Travel Picks: Top 10 nature breaks around the world

Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:49am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - Escape big-city stress with a chilled-out back-to-nature break. Boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com) suggest 10 of the best getaways for unwinding in style, from relaxing rural retreats to snow-blessed mountain hideaways and simple seaside sanctuaries. 1. Wilderness wonders

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Blue Mountains, Australia

Just a scenic three-hour drive from Sydney, all-inclusive Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in the Blue Mountains offers an iconic Australian country experience. Set in 4,000 acres of jaw-dropping, pristine wilderness, taking in vast valleys and elevated escarpments, it delivers dramatic nature in spades. Guided horse-riding and mountain-biking tours beckon, alongside wildlife safaris to spy kangaroos, wallaroos and platypuses. There's no need to sacrifice creature comforts though, with 40 pampering pool suites, fine-dining, a huge pool, tennis court and indulgent spa. Charles Darwin fell for Wolgan Valley in the 19th century, and it's easy to see why. (here)

2. Private-island chilling

Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

What do you get when you cross France with the South Pacific? French Polynesia, a dreamy cluster of lagoon-lapped archipelagos in the deep-blue sea, boasting romantic islands and awe-inspiring coral atolls. The Tuamotus archipelago is one of the latter, playing host to tropical Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort hotel on an intimate motu (or mini isle). With a pretty pink-sand beach, bird life galore and a mix of 37 overwater and beachside bungalows looking over the lagoon, this is a tranquil, just-remote-enough paradise. It's perfect for a laid-back honeymoon or family escape, far from the madding crowds. Expect stellar snorkelling and diving. (here) 3. Natural highs

Vigilius Mountain Resort, South Tyrol, Italy

If you prefer to head for the hills, ideally enveloped in an icing-thick layer of snow, then Vigilius Mountain Resort in north-east Italy's spectacular Dolomites is for you. Modern, minimalist swathes of wood and glass dominate the eco-sleek lodge, with 35 rooms and six suites, all mercifully free of Alpine kitsch. Spend your days skiing, snowboarding or Nordic walking, then hit the toasty spa. In summer, hiking, horse-riding, archery and mountain-biking are the big draws. Worked up an appetite? Guests can enjoy modern European fare at Restaurant 1500 or hearty stews and strudels at Parlour Ida. (here) 4. Desert chic

Amangiri, Lake Powell, United States   Continued...