The Best Working Vacation

Anantara Phuket Resort and Spa in Thailand, which officially opened its doors in October, is giving guests the opportunity to leave a lasting mark on the hotel’s local community. This winter, guests who register for a stay at the resort are offered the opportunity to take part in a day-long excursion to Baan Talay Nok, one of the villages hardest hit by the 2004 tsunami, to work side by side with tsunami survivors in a handicraft cooperative involving soap making, batik painting, and palm weaving. The activities are set up to help create self-sufficiency and autonomy in Thailand’s fishing and farming communities, and proceeds from the day’s efforts will go to a fund for survivors.

After a day of work, guests may look forward to retiring to one of the resort’s 83 private pool suites along Mai Khao Beach, on the north end of the island. Each villa is unique, featuring walled gardens, hardwood decks, and private pools. A traditional Thai spa incorporates five treatment rooms, including a couples’ suite that can be reserved by the day, and a yoga guru roams the grounds of the resort, offering group and private yoga classes. Winter 2009 rates begin at ,300 per night. (www.anantara.com)

Alexandra Foster

Arizona’s Authentic Old-World Escape

If not for the cactus-strewn landscape of Arizona’s Paradise Valley (a residential enclave of Scottsdale) and the famed Camelback Mountain looming nearby, guests of the newly opened InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa might imagine they were on holiday in the south of Spain. The 34-acre resort was inspired by the old-world village architecture and lifestyle of Andalusia region of Spain, among surrounding areas. In addition to Moorish motifs, courtyards, and numerous antiquities shipped from Andalusia, the resort’s two-story, 31,000-square-foot Joya Spa houses an authentic Turkish bath (hamman). Upon entering the cast-iron gates of the spa—conceived by renowned spa designer Sylvia Sepielli—guests can rinse their hands in the waters of a 17th-century Spanish fountain or enjoy a rooftop swimming pool that overlooks Camelback Mountain. Spa treatments are customized to an individual’s preferences, health, and skin type, using products containing the essence of a local cactus flower that blooms just 12 hours per year. Five of the 19 treatment rooms offer fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, and direct poolside access, where guests can recline in a cabana and order a traditional spa salad, or indulge in Champagne and truffles―or a burger and fries―following treatment. (480.627.3020, www.joyaspa.com)

Jessica Taylor

Arizona’s Authentic Old-World Escape

If not for the cactus-strewn landscape of Arizona’s Paradise Valley (a residential enclave of Scottsdale) and the famed Camelback Mountain looming nearby, guests of the newly opened InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa might imagine they were on holiday in the south of Spain. The 34-acre resort was inspired by the old-world village architecture and lifestyle of Andalusia region of Spain, among surrounding areas. In addition to Moorish motifs, courtyards, and numerous antiquities shipped from Andalusia, the resort’s two-story, 31,000-square-foot Joya Spa houses an authentic Turkish bath (hamman). Upon entering the cast-iron gates of the spa—conceived by renowned spa designer Sylvia Sepielli—guests can rinse their hands in the waters of a 17th-century Spanish fountain or enjoy a rooftop swimming pool that overlooks Camelback Mountain. Spa treatments are customized to an individual’s preferences, health, and skin type, using products containing the essence of a local cactus flower that blooms just 12 hours per year. Five of the 19 treatment rooms offer fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, and direct poolside access, where guests can recline in a cabana and order a traditional spa salad, or indulge in Champagne and truffles―or a burger and fries―following treatment. (480.627.3020, www.joyaspa.com)

Jessica Taylor

Tee Off at St. Andrews’ Old Course

As most golfers know, getting a tee time at the renowned Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, can be an exercise in patience. Even those who have made the trip to the course and wait in the lottery line to receive a possible playing time are often disappointed to learn that the course is completely booked. In honor of Homecoming Scotland 2009, a series of events and celebrations throughout the year in honor of poet Robert Burns’ 250th birthday, the Old Course Hotel and golf course are offering exclusive, guaranteed tee-off times to its guests as part of the Come Home to Play package.

The package, starting at ,679 per person, includes a three-night stay at the resort, guaranteed tee-time on the Old Course and either the New or Jubilee course, a spa treatment at the Kohler Waters Spa, and two dinners at the resort’s fine-dining restaurant, the Road Hole Grill. (+44 (0) 1334 474371, or email reservations@oldcoursehotel.co.uk and mention booking reference HOMGLF)

Alexandra Foster

At Sea with Wine

For wine aficionados who desire more than a simple wine tasting, Silversea Cruises has created 11 Wine Voyages for 2009 that take passengers through the Mediterranean, South America, or Northern Europe to experience an area’s wines through tastings and lectures by vineyard owners, winemakers, and other epicurean specialists. On many voyages, guests will also have the chance to explore some of the world’s most celebrated wine regions on guided-shore excursions. One such tour is hosted by Salvatore Ferragamo, grandson of the founder of the eponymous brand, who will serve as host for Mediterranean cruise from Lisbon to Monte Carlo with stops in places such as Cadiz, Malaga, Ibiza, Barcelona, Cannes, and Corsica.  He’s also the managing director of the family’s Tuscan winery, Il Borro estate. Each specially designed excursion features an intimate view of a specific locale with stops along the journey while cruising on a luxury vessel with all its amenities. (www.silversea.com)

Jill Newman

At Sea with Wine

For wine aficionados who desire more than a simple wine tasting, Silversea Cruises has created 11 Wine Voyages for 2009 that take passengers through the Mediterranean, South America, or Northern Europe to experience an area’s wines through tastings and lectures by vineyard owners, winemakers, and other epicurean specialists. On many voyages, guests will also have the chance to explore some of the world’s most celebrated wine regions on guided-shore excursions. One such tour is hosted by Salvatore Ferragamo, grandson of the founder of the eponymous brand, who will serve as host for Mediterranean cruise from Lisbon to Monte Carlo with stops in places such as Cadiz, Malaga, Ibiza, Barcelona, Cannes, and Corsica.  He’s also the managing director of the family’s Tuscan winery, Il Borro estate. Each specially designed excursion features an intimate view of a specific locale with stops along the journey while cruising on a luxury vessel with all its amenities. (www.silversea.com)

Jill Newman

Laps of Luxury

For the true racing enthusiast, securing a ticket to the F1 Grand Prix Monaco is an unparalleled experience. Securing accommodations at the popular race, however, can prove a nightmare. For this year’s race, held May 22-24, Echelon and My Yacht Monaco have teamed to offer an exclusive package for 14 guests. The package includes daytime access aboard a private yacht with views of every qualifying race, an invitation to the Ferrari pit lane for a private introduction to the drivers and their respective cars, and suites at the nearby Hotel de Paris, which is sold out to the public every year at race time. Also included in the package is a dinner at the table of celebrated chef Joël Robuchon at his eponymous restaurant, and a personal tasting menu with the compliments of the chef himself. Prices start at ,000 per person for the three-day package. (949.429.8117, contact@echelonexp.com)

Alexandra Foster

A Perfect Blend

An apothecary with access to more than 20 native Hawaiian plants and minerals is at the core of the custom healing and relaxing blends of elixirs, lotions and oils available for guests at the newly reopened Four Seasons Resort Hualālai. The five-diamond, 243-room resort on the Big Island’s Kona Coast reopened in mid-December following a million expansion and renovation of the spa. In early 2009, the facility will add the Waiea (Water of Life) Garden; couples’ hale with a private plunge pool; and relaxation salons. Guests who desire something more active than a spa treatment can discover a range of exercise and recreational opportunities from open-air gyms to outrigger canoe paddling. Located within the larger Hualālai Resort at Historic Ka‘ūpūlehu resort community, the Four Seasons also has tennis courts and two 18-hole golf courses—one by Jack Nicklaus, the other by Tom Weiskopf. (808.325.8000, www.fourseasons.com)

Debra Ryono

Private Oasis

Getting away from it all has never been more real than it is at Musha Cay at Copperfield Bay in the Bahamas, where ,250 a day gives you and up to 12 guests a private island with five homes and access to 11 other small private islands. The five homes range from a 10,000-square-foot space on the crest of Musha Cay’s hill to the romantically secluded one-bedroom thatched-roof cottage on its own stretch of private beach. Visitors can access the 11 islands via a fleet of small boats. All meals and beverages are included; for parties of 13-24, an additional ,500 per-person, per-day charge is added, although no more than 24 guests can stay at Musha Cay at one time. The resort’s most magnificent attraction emerges for only a few hours each day―a sandbar that extends for more than two miles into the sea with water lapping at both sides. (www.mushacay.com)

 —Alexandra Foster

Presidential Treatment

Those who fear their invitation to one of the inaugural balls will be lost in the mail are guaranteed to dance in Barack Obama’s presidency with the Red, White, Blue, and Green offering by the Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown. Guests will spend four nights in a presidential suite and will receive tickets for the inauguration parade and one of the official balls.

This eco-friendly package (hence the green in the name) begins with pieces from Gucci’s sustainable luggage line delivered to the guests’ homes. TerraPasses will offset carbon emissions from the round-trip, first-class air travel to Washington, D.C. The stay also includes the 24/7 services of a chauffer-driven, hybrid vehicle. Following the hoopla in the frigid D.C. winter, guests will fly to the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman for a four-day stay. Here they can thaw out and ponder the new administration while taking part in organized eco-adventure activities such as snorkeling and kayaking or simply relaxing in the warm sun. The Red, White, Blue, and Green package, which includes airfare, starts at ,000. (www.ritzcarlton.com)

Debra Ryono