If you’re a nature-loving explorer or an adrenaline junkie, one of the last places you’d think to look for your next adventure would be a Four- or Five-Star hotel. But after checking out the exciting packages offered by some of the country’s top properties, you will want to reconsider. From horseback riding to river rafting and deep-sea fishing, the chances are vast and varied. So, rather than sit poolside and gaze at beautiful adventure shots on Flickr, get out there and experience a heart-pumping vacation for yourself. We’ll help you get the ball rolling with a preview of these thrilling opportunities.
Gateway Canyons Resort, Gateway, Colo.
Created by Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, it’s no surprise that this western Colorado resort is teeming with adventure. Whether you want to cool off on a rafting trip down the Dolores River, challenge your family to a hike up to Juanita Arch or explore historic mining sites aboard an ATV, Gateway Canyons has it. But something that’s really caught our eye is the Curiosity Adventures, which is made up of expert-led hands-on workshops and presentations (and plenty of adventure in between). Each day features two trail rides (thanks to the team at the Gateway Canyons Stables), followed by an afternoon and evening series addressing the most curious subjects like —does time exist? What happened on the Titanic? Curiosity Adventures is a weekly series with various themes, and it’s a great way to keep your brain working while satisfying your thrill-seeking side.
One Ocean Resort & Spa, Atlantic Beach, Fla.
One of the most enticing things about a beach vacation (or any vacation for that matter) is not having to lift a finger, and this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star resort allows you to do just that—until you want to, that is. The One Ocean Docents play host during your stay at the Northeast Florida (near Jacksonville) hotel, taking care of everything from unpacking your suitcase to arranging excursions. And that’s where Captain John Eggers of Rock-N-Reel Charters comes in. Over the years, One Ocean Resort has formed a great relationship with the deep-sea fishing outfitter, and Rock-N-Reel will supply guests with all the necessary items (licenses, rods, reels, snacks and beverages). Unlike many fishing destinations, Florida’s east coast is home to fantastic year-round catches. During their summer and early fall migration period, you may stumble upon trophy fish such as tarpon, cobia and sharks.
Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa, Moab, Utah
Moab is widely considered the “Adventure Capital of the Southwest,” so you know there’s plenty to get your adrenaline pumping during your stay at Four-Star Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa. With the help of the resort’s adventure concierge, you can head to the private equestrian center to ride horses through the highlands of southeast Utah, set off on a rafting trip to battle the rapids of the Colorado River and even skydive over the stunning red rock formations. Some of the activities are included (such as biking around the ranch), while others are a bit extra (horseback riding, rafting and skydiving, to name a few). Of course, you’ll want to take advantage of the top-notch hiking that Sorrel River Ranch has in store for you—the resort offers various guided hikes, exploring some of the best scenery the Colorado River Valley has to offer.
Whale watching may be during the winter months, but Maui offers plenty of other adventures during the summertime. Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, specifically, is chock-full of activities that appeal to the whole family. Take part in the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, which guides guests through a range of environmental activities (imagine snorkeling and hikes to the Kapalua Arboretum) led by trained naturalists. Aside from the endless watersports guests can take part in (perhaps some stand-up paddling?), there are some excellent hikes to be had. West Maui is home to a fantastic landscape—waterfalls and a beautiful coastline—and hiking is a great way to see it all. Whether you venture through the arboretum or find your way to an ancient Hawaiian Ahupua’a (an old land division system that was used for farmers), exploring Maui offers the best of both worlds: adventure and natural beauty.
Four Seasons Resort Whistler, British Columbia
Widely known for its amazing skiing and snowboarding, Whistler is a great place for summer adventure as well. From mountain biking and hiking on those same trails that we love when they’re covered with snow to zip-lining and even summer shredding on Blackcomb’s Horstman Glacier (through July 28, at least), Four Seasons Whistler is brimming with options for active travelers. But the thing that strikes us most is the option for those training for the upcoming Ironman Canada race on August 25. The Four-Star mountain retreat offers a special package for registered athletes including 15 percent off accommodations, 10 percent off spa treatments, complimentary bike and luggage storage, and parking, as well as daily fitness classes and wine receptions. It’s a great way for participants to get a sneak preview and log training time swimming in Alta Lake, bike the 112-mile course and run the Valley Trail—all of which will host the race at the end of the summer.