One-of-a-Kind Resorts: Best Places to Do What You Love

Sundance instructor assists a guest in creating their first piece of pottery. Photo: Adam Brown/Sundance Resorts Photo by Adam Brown/Sundance Resorts
By Charis Atlas Heelan

If you are as passionate about your hobbies as you are about traveling, each of these destinations combines the best of both worlds.

Whether you love to cook or to kayak, pack your bags for an unforgettable vacation at these top resorts around the world.

Photo Caption: A Sundance Resort instructor helps a guest create her first piece of pottery. Courtesy Adam Brown/Sundance Resorts
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Kayaking in the clear waters at Anthony's Key Resort, Roatan, Honduras. Photo: Courtesy Anthony's Key Photo by Courtesy Anthony's Key
What: Anthony's Key

Where: Roatan, Honduras

The Details: The beaches of Roatan are considered as some of the most pristine in the Caribbean, with white sand lined with palm trees and clear turquoise water. The world's second longest barrier reef system lies just off Roatan's shores, giving divers some exceptional diving opportunities and a chance to interact with the marine life.

With wooden cabanas situated around a lagoon, Anthony's Key provides guests with a relaxed resort experience. Snorkel right off your own deck, enjoy the on-site five-star PADI dive facility, swim with dolphins, kayak through caves, or canoe around the coastline. Nearby, you can also learn how to sail, try your hand at windsurfing, or visit remote islands.

More Info: www.anthonyskey.com

Photo Caption: Kayaking in the clear waters at Anthony's Key Resort, Roatan, Honduras. Courtesy Anthony's Key
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Cooking demonstration at Ginja Cook Cooking School at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Phuket, Thailand. Photo: Courtesy Ginja Cook Cooking School Photo by Ginja Cook Cooking School
What: Ginja Cook at JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa

Where: Mai Khao, Phuket, Thailand

The Details: With floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking gardens and the Andaman Sea, the Ginja Cook school at the JW Marriott is a feast for your eyes and your stomach. In intimate groups of eight, you'll learn how to create traditional Thai dishes with a contemporary twist. Courses are held daily in the Sala cooking studio (8am-2pm Mondays to Fridays).

More Info: www.phuket.com/marriott

Photo Caption: Cooking demonstration at Ginja Cook at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Phuket, Thailand. Courtesy Ginja Cook
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Ziplining in the Amazon Jungle. Photo: Courtesy Reserva Natural Palmari, Brazil Photo by Courtesy Reserva Natural Palmari, Brazil
What: Reserva Natural Palmari

Where: 4° 17' 17'' South, 70° 17' 33'' West; Amazon Basin; Javarí River Brazil (access from Leticia, Colombia and/or Tabatinga, Brazil)

The Details: You have to love a jungle lodge that gives its longitude and latitude as its address. Palmari is both a research facility and a jungle lodge, offering visitors an authentic Amazonian rain forest experience with minimal impact on the environment. Located close to where the borders of Colombia, Brazil, and Peru meet in the Amazon Basin, activities include canopy tours, canoeing, birding, night excursions by boat, and visiting indigenous communities. The immediate area is home to sloths, jaguars, river dolphins, and eight types of monkeys, plus hundreds of bird and reptile varieties.

More Info: www.palmari.org

Photo Caption: Ziplining in the Amazon Jungle. Courtesy Reserva Natural Palmari, Brazil
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Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo: Courtesy of Orient-Express Photo by Orient-Express Hotels
What: Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge

Where: Machu Picchu, Peru

The Details: Wake up on top of the world and experience the grandeur that is the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
Although sensational at dawn, mornings are also when you share the site with the day tourists and those that have just completed the Inca Trail. But if you visit late afternoon or at sunset, only the guests of Sanctuary Lodge remain. As the hues of red and orange fall behind the ruins, you can enjoy a private audience with one of the world's most majestic and spiritual sites.

More Info: www.sanctuarylodgehotel.com

Photo Caption: Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge in Peru. Courtesy Orient-Express
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Golf course at Casa de Campo in La Romana, Dominican Republic. Photo: LC Lambrecht for Casa de Campo Photo by LC Lambrecht for Casa de Campo
What: Casa de Campo

Where: La Romana, Dominican Republic

The Details: Consistently voted in the world's top 50 golf courses, the Teeth of the Dog golf course is the showpiece of Casa de Campo, a 7,000-acre resort on the southern coral coast of the Dominican Republic. The three separate courses (54 holes), designed by famed golf course architect Peter Dye (and his LPGA Hall of Famer wife Alice) have been legendary since the 1970s. Expect palm-lined fairways and greens designed to maximize views and coastal scenery, plus three short holes built right on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. Accommodations are in recently renovated hotel rooms, suites, and a selection of villas.

More Info: www.casadecampo.com.do

Photo Caption: Golf course at Casa de Campo in La Romana, Dominican Republic. Courtesy LC Lambrecht for Casa de Campo
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The Heritage Hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: Heritage Queenstown Hotel Photo by Heritage Queenstown Hotel
Where: Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand

The Details: Queenstown is known for its wealth of outdoor adventures. During the Southern Hemisphere's summer (December to March), Queenstown becomes a hiking capital. The setting for Tolkien's Middle Earth is even more dramatic in real life, with postcard-perfect mountains, valleys, lakes, and the fjords of Milford Sound. World-renowned "Great Walks," including the Moonlight, Kepler, and Routeburn Tracks, are accessible and clearly marked with signs. Several walks start with an impressive gondola ride. Unwind after a day of outdoor adventures at the Heritage Hotel, which overlooks Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range. Here, you can take a dip in one of the pools or get a massage at the in-house spa.

More Info: www.heritagehotels.co.nz

Photo Caption: The Heritage Hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand. Courtesy Heritage Queenstown Hotel
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The Current, one of the pools at Adventureland Water Park at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. Photo: Courtesy Jeffrey Brown/Atlantis Photo by Courtesy Jeffrey Brown/Atlantis
What: Atlantis

Where: Paradise Island, Bahamas

The Details: Paradise Island's Aquaventure Water Park is a 141-acre waterscape available to all guests of the Atlantis Resort. This aquatic wonderland features over 20 million gallons of water, Atlantis-themed towers, thrilling high-speed waterslides, a mile-long river ride with rolling rapids and wave surges, 20 swimming areas, a kids' water-play fort, and 11 unique swimming pools, including the Grotto Pool with cascading waterfalls, the zero-entry River Pool, Splashers Water Playground, and a Mayan-themed water playground with slides, ropes, and bridges.

If you need a break from the chlorine, explore the collection of marine habitats and aquarium exhibits -- lagoons, caves, coral formations, and underwater ruins are designed to showcase marine life, such as dolphins, sea lions, and sharks. Snorkel, swim, or walk through the world's largest man-made marine park, with 14 lagoons, eight million gallons of salt water, and 50,000-plus aquatic animals.

More Info: www.atlantis.com

Photo Caption: The Current, one of the pools at Adventureland Water Park at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. Courtesy Jeffrey Brown/Atlantis
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Mushroom shower at Jean Michel-Cousteau Fiji Island Resort. Photo: Greg Taylor/Jean Michel-Cousteau Fiji Island Resort Photo by Greg Taylor/Jean Michel-Cousteau Fiji Island Resort
What: Jean Michel-Cousteau Fiji Island Resort

Where: Vanua Levu, Fiji

The Details: The Fiji Island Resort was designed with the perfect family vacation in mind. Set on the South Pacific, the resort offers an opportunity to experience true Fijian culture and hospitality. Every child under the age of six gets his or her own nanny from 8am to 9pm each day; children up to the age of 13 are paired with a buddy and have free access to the Bula Club, offering activities like fishing, snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking. Younger children can also enjoy face painting, crab hunting, shell collecting, and visiting local villages.

More Info: www.fijiresort.com

Photo Caption: Mushroom shower at Jean Michel-Cousteau Fiji Island Resort. Courtesy Greg Taylor/Jean Michel-Cousteau Fiji Island Resort
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Jewelry-making classes are fun, informative and you have your own piece of jewelry to always remember your Sundance experience. Photo: Adam Brown/Sundance Resorts Photo by Adam Brown/Sundance Resorts
What: Sundance Resort

Where: Sundance, Utah

The Details: In the late 1960s, Robert Redford acquired a gorgeous piece of land in Utah and envisioned it as an ideal locale for environmental conservation and artistic experimentation. Today, Redford's vision continues to be realized in a resort that is both a recreational and arts community. Apart from its famed film festival (although that is held nearby in Park City), the year-round resort runs a number of daily workshops in its Art Shack Studios, where guests can feel inspired by their surroundings to create works of art in various forms. Classes include jewelry making, wheel-thrown pottery, painting, printmaking, photography, and drawing. All two-hour classes are tailored to each individual's ability level and include expert instruction and materials.

More Info:  www.sundanceresort.com

Photo Caption: Jewelry-making classes leave you with new skills and a piece of jewelry to remember your Sundance experience. Courtesy Adam Brown/Sundance Resorts
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Pool and ski slopes at the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside in Whistler, British Columbia. Photo by Joel Shlabotnik
What: Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside

Where: Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada

The Details: There are three words that describe the Pan Pacific -- "Position, Position, Position." There may be fancier five-star resorts at Whistler, but none come close to this location and its true ski-in, ski-out status. Set at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains opposite two high-speed gondolas, the luxurious Pan Pacific Lodge is an all-suite hotel offering floor-to-ceiling windows with dramatic views of the mountain or valley, an outdoor heated pool, steam rooms, hot tubs on the deck, and a great pub restaurant. It also has a complimentary in-resort shuttle, free ski lockers, and underground parking.

Among the 8,000-plus acres of terrain, you can tackle virgin runs while heli-skiing, experience North America's steepest vertical drop, get some air at the tube park, ride the Peak 2 Peak gondola, or go snowmobiling.

More Info: www.panpacific.com

Photo Caption: Pool and ski slopes at the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside in Whistler, British Columbia. Photo by Joel Shlabotnik/Flickr.com
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