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Exceptional travel experiences to add to your wish list

When gifting travel experiences to your loved ones — or yourself — don’t settle for anything less than truly memorable.

By Paul Oswell | November 2, 2023

A lifelong memory made while traveling is perhaps one of the best gifts that we can give or receive. Whether your getaway includes a group of friends, a significant other or just you, there are many reasons to seek out the most extraordinary aspects of travel. Here are the sensational spas, memorable meals and exceptional excursions that should be on everyone's wish list:

  • The spa’s the star: Discover true relaxation and pampering on Mexico’s beautiful Yucatan Peninsula

  • Mesmerizing menus: Head for the United States' capital to indulge in restaurants that command as much wonder as the city’s history

  • Enchanting exploration: From spotting rare wildlife to swimming in idyllic coral reefs, the Seychelles is truly magnificent

Couple at Spa
Experience a journey of wellbeing at Conrad Spa Tulum.

Relaxation in Tulum, Mexico

Tulum’s idyllic stretch of coastline on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico has bloomed in recent years. Formerly a quiet fishing village, it is now equal parts sophisticated, laidback, stylish and inviting. If you’re looking for an upscale relaxing experience with a rustic ambiance and a treasure trove of wellness opportunities, then Tulum is the destination for you.

Tulum’s history and culture is steeped in wellness, and many of the spas incorporate traditional ceremonies and ingredients into their treatments. Mayan clay was used in ancient rituals and is a mineral-rich addition, while cacao ceremonies have been a part of life here for centuries serving as an antioxidant rich in serotonin and dopamine. Experience a therapeutic healing Temazcal ritual or the journey of Quetzal, which incorporates instruments, herbs, incense and massage techniques. There’s a world of curated self-care treatments here for you to discover and bask in.

Continue your wellness journey at Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya. Located off the beaten path, the resort’s private beach is situated in a serene and protected cove perfect for unparalleled relaxation and centering. Experience even more calm with a soothing treatment at Conrad Spa Tulum, where the design is inspired by the shape of Tulum’s spectacular underground caves and lakes, known as cenotes. Each ritual starts with a cleansing ceremony and guided meditation before expert therapists deploy treatments inspired by ancient customs, using local herbs and plants in everything from quartz sand massages to purifying rituals.

The Bazaar by José Andrés
Excite your senses with elevated culinary offerings at Waldorf Astoria Washington DC.

Fine dining in Washington

Exploring the historical buildings, monuments and museums of the nation’s capital is a top priority for most visitors, and rightly so. The imperial grandeur of the centuries-old memorials and seats of power tell the story of an entire nation. Today, Washington’s well-deserved reputation as a discerning foodie destination highlights a thriving city that draws from its diverse population to offer a wealth of high-end restaurants and a dynamic global culinary scene.

Dining at internationally renowned, Michelin-recognized restaurants is always a welcome addition to anyone’s travel itinerary. In Washington, Korean cuisine continues to shine with Mandu, a Michelin Guide-listed restaurant at the forefront. The fiery soups and broths are a hearty treat and there’s a chic simplicity to the dining room. In Woodley Park, award-winning American restaurant New Heights also caught the eye of the Michelin Guide. It boasts tastefully understated decor and a decadently confident menu that covers everything from crispy fried oysters to succulent lamb with salsa verde.

The dining options at Waldorf Astoria Washington DC provide a microcosm of the city’s distinguished food scene, from the unmissable crab cakes in Peacock Alley to the expertly prepared shellfish at Michelin-starred Sushi Nakazawa. Equally extraordinary is The Bazaar by José Andrés, where you can savor a cone of Ossetra caviar topped with a gold leaf before exploring the sensational flavors of Wagyu beef or oxtail croquettes.

Couple walking through nature
Explore your surroundings on exclusive excursions at Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts.

Elevated excursions in the Seychelles

It’s hard to imagine a more alluring and adventurous destination than this archipelago of 115 pristine islands located in the remote reaches of the tropical Indian Ocean. The Seychelles leads the world when it comes to preserving its natural beauty as half of the nation’s lands are officially protected.

Idyllic expanses such as Morne Seychellois National Park on Mahé combine exquisite stretches of coastline with hiking trails through lush rainforests and mountaintops. Expert local guides are well worth hiring so that you don’t miss any of the many wonders, including the jellyfish tree, once thought extinct, or the extremely rare Seychelles scops owl.

At Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts, the opulent accommodations meet a spirit of exploration made possible by exclusive experiences and excursions that satisfy any appetite for adventure. On site, guests can learn to cook local delicacies, blend world class rums, embark on a private sunset cruise or experience stargazing under the clearest of skies. For more energetic pursuits, resort staff can also arrange for fly fishing and kite surfing excursions, while free diving or reef exploration with an in-house marine biologist are absolute must-dos for a truly memorable experience.

This season, give the gift of an exceptional travel experience to yourself or a loved one. At the end of the day, these are the moments that you’ll cherish for years to come.

Paul Oswell is a British award-winning journalist and published travel author based in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. His books include Bucket List North America and The Great American Road Trip, as well as New Orleans' Historic Hotels. He has also been an editor of and contributor to several guide books/editions published by Dorling Kindersley (owned by Penguin), including New Orleans, Florida, Orlando, Los Angeles, California and The United States. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure (both of which he has written multiple online travel guides for) and The Guardian, as well as dozens of international newspaper and magazine titles, and inflight magazines for major airlines.

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