After months of sheltering at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, world travelers may be feeling wanderlust again. And while hotels and resorts may not be able to welcome guests in person, they're finding creative ways to deliver virtual vacations at home, streaming everything from cooking classes to meditation sessions on social media platforms.
James McBride, CEO of Nihi Hotels, says his team at Nihi Sumba, a luxury resort in Indonesia, was quick to develop a weekly schedule of programming — including cultural talks, yoga and surf-coaching tips — for both Facebook and Instagram called Nihi@Home. “(Previous) guests love it as it keeps them engaged with a place and people they love,” says McBride. “It's the simple things in life now that make people happy. This provides viewers a bond and a connection to the past and better times ahead."
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Here's a look at some top hotel experiences you can escape with in the comfort of your own home — all for free.
Six Senses hotel, resorts and spas have tapped its army of wellness experts from around the globe to share their knowledge through the brand's #AtHomeWithSixSenses series on Facebook (@sixsenses) and Instagram (@sixsensesspas). Tune in for yoga nidra sessions with Dorelal Singh, head yogi at Six Senses Yao Noi in Thailand; Pilates set to the backdrop of Portugal's dreamy Douro Valley; and at-home detox tips from Anna Bjurstam, the brand's vice president of spas and wellness. If you're missing getting pampered at the spa, Tammy Dent, Six Senses director of training (spas), has a series called “Home Treatments From Our Alchemy Bar,” where she shares easy DIY therapies, from homemade bath salts to avocado and olive-oil hair masks. The brand posts activity schedules on its Facebook page.
Perfect the art of Italian cooking
The next best thing to escaping to the Italian countryside for a bowl of nonna's pasta is to recreate it in your own kitchen with the help of Silvia Grossi, executive chef of Il Salviatino, a dream hotel set within a 15th-century villa just outside of Florence. Grossi has launched an Instagram TV cooking series at @ilsalviatino, where she shares traditional Tuscan recipes such as meatballs with tomato sauce, pork filet with polenta and tiramisu. Videos are in Italian, but recipes have been translated to English so English-speaking viewers can follow along.
Be inspired by adventurers
As part of the daily live programming at Nihi Sumba (@nihisumba), McBride hosts a series called “The Explorers,” where he talks to adventurers such as champion surfer Chris Prewitt; Annabelle Bond, who earned the title “fastest woman climber in the world” in 2005 after scaling the highest peaks on seven continents in 360 days; and Claude Graves, the American surfer who discovered Nihiwatu island in 1989.
Go on a virtual safari
Irshad Mobarak, head naturalist at the Datai (@thedatailangkawi), a luxury resort tucked deep within a 10-million-year-old rainforest on the island of Langkawi in Malaysia, shares video footage of his nature walks via Instagram TV, adding new posts twice a week. Recent wildlife spottings have included playful dusky leaf monkeys and the oriental pied hornbill and great hornbill. With the resort's white sand beach empty, the resident sand bubbler crabs have covered the shore with artworks created from balls of sand (a byproduct of their feeding habits).
Work out with a personal trainer
If you've fallen into a home-workout rut, check out the “Stuck at Home” workout series from Attitude Fitness, the state-of-the-art gym at InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown. You'll feel the burn during virtual classes focused on core power or chest strength. Trainers offer modifications for various exercises, making classes accessible for all levels, and they've come up with clever household substitutions if you don't have weights. Unsure if you're doing a burpee correctly? Trainers are available for complimentary, one-on-one Skype sessions to answer questions on proper form.
Become a wine expert
Who better to teach you about the intricacies of wine than a Michelin 2020 award-winning sommelier? Jurica Gojevic, head of wines and beverage at Adare Manor in Limerick, Ireland, has been posting regular tips and advice on the hotel's Instagram page (@theadaremanor), ranging from the best red wines to chill before serving to great Champagne alternatives. Gojevic will be partaking in the hotel's “Ask the Experts Instagram Stories” series this month [May]. Viewers can direct message their burning wine questions and he'll respond. The story will be saved for future viewing.
Learn to mix a perfect cocktail
The pros at the Artesian bar at London's Langham Hotel are sharing their cocktail wisdom on Instagram and Instagram TV (@artesianbarlondon). These no-fuss tutorials last about two minutes and walk viewers through classic drinks, like the Negroni, and underappreciated staff favorites, including the Amaretto Sour. Award-winning bar manager Anna Sebastian is full of useful tips. For example, if you don't have a strainer, just use a spoon.
Go on a weeklong wellness retreat
The team at Civana Wellness Resort & Spa in Carefree, Arizona, has created a weekly schedule of activities to help you stay grounded in these uncertain times. Start the week with Monday morning intention settings and end it by joining the Friday evening gratitude circle. Wellness Wednesdays feature dedicated talks from experts on subjects such as mindful media consumption and optimism amid uncertainty. Follow along in real time (the resort posts times for livestreams on its website) via Instagram TV (@civanaresort) and Facebook Live (@civanaresort), or you can revisit saved experiences to enjoy at your leisure.
Learn to cook like a Michelin-star chef
Legendary hospitality brand Belmond has developed an online educational series called “Belmond Invitations” curated around the theme of good living. Streamed on Belmond Instagram TV (@belmond) and YouTube (#BelmondGoodLiving), the videos feature tutorials by brand ambassadors and tastemakers. Since foodies can't dine on multicourse meals at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons, the only country house hotel in Britain to retain two Michelin stars for more than 30 years, chef-patron Raymond Blanc is offering virtual cooking demos from his home kitchen. Don't be intimidated by his Michelin credentials. Blanc keeps his menus fuss-free. In less than 40 minutes he'll walk you through a menu of pistou soup, slow-roasted shoulder of Spring lamb and chocolate mousse, all the while waxing poetic on seasonality.
Listen to live music
As part of its #chilluxeathome initiative, Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California, has introduced virtual concerts. It streams the 30-minute performances on Instagram Live (@monarchbeachresort) at 5:30 p.m. PT and on Facebook Live (@monarchbeachresort) at 6:15 p.m. PT. Viola sensation Daniel Morris was a smash with his debut performance. Check the resort's social media channels for performance schedules, and if you can't go live, listen to saved footage on the resort's Facebook page.