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Urban Glamping to Heli-Foraging: 7 One-of-a-Kind Hotel Experiences in the U.S.

Up your vacation game—no international flight required.

By / March 2, 2018
   Erika Rasso
   Erika Rasso

Have you ever had an experience at a hotel that made your jaw drop, your Instagram likes pop off, and your friends back at home seethe with envy? How about without leaving the U.S.?

Say goodbye to overwater bungalows in the Maldives or hot air ballooning in Tuscany, and hello to heli-foraging in Maui, urban glamping in Los Angeles, and falconry in Pennsylvania. It’s time to step up your vacation game with these seven one-of-a-kind hotel experiences—no international flight required.

one-of-a-kind hotel experience

Bee Experience at Carmel Valley Ranch


Set on 500 acres of California’s Central Coast, this ranch-style resort near Carmel-by-the-Sea balances luxury amenities with the unspoiled natural setting of the Santa Lucia Mountains. With an organic garden, wine vineyard, and lavender field onsite, and a rich activity calendar including archery classes, guided hikes, and family-friendly s’mores nights, there’s no shortage of things to do while staying at Carmel Valley Ranch.

But without a doubt, the most unique—and exciting—program is the resort’s signature “Bee Experience” led by Artisan Beekeeper John Russo. Russo and the team of resident beekeepers care for more than 60,000 Italian honey bees at the resort, and lead participants as they dress in beekeeping suits and taste honey right from the hive. More than just a photo op, the program also provides education on beekeeping and conservation, and donates a portion of all proceeds to The Honeybee Conservancy charity.

Falconry at The Hotel Hershey


It’s hard to compete with chocolate—but Hersheypark’s official hotel does just that with the Falconry Experience, an all-ages program featuring hawks, falcons, and a Golden Eagle. Led by Master Falconer Jack Hubley, the experience includes falconry education as well as free-flight demonstrations, a simulated hunt demonstration, and an opportunity for the falcons to land right on your hand.

Open to the public, the Falconry Experience is available year-round (though with limited days in the winter) and for a discount to hotel guests; bookings include transportation to the Falconry Field from the hotel. For those who have already completed the Falconry Experience as well as those familiar with birds of prey, The Hotel Hershey also offers an intimate Hawk Walk through the property, where guests will practice calling and catching.

one-of-a-kind hotel experiences in the U.S.Courtesy of Andaz Maui

Heli-Foraging at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort


With the Andaz Maui’s new Soar + Savor experience launched in January 2018 in partnership with Maverick Helicopters, the best way to see Maui is from above. This “luxploration” all-inclusive package starts at the resort in Wailea, where six guests and Executive Chef Isaac Bancaco board a helicopter bound for the rainforests of Hana. After flying over Maui’s North Shore, Paia, Ho’okipa, and Haiku, the adventure continues in Hana as Bancaco leads the group in learning more about the local culture, history, and land, as well as the native plants and vegetation sourced for the hotel’s culinary program.

Guests will then return to the Andaz Maui for an intimate cooking class in the resort’s signature dining concept, Ka’ana Kitchen. Soar + Savor will be held once a month, with guest chefs joining Bancaco once a quarter.

one-of-a-kind hotel experiences in the U.S.Courtesy of Snake River Sporting Club

Heli-Skiing at Snake River Sporting Club


With six miles of private access to the Snake River and 3.5 million acres of surrounding Bridger-Teton National Forest, Snake River Sporting Club is an all-seasons outdoor playground, complete with golf in the summer and snowsports in the winter. In addition to ten miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails through scenic woodlands, guests can venture into the National Forest backcountry—but expert skiers looking for a true one-of-a-kind experience won’t be able to pass up the property’s High Mountain Heli-Skiing.

From the Club’s private helipad, guests are flown into the backcountry skiers’ paradise that is Jackson Hole’s Snake River and Palisades Mountain Ranges. Per-person packages include six runs of approximately 12,000 to 15,000 vertical feet; unparalleled access to open bowls, steep chutes, and winter glades; and a guaranteed adrenaline fix.

one-of-a-kind hotel experiences in the U.S.Courtesy of Snowbasin Resort

John Paul Lodge Experience at Snowbasin Resort


Known for skiing, hiking, biking, and day lodges, Utah’s Snowbasin Resort doesn’t traditionally offer overnight accommodations—in fact, the John Paul Lodge Experience, formerly just offered to groups, is the only way to stay at this former Winter Olympics site boasting 3,000 skiable acres.

Appropriately, guests should expect anything but a traditional hotel experience—with this glamping package, Snowbasin Resort immerses guests in the spectacular surrounding landscape with a well-appointed canvas tent set up near the resort’s highest mountain-top lodge, John Paul Lodge. Upon arriving, guests are greeted with welcome cocktails and offered full access to the resort’s food and beverage offerings—as well as the surrounding trails, ideal for a guided sunrise hike or nighttime stargazing.

one-of-a-kind hotel experiences in the U.S.Mike Coots/Courtesy of Kukui'ula

Throw Net Fishing at The Lodge at Kukui’ula


Those looking for a laid-back Hawaii experience will feel right at home at Kukui’ula, a resort community on the South Shore of Kauai. The vacation home development rents select properties to non-members as part of The Lodge at Kukui’ula, where guests share onsite amenities including a clubhouse, series of pools, and ten-acre upcountry farm.

Centered around traditional Ho’okipa, Hawaiian hospitality, the destination offers a series of activities geared at immersing guests into the local Hawaiian culture, including peacock bass fishing, foraging for fresh produce, lobster and crab trap pulling, and throw net fishing. For this program guided by local experts, guests will learn the ancient art of throw net fishing and have the chance to catch something to be cooked up back at Kukui’ula.

one-of-a-kind hotel experiences in the U.S.Abran Rubiner/Courtesy of Beverly Wilshire

Urban Glamping at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel


Just steps from Rodeo Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles’ first urban glamping experience offers a welcome change of pace—as well as a change of scenery. The storied five-star property has been a staple of the local hospitality scene since it opened in 1928—and now, the Beverly Wilshire brings the great outdoors to the exclusive Veranda Suite, located on its own floor and accessible via the hotel’s original wrought iron and marble staircase.

On the terrace, guests will find oversized lounge furniture, dinner seating for eight, and a 16-foot-wide and 10-foot-tall tent, complete with a queen-sized bed, Four Seasons linens, a crystal chandelier, and fur rugs. Veranda Suite guests also have access to the one-bedroom suite (and master bathroom), and can add to the package an exclusive chef’s tasting menu prepared “al fresco” on the terrace.

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Nile Cappello is obsessed with: words, cotton candy, Southern California and eating her way across the world. She’s an online and offline over-sharer, screenwriter, only child and total klutz. She’s an expert in LA coffee shops, iced tea varieties and uncovering compelling and unique true stories.

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