Five remote luxury hotels for social distancing on vacation
Chances are COVID-19 has altered your travel plans in some way during the pandemic. And somewhere between “it’ll be over in two weeks” and “we’re there two years later”, chances are your relationship to travel in general has also changed. Thanks to months of social distancing, you might now be used to having a little more elbow room and a lot more alone time. Today, the thought of a crowded Vegas casino, a popular beach hotel, or a bustling ski resort is simply different.
But just because the crowds of pre-pandemic life have almost returned doesn’t mean they should return to your travel plans. As a travel writer with a lifelong affection for faraway hotels, I’m here to share five of the world’s best getaways where luxury, adventure, and relaxation are served with a substantial dose of social distancing.
You’ll have to put in the extra effort to reach them, but once you do, you won’t regret it. Believe me, I’ve experienced the first three first hand and the last two are right at the top of my must-have list.
Nestled deep in a maze of tidal bays and surrounded by the Great Bear Rainforest, Nimmo Bay is the definition of a hidden gem. After your flight to Vancouver and then another to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, you have two options for getting to Nimmo Bay: helicopter or seaplane. Choose the seaplane for an exhilarating landing and a memorable arrival at their newly built floating lodge. Here you will be greeted with a welcome cocktail and you will realize that no other vacation can ever compare.
Home to just eight cabins, six of which are built on stilts and become Canada’s version of overwater bungalows at high tide, Nimmo Bay also offers unique wellness offerings and a world-class culinary program. When it comes to activities, you’ll have plenty of options like grizzly bear and killer whale sightings from a boat and a plethora of helicopter adventures (like landing on the shore of an alpine lake for a picnic and session stand-up paddleboard). And finally, achieve maximum social distancing status with a trip to their floating sauna or floating hot tub.
Far from the crowded tourist routes of the country and tucked away in the secluded mountains of the Troll Peninsula, Deplar Farm will make you think you have the island nation all to yourself. To get there, fly into Akureyri via Reykjavik, then finish the trip in Arctic Trucks’ Deplar 4×4 Sprinter van. Conditions permitting, you’ll reach the property via a mountain pass that will make you think, “Where the hell are you taking me?”
Once there, you’ll find a low-key, grass-roofed pavilion hiding a handful of ultra-luxe bedrooms and an elegant semi-subterranean spa level worthy of a Bond villain. Outside, there is no shortage of adventure. Want to go by helicopter to an unspoilt beach and go surfing? Sure. How about landing in a remote stream to fly fish? Easy. How about heliskiing in the surrounding mountains? Deplar Farm offers an in-house heli-skiing program that takes off from the front yard. After a day of experiencing the best of the Icelandic hinterland, without the people, unwind in the glass-walled sauna or the heated indoor/outdoor geothermal pool with swim-up bar.
There are few places as remote and unspoilt as the Galápagos Islands. But if there is beauty, you can bet large groups of tourists armed with cameras will follow. So if you want to experience all the social distancing style of natural wonders, Pikaia Lodge is for you. When you land, Pikaia guests are whisked away from the crowds into the airport’s VIP lobby to take care of the required arrival documents. From there, you’ll go from private van to private ferry to private van and drive 45 minutes to the top of an extinct volcano, where the 14-room Pikaia Lodge is located.
When it comes to getting up close with wildlife on land and sea (the reason you came) you will be guided in small groups by Pikaia’s in-house guides. And when it comes to water excursions, Pikaia goes the extra mile to avoid the crowds by using her own private adventure yacht. Back at the hotel, enjoy a shamanic massage at the spa or take a dip in the infinity pool and think about all you did to end up here.
When it comes to choosing a destination to escape from society, there is distance and then there is “are you kidding me”. Sheldon Chalet – built on top of a mountain, surrounded by a giant glacier, in the center of an amphitheater of even larger mountains, in the middle of Denali National Park – confidently falls into the second category. This is, without a doubt, where you would want to be during a zombie apocalypse.
Accessible only by helicopter and available exclusively for private buyouts, this five-bedroom cabin brings a level of luxury never seen before to this wild, untamed expanse. Once here, you will spend your time participating in various glacier and mountain based activities such as abseiling, caving in snow caves, glacier hiking and rock climbing. During downtime, you can relax in the sauna with a view of Denali’s peak, watch the Northern Lights, or just sit back and take in the view around you.
Marlon Brando’s former private island is now one of the most exclusive and luxurious eco-resorts in the world. Located at the bottom of the South Pacific and very far from where you live, you must really want to get there – and you should really want to get there. To do this, fly to Tahiti and then take the 20-minute flight, via the resort’s private plane, to the private airstrip. Once there, grab your jaw, head to your beachfront bungalow, stare out to sea and breathe in the seclusion.
As a guest, you will be in good company. Barack Obama spent a month here writing his memoirs, and celebrities like Margot Robbie, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen DeGeneres have also come. But perhaps The Brando’s most notable recent guest was Kim Kardashian, who socially distanced herself here at the height of the pandemic when she rented out the entire island and flew her party on a chartered 777. .
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