Travel the World
10 Insanely Expensive Winter Vacations
Got a little dough to spare? These vacations might be out of your price range, but in the event you win the lottery, take a look at the most luxurious winter getaways money can buy.
Winter-as a Canadian, you either love it or you hate it. But, not matter how you feel about the snow and ice, the best thing you can do is embrace it. Here are 10 ways that you can do the season in a very big way, with some of the ultimate, most insanely expensive winter vacations available.
Lounge in Luxurious Lapland
Finland’s far north is a legendary place-home to the hardy, indigenous Laplanders (the Sami people, distant relatives of Canada’s Inuit), reindeer and Santa Claus himself. Head to Levi, the closest thing you’ll find to a Lapland resort town, and indulge in some dog-sledding, Nordic skiing and late-night trips to view the Northern Lights, then bed down at a place like K5, a boutique hotel that offers a Jacuzzi or private sauna in every en suite bathroom.
Cruise to the North Pole
Just a handful of people make it to the top of the globe every year, but a company called Quark Expeditions can make sure you do it in style-if you have the bucks. For $24,000 per person, you’ll embark from Murmansk, Russia, on a 14-day trip aboard a nuclear-powered ship called 50 Years of Victory-the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker. The tour includes a lap pool, stops along the way for a hot-air balloon ride high above the snow, and a helicopter ride over the frozen expanse of the Arctic Ocean.
Heli-Ski in B.C.
British Columbia’s peaks-the birthplace of heli-skiing-have been drawing the most adventurous skiers for more than 50 years. Bighorn resort, the most luxurious heli-ski resort on earth, set above the mountain town of Revelstoke, offers some of the very best skiing in the world. Plan a weeklong adventure with their onsite experts, then walk up to your own private helipad and be lifted into a vast wilderness of untouched powder and deep glacial bowls. Then, when you’re all skied out, settle into the timber-frame lodge, which offers everything from massage rooms to a private cinema. Rates are strictly unpublished.
Spend the Night in Ice
What could be more wintry than sleeping on a big slab of ice? Just ten minutes outside of Quebec City, the Hotel de Glace offers the opportunity to spend the night in a giant building made entirely of ice and snow, which is build in early January and stands until late March. Sip cocktails from a cup carved from ice, renew your vows in the wedding chapel, then bed down in a theme suite with fireplace-it will run you around $1,000 a night for two, but it comes with a cool story to tell your friends.
Few places evoke winter images quite like Siberia, and while the real Trans-Siberian Express-which famously runs from Moscow, across 9,000 kilometres of taiga, to the Pacific coast-is a rather Soviet-era gritty affair, a company called Golden Eagle offers the opportunity to do it aboard a private train. For a mere $27,000 you can roll eastward from Moscow in a cabin that includes under floor heating and an LCD-screen entertainment system, or you can upgrade to the $43,000-dollar Imperial Suite, which offers a king-sized bed and personal butler service.
Visit a Winter Palace
Nestled in the soaring Swiss Alps near St. Moritz, home to two Winter Olympics and numerous international ski championships, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel is arguably the world’s most glamorous cold-weather hotel. This magnificent chateaux opened way back in 1896, and actually aided in the invention of winter tourism-with the Badrutt family building an onsite luge and bobsled run to prevent injuries caused by sledding on the narrow streets of the village. Suites here run in the $5,000-per-night range and include access to the hotel’s ice rink, ice wall and torch-lit ski trails.
Although, strictly speaking, Nepal’s best climbing season is not in the wintertime, the upper reaches of the world’s largest mountain are a place perpetually locked in the cold grip of subzero temperatures and icy winds. But while scaling the world’s tallest summit is a dream for many, it doesn’t come cheap-to reach the 29,035-peak, you will need a permit, which costs $70,000, a price that doesn’t include the cost of gear, guides and Sherpas.
Mush in Anchorage
Every winter, the world’s most famous dogsled race draws international mushers and spectators to its grueling, frozen course, which runs from Anchorage to Nome over some 1,800 kilometres of ice and snow. For about $4,000 per person, one tour company offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with the action, taking mushing classes from former competitors, visiting a top contender in his kennel and flying by ski plane to a remote homestead to watch the passing teams.
Cruise to the End of the World
While “south” usually means “warm” for snowed-in Canadians, ultimate south-Antarctica-is a whole different story. Travelling to this giant, snowy continent is no small thing-it involves a rocky, multiday crossing of the infamous Drake Passage, and it comes with a hefty price tag. Sailing the 12-day voyage aboard a luxury ship like the Sea Explorer will set you back around $12,500 per person for the penthouse suite, but it includes meals, excursions, a lovely lounge outfitted with a grand piano and a hot tub up on the sundeck.
Stay Warm in Switzerland
Outdoor sports in the winter aren’t for everyone-if you’re the type to stay inside and watch the flakes fall, there’s no better place to do it than at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland. An opulent hotel opened in 1857, the Beau Rivage has hosted everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Victor Hugo to Nelson Mandela. It’s also home to the Cinq Mondes Spa-one of the finest in the world, which offers a Turkish bath and treatments from Bali to Japan to Egypt. Suites with a view of Lake Lausanne start at around $1,480 per night-not including the price of treatments.