Celebrate your birthday with a group of friends with views of New York City, or check into a design hotel on a private beach with your better half. Our list of top 10 vacation ideas includes exceptional hotels, resorts and activities around the world which will make you wish birthdays didn't come just once a year. We've included some active getaways you can take with your girlfriends, luxury romantic ideas and family trips.
»Soho House in NYC
If you are looking for unique weekend getaways in NYC, Soho House New York is a private members club and hotel located in Manhattan's Meatpacking. On the 3rd floor of the hotel is the Cowshed Spa which has treatment rooms, a steam room, a gym and a relaxation area. Open to members and hotel guests, the Cowshed spa offers treatments with names like: pampered cow, stressed cow, and pummelled cow. This is a place where hotel guests can go to have the stress taken out of their tired bodies. You won't find any of the usual treatment names. Instead, treatments are based on the cow themed name. So after a hard day in the city head to the spa and try a 60 minute "pampered cow" or a 1 hour and 20 minute "stoned cow" therapy. All of the products are Cowshed's own blend of flower and plant oils. There is also a small gym and steam room.Treatment rates range from $60 for a quick 30 minute "stressed cow" massage to $325 for a "day at the Cowshed." Call 212-627-9800 to book your appointment. Enjoy the outdoor rooftop pool on your weekend getaway at this romantic NY hotel.
There are 24 oversized bedrooms ranging in size from 350 to 950 square feet. Bedrooms feature crystal chandaliers, plasma screen TV, DVD player, and high-speed internet access. The larger rooms have free standing bath tubs for two, and all bathrooms have walk-in showers. The restaurant has views over downtown Manhattan and the Hudson River, perfect for a romantic celebration. The hotel is at the intersection of 9th Avenue and West 13th Street in downtown Manhattan. Room rates for non-members range from $395 for a "playpen" to $1,150 for a "playground" (212-627-9800, website).
»Fasano Punta del Este in Uruguay
Fasano Punta del Este is a luxury design hotel with its own private beach on the Maldonado River that offers beautiful views of the sunset. It is also known as the meeting point of international high society in South America, alive with nightlife and fine dining. The property sits amidst the 1,000 acres of Estancia Las Piedras located on the highest point of La Barra with views of calm countryside, all located within minutes of the most beautiful beaches of Uruguay. There are 22 bungalows and 10 deluxe bungalow suites with 5-star amenities and spacious private terraces overlooking the Uruguayan countryside. Restaurant Fasano offers cuisines inspired by the flavors of the various regions of Italy. At the more informal and trattoria-style Las Piedras Restaurant, rustic Italian food is served for lunch and dinner. The Poolside Bar and Restaurant is open daily, serving lunch, dinner, sandwiches, snacks and sunset cocktails.
Locally produced olive oil, wine and honey are used during Shiatsu massages and other body treatments at the spa. There is a beautiful rooftop Vichy hydrotherapy area, heated indoor pools, saunas, steam room, yoga classes, Pilates sessions and a fully-equipped state-of-the-art fitness center. The property has an exclusive 9-hole golf course designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer. The course is set in a farm field where golf lessons are also offered for 40 minutes a day. Guests enjoy endless choices of activities, from cooking classes to guided trips at antique shops, wine tours and museums. Lovers of the outdoors can go boating, biking and horseback riding at the equestrian center. Bungalow rates start at $450 per night (+598 (0)42 670000, website).
»Park Hyatt Sydney: Views of the Sydney Opera House
If you are looking for unique ideas for couples, Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney is a luxury getaway on the water's edge of Sydney Harbour with scenic views of the famous Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The hotel has a heated rooftop swimming pool pool, dedicated 24-hour butler service and a health spa. Iluka Spa offers an array of treatments, including massage, facial care, Vichy shower, body wraps, aromatherapy, pedicures and manicures. The hotel has 158 guest rooms and suites featuring private balconies with views of Sydney Harbor, a great romantic idea.
The hotel's restaurant harbour kitchen & bar offers scenic views of the through floor-to-ceiling folding glass doors. Watch the food being prepared by the hotel's executive chef Danny Drinkwater. The hotel has two bars; harbour bar serves martinis, champagnes and boutique beers. The Club Bar has an open fire and offers a selection of cognacs, whiskies and a Cuban cigar humidor. Browse more romantic ideas for couples. Room rates start at 425 Australian dollars (+61 2 9241 1234, website).
»Escape Haven: Surfing Retreats for Women
If you want to get away from it all - your job, the winter cold and even your honey - check into Escape Haven, a tropical retreat for women where you will spend your days surfing, practicing yoga and relaxing in the sun. Perfect for 30th birthday celebrations, this holiday will let you relax as well as get in shape. The company offers two tropical locations: Bali, Indonesia and Byron Bay, Australia. The luxury resorts make you feel pampered from head-to-toe while you try a range of fun activities. The surf & yoga retreats last a week and include spa treatments, fitness classes, cooking lessons and detox.
For those who've never surfed, the company offers beginner classes taught by women in warm tropical waters. You will be able to learn at your own pace in a friendly, supportive company. Guests are accommodated in luxury villas and houses, offering all of the modern amenities such as cable TV, DVD players and air-conditioning. Butlers are available 24/7 to serve breakfast, tea or prepare a relaxing bath. The bathrooms are spacious and luxurious, perfect for a relaxing soak at the end of a surfing day. All-inclusive week-long luxury surf packages in Bali start at $2,595 USD per person in a triple room. The Australian location is slightly more expensive, starting at $3,095 AUD per person for a week (escapehaven.com, Bali: +62 878 6192 2646, Australia: +61 44 700 0693).
»Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa in the Australian Rainforest
If you are looking for green vacation ideas, the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa in Australia is a great place to relax and unwind surrounded by a tropical rainforest and beautiful waterfalls. You can take snorkeling and scuba diving trips to the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas, 40 minutes from the lodge. Or simply stay at the spa and indulge in therapeutic treatments that range from massages and body wraps to naturopathic treatments and consultations.
Birdwatching is another perfect way to spend a day, spotting an array of colorful birds in the Daintree Rainforest with nobody to disturb you. Since the lodge has only 15 secluded villas, you can enjoy as much privacy as you want on your green vacation. The lodge has 15 rainforest villas that blend remarkably with the surroundings. The villas have air conditioning, tea & coffee making facilities, satellite TVs and spacious bathrooms. Ask for a Spa Villa if you want a Jacuzzi on the balcony.
The chefs at Bilngkumu Restaurant incorporate fresh local ingredients, such as exotic Queensland fruits and tropical reef fish, in the daily menu. You can also choose from light spa dishes which will complete the healthy experience at the Daintree Eco Lodge. Fly to Cairns and drive north along the scenic Cook highway to the lodge (a 90-minute drive), or ask the hotel to arrange transportation for you. Villa rates start at 490 Australian Dollars, including breakfast; Spa Villa Rates from 540 Australian Dollars per night (+61-7-4098-6100, website).
»French Lick Resort
French Lick Springs Hotel at French Lick Resort in Indiana has 443 guest rooms and suites, a pool complex with indoor/outdoor pools, hot tub and fitness center. The hotel offers both casual and fine dining options. The property is famous for its nearby sulfur springs.Activities include three golf courses, shopping, programs for kids, casino, horseback riding and historic tours. The Spa is a 27,000 square foot facility, complete with mineral springs healing waters which have drawn visitors for over 150 years. Chicago is a 5-hour drive away.
West Baden Springs Hotel was originally built in 1902. The property features a huge atrium with a dome and guest rooms which rise six tiers around the dome. There are 243 luxury guest rooms and suites, an indoor lap pool, salon, and fitness center. Play scenic golf on three golf courses, dine at fine restaurants, take historic tours, go horseback riding and enroll your kids in a variety of age-appropriate programs. French Lick Resort is a full-service vacation resort in Indiana, offering two hotels and many things to do. The property offers three unique golf courses and the Golf Academy where guests can improve their game. There are two spas at the resort, the one at West Baden and one at French Lick. Enjoy programs for kids, many pools, shopping, a casino, concerts and other entertainment. The resort is located 5 hours from Chicago and 2.5 hours from Indianapolis which makes it a great weekend getaway. The hotel is a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1902, famous for its nearby sulfur springs (website).
»Shotover Jet: High Speed Boat Ride in New Zealand
If you like speed and spectacular scenery, take a jetboat ride along the famous Shotover River Canyons in New Zealand. Shotover Jet, the only company permitted to operate in the these canyons, uses custom built boats to provide the ultimate thrill. The company is situated at Arthurs Point, six kilometers from Queenstown. Expert boat drivers maneuver the boat through the canyons. The boat stops from time to time to give passengers the chance to look around and absorb the scenery. The company provides life jackets and full length Spray Jackets. You can bring a camera aboard the boat or purchase one of the professional photos taken during the trip. If you are hungry after experiencing a wild adrenaline rush, the company offers casual dining overlooking the scenic river.
Adult rides cost NZ$ 129. For reservations from the United States, dial 011-64-3-442-7087 or 442-7087 locally. Reservations are required. You can catch a complimentary ride from Queenstown which departs every 15 minutes. The round trip including the transfer and the jet ride takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes (011-64-3-442-7087, website).
If you are looking for the perfect place on the West Coast to celebrate your birthday with your family, Safari West is a 400-acre wildlife preserve in the heart of California's wine country. You will be able to spot over 400 exotic mammals and birds, including zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, African antelope and many other species. The property offers luxurious safari tents and cabins. You can watch wildlife right from your deck. Guest tents have hardwood floors, heaters, full bathrooms and spacious verandas. If you are traveling with a large family, the two-bedroom cottage can accommodate up to eight guests. The cottage has a kitchenette and an outdoor sitting area. Even while you eat, you can be surrounded by wildlife - just ask for one of the custom made wooden tables on the veranda. The indoor dining room is decorated with African murals and artifacts. If you prefer take-out, Delilah's offers homemade sandwiches, salads, cheese and fresh fruit.
Be sure to pack your camera and binoculars - you'll need both on this outdoor adventure in Napa. Tours in an authentic safari vehicle start at $70 for adults; the cost for children ages 3-12 is $32. Reservations are required. Safari tents cost $220 per night night for two people, each extra person is $25. Continental breakfast is included. A two-night minimum stay is required on Friday and Saturday, May through September (707-579-2551, 800-616-2695, website).
»Sandals Royal Plantation
Sandals Royal Plantation in Jamaica offers beautiful suites with ocean views and butler service. There are seven categories of suites to choose from. Each suite features Italian bed linens, custom-crafted mahogany furniture, king-size beds, individually controlled air conditioning, ceiling fans, in-room bars, sitting and dining area, data ports, private marble bath and shower, safes and satellite TV, CD player and I-Home docking station. Enjoy relaxing couples treatments at the spa and explore Jamaica's beaches.
The hotel is all-inclusive which means that you won't have to worry about individual fees for activities that you want to try (although some services like spa treatments are extra). If you have a scuba diving license, there is free diving on several coral reef sites ranging from 20ft-130ft in depth. Guests can also play free golf on the scenic Sandals Golf & Country Club. All-inclusive rates in a suite start from about US$1,310 per night.
Picture a romantic gondola ride, Venetian-syle suite and scenic views that form the perfect backdrop for your birthday trip. The atmosphere is Venice is quite unique and the only way to get around is by boat or on foot. The are many beautiful hotels, cafes with a view and romantic restaurants. If you are interested in art, Venice is home to several great museums. Or visit a glass blowing factory, go shopping and feed the pigeons in St. Mark's Square. Hotel Concordia is located in the corner of St. Mark's Square in Venice. A few of the rooms have views of the square, the bell tower, and the basilica. The hotel staff is very friendly, the breakfast includes fresh pastry, and many of the rooms have chandeliers and light fixtures made from Venetian glass.
If your going for romance at the Concordia, you have to get a room with a view of Piazza San Marco. When you wake up you will have a great view of the square. If you get up early enough you can see the morning sun hit the bell tower in St. Marks Square. Waking up early won't be a problem since you are next to the bell tower which rings each morning and throughout the day. However, this is all part of the vacation experience. While the Concordia Hotel has friendly staff and a great view, it is located next to the number one tourist attraction in Venice. So for a more romantic dinner take a walk to Campo San Stefano and have dinner outside at an outdoor restaurant. The room rates vary a lot throughout the year. The peak season is August during the Venice Film Festival and February during the Carnival. Doubles start at 190 Euros in thee low season and 395 Euros in the high season.