If, for you, going on vacation means leaving all your cares behind, escaping the grind of daily life and not having to put up with crowds of tourists, there are some inspiring places to visit. No queues, plenty of peace and tranquility, beautiful settings and a general “get away from it all” vibe, you will find your Zen in these destinations.
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1 Floating Hotel on River Kwai, Thailand
If the thought of no air-conditioning makes you break out in a sweat, this place is not for you. This excessively eco-friendly hotel operates entirely without electricity! Tucked away in the verdant mountains on River Kwai in Kanchanaburi Province, the hotel is one of those places to escape the rat race that defies logic. It comprises of several linked bamboo huts floating on the water. How could this possibly provide relaxation and promote your happiness? Well, you'll be greeted by friendly elephants before breakfast and you can jump off the dock into the river and float downstream to the end of the huts like the local village children do. Rooms are cool thanks to the flowing river below, oil lamps provide light for reading. No computer, no TV, no police sirens or shouting matches out-of-doors by your noisy neighbors. Sheer bliss in a hammock!
2 Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Australia
Perhaps Wolgan Valley's most famous tourist arrived in 1836, when Charles Darwin took a squint at wallabies and wombats ambling by. A nature expert is at hand at this resort to explain local bird, mammal and reptile species to enthusiastic naturalists among the guests. The conservation-conscious resort is part of a 4,000-acre nature reserve in the Blue Mountains, taking up a paltry 2% of the entire estate. Look forward to the ultimate pampering experience, for the hotel has indoor-outdoor pools and fireplaces in all 40 of the stand-alone suites. They even provide binoculars for wildlife viewing in all the suites.
3 Wiesergut, Hinterglemm Valley, Austria
Owned by the family of Josef Kröll, the 14th century estate in the glorious Hinterglemm Valley provides guests with an outstanding restaurant that serves classic dishes with a modern twist, using fresh produce grown on the estate. Hinterglemm Valley is particularly popular with mountain bikers, who come here for the breathtaking network of trails that offer all levels of difficulty, be it for free riders, cross-country bikers or downhill racers. From scenic trails your kids could manage to giant climbs a Tour de France champion might balk at, the Hinterglemm Valley is a cyclist’s paradise. Cycle along the 280 km long Tauern Bike Path and explore the region when you're done with pampering at Wiesergut.
4 Camp Orenda, Adirondack State Park, New York State, USA
Part of the Adirondack State Park, located in Upstate New York's Forest Preserve, this family-run retreat aims at campers who like their creature comforts, not rustic "survival" experts looking to live rough and be chased by bears for their morning sport. There are five spacious canvas tents equipped with cedar-lined showers, wood-burning stoves and decks where you can sit in style on Adirondack chairs and watch wildlife and fellow campers go by. Climb the Adirondack Mountains, go boating on a choice of 10,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of streams and rivers or walk the wetlands and old-growth forests for a little shade on hot days.
5 Anantara Xishuangbanna Resort, Yunnan Province, China
Located in a rather wild and rugged part of Southern Yunnan Province, Anantara Xishuangbanna Resort offers guests in urgent need of relaxation emergency treatment with tai chi classes, meditative tea picking sessions with local Jinuo tribe members and breathtaking scenery that will help you to unwind.
6 Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Big Sur Mountains, CA, USA
The 14-mile drive via a Carmel Valley dirt road might give you second thoughts about the booking rooms at the Zen center, but the second you arrive and climb stiffly out of your car, you'll start to relax, finding yourself positively skipping to the first Zen monastery created outside Japan (in 1967). Operated by the San Francisco Zen Center, the monastery is open to the general public from May to September every year. Go for a day trip or stay overnight in one of their lantern-lit cabins. Munch scrumptious vegetarian food after enjoying a dip in hot springs located on site. And if you didn't like being bounced around during your rental car ride, take the Tassajara's own 4x4 shuttle back into civilization.
7 Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, NH, USA
Among the places to escape the rat race, the Omni Mount Washington ranks justifiably highly in the US. Omni Mount Washington Resort's star appeal probably stems from its stunning 25,000-square foot Spa, but the gorgeous New England countryside also adds to the magic. Close to the Presidential Mountain Range, the resort is an excellent base for hikers and enthusiastic wildlife spotters, taking you right out of the rat race and back to the gentle bosom of Mother Nature.
Are these the sorts of holiday destinations that float your boat or do you prefer more typical resorts? Or something else entirely?
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