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Holiday Gift Guide 2022: Best Experiential Travel Gifts, Western U.S.


Dec 05, 2022



Experiences are a gift in high demand this holiday season. According to a survey conducted by Groupon earlier this year, 40% of U.S. customers are interested in receiving an experience-based gift in 2022. As people crave more quality time with one another, experiential travel gifts are becoming the gift of choice for many this holiday season.

Set on a 3,500-acre private working ranch, horses are a part of the resort’s DNA. In addition to trail rides and private riding lessons in the indoor riding arena, guests have the opportunity to learn about and experience various Equine Adventures. The Lodge at Blue Sky is home to Saving Gracie Equine Healing Foundation, which has become a forever home for 45 horses. Veterinarian Amanda Petty and the ranch team have created a program that provides neglected farm animals with the very best medical care. During the time spent at Gracie’s Farm, guests work one-on-one with a single horse, participating in and learning about the specific horse’s needs. The result is an incredibly rewarding and genuine connection.

Taste Some of the World’s Rarest Whiskey, San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara, California

An exclusive 550-acre haven, the Ranch is home to an impressive collection of rare spirits. The crown jewel is the Balvenie Chapter 4 Collection, the only restaurant offering in North America. While previous chapters have been quickly secured by collectors in the U.S., one set of DCS Chapter Four is featured exclusively at San Ysidro Ranch’s Stonehouse Restaurant. Sample by the flight for $5,000 or enjoy individual pours of each vintage. A reservation at The Stonehouse is required to book the Balvenie tasting. Cottages start at $2,495 inclusive of dining with no resort fees.

Tree Planting in Oahu, Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

Located steps from the beach in the center of Waikiki, the resort is a welcoming and relaxing oasis of tranquility in the heart of the city. The resort is on track to become the first carbon neutral hotel in the state of Hawaii and is now powered by 100% renewable electricity and certified by Green-e Energy. Guests can book a special tree planting experience at Gunstock Ranch on Oahu’s famed North Shore. Each tree planted is tagged with an individual radio-frequency identification so that guests can track the growth of their tree.

Fully Guided Fishing Adventure, Salmon Falls Resort, Ketchikan, Alaska

Situated at the entrance to Alaska’s iconic Inside Passage, Salmon Falls Resort is a dream destination for skilled and first-time anglers thanks to its picturesque setting, warm ocean currents and epic annual King and Silver Salmon runs. With a custom fleet of new boats and professional gear, a team of experienced Alaskan fishing guides will assist guests in finding prime locations, baiting hooks and reeling in their catch. Guides expertly fillet, package and ship salmon for guests. Rates start at $1,500 per person, inclusive of all meals, activities and transportation.

Immersive Culinary Experience, Royal Lahaina Resort & Bungalows, Maui, Hawaii

Located on Maui’s world-renowned Ka’anapali Beach, the iconic resort unfolds across 27 acres of sun-kissed, tropical gardens and offers an island-inspired ambiance. The resort has newly partnered with Kiawe Outdoor for a unique weekly communal, alfresco dining experience set under its legendary 100-year-old rubber tree. The immersive culinary experience includes appetizers and five-course prix-fixe dinner with impeccable wine and cocktail pairings. Room rates start at $359 per night and the Kiawe Outdoor Under the Branches experience costs $395 per person.

Ski Day + Après with Olympian Ted Ligety at Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection, Deer Valley, Utah

Give the skier on your gift list the ultimate winter sport experience with Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety on Jan. 14, 2023. Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection is located steps from the ski lifts and blends the charm of a luxurious chalet in Europe with modern ski amenities. Designed to enliven the senses, the day begins with a custom suit-up with KJUS ski kit before spending a half day skiing. Ligety will provide tips as your gift recipient carves the slops at Deer Valley, known for its impeccably groomed pistes, ski valets and heated sidewalks, before enjoying après at The Restaurant at Goldener Hirsch.

Snowmobile Adventure, Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho

For those who love hidden gems, McCall Idaho has been called the Lake Tahoe of 40 years ago. Sitting atop the world at an elevation of 5,000 feet, McCall’s rugged mountains, glacier-carved lakes and ancient hot springs are a thrill-seeker’s paradise. Shore Lodge offers an epic Snowmobile Adventure. This fast-paced tour will whisk you over miles of open terrain surrounded by some of the area’s most breathtaking natural scenery. Afterward, enjoy a picnic lunch with a hot toddy served in a thermos before returning to the spa to indulge in one of The Cove’s signature treatments and an afternoon soak in the saltwater immersion pools.

Gift Hawaii’s Only Private In-Suite Kaiseki Experience, the ESPACIO The Jewel of Waikiki, Honolulu

ESPACIO, the Jewel of Waikiki represents an unrivaled luxury experience on Oahu as a boutique property with just nine expansive, suite-style accommodations, each spanning an entire floor. ESPACIO guests can enjoy a traditional Japanese Kaiseki from the comfort of their own 2,250-square-foot suite, prepared by award-winning Chef Mamoru Tatemori, who will prepare and guide ESPACIO guests through a multi-course Kaiseki tasting menu that features rare and seasonal ingredients.

Guest Chef Series at The Farmhouse, Ojai Valley InnOjai, California

Tucked within the Topatopa Mountains in the mystical Ojai Valley, the iconic Ojai Valley Inn has been beckoning travelers since its opening in 1923 to the tranquil setting known as “Shangri La.” For the Epicurean lover, Ojai Valley Inn has just released its eagerly awaited Guest Chef Series at The Farmhouse – the Inn’s coveted annual showcase. The lineup of guests includes some of the culinary industry’s most masterful chefs and gastronomic influencers.