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Going off the grid: Top 5 getaways for a New Year reset

A New Year abounds with possibilities to bid adieu to the old and set out to explore some of the world’s most extraordinary hidden gems. From cultural treasures in Korcula island to atmospheric streets in Essaouira, tropical paradise in Costa Rica and the Maldives, and the soaring Red Rocks of Sedona, we reveal the best destinations for connecting deeply with nature, and healing your body and mind to reset yourself for the year ahead. Join us on a journey to five blissful destinations where you can travel slowly, delve deeply into the local culture, and enjoy immersive experiences that will leave you transformed, inspired, and rejuvenated. Sedona, Arizona For some, relaxation looks a lot like exploration — and there’s no better place for it than Sedona’s famous Red Rocks, where you can go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, or river kayaking amid truly breathtaking terrain. What’s more, the region has developed a robust sustainable tourism plan, ensuring that the stunning lands are protected and the skies remain as peaceful as when the landscape was formed many millennia ago. Sedona offers an array of hikes for multiple skill levels and guarantees panoramic views, regardless of your fitness level. With a circular trail of 3.2 miles, the Airport loop is recommended for the more relaxed wayfarer. For a moderate climb, we recommend the one-and-a-half mile trek up Doe Mountain, which rewards with stunning views of the canyons and desert. If you like a challenge, hike the Cathedral Rock Trail, a steep 1.2-mile trek with a unique perspective of the surrounding rocks and beautiful Sedona landscape. When the sun goes down, join an astronomer for a special stargazing experience as you learn about the constellations and star formations. Back on Earth, the peaks and valleys of Sedona are truly enriched by mystical Native American culture. Amongst the many ancient pueblos, the Tuzigoot National Monument is a must for those looking to escape modern haste. The ancients expressed a deep interest in the movement of the sun, moon, and stars for reasons still unknown to archaeologists. The Sinagua Indians gave particular attention to harvest times and even used a cosmic calendar. Much of their ancient way of life remains a mystery, and that enchantment remains part of Sedona’s enduring magic. The wonder continues at Sedona’s Enchantment Resort, a refreshing stay that embodies the Red Rock aesthetic in gorgeous casitas and suites. From light to dark, day to night, prepare to be spellbound by Sedona’s many outdoor wonders. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica  Learn lessons about longevity on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, a so-called ‘blue zone’, where people live exceptionally long lives. In this case, it’s probably due to the rejuvenating power of the country’s tropical nature, as well as the locals’ laid-back love for life known as “Pura Vida”. The New Year is a time to blend the body with mind and the Nicoya Peninsula is rich with experiences and accommodations to aid in this synthesis. Located on the sandy shores of the Santa Teresa region, the beachfront Nantipa Hotel is a stylish, boutique hotel with incredible beachfront bungalows with private plunge pools. Set your gaze upon the views or take part in one of the many wellness experiences offered at the hotel, such as meditation on the beach, healing sound therapy, or energizing yoga sessions.  Beyond wellness, take a trip to the Cabo Blanco National Park, home to over 140 different tree species and a variety of tropical creatures. Continue on your wild wanderings to the Montezuma Waterfalls, great for a refreshing dip and a couple of lively jumps, if you dare. Surrounded by lush nature and the calming sounds of the falls, you’ll find it hard to return to reality. The peaceful ambience of the Nicoya Peninsula will leave you feeling transformed. We’re certain that it should be on the agenda for your next trip focused on all things restoration, reset, and wellness. The Maldives With pure white beaches, dazzling hues of turquoise, and endless opportunities for adventure, the Maldives is a truly unique paradise. The archipelago may be small in size, but it knows how to utilize the jewel-like ocean that encompasses it, offering a variety of water-based experiences for the light hearted, curious, and daring. At the carbon neutral resort of Soneva Jani, discover the Maldives’ first overwater 3D observatory, So Starstruck, which allows you to see space in all its splendor. The observatory contains a 16” telescope that rises up through the floor and provides views that are, quite literally, out of this world. Take a cruise through the Muli Channel on an unforgettable marine safari to encounter Maldives dolphins and an abundance of fish, such as the longfin bannerfish and the clown triggerfish. Or embark on a fishing expedition on a traditional wooden dhoni and dine on your catch that evening. For a more interactive adventure under the deep blue sea, take an exhilarating speedboat ride to the next island in Hanifaru Bay and swim with hundreds of Maldives manta rays in their natural environment at the world’s largest manta ray feeding station. If a digital detox is part of your New Year plan, you can turn off your wifi with the flick of a switch and avoid the outside world entirely in your TV-free luxurious suite. The incredible Maldives knows the secrets of unwinding and will make for a perfect place to reset and restore for your brand New Year and brand new self. Korcula, Croatia  If your idea of disconnecting involves discovering new cultures then Korcula is heaven sent for an ultimate Croatian travel experience. A dreamy island off the Adriatic coast, it’s lesser known than other Dalmatian islands such as Hvar or Brac. Take seclusion a step further by visiting off season—a late spring or early fall trip is almost guaranteed to be exclusive, tranquil, and revitalizing. The ancient fortified city of Korcula town is exemplary of the Venetian style, including an exquisite monastery and grand cathedral. The city center, with its ancient walls and towers, have undergone extensive renovation and a new walkway is being built so you can immerse yourself in the island’s extraordinary cultural heritage. Lose yourself in the ancient streets of the Old Town, fusing Greek, Roman, and northern European influences, the island is rich in traditions that live on through its food, architecture, and culture. If you’re lucky to be in Korcula on the night of the Moreska Sword Dance, witness the incredible spectacle of the dancers’ precise fighter moves. Give your New Year’s resolutions some momentum with a cycling tour through the rural scenery, stopping in one of the island’s oldest settlements, Žrnovo. While there, indulge in the olive oil and winemaking craft that envelops the town. Or if you’re hoping to start the year with a more leisurely rhythm, you won’t want to miss out on a motor yacht day trip to the nearby, untouched Mljet Island that, according to legend, captivated Odysseus for seven years. Claim your year with a stay at Korcula’s finest, Lešić Dimitri Palace. Immerse yourself in history, culture, and old-world charm in this picturesque boutique hotel which draws inspiration from acclaimed explorer Marco Polo. Enjoy breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Adriatic, admire the historical architectural touches, or simply indulge in a spa day. Korcula and all of its wonders will provide you with the renewal you’re seeking for the New Year. Essaouira, Morocco  Renowned for its ancient wonders and dramatic landscapes, Essaouira is the perfect destination for true escapism with a relaxed, hippy vibe. At the port, let a sense of calm wash over you as you watch the famous blue boats sway hypnotically in the soft breeze. Game of Thrones fans might recognize the city’s ramparts, which features as a backdrop in the series and today provide the perfect promenade to see the layout of the old town and learn more about the history of this former fortress city. If shopping’s your activity of choice, Essaouira makes it easy to participate in responsible tourism, with myriad NGO and cooperative shops selling beautiful local crafts and souvenirs, and income circulating back to the local economy. At dinner time, indulge in the exquisite flavors of Essaouira’s finest restaurant at L’Heure Bleue. On Fridays (the Muslim holy day), in-house Chef Ahmed cooks couscous, and on Saturdays, savor a handcrafted “discovery menu” with a pairing of different Moroccan wines. If you’re wondering how to create this delectable dinner for yourself, stick around for one of the cookery classes offered by the prized chef himself. If your New Year resolutions involve learning a new skill, the powerful trade winds make for perfect surf conditions. After a surf lesson, reward yourself with a meal of fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants that speckle the harbor. Outside of the city, there are several natural gems such as the spectacular Sidi M’Barek Waterfalls, just a short drive away and accessible via a short, easy hike. Once there, inhale the serenity and listen to the sounds of rushing water amid scenic views. Coastal charm and cultural delight combine to define the city of Essaouira. Whether your New Year reset involves concocting your own culinary successes or losing yourself in the impressive nature that surrounds the city, this Moroccan gem is the perfect place to nourish your body and soul. Anna Mascaro is Founder of Terracotta Travel. Terracotta Travel is a boutique travel agency that caters for luxury travellers who want to go beyond the guidebook and behind the scenes in every corner of the world. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Anna Mascaro

Anna Mascaro is the Founder and lead travel designer of Terracotta Travel, Southern Europe’s premier travel firm. From exclusive insider access and handpicked hotels that reflect the culture and character of their location, Anna has spent the last decade planning private, tailor-made vacations for discerning travelers looking to experience the hidden gems of the world, through the stories of insiders. She crafts unique and immersive journeys without sacrificing style, premium service and elite comfort. When she’s not planning your dream vacation, you can find Anna travelling across Europe, sailing across the Atlantic or hiking the big ice in Greenland.

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  1. Wouldn’t it be great to be as free as that turtle? That image says it all really doesn’t it? We’d all like to be so far off-grid in 2021 that like that turtle we don’t even know what the grid is.

    1. 2021 is the year of being as free as a turtle and going where ever the wind may take us- perhaps a dreamy island or lush rainforest is in your near future!

    2. I don’t think these would be reachable goals in still pandemic 2021.
      Except for Korčula, as I live in Croatia. So maybe focusing on nearby destinations is a great answer to traveling in the lockdown world. Also, Korčula has indeed been on my domestic travel list for my entire lifetime. Maybe I should finally head there this summer!

    1. Thank you, Ona! You truly can’t go wrong with either, but who says you have to pick just one?

  2. I’ve been to Marrakech, Fez and the High Atlas in Morocco and loved them all. After reading this I’m really excited by the sound of Essaouira which I knew nothing about. I think after all the claustrophobia of lockdowns we’re all going to want to get off grid.

    1. Wow! Morocco has so many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. I highly suggest you delight your soul with a visit to Essaouira next.

    1. Right?! They are all uniquely charming in there own way it’s hard to decide which one is calling.

  3. Never before have we had so much time to think and you’re right a lot of us will want a reset. All that time had made us realise that we can lead much better lives.

    I think it will actually be a sad moment when I finally get to book some flights. At the moment it’s a case of the world’s my oyster. I’d like to do all 5 of these destinations. I think I’ll shed a tear for all the beautiful places I reject.

    1. You are right! The time we’ve had to reflect and dream has made us dive deep into what we want our futures to look like and how we can create a positive impact in the places we travel and people we meet.

  4. I’ve never been to any of these places and it’s so hard to pick! I think it’s a tie for first place between Morocco and Costa Rica. Is it possible to get to Morocco from Germany without flying?

    1. Yes, you can get from Germany to Morocco via train and ferry. You would need to follow this train route which will take less than 24 hours excluding stops: Berlin Hbf – Frankfurt Hbf – Lyon Part Dieu – Barcelona-Sants and then take the AVE high-speed train from Barcelona-Sants – Madrid Atocha – Seville/Malaga. From Spain, you can take a 1 to 2 hour ferry ride from Tarifa to Tangier, this is the fastest route available. A different ferry option would take approximately 1.5 hours, depart from Algeciras and arrive in Tanger Med, which is about 40 minutes from Tangier.

  5. Loved this blog! I am so ready to start afresh this New Year… I just have to decide which of these amazing destinations to explore first

    1. Thank you, Orla! You truly can’t go wrong, each destination has its own unique character.

  6. Brilliant blog! I am ready for my New Year reset, I just can’t decide whether to start in Croatia or Costa Rica…

    1. Thank you Roisin! Those are two great options, no matter where you go first you won’t be disappointed!

  7. I have made a wish list for when all this is over, and at the top of this list is a trip to Costa Rica, which I will definitely do with what for me is the number one and my favourite travel designer. Anna it is not a secret and it is well known that you know perfectly well how to put yourself in the shoes of your clients and that you have a special sensitivity to know what each one wants, that’s why I want you to be the one to design the travel of my life.

    1. Thank you for the kind words Yolanda. I’m honored that you want me to make your travel dreams come true. Looking forward to sending you on an awe-inspiring trip through Costa Rica soon!:)

  8. Thank you, Idir! Feeling free is the perfect way to describe a trip to Morocco. From the vast desert to the coast, an overwhelming feeling of escapism can be found.

    1. I hope everything is a lot better in Texas now, Chuck. I definitely think you deserve to treat yourself to a tropical getaway!

  9. Very interesting places to visit. We love Sedona and we hiked many trails there. Korsula, Croatia and Essaouria, Morocco are on our travel list too. Thank you for sharing these awesome destinations, their history and their legends.

    1. These places are all wonderful, Natalia. I hope you get to experience an adventure soon!

  10. These are some great ideas to reset your thoughts for a new (and better!) year. The mindset for sustainable tourism is perfect in Sedona and the power of nature in Costa Rica to be very freeing are definitely suggestions to put on the list!

    1. I agree, Michelle. Sustainable tourism is so important. Costa Rica is so beautiful, I hope you get to visit soon!

  11. This makes me really want to getaway right now. Too bad, too many restrictions are still in place and work has gotten a little hectic. Maldives is open to tourists, though.

    1. The Maldives are beautiful, Daniella. Have you ever visited? I hope restrictions ease for you soon and you can have your own getaway!

  12. An exotic trip sounds wonderful right now. I’m dreaming of the day where I can wander through Morocco again! I’ve never looked at visiting Croatia, but Korcula looks so beautiful!

    1. I agree, Lauren. Croatia is full of hidden gems, you should definitely check it out!

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