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10 Experiences to Level Up Your Next Opal Escape

Opal Collection resorts and hotels are more than just luxurious places to lay your head. From private chef-led culinary events to hands-on outdoor adventures you’ll be raving about for years to come, here’s how our collection can craft and connect you to indelible experiences that discerning travelers covet.

Travel isn’t just about sleeping somewhere different. It’s about crossing off never-did-I-thought-I’d-ever experiences rooted to specific destinations, from chartering a private luxury yacht for a day spent in Florida’s Sarasota Bay to donning a chef’s coat and playing executive chef in the Adirondacks of New York.

Here’s your list. Start striking things from it.

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Chef for a Day [Lake George, NY]

The Sagamore Resort

The array of dishes you will have a hand in at The Sagamore Resort during the Chef for Day program

Ever glimpse inside a commercial kitchen and wonder what goes on? Or looking to fold a few new cooking techniques into your at-home culinary repertoire? In the Chef for a Day experience, The Sagamore Resort allows culinary wannabes to don a chef’s coat and step into the heart of the action – either within La Bella Vita’s main kitchen or pastry kitchen. As you shadow the executive and sous chefs, you’ll get a first-hand look at a state-of-the-art professional kitchen’s speed and volume, not to mention taste, prepare, and execute in a real-world operation. It’s an unforgettable opportunity for both the curious kitchen observer and the aspiring home chef.

Rum Tasting Tour [Delray Beach, FL]   

Opal Grand Beach Resort

A group of friends sample rum cocktails at Monkey Bar at Opal Grand Resort & Spa.

You don’t have to travel throughout the Caribbean to sample the wide world of rum. In fact, when you partake in Opal Grand Resort & Spa’s Rum Universe cocktail program, the only amount of traveling required is across the resort’s three on-site restaurants. That’s because each dining outlet offers its own unique rum experience: Cascades Pool Bar with Havana Club-based cocktails (think creative cocktails with names like Havana Coffee, Pineapple Caribe, and Coco Wash) and Monkey Bar with Bacardi classics like mai tais, rum runners, and banana daiquiris. But perhaps the most exclusive experience? Drift Kitchen + Bar’s expert-led tasting flight of four Barcardi special reserves: Bacardi Reserva Ocho, Bacardi Sevillian Orange, Bacardi Anejo Cuatro, and Bacardi Grand Reserva Diez. 

Butler-Style Service on the Sand at Sunset [Naples, FL]

Edgewater Beach Hotel

A couple dines on the sand at Sunset at Edgewater Beach Hotel.

When it comes to a memorable dining experience, you’ve probably reserved plenty of tables in your day. But have you ever reserved a table on your own private parcel of sand at sunset and just 10 feet away from the waves? You will when you book Edgewater Beach Hotel’s Dining on the Sand package. The resort sets the stage for the experience by blocking off the northern portion of the powder beach, where they set up a linen-lined table for two. Once you’re sat, you’re served a glass of sparkling wine and charcuterie plate while you mull over the multi-course prix-fixe menu, allowing you to mix and match your choice of a bottle of wine, soup, salad, and entrée (there are two different menus to choose from: Silver or Gold). While dishes vary depending on the menu you select ahead of time, think culinary creations like lobster bisque, sliced Japanese A5 Waygu strip loin, chicken ballotine, and pan-roasted grouper. And there’s always dessert – although that sorbet-colored sunset might just be enough. 

Perfect Your Pie [Clearwater, FL & Portsmouth, NH]

Opal Sands Resort and Wentworth by the Sea

A chef preps a pizza before pushing it into a wood-fired oven.

Many of Opal’s signature restaurants contain dining room-based stone-hearth ovens, where patrons can watch chefs toss and dress dough, then fire the gourmet pizza creations right before their eyes. But there are two resort restaurants that regularly allow guests to get in on the action with pizza-making classes: Salt Kitchen & Bar at Wentworth by the Sea in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and SeaGuini at Opal Sands Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Never thought there was much of an art to pizza making? You’d be surprised at what you’ll learn then, including why working with a pizza stone is better than a sheet pan, why 00 flour is the gold standard when making fresh pizza dough, and why you should always use true pizza sauce (not pasta sauce). After learning how to toss and shape your pie, you’ll enjoy the spoils of your hard work, plus leave with a whole new appreciation for the craft. 


Spa by the Sea [Key West, FL]

Sunset Key Cottages

Featuring full bathrooms and showers, Sunset Key Cottage’s spacious spa treatment suites are certainly nothing to scoff at. Neither are the utterly private and serene tropical spaces of the spa’s patios, where the only sounds are the chirping of birds and swaying of overhead palms.

Still, when it comes to immersing yourself in a spa setting that reigns supreme, there’s nothing like a private beach-based treatment set to a soundtrack of rolling surf – and that the Opal Spa at Sunset Key Cottages can also deliver. Available to guests of the resort seasonally from October through March in the mornings (weather permitting), this special spa experience starts in the main spa building, where guests check-in, don robes, and lazily sip tea before being whisked down to a private tiki hut set with plush treatment beds on a secluded corner point of the beach. After your massage, refresh yourself with the provided water, champagne, and cool towels before being chauffeured back to your cottage.

Cabana Comforts [Longboat Key, FL]

Zota Beach Resort

A couple sits inside one of the poolside cabanas at Zota Beach Resort.

With a palm-tree-lined infinity-edge pool, sleek pool bar, firepit, dune hammocks, and a sandy volleyball court nestled in the northernmost corner, the pool area at Zota Beach Resort sure is an ideal way to while away a day. But if looking post up and enjoy it all from a place of utmost privacy, the pinnacle of tucked-away tranquility is the shaded poolside cabanas – available in full-day rentals – nestled along the southern edge of the pool deck. 

We’re not talking some meager bungalows, either. With a maximum occupancy of 12 to 14 people, these spaces boast plush sectional couches, big-screen TVs, refrigerators, even a private safe for your valuables. Not to mention, food and beverage service from Cascades is at your beck-and-call for a steady stream of tropical drinks and refreshing array of light bites. So if planning a birthday retreat, family reunion, or some other kind of group getaway, these poolside sanctuaries are a bit like a VIP box – just instead of taking in a performance or sports game, you’ve got your own exclusive seat to the glittering gulf. 

Own a Private Yacht for a Day [Longboat Key, FL]

The Resort at Longboat Key Club

A group of friends walk the marina dock to board a luxury yacht.

The Resort at Longboat Key Club is a well-known docking site among discerning boat enthusiasts for its full-service, 291-slip deep-water marina – the largest resort marina on Florida’s west coast. But what if you’re a guest without a boat? No bother: You can pretend for a day. Thanks to the resort’s relationship with Ultra Yacht, a local luxury boat touring company, you can book a private yacht charter for you and five of your other friends with pickup right from the marina. 

Offering three classes of vessels – including a 27-foot luxury performance Formula Bowrider and a 31- to 34-foot Sea Ray or Formula luxury cruiser – if you really want to splurge, go for the Leopard Catamaran. This 44-foot luxury sailing vessel brings the comforts of home to the open ocean with three en-suite cabins and bathrooms, kitchen and dining area, and cozy air-conditioned salon surrounded by windows. But the best feature is the sundeck, featuring a U-shaped sofa and additional seating for outdoor entertaining while you cruise Sarasota Bay, exploring sandbars and islands. Champagne and drinks are provided, but your group can also book catering through the tour operator or dock at a seaside restaurant. 


Sculpt a Living Piece of Paradise [Key Largo, FL]

Reefhouse Resort & Marina

Two people tour the coral nursery at Reefhouse Resort & Marina.

Anyone can peruse the 20 fiberglass tanks rife with budding coral fragments during the hour-long tours of the land-based coral nursery located at Reefhouse Resort & Marina. But only guests who book the Slice of Paradise program can play the role of a Mote Marine Lab scientist (Mote being the marine research institution that manages the resort-based operation). 

While the experience includes the typical tour experience, wannabe marine scientists also get to try their hand at “microfragmentation.” What’s that fancy term? It’s the Mote-pioneered technique that involves using a small diamond-bladed jewelry saw to cut the coral into small pieces, allowing it to grow 40 to 50 times faster than it usually would (it takes roughly four to six months of culturing before these fragments are ready to outplant to the reefs around the Upper Keys). Guests next mount those fragments onto the ceramic pedestals that will be submerged into the land-based nursery until the pieces have plumped to the proper size for out-planting. That means you just played a part in producing the 6,000 to 10,000 coral fragments that Mote outplants each year.

Beach Bound on Horseback [Hutchinson Island, FL]

Hutchinson Island Beach Resort & Spa and The Lucie

A couple rides horses on Jensen Beach in Hutchinson Island, Florida.

Riding astride a horse on a Florida beach is an exceptional adventure – not to mention an adventure you can do in only a few places in the Sunshine State. But thanks to the lack of crowds and development, the sandy stretch of Jenson Beach – where Hutchinson Island Beach Resort & Spa and The Lucie are based – is one. And lucky for you, both these properties have a special relationship with Tours on Horseback and can arrange an hour-long, three-mile horseback beach excursion that departs from the island’s Frederick Douglass Memorial Park. After trekking by the surf, you’ll explore some 40 miles of equestrian trails in the Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie area. 

Exclusive Turtle Walks, Research & Releases [Jupiter, FL]

Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa

A volunteer interacts with a turtle patient at Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Jupiter, Florida.

When it comes to things to do in the Jupiter area, there’s nothing quite like what goes on between the months of March to October. That’s because its white sand beaches boast the most active sea turtle-nesting season in the US – in fact, 2023 has already made for a record number of nests (21,872 as of July). Which is why having the Loggerhead Marinelife Center – a conservation, rescue, rehab, and education center based in Juno Beach – has been so essential to keeping this fascinating phenomenon alive.

Thanks to a special relationship with the center, Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa can help coordinate up-close turtle experiences (led by certified loggerhead scouts and researchers) for guests as they become available. Yes, that includes the regular Guided Turtle Walks, Nest Excavations tours, and Hatchling Releases, held select months during the nesting season, but it also means special releases of rehabbed patients after their stint in the center’s hospital. In fact, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center releases 10 or so adult sea turtles a year – and, if you’re in town at the right time, there is nothing like witnessing these ancient reptiles waddle their way down to the ocean to be carried off into the surf.

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