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10 unforgettable experiences to take you out of your travel comfort zone

Spark some magic on your next escape with these boundary-pushing experiences

Tempting as it may be to fly and flop onto a sun lounger, the real magic on holiday happens when you let loose a little and try something new. From adrenaline-pumping adventures to cultural shocks to the system, travel encourages everyone to expand their horizons in one way or another – whether it’s dipping your toe in or diving in headfirst. Here, we’ve handpicked ten once-in-a-lifetime activities which might just change your concept of the comfort zone forever…

1. Glass-bottom kayaking at Sailrock Resort, Turks & Caicos

Sailrock Resort

The moment you touch down at Sailrock Resort in South Caicos, the impossibly blue waters just a few sandy steps away from your Beachfront Villa will draw you out to sea. For many of us, leaving dry land behind can feel daunting, but the vibrant coral reef just minutes from the shore is worth the paddle on the resort’s glass-bottom kayaks. Home to an array of marine life, you’ll likely spot eagle rays, turtles, groupers, snappers, dolphin fish, sharks, octopus, barracuda, and many more sea creatures – all without getting wet! If you’d like to push the boat out further, the crystal-clear waters surrounding the resort can be explored using the complimentary snorkelling gear, paddle boards, and Hobie Cats which are perfect for navigating the mangrove creeks, limestone bluffs, and uninhabited cays.

2. Dine in the desert at Dar Ahlam, Morocco

Dar Ahlam

Dar Ahlam

On the fringes of the Moroccan desert, shaded by the palms, lies Dar Ahlam. A traditional Kasbah set in a haven of manicured lawns and fragrant almond blossom, it is easy to understand the Arabic meaning behind the hotel’s name, ‘House of Dreams’. With no menu or dedicated restaurant space, meals are crafted from local ingredients sourced from the souk or grown in the hotel’s garden, while guests are invited to dine in the dozens of private spaces dotted in and around the hotel at any time they wish. For a desert adventure like no other, venture outside the hotel on camelback or an Arabian stallion with a picnic to the Sidi Fla volcanic basalt gorges, or spend the afternoon beneath a private tent on the shores of the Ouarzazate lake just surrendering yourself to the otherworldly surrounds.

3. Stay in the saddle at Riverview Ranch, USA

Riverview Ranch

Perched above the banks of the Clark Fork River, Riverview Ranch is a back-to-nature bolthole where each experience is an authentic Western adventure. The hotel’s connection to the vast Montana landscape greets you at every turn, whether you’re toasting marshmallows around the firepit or enjoying farm-to-table cuisine in the Lodge Great Room.

Riverview Ranch

When the charms of big sky country beckon, there are ample opportunities to immerse yourself in ranch life for all ages and abilities – from horseback cattle drives, team penning, barrel racing, and scenic trail rides through the nearby Lolo National Forest, to horse-drawn sleigh rides with hot cocoa in hand during the winter. This is the place for year-round, ‘yee-haw’ adventures, wrapped up in some of the most spectacular stateside scenery.

4. Surf the waves at Hotel Nantipa, Costa Rica

Hotel Nantipa

Hotel Nantipa

From dawn to dusk you’ll have the sand between your toes and the sound of crashing waves in your ears at Hotel Nantipa, an eco-friendly retreat in Santa Teresa surfer heaven. While you could choose to spend your days swinging gently in a hammock in your bungalow or beside the pool, the nearby beaches beckon seasoned surfers and novices alike. The conditions in Costa Rica are point break perfect, so if you’re looking to catch your first wave or bring your trusty board, this is the place to come. With its jungle-meets-ocean backdrop, you’ll also be within easy reach of Montezuma Waterfall, Blanco National Park and Curu Wildlife Reserve.

5. Nordic ice bathing at Arctic Bath, Sweden

Arctic Bath

Arctic Bath

As far as floating spa hotels go, they don’t come much cooler than Arctic Bath – a cluster of back-to-nature cabins in Northern Europe’s last remaining wilderness. Frozen into the Lule River during the winter months, the circular, Viking-style spa boasts an open-air cold bath for pre-and-post-sauna plunges beneath the Northern sky, an ancient cleansing ritual which strengthens the body’s immune system, eases sore muscles and reduces inflammation. All-natural products by native Swede Kerstin Florian are incorporated into a range of holistic treatments, from Swedish Arctic Massages to Sauna Gus. Your complimentary Arctic Spa kit includes body peeling, facial mask, foot treatment, face cream and a dry brush for the ultimate introduction to Nordic wellness.

6. Underwater adventures at Kenoa – Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort, Brazil

Kenoa Beach

Scuba diving

Sitting between the warm ocean and pristine tropical jungle, life at Kenoa – Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort revolves around the beach. Barra de Sao Miguel and its islands are prime scuba diving territory with their colourful coral reefs teeming with marine life. Dive beneath the waves with the resort’s instructors and discover an underwater world where whale sharks and Manta Rays glide by and dolphins frolic in the foam above.

Oyster tour

If you’re not ready to take the plunge below the surface, ask the resort about their oyster tours – guests are guided in canoes out into the middle of a lagoon to taste oysters directly from the water. So much more than a gastronomic experience, you can explore the mangroves and get to know the local mud-house village of oyster and honey producers.

7. Zip-line canopy tours at Los Altos Resort & Spa, Costa Rica

Los Altos Resort

Tucked into the rainforest canopy, Los Altos Resort & Spa offers relaxed luxury in the pristine eco-wilderness of Manuel Antonio. Wake to the sounds of howler monkeys, glimpse toucans among the trees, and breakfast with hummingbirds – you’ll be surrounded by restorative nature here. Whilst you’re close to nature within Los Altos’ grounds, just a few minutes by car brings you to the unmissable bio-diversity of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Los Altos Resort

The mountainous landscape provides the perfect elevated setting for a zip line tour of the rainforest. The zip lines, spread out across the rainforest canopy, offer one of the most breathtaking activities in the Manuel Antonio and Quepos area – from the tree tops, guests can zip line from platform to platform while taking in the rainforest from above.

8. Hike in the Himalayas at Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan

Gangtey Lodge

If you’re looking for boundary-breaking adventure in a remote setting, this Himalayan hideaway surrounded by mountains and forests is as off-grid as they come. A world away from the everyday, Gangtey Lodge is an all-suite outpost which takes farmhouse living to new levels of luxury. This untouched corner of the eastern Himalayas lends itself to some of the world’s most spectacular outdoor activities, which means nature is the real heart-stealer here. Hike up ancient trails through blue pine forests and blossoming woodland, or meander past the black-necked crane roosting grounds in the Phobjikha Valley’s protected nature reserve.

9. Ski off-piste at Grand Forest Metsovo, Greece

Grand Forest Metsovo

Skiing, in Greece? Yes, you read that right. Whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced seasonaire, why not look beyond the Alps to some of Europe’s lesser known ski resorts, including the best-kept secret in northern Greece – Metsovo. Deep in the rugged region of Epirus, Grand Forest Metsovo is set on the fringe of a black pine forest cresting the top of a private mountain which becomes blanketed in thick snow during the winter.

Grand Forest Metsovo

A strong back-to-nature ethos runs through the experiences at this Considerate Collection hideaway, one that is shared by Olympic medallists Viola Bauer and Lefteris Fafalis who take guests on a cross-country adventure through the Pindus National park. Return to a cosy nook beside a fireplace at Grand Forest Metsovo for some high altitude dining on seasonal, foraged dishes.

10. Sleep beneath the stars at WITTMORE HOTEL, Barcelona

WITTMORE HOTEL

WITTMORE HOTEL

Looking to take your next city break to new heights? This Gothic Quarter gem has a modern member’s club feel – with a sociable, stylish vibe on the citrus-yellow striped sun deck that serves cocktails poolside to its adults-only guests by day. As the sun starts to set, guests who book the Wittmore Suite between May and October can reserve the WITTMORE HOTEL’s rooftop terrace to enjoy Barcelona’s iconic skyline all to themselves from dusk until dawn.

Feeling ready to transcend your travel comfort zone? Contact the SLH Reservation team to book your hotel experience or simply add your booking to the basket and add the experience in the “enhance your stay” section of the booking process on SLH.com.