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Winter adventures for every taste
Heli-skiing in Colorado
For experienced skiers, the chance to helicopter ski down pristine peaks is an exhilarating adventure literally off the beaten track.
In Colorado, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa is offering a new heli-skiing package for adrenaline-seeking guests with deep pockets.
The Ultimate Heli-Ski Experience will be the first heli-ski resort package for the Vail Valley, known as the United States' top winter playground for skiers and snowboarders.
Starting from US$12,000, the package includes a private helicopter transfer to the San Juan Mountain Range for a pulse-racing day of professionally guided heli-skiing with the people from Telluride Helitrax.
The experience also includes four nights at the hotel for up to four people, a day to ski on the resort's own ski tracks with a hotel executive, a therapeutic massage, a private dinner at the chef's table at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, daily gourmet breakfast and Zeal HD camera goggles.
Chasing the Northern Lights
In late September three years ago, I was lucky enough to see the colourful aurora borealis once in Tromso, in northern Norway, and it was awe-inspiring. The sky above this tiny town in the Arctic Circle looked as if it were unzipping itself, with wave upon wave of colour - beautiful hues of greens, pinks and purples.
If you've ever wanted to tick nature's best - and most elusive - light show off your winter bucket list, now might be the best chance to do it.
Scientists say that the coming winter months till March next year will be the best time to catch intense shows of the Northern Lights as solar activity will be at its peak. Occurring on an 11-year solar cycle, the Northern Lights are now on their tail end of the current cycle and will not appear as frequently over the next decade.
Among the best places to catch the aurora borealis is remote Lapland in Finland. Northern Lights tour specialist The Aurora Zone has an exclusive experience called Aurora "glamping" - glamorous camping in other words - for guests to stay at two purpose-built Aurora Domes.
These modern-day igloos, on the shores of a large lake, are well insulated and have a wood-burning stove and cosy double bed. The overnight experience can be added on to the operator's packages - including dog-sledding and snowmobiling experiences - to the Finnish regions of Harriniva, Torassieppi and Jeris.
Cruising for Christmas markets
Sail on the Rhine and Danube rivers if you want to experience Europe's best Yuletide markets.
The Rhine Gorge is where you'll find charming castles and quaint European towns. River cruise operator Uniworld offers an eight-day Rhine Holiday Markets voyage from Basel in Switzerland to Cologne in Germany.
You'll cruise to towns and cities like Aachen, Rudesheim and Baden-Baden, where you can shop to your heart's content for traditional Christmas decorations and goodies.
The operator also has an eight-day Danube Holiday Markets cruise from Budapest to Passau through Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. Munch on traditional sugar-coated pastries in Budapest and ginger cookies in Bratislava as you admire the baroque architecture and wintry scenery.
If you love your music, you'll enjoy this cruise, which has exclusive musical programmes and activities for the Yuletide season, from onboard carolling to an exclusive organ recital and even a classical concert with music from Mozart and Strauss at a Viennese concert hall.
Family retreat in the French Alps
For some together time on the slopes, there's Le Portetta Courchevel, a chic ski-in, ski-out luxury on the ski resort village of Courchevel Moriond that is also great for families. The surrounding valleys are wide and long, and are good for beginner skiers too.
Ski lessons are also available to kids older than four as ski schools offer lessons on the doorstep. Professional, English-speaking nannies are available on-site.
You, meanwhile, can take a well-deserved snow break or unwind at the on-site spa or parents can snuggle under fur blankets in front of the fire at the outdoor terrace bar Fire & Ice.
Groups or families might want to consider getting one of the six duplex attic lofts on the top two floors. These have lounges, balconies, open log fires and, most importantly, expansive views over Courchevel Moriond.