Immersive Hotel Experiences That Will Connect You to Nature
Learning about our natural surroundings is great. But, at some point, you have to leave the "classroom" (read: the internet) and enter the real world to truly appreciate the wonders of the world. And there's no better moment for this than during an exciting vacation.
If you don't feel like lounging by the pool all day, you can take advantage of educational and fun activities. At these 10 stunning hotels, you'll get to enjoy immersive experiences that will leave you feeling like you're one with nature.
Take a Zero-Waste Cooking Class at Le Barthélemy
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Location: St. Barthélemy
Taking a cooking class while on vacation is a fun way to learn a skill you'll always have with you. Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa takes this experience a step further with a zero-waste class led by head Chef Vincent Gomis.
The class starts with a visit to Ti Marché, where you'll pick fresh West Indies produce. Then, you'll head to the kitchen of the hotel's prestigious restaurant, Amis St. Barth, as you follow a delicious recipe while learning how to use every bit of food possible. In the end, you'll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor while taking in views of the sunset.
Book it: Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa
Restore Corals at Jade Mountain Resort
Location: Soufriere, Saint Lucia
If you have a diving certificate, we don't need to tell you about the wonders of coral reefs. These wonderful ecosystems provide food and living space for countless organisms, making our oceans cleaner and more beautiful.
But rather than living your love from afar like a shy teenager, you can get to work by planting new reefs. At the iconic Jade Mountain Resort — known for its three-walled rooms that provide unmatched views of the Piton Mountains — certified divers can work alongside marine biologists to bring Caribbean reefs back to health. Without a doubt, this will be the best diving trip of your life!
Book it: Jade Mountain Resort
Contribute to Science While Snorkeling at Coco Collection
But if you don't have a diving certificate, don't worry! There are still plenty of ways to give back to the ocean. Most guests of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu Resort in the Maldives do at least one snorkeling excursion. If you want, you can use your time in the water to identify fish and other species.
You'll be exploring the abundant Baa Atoll while helping researchers to track the health of the environment with citizen science. It's a win-win that mostly requires you to have a lot of fun. The experience is also offered at the brand's sister property, Coco Bodu Hithi.
Book it: Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu Resort
Harvest Your Dinner at Rancho Pescadero
Location: Todos Santos, Mexico
You've already heard of cooking classes, but why not go directly to the source and harvest your own ingredients? Rancho Pescadero in Baja California encourages guests to join Chef Sandro Falbo on a walk across nine gardens to forage for fruits and vegetables. And to then make a salad with the treasures collected in wicker baskets. Make sure to get more than one type of tomato, as the property grows 25 kinds!
Don't be shocked if you see Chef Falbo walking around the garden barefoot — and don't hesitate to join him. The hotel says it offers barefoot luxury, and it means it.
Book it: Rancho Pescadero
Pick Herbs and Learn to Make Cocktails at Hotel Belmar
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
If you like foraging for ingredients but don't feel like cooking, try Hotel Belmar's garden-to-glass experience. You'll first visit the property's abundant private gardens to learn about sustainable agriculture practices while you pick whichever herbs and flowers call to you.
Once you have your bounty, head back to the in-house restaurant and lounge bar, Celajes. An expert mixologist will teach you about the art of making a well-crafted cocktail. Then, it'll be time for you to put everything into practice and make your own beverage garnished with the herbs you chose in the garden.
A word to the wise: Don't even think about leaving without sitting down for dinner at Celajes. We promise it'll be one of the best meals of your life.
Book it: Hotel Belmar
Help Sea Turtle Conservation at the Four Seasons Nevis
Location: Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis
If you're heading to this Caribbean country in the summer, stay at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis to participate in its exciting Sea Turtle Summer Camp activities. Partnering with the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the resort provides marine biology classes, nature walks guided by an expert and sea turtle workshops.
You'll learn about these majestic creatures and even have the opportunity to help scientists catch and tag individuals, which is important to their conservation. Even if you don't sign up for the camp, you can still be on the lookout for nesting sea turtles on Pinneys Beach, which is located next to the resort.
Book it: Four Seasons Resort Nevis
Participate in Urban Farming at WorldMark Portland
Location: Portland, Oregon
Seen as a way to simultaneously combat transportation emissions and hunger, urban farms are starting to pop up in cities around the world. Get a hands-on crash course on how they work at WorldMark Portland Waterfront Park. Here, you'll join workshops where you'll learn about the movement while helping grow and care for produce in the hotel's vertical garden.
Most of the produce is then donated to local families in need. So while you won't get to make food for yourself, your work directly benefits the community. And nothing beats that.
Book it: WorldMark Portland Waterfront Park
Connect With Nature and Your Inner Artist at Barnsley Resort
Location: Adairsville, Georgia
Travelers looking for a relaxing experience in nature should plan a visit to Georgia's Barnsley Resort. Here, you can do a forest-bathing journaling exercise that is much more than just going into the hotel's forested grounds.
You'll be given materials like a journal, pencils and glue. Then, you'll set out with a guide on a mindful journey, where you can collect anything you find in the forest that connects with you. On your walk, you'll be encouraged to pay attention to every small detail. Once back, use the materials to create anything inspired by the experience: a collage, a journal entry, a drawing or something no one has previously thought to do.
Book it: Barnsley Resort
Plant Mangroves at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
Location: Savusavu, Fiji
Built by Jean Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji integrates sustainability in every aspect of its property, whether it's helping to implement recycling in the islands or helping save coral reefs in the Pacific.
You can do your part on a fun guided mangrove tour. You'll accompany an expert marine biologist, who'll explain the importance of this ecosystem, which protects from flooding, shore erosion and global warming. But the tour won't leave things in the theoretical. Instead, you'll leave your print on the island by planting your own mangrove tree.
Book it: Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji
Learn About the Universe at Hotel Rangá
Location: Hella, Iceland
Connecting with nature doesn't necessarily have to be a physical experience. At Hotel Rangá, for instance, you can do it by gazing up towards the sky. You can join a local astronomer at the in-house observatory and learn how to use high-tech telescopes to see the stars beyond. If you're lucky, winter nights may provide you with the natural light show of the aurora borealis.
Other hands-on experiences offered at this hotel include horseback tours to glaciers, salmon fishing, and guided hikes.
Book it: Hotel Rangá