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 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 for couples, as well as family trips.
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»Jamaica - 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.
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»Virgin Hotels Chicago
Guest rooms at Virgin Hotels Chicago feature an innovative design with sliding privacy doors between the bedroom and the dressing area. You can control almost everything on your personal device, and Wi-Fi is included. The room design is slick and modern, with bold red accents such as the mini bar, the desk lamp and a few red tiles in the shower. The suites offer extra space, elegant sofas and a charming vanity area where you can get ready for your night out. The hotel is centrally located in the Loop. The Commons Club at Virgin Hotels is a restaurant, bar and lounge with a feel of a private members club. Meet fellow travelers during the nightly social hour at the Commons Club which also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel has a rooftop gym. The wellness lounge is opening in the spring of 2015. Rooms start at $239 per night (website).
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»Australia - 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 (website).
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»Bali - 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 (website).
»Cape Cod - John Carver Inn
Colonial charm meets contemporary-chic in this historic family-friendly New England getaway. Located in the heart of Plymouth, with beautiful views of the Brewster Gardens and Jenney Pond, the John Carver Inn & Spa is an ideal base from which to explore the area. Eighty luxuriously furnished, colonial-style guest rooms are comfortable and cozy, with king or queen-sized beds, spacious en-suite bathrooms with showers, individual climate control and modern amenities, such as wireless Internet. Some rooms boast open fireplaces and oversized Jacuzzis for those wanting a touch of romance. Dine at the award-winning Hearth ‘n Kettle Restaurant where you enjoy fresh Cape Cod cuisine with a twist in an elegant setting, or sip crisp craft beer around the enchanting Waterfire Fountain at the Waterfire Tavern. The exclusive Pilgrim Cove Indoor Pool is home to water slides, waterfalls, and a soothing Jacuzzi set amidst a replica of Plymouth Rock. The full service Beach Plum Spa offers relaxation and rejuvenation that you deserve on your birthday. Rooms start at $123 per night (website).
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»San Diego - Pacific Terrace Hotel
Just steps from the beautiful white sandy beaches of San Diego, the Pacific Terrace Hotel takes luxurious seaside living to new heights. Boasting magnificent views, intimate privacy and award-winning service, this elegant four-Diamond hotel is a must for a romantic and opulent birthday getaway. The hotel’s 73 stylish guest rooms feature handcrafted wooden beds, hanging tapestries and silk ceiling fans. Private patios and balconies embrace breath-taking ocean views, while modern amenities and plush extras such as bathrobes and deluxe toiletries add a touch of glamour. Enjoy a workout in the state-of-the-art fitness center followed by a massage in the privacy of your guestroom, poolside, or in the couple's massage room. The heated oceanfront pool and whirlpool offer the perfect spot for relaxing with a view. While the Pacific Terrace Hotel does not have an onsite restaurant, it offers a wide variety of San Diego fine dining possibilities with a 'Charge Back' service, which allows you to sign your room number and pay your restaurant tab with your hotel bill (website).
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»Kentucky - Beaumont Inn
Historic Kentucky charm meets modern luxury in this elegant southern gem. Nestled in the heart of Bluegrass Country near Lexington, exquisite accommodations, award-winning dining and gracious service come together at the Beaumont Inn to create a tranquil haven, which promises to leave lasting memories. Owned by one of Kentucky’s oldest families, the inn features 31 beautifully appointed rooms and suites in four historic buildings dotted around the magnificent grounds. Guestrooms are elegantly furnished with original pieces of furniture and antiques, reflecting the heritage of the family and creating a cozy ambiance, while deluxe amenities offer modern comforts, such as cable television, air-conditioning, and free wireless Internet. Savor classic Kentucky cuisine in the Main Dining Room Restaurant, followed by fine wines and Kentucky bourbon in the Old Owl Tavern or the Owl’s Nest Lounge. Pamper body and mind at the exclusive Kentucky Spa, which offers a variety of rejuvenating experiences. Take a tour of the horse country on the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail and explore the nearby attractions. Rooms start at $118, including a full Southern Breakfast (website).
»New Zealand - Shotover Jet: High Speed Boat Ride
If you like speed and spectacular scenery, take a jetboat ride along the famous Shotover River Canyons in New Zealand. Shotover Jet, the only company permitted to operate in the these canyons, uses custom built boats to provide the ultimate thrill. The company is situated at Arthurs Point, six kilometers from Queenstown. Expert boat drivers maneuver the boat through the canyons. The boat stops from time to time to give passengers the chance to look around and absorb the scenery. The company provides life jackets and full length Spray Jackets. You can bring a camera aboard the boat or purchase one of the professional photos taken during the trip. If you are hungry after experiencing a wild adrenaline rush, the company offers casual dining overlooking the scenic river. Adult rides cost NZ$ 129. 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 (website).
»California - Safari West
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).
»Newport, Rhode Island - Gilded Hotel
Opening in the spring of 2015, the glamorous Gilded Hotel is an artwork in itself, offering luxurious accommodations, deluxe amenities and exceptional service. Conveniently located in the heart of Newport, Rhode Island, the hotel is close to attractions, lovely beaches, and an array of restaurants, galleries and museums. Gorgeously decorated suites suit every taste with king and queen-sized beds, en-suite bathrooms with private baths, Rococo and Beaux Arts-inspired décor and pampering amenities, including individual climate control, wireless Internet and iPads loaded with local information. Relax on the secluded patio by the open fire-pit and soak up the breath-taking views, enjoy a game of billiards on the full-sized table or croquet on the manicured lawns. A comfortable guest center offers refreshments all day, and personalized concierge services can help you plan your visit. Rooms start at $229 per night (website).
»Bend, Oregon - Oxford Hotel Bend
A stylish eco-chic boutique hotel in the heart of Bend, Oregon, the Oxford Hotel is an ideal base from which to explore this unique mountain town. Conveniently located near a range of activities and things to do, this modern retreat offers comfortable accommodation, delicious cuisine and excellent service. Fifty-nine guest rooms and suites have been thoughtfully designed for absolute comfort. Sleek clean lines combine with plush décor to create cozy retreats, which boast spacious en-suite bathrooms and modern amenities. Additional hotel facilities include a state-of-the-art fitness room, an exclusive Jacuzzi Spa, sauna and steam room, a complimentary local shuttle and cruiser bikes, and access to some of Central Oregon’s premier golf clubs. Enjoy organic cuisine made from an array of locally sourced ingredients at the 10below Restaurant & Lounge. Fine fare is accompanied by fine wines and beers from local Northwest wineries and breweries. Rooms start at $259 per night (website).
» Uruguay - Fasano Punta del Este
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 (website).
»New York City - Soho House
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).
»Mexico - Beloved Playa Mujeres Resort
Surrounded by the white sandy beaches of Playa Mujeres, Beloved Playa Mujeres Resort is a luxurious all-inclusive beach resort in the heart of Cancun. Fringed by azure waters lapping golden-sanded beaches, this tropical retreat enjoys an inland marina and Greg Norman-designed golf course. Inspired by Mexico’s rich cultural heritage, lavish suites feature contemporary-chic décor and deluxe amenities, including fully stocked mini bars, satellite television, and air-conditioning. Luxuries include ocean views, rooftop terraces, and pool access, all of which boast spacious living areas and en-suite bathrooms with rain showers. Enjoy an array of Mexican delicacies at Lupita, head to Isla Grill for fine dining with a contemporary-chic ambience, or toast the setting sun with a colorful cocktail from the iconic El-Mar Bar as you look out over the Sea of Cortez. Head to the spa which offers a variety of pampering body and facial treatments, or simply lounge by one of the three sparkling swimming pools or four Jacuzzis with a drink as you soak up the breath-taking surroundings. There is a complimentary Kids Club for children aged four to 12 which offers water-based games, baking, video games, traditional Mexican piñata-making and other fun activities. Junior Suites start at $462 per night all inclusive (website).
»Iowa - Hotel Pattee
Capturing the true essence of the American Midwest, Hotel Pattee is an elegant boutique hotel that offers comfortable accommodation, excellent local cuisine and warm and welcoming service in the historic town of Pattee, Iowa. Individually designed and decorated rooms celebrate the history and culture of the area through local artworks on display. Featuring oversized beds, spacious en-suite bathrooms, plush bathroom amenities and wireless Internet access, rooms are comfortable and homely, while some rooms boast spa tubs and wood-burning fireplaces as added luxuries. Dining is a delight at the Hotel Pattee where David’s Milwaukee Diner serves an extensive menu of delicious All-American fare. Enjoy a drink after dinner at the Inter-Urban Lounge where you are bound to meet some of the locals. The hotel offers guests the use of an exclusive fitness center, complete with sauna, steam room and self-cleaning hot tub with purified water, as well as the renowned and popular Arthur "Oley" Olson bowling alley. Rooms start at $149 per night (website).
»The Berkshires, Massachusetts - The Brook Farm Inn
Tucked away in the heart of the Berkshires, Brook Farm Inn is the perfect romantic getaway. Conveniently located within a short walk of Lenox, this charming inn is an ideal base from which to explore the area. Beautifully appointed rooms are comfortably furnished with cozy fireplaces, en-suite bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, romantic canopy beds and luxurious amenities. Decorated with antiques and plush carpeting, rooms have lovely views over the landscaped gardens and offer serene havens in which to relax. Take to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a sumptuous breakfast being served in the dining room. Enjoy high tea in the afternoon in the comfortable library and head out to one of the many excellent restaurants around the inn for a delectable dinner. Unwind with an array of indulgent spa services and body treatments at the inn or explore the area’s many museums and galleries, chic boutiques and quaint stores. Take in a summer concert at Tanglewood or attend a play at the Berkshire Theatre Festival or Shakespeare & Co. Hike the Appalachian Trail in summer and go skiing and show shoeing in winter. Rooms start at $189 per night (website).
»Indiana - 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).
»Daintree Eco Lodge 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).
»Venice, Italy - Hotel Concordia
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. If you are 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. Doubles start at 190 Euros (website).