Theme holiday packages find favour

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am

Holiday packages with specialised themes are gaining ground, with well-heeled travellers increasingly valuing unusual holiday experiences that involve learning a new skill or activity.

Luxury hotel group Fairmont in March launched the 'Apprentice-Trips by Fairmont' programme, offering special-interest holiday packages that include a French-language immersion holiday at its property in Quebec, a hiking experience for novice hikers or an epic adventure for seasoned mountaineers at its hotel in Kunshan, on the mainland, and a Sommelier Experiential Package at its Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Resorts in Asia have been equally prolific, with The Pavilions Resort in Phuket launching activities that evoke passion and romance, echoing the resort's brand as a romantic destination with a blend of mystery, sensuality and travel adventure in lush surroundings.

In April, the series marked its launch with 'Passion for Perfume', a programme with world-renowned perfumer Stephen Dowthwaite. In an intimate two-day experience, couples explored the pleasures of scent, and learned about the connection between scents and emotions.

'The motivation for the series came from trying to improve occupancy in the low season by offering mini breaks that cater to guests' desires while staying on brand,' explains Hong Kong-based entrepreneur and lawyer Gordon Oldham, who owns the resort, adding that other themes likely to be added include tango, swimming and chocolate-making.

Activities that make the most of the environment have also been popular. Six Senses offered guests, from March to this month, an opportunity to stay at either of its two resorts in the Maldives for five nights without charge, provided they spend five hours each day working on local community projects that include marine conservation, teaching children and planting trees. Next month, Six Senses' flagship resort, Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, will team up with Fabien Cousteau, an aquatic filmmaker and oceanographic explorer, to highlight marine-conservation concerns. Guests will be able to dive and dine with Cousteau, and hear about his childhood growing up as grandson of the legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. 'Fabien has attracted a lot of attention from our regular guests as this is a special opportunity, and not something that money can normally buy,' says Sophy Williams, the resort's public relations and marketing manager. 'The Maldivian resort market is a busy one, so doing something different is certainly something that helps us stand out from the competition.'

One & Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives has also embraced beach life and marine conservation by launching the National Geographic Aquatic Discovery Dive Programme. Led by National Geographic-qualified dive instructors, guests can help conserve corals, and help spread their growth in the natural environment of the lagoon and house reef.