The Aspire Wish List 2022 in association with Atlantis The Palm
December 13, 2021 | Contributor
Read on to find out which Wish List experiences Aspire readers voted into their top 20 for 2022, and check out the top 20 experiences to enjoy at Atlantis The Palm in Dubai
The Aspire Wish List
Spot giant tortoises in the Galápagos
Few experiences are quite so enchanting as sailing the remote, rugged islands of the Galápagos, where giant tortoises roam among emerald grasslands, marine iguanas nestle on jet-black rocks and penguins dart beneath crystal waters; it’s little surprise readers voted this on to their wish lists.
Picnic on a private sandbank in the Maldives
Snow-white sands, curacao- blue ocean, swaying emerald palms... the Maldives is the stuff of dreams. From picnicking on a private sandbank to snorkelling with rays, diving with whale sharks to sailing on a dhow boat, it’s not hard to see what brings clients flocking back time and time again.
Spot polar bears on an Arctic cruise
Dreaming of an Arctic escape? You aren’t alone; whether it’s spotting the aurora, glimpsing a polar bear or sailing the icy waters of the Northwest Passage, there’s something about this region that sets pulses racing – and there’s no better way of exploring than on an expedition cruise.
Find Bonobo chimps in Tanzania
There’s nothing quite like spotting chimpanzees in the wild – and Mahale Mountains National Park in western Tanzania offers some of the best monkey- spotting in Africa. More than 1,000 chimps nestle among its mountains, foliage and beaches, putting this high on the radar for nature-lovers.
See the northern lights in the Lofoten Islands
Majestic mountains, opal fjords and centuries-old fishing villages characterise Norway’s Lofoten Islands, whose northern lights displays are among the most impressive in the world. Staying in a traditional fishermen’s cabin offers a unique way of taking it all in, with a higher- than-average chance of spotting those ribbons of light as darkness falls.
Snorkel Australia’s Great Barrier ReefFrom whale sharks to mantas, dolphins to dugongs, the Great Barrier Reef has become a bucket-list destination for good reason. Laying claim to 1,500 species of fish alongside a third of the planet’s coral species, it offers some of the world’s most sought-after snorkelling and diving.
Whisk yourself off to the winelands of South Africa
If a tipple or two is more your thing, look to the winelands of South Africa, where rolling vineyards nestle among mountain peaks, inviting tastings in stunning surrounds. Pair it with cultural exploration in Cape Town and a safari in one of the country’s game reserves for the ultimate Wish List experience.
Ride over Cappadocia in a hot-air balloon
It’s hard not to be mesmerised by the whimsical, conical rock formations of Turkey’s Cappadocia region, surrounded by honeycomb hills and ochre-hued valleys – and it’s easy to see why ballooning above this fairytale spectacle, formed 60 million years ago by lava erosion, has made it into this year’s top 20.
Enjoy a Michelin-starred meal in San Sebastian
Set in the Basque country, San Sebastian combines gold-sand beaches and lush-green hills with opulent architecture and a world-class food scene – and no visit here is complete without a meal at one of its 11 Michelin-starred restaurants.
Sample New Zealand’s luxury lodges
Whether it’s an oceanfront stay or an alpine escape, a forest retreat or a lakeside lodge, New Zealand knows how to do true luxury, with unique spots tucked between majestic landscapes that range from the dramatic slopes of Queenstown to the wild beaches of Dunedin – and readers can’t wait to get back.
Go forest bathing in Japan
Post-lockdown wellness is the buzz-phrase of 2021, and nowhere does nature healing quite like Japan, birthplace of forest bathing – or shinrin-yoku. Combine it with onsen experiences, world-class cuisine and a fascinating culture to boot, and it’s not hard to see the charm of this iconic country.
Marvel at gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda
Gorilla trekking has become a firm favourite, with Rwanda and Uganda offering some of the best opportunities to see them in the wild, rustling among the foliage of the Virunga Massif or swinging through the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Hike the national parks of Canada
From the snowy peaks of Banff to the forests of Gros Morne, the aqua lakes of Jasper to the canyons of Cape Breton, Canada’s national parks are a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking routes like the Cabot Trail putting the country high on the list for adventure- loving readers.
Cruise the Caribbean on a private yacht
Thoughts of sailing the Caribbean – wind in the hair, rum punch in hand – have captured readers this year, and there’s nothing quite like seeing its smattering of islands than from the privacy of your own yacht, crew on hand to help you see the best of this extraordinary archipelago without needing to lift a finger.
Visit the Valley of the Kings on a private tour
History fans unite in Egypt, and at its heart is the Valley of the Kings, home of the ancient pharaohs’ tombs. Readers put a private tour here in their top 20, swayed by the idea of stepping back in time to explore this iconic archaeological site, which combined with Luxor and Karnak form Unesco-listed Ancient Thebes.
Stay in a villa on the Amalfi Coast
Pastel-hued Positano, clifftop town Sorrento and idyllic Ravello are among the draws of Italy’s star-studded Amalfi coast, and it’s hard to beat staying in a villa here with secluded beaches, craggy coves and plunging cliffs as a backdrop – we’re sold.
Drive America’s west coast
Road trips in the US have captured attention this year – and nowhere does it quite like the western US, where the celebrity-filled streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco meet the twisting coastal route of Highway 1, with a host of surf towns and other extraordinary sites that make for an adventurous family holiday.
Take a luxury train ride through Scotland
Whether it’s the rolling Highlands or the remote Hebrides, the fairytale castles or quaint, cobbled towns, Scotland knows how to charm – which is why witnessing its ever-changing landscapes from Belmond’s Royal Scotsman is our readers’ most in-demand UK experience of the moment.
Cruise the backwaters of Kerala
Fancy cruising Kerala’s backwaters on a houseboat, gliding past secluded beaches, villages and tea plantations? You aren’t alone – readers are eager to get back to India’s enchanting south as soon as restrictions are lifted and we can see why.
Hole up in an ice hotel in Scandinavia
Sweden’s Icehotel has become the stuff of legend, but it’s not the only snow-built abode offering stays with a difference in Scandinavia. Norway’s Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Finland’s Arctic SnowHotel and Tromsø’s Ice Domes are among those offering alternative takes.
The Atlantis Wish List
Start the day off with champagne
It’s the little things that make a big difference, and Imperial Club guests get plenty of premium benefits. Start with a champagne breakfast in the Imperial Club Lounge and delight in exquisite afternoon tea, then enjoy complimentary cocktails and canapes on the lounge’s sunset terrace.
Snap a selfie with a sea lion
Want to learn more about marine life? Wander over to Sea Lion Point to meet the resident colony at Atlantis – visitors can snap a selfie on dry land or wade waist-deep beside them – then hear from the experts to get a glimpse into the behaviours of these lively creatures.
Feast on fine dining at Nobu
Japanese-Peruvian restaurant Nobu has become a global icon on the fine-dining scene, and Dubai’s Atlantis outpost is no exception. Expect tapas, omakase (sushi-tasting menus) and à la carte dishes served in an elegant Japanese garden, with sushi and sake-paired brunches taking over on weekends.
Sit back and relax at the spa
The award-winning ShuiQi Spa is the ultimate haven for both body and soul. It features areas for men and women, double rooms for couples and an extensive spa menu using the latest techniques and treatments guaranteed to leave you feeling fresher than ever.
Set off on a shark safari
If snorkelling among 65,000 marine animals sounds like your thing, the Ambassador Lagoon beckons. Head out on a Shark Safari to glimpse the rainbow of colourful creatures that inhabit this giant aquarium, as you don a high-tech underwater helmet and dive beneath the surface.
Soar over Dubai in a helicopter
Few skylines dazzle quite like Dubai’s, pierced by the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, alongside an array of other superlative feats. So how about flying over it in a helicopter? Marvel as The Palm shrinks into a patch of emerald and the waters glow blue beneath you.
Eat underwater at Ossiano
What do you get when you cross an avant garde menu with a restaurant built underwater? Ossiano, where experimental dishes are served in a dream-like setting as stingrays, sharks and colourful fish glide past your table – this is what bucket lists were made for.
Surf like a pro on the Wave Rider
If you want to give surfing a go, venture over to entertainment venue Wavehouse to try your luck on the Wave Rider – an artificial wave machine that has you feeling the rush without needing to hit the ocean. There’s a restaurant and adult-only bar on hand to fuel up afterwards, as well as a stage hosting live performances.
Learn to dive
It’s not only the Shark Safari that draws adventurers to the Ambassador Lagoon – anyone over the age of 10 can scuba dive at this sprawling aquarium without needing to be certified, while those looking to gain their Padi licence can complete a full course and leave with a new-found skill.
Sip sundowners at White
White is the newest beach club at Atlantis, and is the latest place to see and be seen, with an Insta-worthy infinity pool, stylish outdoor restaurant and open-air terrace where guests sip sundowners against a backdrop bathed in gold. Expect DJs, lively Saturday brunches and other events luring a well-heeled crowd.
Go dune-bashing in the desert
No visit to Dubai would be complete without an adrenaline-pumping, dune-bashing ride in the desert, so take off on a tour that combines it with camel riding, a barbecue dinner and evening entertainment designed to give you a glimpse into traditional Arabia.
Soothe your soul at an underwater yoga class
Like the sound of striking a yoga pose as fish glide past behind the glass? Try this for size – an underwater yoga class that takes place in front of the lagoon, with expert-led Hatha sequences open to all levels and Tibetan singing meditation sessions once a month.
Get pampered at Nailology
If you’re in the mood for a manicure with a difference, there’s only one thing for it – Nailology. The only nail bar in Dubai with in-salon mixologists, you’ll be treated to a cocktail or two as you get preened, with treatments such as ‘Once Upon a Time’ provided in a fun-loving atmosphere.
Take a leap of faith at Aquaventure
The world’s largest water park, Aquaventure, has got itself a name among Dubai’s thrill seekers, and guests staying at Atlantis get free access. Recently added attractions include the world’s first kids’ rally-racer, which features as part of two new towers for mini adventurers, so there’s always a good reason to go back.
Become a mini marine biologist
Young explorers with a keen interest in the environment can get closer to nature through Atlantis Dubai’s new Marine Biologist programmes, which include Mini Marine, Junior Marine and Master Marine. These experiences will nurture their passion to protect marine life and understand more about the underwater world.
Pump up the volume at a Friday brunch
Weekend brunches have become something of an institution in Dubai, with venues across the city livening up come Friday. But for the ultimate party vibe, look to Saffron, where DJs, live performances and botomless food and drink greet guests looking to let their hair down.
Immerse yourself in Dubai’s traditional souks
Dubai isn’t only about the partying, of course. For a taste of the emirate’s more traditional side, it’s well worth visiting the souks, where rows of spices fill the streets and locals haggle for gold. Opt for an Arabian Heritage Tour to get an insider’s insight into this intriguing part of the city.
Sample dim sum at Hakkasan
For cutting-edge Cantonese cuisine displayed like works of art, head to Hakkasan, the Dubai outpost of London’s flagship restaurant, where a Michelin-starred menu blends traditional recipes with innovative techniques and award-winning, experimental cocktails.
Bowl at the Wavehouse
Brush up on your bowling skills at Wavehouse, where four funkily-lit, state-of-the-art lanes offer fun for all the family – then top it off with a game or two at Levels, where classic arcade games meet obstacle courses, soft-play areas and more.
Step into a world beyond
Atlantis The Royal will redefine your perspective of luxury. This new resort will combine impeccably designed living spaces with ocean and skyline views, extraordinary attractions and entertainment. Home to 18 restaurants and bars, it will be an unparalleled culinary destination featuring standout venues from celebrity chefs.