The number one New Year’s resolution for most people, year after year, is weight loss. This naturally puts spa and fitness destinations on the top of the January “go-to” list. But, this is not necessarily the case for everyone. There are a handful of folks that don’t want a destination packed with exercise machines, weight conscious meals, or spa treatments. In her latest Window Seat or Aisle Seat blog, Kerri Zane has found 8 awesome anti spa family getaway packages that offer unexpected indulgence, decadence, and fun.
1. Luxe in the Desert
You and your family have reached a very special oasis in the desert when you approach The Willow Historic Inn, in Palm Springs, California. Literally tucked into the base of Mount San Jacinto, this 1920’s fortress can only be accessed by ringing a private bell. There is no lobby or great atrium but, upon arrival, the super-friendly inn’s manager and assistant will greet you. They unlock the entrance gate and personally assist you with your bags while providing a tour of the home. We stayed in the Loft Room. It’s the Inn’s best-kept secret, accessed by a winding staircase. I was told Dr. Albert Einstein slept there! The home also played host to luminaries like Marian Davies, Former President Ford, and Shirley Temple, to name a few. Every morning a three-course breakfast is served on the patio dining room. The Inn is associated with the iconic French restaurant, La Vallauris, which is located directly across the street. If you desire, they’ll provide room service, but it’s a real treat to visit the restaurant. The best spot to sit is the patio, amongst the trees that Paul the owner himself planted almost 40 years ago.
There are plenty of family activities to enjoy in Palm Springs. The Willow’s is conveniently located next door to the Palm Springs Art Museum (take a picture with the gigantic Marilyn Monroe out front). It’s also walking distance to the main Palm Springs downtown shopping district. Your hosts will arrange a golf or tennis game for you, or assist with a Palm Springs Aerial Tramway excursion. In keeping with the indulgent theme, I suggest you visit the 1960’s mid-century modern home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, called Sunnylands. The Annenbergs entertained many of America’s Royalty, including 8 American presidents. It has been called the Camp David of the West, and continues to play a role in world politics, as a high-level retreat venue. Then, travel a short distance down Bob Hope Drive and take a stroll around The River in Rancho Mirage outdoor shopping center. Stop in at Michael’s Pizzeria for a wood burning pizza, then hit up a movie at the 6-plex. To complete your desert visit, go to Great Shakes on Palm Canyon Drive. They have gourmet shakes and malts topped off with mini donuts. If that isn’t family-friendly decadent luxury, I don’t know what is!
2. Exotic Island Paradise
Fiji is normally considered a couple’s destination, but the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort offers an exclusive escape for families. It is an all-inclusive, five-star eco-luxury ressort that includes a variety of activities, including a visit to the world-class deep-sea scuba diving at the Namea reefs, which is only 10 minutes away. There are excursions to a tropical rain forest or you and your kids can visit a local village. The resort’s boat will ferry you to Naviavia Island for snorkeling and kayaking. There is also a wide range of children’s activities and services, namely the Bula Club, which offers rock pool exploration, hiking, marine biologist guided tours and glass-bottom boat excursions.
3. Aussie Outback Fun
Into the Red Center is the newest Swain Destinations trip that is anything but a spa retreat. You and your family can explore the red plains of Alice Springs, the Aboriginal community of Wallace Rockhole, and the iconic Ayers Rock in Uluru. You can also enjoy various adventures through the bustling, metropolitan city of Sydney. The trip provides a full-day, 4WD tour through the wildlife-rich bush of Blue Mountains National Park, along with a visit to the sacred Gosse Bluff crater in the heart of the Aboriginal territory. It is an ideal way to immerse yourself in the region’s unique culture.