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A crystal-clear lake is surrounded by pine trees.

6 Ways to Experience More Meaningful Travel

Article by Melissa Liebling-Goldberg 03.01.2019

Go deeper on your next journey with thoughtful experiences and destinations. Try these tips to help you find the excursion, immersion or purpose-driven location that’s right for you.

Anyone can take a trip to see the major sights, but seasoned travelers know that the magic is often found on the less-trodden paths and under-the-radar adventures. Immerse yourself in a culture you couldn’t experience at home. Explore communities that are wildly different from the one back home. Take advantage of exclusive access to famed cultural institutions. This year, why not travel deeper than you have before?

Revel in the Wonders of Wildlife

A lighthouse sits atop a cliff overlooking the ocean.

Connect with nature as you go ever so slightly off the grid. The Canary Islands are known for their spectacular natural beauty and proximity to wildlife. The Ritz-Carlton, Abama on the island of Tenerife offers a new way to experience the whales — including minke whales, sperm whales and killer whales — and dolphins that inhabit the waters around the rocky island. An expert biologist will lead a listening expedition, guiding you through the sounds of the cetaceans through hydrophones. For the younger members in your party, they can keep the marine-inspired learning going through one of the region’s most inspiring kids’ clubs created with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society.

Magical moment: Watching your little ones’ eyes light up as they listen to the language of under-the-sea creatures is sure to become a treasured memory.


Learn About Long-Held Cultural Traditions

A view looking up the stairs to a grand temple.

Immerse yourself in the rich history of ancient cultures whose traditions live on today. In 3,000-year-old Beijing, enjoy a traditional Lao breakfast before moving on to Tai Chi to start your day on a balanced and harmonious note. To truly soak up the city’s rich history, take part in a specially-arranged behind-the-scenes tour of the Zheng Yi Ci Temple Peking Opera Theatre, which is housed in a 300-year-old wooden structure. Located in an ancient Ming Dynasty Hutong, it is one of the oldest opera houses in the world and a shrine to one of China’s most celebrated art forms.

Magical moment: If your timing is right, you may run into into some of the theater’s famed performers while taking your tour.


Preserve the Earth’s Natural Beauty

A crystal-clear lake is surrounded by pine trees.

Combine your rest and relaxation with a dose of community service at Lake Tahoe, where you can work to help protect the environment. Thanks to The Ritz-Carlton Impact Experiences program, group guests can contribute to the reforestation of Lake Tahoe’s native sugar pine trees. By gathering pine cones, planting trees and caring for saplings, you can help to ensure the healthy growth of the woods surrounding The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. If you want to spend more time around the lake itself, guests can work with the League to Save Lake Tahoe to assist in invasive-species monitoring, trail restorations and water-quality improvements along the shoreline.

Magical moment: Repeat guests can see the fruits of their labor take shape as the saplings grow into trees and overgrown trails are cleared.


Experience Old-World Customs

A stone tower looms over the desert, where a small campfire burns.

Leave your phones and tablets behind and allow yourself to be transported to a simpler era. Step back in time at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, as you ride through the dunes of the desert on the back of a camel while watching the sun set into the sandy horizon line. Learn more about this majestic creature that is such an integral part of the region’s history from your guides, who are experts in the traditions of the country. Once the sun has set, immerse yourself in traditional Bedouin culture for the night with a barbecue dinner in the heart of the desert.

Magical moment: Dining on a custom, chef-prepared meal under the desert sky will place you in a timeless and unforgettable space.


Try Truly Local Cuisine

A family shops at a farmers market.

Go beyond trendy restaurants and Michelin stars to discover a region’s culinary heritage. Austria is known for its elaborate outdoor markets, from the most traditional shopping to exquisite holiday markets. Vienna’s most famed market is the Naschmarkt, which has its origins in the 16th century and has developed into an almost-mile long fresh food market. Rather than try to navigate the myriad baked goods, fruits and other Viennese delicacies on your own, be guided by the executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, who will help you experience both the local specialties along with the international culinary offerings. If you are visiting on a Saturday, continue onto the adjacent artisan market, which attracts collectors and treasure hunters alike from all over Europe.

Magical moment: Bring along a blanket and enjoy your bounty of treats picnic-style next to the Wien River.


Connect with Nature

Baby turtles crawl along a sandy beach.

There may be nothing more humbling than bearing witness to a miracle of nature. Every year from May until November at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, their Turtle Guardian Program helps to keep the eggs of the female sea turtle safe from predators by moving them to the Turtle Camp, a safe nest for them. Guests are invited to watch the process and are welcome to take photos to remember it by. Two months after the eggs were laid, the hatchlings all emerge during a short period of time, burrowing their way to the surface and kicking off the last of their encrusted shells. Our Turtle Guarding Volunteers assist the baby turtles by releasing them at dawn on the day they were born. Guests may partake in this experience by helping the resort’s volunteers release the newly-born turtles into their new home, the ocean. 

Magical moment: Watching hundreds of baby turtles emerge and make their way to the sea is a life-affirming experience like none other.



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Plan Your Stay in These Destinations

  • Abama

    Location Tenerife, Spain

    Experience A beachside retreat where sea, land and resort blend seamlessly.

    • Overlooks the brilliantly blue Atlantic
    • 13 restaurants and bars to experience
    • A 72-par, Dave Thomas golf course
  • Beijing

    Location Beijing, China

    Experience An ancient town coupled with modern luxuries.

    • A Travel Leisure’s Best Business Hotel
    • World-class shopping at Sing Kong Place
    • Exclusive access to capital sights
  • Beijing, Financial Street

    Location Beijing, China

    Experience Modern luxury in the Financial District.

    • Well-appointed, spacious accommodations
    • Award winning Italian restaurant, Cépe
    • Feng Shui design principles within the hotel
  • Lake Tahoe

    Location Truckee, California

    Experience Ski-in/ski-out luxury resort located mid-mountain on Northstar California.

    • Ski Valet and Mountain Concierge
    • Family-friendly winter activities
    • Spacious luxury suites and residences
  • Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert

    Location Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert

    Experience Romance and relaxation, adventure and natural beauty.

    • Located in a unique 500 hectare nature reserve
    • 101 private luxury pool-villas
    • Local and International cuisine, destination dining experiences
  • Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach

    Location Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach

    Experience A beachfront oasis offering both tranquility and adventure.

    • Located on a secluded beach with boat arrival
    • Intimate Private Pool Villas with direct access to a pristine beach
    • Destination dining in beach private cabanas
  • Vienna

    Location Vienna, Austria

    Experience A five-star hotel set in four historic 19th century palaces.

    • Luxury urban retreat at The Ritz-Carlton Spa
    • Viennese charm meets contemporary luxury
    • Elegant venues for dining and dancing
  • Cancun

    Location Cancun, Mexico

    Experience A luxurious retreat along Mexico’s Mayan coastline.

    • AAA Five Diamond Awarded resort & restaurants
    • Ancient Mayan therapies at Kayantá Spa
    • Culinary Center & interactive cooking classes