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    11 Travel Experiences

    to Put on Your Radar

    F1RST Selects

    11 Travel Experiences to Put on Your Radar

    From horseback riding to coffee tasting to art tours, these experiences in Costa Rica, Anguilla, and the U.S. offer up an immersive way to get even more out of your travels.








    Often, what we remember most about a trip is the people we meet while traveling and the way a place—the surroundings, the culture, the experiences —makes us feel. And, the same way that a hotel is so much more than just a place to spend the night—you’ve heard us say that before—the experiences and activities a property offers are so much more than just something to do on vacation. 

    They can immerse you in a destination and provide an inside look at the people and the culture—how they live, what they value, and what that means in your own life. That’s why whenever we make recommendations for this type of authentic experience, we’re sure to pair you with properties, such as Hacienda AltaGracia, which offers just that.

    Recently, members of the F1S team traveled to Hacienda AltaGracia in Costa Rica, which just opened at the end of last year. Part of Auberge Resorts Collection, which has over 20 properties around the world, it’s their newest Central American resort. “Hacienda AltaGracia in Costa Rica makes you feel like family,” says L.A.-based advisor Erica Chambers of Pat Walker Travel, an affiliate of F1S. “The experiences were an excellent way to highlight the best in local culture and pura vida.”   

    And that’s an overall goal for Auberge. “Auberge Resorts Collection sees our hotels like a family: each property has its own unique identity and is known by its own name and personality first, and ‘Auberge Resort’ as its last name,” says global sales director Sam Mcdiarmid. “This family name is the common trait that brings all of our hotels together as design forward and authentic to the soul of the destination where we are.”

    Here, we’re sharing some of the stand-out activities at Hacienda AltaGracia—plus three other Auberge resorts and experiences to put on your radar.

    Living area with patio access at Hacienda AltaGracia.

    What to Expect at Hacienda AltaGracia in Costa Rica

    Against a backdrop of mountains and overlooking the San Isidoro Valley, this 180-acre, all-inclusive resort envelops you in lush, green surroundings. Accommodations include 50 one- or two-bedrooms casitas—some of which have their own pools and all of which have large windows (better to take in those surroundings!). Here, all-inclusive means everything from meals to daily programs to airport transfers and there are multiple dining options, including unique culinary programming like the weekly Cienfuegos, a Costa Rican-style barbecue and rodeo. 

    But probably the true standout is the breadth of experiences offered, which range from hiking to natural river bathing to visiting Tortuguero National Park to a private, chef-prepared barbecue at your casita. “All of the experiences at AltaGracia highlighted the sense of community and locally sourced products, including the food and coffee,” says Erica. “The guides and staff, who all hail from the surrounding area, were wonderful; they are proud of their heritage, their history and have great knowledge of the property and products.”  


    Experiences to try: 

    Horseback Riding

    “The horseback riding experience is wonderful for both avid riders and non-riders like myself,” says Toronto-based F1S advisor Linda Montemarano. “I was quite nervous, but the team at the stables put me at ease, selected a very calm horse, and accompanied me the entire time. We rode through the mountainside, which offered the most incredible views. It started off bright and sunny until the clouds rolled in and the dramatic sky opened up with the rain—which actually made for a completely unforgettable experience. We were equipped with rain ponchos and rode right through it!”

    And New York-based advisor, Melissa Chaquea of CIRE Travel, an F1S affiliate, who was on the same ride, adds, “As the property’s core pillar is community, you get the opportunity to not only connect with the staff and your peers, but to be in unity with your horse and your surrounding nature. The journey is about two hours, and when you return to your stable with some fresh dragon fruit juice waiting for you, you’ll already be itching for more.”

    Cooking with local chefs

    “The culinary experience was extremely valuable because it was authentic and I had the opportunity to cook with native Costa Rican chefs who are responsible for preparing meals for the esteemed guests at Hacienda AltaGracia,” says L.A.-based advisor Kimberly McFarland of F1S affiliate, High Flight Travel Group. That included learning how to prepare pejibaye, a Costa Rican fruit, and hearts of palm, both of which they used to make salad and tacos, along with from-scratch tortillas. Rounding out the meal? A pejibaye dessert.

    Advisor Melissa Chaquea (front left), Erica Chambers (blue shirt),

    and Sam from Auberge Resorts ride horses along the mountainside.

    The chef preparing meal at bbq pit.


    Advisor Melissa Chaquea (front left), Erica Chambers (blue shirt),

    and Sam from Auberge Resorts ride horses along the mountainside.

    The chef preparing meal at bbq pit.


    Coffee tasting

    “One thing Hacienda AltaGracia has perfected is the farm-to-table experience. This holds true for the daily cuisine and your midday pick-me-up—coffee,” says Melissa. For this experience, the group met at the “mercado” on property and sampled coffee prepared in four different brewing styles. “Your instructor goes through each process with diligence, explaining the origins of each method and the myriad of factors that go into creating the perfect cup of coffee,” she says.

    The Art of Cacao

    Looking for something sweet? “The cacao tasting was set up outside on a beautiful table with different types of chocolates—100% dark, 80% dark, and 70%,” explains Erica. “The pastry chef leading the tasting had cacao pods and cut some open to show us what they look like, how they get the beans, dry them, grind them and make them into chocolate. The chef’s enthusiasm and storytelling made the tasting especially personalized and interesting.” To round out the experience, guests are also invited to taste various pastries and drinks made with cacao. 

    THE WELL at Hacienda AltaGracia

    Auberge partnered with NYC-based wellness brand, The Well, to create a unique and inspiring experience. “It’s the best of both worlds,” says Tammy An, F1S’s Director of Marketing and Partnerships. “You have the incredible location and atmosphere of AltaGracia with the expertise and treatment offerings that have made The Well such a stand-out—and the result is truly innovative and restorative.”

    While there, in addition to a personally tailored massage treatment, Tammy took a class with visiting master, Lia Bartha, a celebrity trainer and founder of the workout B The Method. “It was an intimate, 8-person outdoor class set against a background of greenery and nature sounds—so amazing,” she says. Expect unique offerings like that, as well as everything from aerial yoga to forest bathing.  

    The Well at Hacienda Alta Gracia.

    The instructor brews farm-to-table coffee in four different ways for our advisors.

    The chef cutting open a cacao fruit.

    A casita at Bishop’s Lodge.

    The chocolate-making experience at Bishop’s Lodge.

    Other Properties to Put On Your Radar

    Outdoor dining area at Leon’s cafe on the beach.

    Bishop’s Lodge – Santa Fe, New Mexico

    For a full immersion—we’re talking horseback riding, guided hikes, fly fishing, and more—into the U.S. Southwest, Bishop’s Lodge is a win. Originally settled some 150 years ago, the property brims with Southwestern charm, from the signature SkyFire restaurant overlooking the mountains to the warm and inviting rooms, which include fireplaces and private terraces. (Pro tip: If you’re traveling with a big group, the 12-bedroom Bunkhouse, made with reclaimed barn wood and featuring a stunning great room, can sleep upwards of 36 people.)


    Experiences to try: Art is a big draw here and includes an artist-in-residence program as well as on-site art classes. Take it a step further with the Canyon Road Art Tour, a private, two-hour guided walking tour down the art gallery-laden Canyon Road in Santa Fe. Also fun—and great for altitude acclimation, they say: Check out the Chocolate Immersion at Kakawa, a local chocolate shop where you’ll learn about and taste the chocolate elixirs (that’s the altitude helper) of colonial times, which include mix-ins like mezcal and hibiscus.


    Malliouhana, Anguilla

    At this waterfront resort on the west end of the island, you can while away a few hours—or a whole day—relaxing by the two-level infinity pool, on Meads Bay beach or at one of the more secluded beaches, like Turtle Cove. Accommodations range from guest rooms with private terraces to two-and three-bedroom villas with private beach access and you can dive right into the local culinary scene at Celeste, for the Mediterranean, or Leon’s at Meads Bay for a Johnny Cake burger pre-hammock hang.


    Experiences to try: Along with activities like snorkeling, cycling, and the spa, consider a Malli Moke Adventure, where you can fully explore the island at the helm of this cute 1960’s-era off-road vehicle. But that’s not the only way to see more of the island: The culinary scene here is outstanding. Try one—or more—of the island’s 100-plus restaurants, which range from laid-back to high-end.

    Malliouhana’s two-level infinity pool on Meads Bay beach.

    Malliouhana’s two-level infinity pool on Meads Bay beach.

    Baiting a fly fishing hook at the Lodge at Blue Sky.

    The Lodge at Blue Sky, Park City, UT

    The outdoors takes center stage at this 3,500-acre Utah ranch, with everything from hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking to, of course, skiing and snow sports. The Earth Suites, which have outdoor fireplaces and views of the canyon, offer a unique option as does the adults-only Creek House, with its 14-foot floor-to-ceiling windows. Food is a highlight here, which includes the on-site, female-run Gracie’s Farm as well as the signature restaurant, Yuta. (Don’t miss our full review of the property.)


    Experiences to try: With such a focus on food, the immersive Organic Farm School experience is a must: You’ll be able to help with farm chores and harvest what’s in season, before enjoying the fruits—or in this case, foods—of your labor. Also, be on the lookout for dinners at Gracie’s Farm. Another can’t-miss activity: fly fishing, with options ranging from a half-day trip to full-on heli-fishing.


    Harvesting vegetables from the Lodge at Blue Sky’s organic farm.

    Harvesting vegetables from the Lodge at Blue Sky’s organic farm.

    Adding experiences like these not only enhances your trip but adds so much more depth to your journey. At F1S, we’re happy to help guide you on your way—from designing the best experiences to booking them for you. Reach out to us at

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