Not your average cruise. Photo courtesy of Aqua Expeditions.
The holiday season might be the only time you and your friends can all get off work at the same time, so make the most of it. We know how hard it is to get the whole group to agree on a vacation spot, so came up with a few ideas to everyone on the decision-making train.
What's to Love: You, your pals, a boat ride down the Amazon. Days are spent exploring jungle life, led by incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining local naturalist guides. With floor-to-ceiling windows in each suite on the ship, you'll feel fully immersed in the Peruvian Amazon while still fully immersed in your room's 100-percent Peruvian cotton sheets.
What's to Love: Easily the most vibrant and distinct of all converted farms in the Franschhoek Valley. The sleek, inviting cottages, with über-modern kitchens where guests can prepare their own meals, make the hotel an ideal destination for culinarily-inclined groups looking for a mellow getaway. Don't miss a canoe ride on the farm's dam or a bike ride through the nearby hills, or a chance to harvest produce from Babylonstoren's eight-acre edible garden, the lifeblood of the farm.
What's to Love: Talk about the edge of the world. Accessible only by boat and recently by private charter, Fanning Island in the South Pacific is about as remote as it gets. Grab your surfer friends and book a week at this resort by Pegasus Lodges straight out of Robinson Crusoe and ashore of one of the best (and emptiest) surf-breaks in the world.
Rates: All-inclusiveseven-night stay starting at $5,000
What's to Love: A Scandinavian-inspired boutique luxury hotel that offers a West Coast getaway with European flair. Located 35 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, Solvang is the cutest Danish-style small California town you've never heard of. Take a bike ride to visit all the shops and bakeries of the burg, and taste your way through the wineries of the Santa Ynez valley.
What's to Love: Guest rooms might be micro-sized, but they make use of limited space with multi-functional modern furniture and built-in storage compartments. Not that you'll be spending too much time in your room, as the Arlo capitalizes on communal space with numerous lounges, patios, and living rooms, and elevator bank lined with crowd-sourced travel tips. Warm walnut furnishings, rain showers, and Blind Barber bath products add a luxurious feel to this moderately priced boutique hotel, making it the perfect compromise for friends with varying budgets.
What's to Love: Ever dreamed of slushing through the Alps? With a private guide who knows all the best trails and who pulls out picnics when you're feeling peckish? Your dreams have come true. Experience the drama of the Alps, hiking through untouched mountain villages dating back centuries, to boldly go where no ski-lift has gone before. For adrenaline junkies looking to advance to the next level.
What's to Love: For the design-obsessed friends in your group. Each of the 21 uniquely designed rooms evoke a sense of coastal Australian summers gone by. Revel in five-star appointments, a charming beachfront town, and one of Australia's best surf breaks at this surf motel-turned-luxury boutique hotel.
What's to Love: A traditional Japanese ryokan for the modern world. Guests have their own floor of this 17-story hotel, and the staff is dedicated to the spirit of omotenashi, the Japanese word for their unrivaled hospitality. Located near Tokyo Station, the hotel is ideally located for getting around the city. Not that you'll want to leave.