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Luxe Travel: Golf, Yacht Camp, Shark Week, More

By Karen T. Bartlett   |   Tuesday, 04 Mar 2008 12:21 PM

Burned out at work? Bored with the typical vacation?

Burnout and stress require more than a weekend getaway. If you’ve got the budget and the time, leave the beach lounging and deck gazing to others, and sign on for a real escape.

With these suggestions you’re sure to come home renewed, decompressed — and, I suspect, endowed with just a bit of a swagger:

Golf Sabbatical in North Carolina

If you could abandon all but your golf game for one month, could you dominate the links as well as you lead the board room?

That’s the challenge from Pinehurst Resort, where in April and May only you can sign on for 30 days of world-class dawn-to-dusk instruction, mental game exercises, and personal training.

Your car, golf balls, meals, laundry, spa services, chats with the biggies and, naturally, unlimited golf are included. So is a weekend visit from your significant other, a $1,000 spree in the resort shops, a final video swing analysis, and your personal Celebration Ceremony.

A bargain at $29,500. Travel & Leisure named Pinehurst the 2007 Best Golf Resort in the World. See more at www.pinehurst.com.

‘Roughing It’ in Costa Rica

Planning, packing, and re-entry to the world can destroy the restorative benefits of a typical vacation.

The new oceanfront Hilton Papagayo Resort in Guanacaste has the antidote: A full 30 days of extreme adventure in Costa Rica’s famed Papagayo region delivers the needed adrenaline, pampering and renewal that sabbaticals are designed to achieve.

You’ll enjoy plenty of rustic ambiance, but not in your posh bungalow. Skip the bumpy tourist transfers: You get BMW pickup. Included in the Workaholic Sabbatical are canopy tours, whitewater rafting, tropical spa treatments, a trip to the Monteverde National Forest, and more.

If you must, you still can connect with the outside world via in-suite high-speed wireless. Visit www.hilton.com.

Exclusive Yacht Camp for Teens

Privileged camping is one thing, but your kids need some global service under their belt before taking the reins of the family foundation.

Not that they will suffer much with a three-week ActionQuest jaunt around the Mediterranean on a 112-foot sailing yacht with stops in Monte Carlo, Sardinia, and Cannes. Or snorkeling with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands.

ActionQuest recently was picked by CNN.com as the most exclusive kids camp in the world. But it’s action with a kick: Besides the scuba and sailing certifications, the kids roll up their sleeves for eco-service projects and everyday ship duties. Go to www.actionquest.com.

Swim With Sharks in Palau

Time is getting short to book your adrenaline surge at the 6th Annual Shark Week on the Micronesian island of Palau.

Held March 27-April 3, its a week for shark diving, shark photography, shark seminars, and a chance to meet famed “Sharkwater” filmmaker Rob Stewart. The world’s most gorgeous shark reefs, and the March migration of grey reef sharks, draw top researchers and experts.

The unspoiled islands have surprisingly luxurious resorts. I recommend the Palau Pacific Resort: Seven-day packages start at $1,930 per person including two tanks daily for five days.

But do go early and stay longer. You won’t believe the giant manta rays, or the stingless pink jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake. Shark Week info at www.fishnfins.com. See resort details at www.palauppr-resort.com.

Safari in High Style in Africa

Uncharted Outposts are, well, pretty much uncharted outposts, unless they’re luxe-to-the-max hideaways by the high-end safari and travel company of the same name.

The point is to take savvy safari travelers to the next level, and these East African lodges are downright clandestine. Gourmet chefs, private guides, infinity pools perched on clifftops and decadent amenities are just the backdrop for the game tracking, light aircraft and helicopter trips and four-wheel drive excursions.

A three-night stay, based on 16 guests sharing, is $22,200 at Kenya’s Sanctuary at Ol Lentille. Expect to get up close and personal with African wild dogs, greater kudu, leopards, striped and spotted hyenas, and yes, the face-kissing, rock-jumping klipspringer. Really! Look it up at www.unchartedoutposts.com.

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