond.
Diving for diamonds in South Africa
In the market for a truly unique—and ethical—idea for your marriage proposal? The Ellerman House, an adults-only 11-room Edwardian mansion in Cape Town overlooking the South Atlantic, has partnered with Benguela Diamonds to create the world’s first-ever diamond safari. You'll be flown by private charter flight to South Africa’s mineral-laden west coast, where those with a Padi Open Water 1 certificate can join divers beneath the waves. (Not qualified? Not to worry—it’s just as exciting waiting for the divers to reemerge.) Seabed gravel is then “jigged” to separate out the heavier gemstones—garnets, diamonds, olivines. After all the excitement, you'll enjoy a private lunch on a nearby villa terrace before meeting with a sorting expert to select your gemstone, to be finished at the design studio. A flight back to Ellerman House concludes with popping a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon with dinner and toasting your discovery.
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A helicoper flight over Northern Italy
The Hotel Principe di Savoia is one of Milan’s more beautiful stays—an elegant 1927 landmark with a neoclassical façade and hand-painted frescoes that’s hosted countless celebrities—but it’s one-upped itself with a new excursion that takes guests beyond its storied doors. The name—“Breathtaking View Experience”—might give it away: an exclusive helicopter flight whisks adventurous guests over the undulating hills of northern Italy. The final destination? The peak of Mottarone mountain, in the Western Alps, where you'll land for a panoramic, postcard-perfect view of bucolic Po Valley and lakes Orta and Maggiore and a bottle of bubbly.
Behind-the-scenes sumo wrestling in Tokyo
The ancient rituals surrounding Sumo, Japan’s national sport, are practiced to this day—the original rules, the traditional dress, the highly competitive tournaments. While the wild popularity of these theatrical events means ringside seats are invariably sold out, guests of the Palace Hotel Tokyo, a grand 290-room high-rise overlooking the Imperial Palace moat, can get an impossibly close look during a "Grappling Tokyo" experience. If tournaments are in session, you’ll get a private tour of Tokyo's revered Ryogoku Kokugikan arena and museum, then find your seats to see matches alongside a sumo sports writer and sports broadcaster, who will provide insider narration just for you. Visiting in the off-season? Get a tour of a not-accessible-to-the-public sumo stable—where wrestlers live and train. You’ll be among the lucky few to watch a morning practice session before lunch and get a few snapshots with the wrestlers themselves.
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Leaf peeping in upstate New York—from Manhattan
Those in love with fall foliage, but who don't want to give up the Bright Lights, Big City, can have the best of both worlds with the "Town and Country" package from The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Manhattan and Vermont's Equinox Golf Resort & Spa. After getting a taste of the best Midtown has to offer—Art Deco digs, Geoffrey Zakarian cuisine at the Lamb's Club, tickets to the new Cirque du Soleil show, Paramour—guests are flown by helicopter to Manchester, Vermont, where they'll get to take in the changing colors of the Green Mountains while touring orchards, apple-picking, and drinking as much fresh-pressed cider as their hearts desire.
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Hiking glaciers in Canada
It’s no secret that the world’s glaciers are disappearing at record speed. Thankfully, nature still reigns up north, and no place is testament more to that fact than Canada's Sonora Resort, a wilderness lodge on its own island hidden in the Pacific estuaries of British Columbia. You’re not really roughing it here—after all, there’s multiple swimming pools, a lavish spa, and a 12-seat movie theater—but you can strike out for less discovered (read: out there) territory during a helicopter glacier tour. Touch down on a real-life glacier (or remote mountain peak) for a 360-degree glimpse of a piece of Earth few ever get to see—or, for those looking to linger, a gourmet picnic against one surreal backdrop.
Harvesting a pearl in Mexico
Sea of Cortez pearls, known for their unique rainbow color, are among the world's rarest jewels. But thanks to Las Ventanas al Paraiso, those with a little loyalty—and a lot of patience—will be able to take home one of their own. Interested guests are chauffeured to Perlas del Mar de Cortez in La Paz, Baja’s only pearl farm, where they can work with biologists to plant a piece of resin into an oyster shell. The caveat: it takes at least two years for the pearl to grow. But the good news is your next vacation is already planned since all guests are invited back to retrieve their very own half-pearl—a priceless memento some 730 days in the making.
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Skiing with an Olympic medalist in France
Qualifying for the Olympics is hard—and truthfully, we’re not into all that training time. The next best thing: taking it slow (or fast, however your speed) alongside a two-time medalist in one of Europe’s great ski towns. At L’Apogée Courchevel, 15-time Champion of France Florence Masnada is on hand to train skiers of all skill levels and push them to their full potential—be it for ski jumping or downhill racing—while coaching all on how to reign in emotions during high-pressure situations. After a full day on the slopes, we recommend heading back to Le Bar de L’Apogée for après-ski cocktails on cushy couches in the company of live music.
Exploring coral reefs by submarine in Fiji
Scuba diving without ever getting wet? It’s possible (sort of) at Laucala Island, a 25-villa stunner in a quiet corner of Fiji whose all-inclusive rate includes rides in—and we're not kidding here—its own personal miniature submarine. The $2 million, electricity-powered DeepFlight Super Falcon, the only one operating at a resort, can fit two people (the pilot and one non-claustrophobic guest), whose heads stick up through tiny glass domes. Once submerged, you’ll glide exceptionally close to the area’s vibrant coral reefs, which swirl with clown and scorpion fish, manta rays, turtles, and sharks. That Richard Branson owns a Super Falcon himself might explain the crazy factor of how exclusive/expensive/insane this thing is—so if you ever make it to this side of Fiji, don't miss building a spin into your schedule.