The special touches or the unexpected are often what make vacation experiences memorable. Here are five places where you’ll be pleasantly surprised:
Early Morning Bliss. Waking up to the sound of Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River tumbling and splashing a few dozen feet from your head is bliss for an outdoor lover. Yet, here’s how one company adds to the moment: Far & Away Adventure guides arrive at dawn to take the chill off the early mountain morning. The greeting includes a friendly smile, welcome hot towels and steaming mugs of fresh coffee and chocolate. It is a grand way to start a day that will later include world-class fly fishing, paddling a raft or careening through canyons in your kayak. It all takes place under the summer sun and through some of the West’s most scenic territory. Contact: 800-232-8588; www.Far-Away.com.
Paradise Found. Check into the One & Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the Bahamas and find casual and elegant surprises awaiting your family. Bicycles, sized for your crew can be delivered for those mornings when you take a break from beach and water activities. Children will enjoy time in the KidsOnly club where arts, crafts, and computer games are offered. The younger set can relax in the villa each evening, wrapped in cozy junior- sized pink or blue bathrobes listening to music thanks to I-Pod Home docking stations. Meanwhile, steps away, grown- ups enjoy cocktails on the patio, washed in the evening light, while the chef prepares family dinner nearby. Contact: 888-528-7157; http://oceanclub.oneandonlyresorts.com.
Seaside Pampering. Learn culinary secrets from Villa la Estancia’s well-known and good-natured Chef Eugenio Villafana during a family- style cooking lesson in Nuevo Vallarta. Relax by the pool or lounge on the pristine stretch of Pacific Ocean beach. Ride horseback in the surf, enjoy water sports or luxuriate in an afternoon at the Tatewari Spa. Then return to your family-friendly and spacious villa suite, where a warm, bubble bath will be waiting. Mom can expect tropical flowers floating amidst the suds. The kids will delight to find a cheery rubber duck floating in the bubbles. Contact: 888-844-8169; www.villagroupresorts.com/destinations/riviera-nayarit
Pajamas Rule. The JW Marriott at Cherry Creek is an ideal location from which to check out the extensive shopping opportunities in the tony Denver neighborhood. But who would guess the kids can choose to hang out with Clayton the Moose on Sunday mornings – in their jammies. Pad downstairs to the Second Home Kitchen and Bar’s Pajama Brunch where there is free food for kids eight and under who DON’T get dressed. While the comfortably-clad kids sample goodies from the Waffle Bar and play games, watch movies and do art projects in the Clayton the Moose Den, the adults can relax with the Sunday newspaper and the hot drink of their choice. Contact: 303-253-3000;www.secondhomedenver.com; www.marriott.com.
A New York Holiday. There are few places that embrace the holidays like New York City. Eager to maintain Manhattan’s high standards for seasonal joy, the staff at the iconic Waldorf Astoria will go out of their way to make your stay memorable. Your family’s stockings can be hung by the chimney with care and a tree delivered to your room ready for trimming. And if you don’t want to miss caroling with the clan, a piano can be delivered to your room. Sorry, Michael Buble and Celine Dion won’t be included. (800) 925-3673; www.waldorfnewyork.com.