The past year has given us cause to sit back and rethink what truly matters in life. Family, friends and taking the time to reconnect with them has never felt more needed, or indeed more important. As our focus turns to loved ones and making up for lost time together, milestone moments are taking on a greater significance too – and those approaching a big birthday should consider marking the occasion accordingly.
Such an event deserves a blowout celebration that gathers those you hold dearest for the party of a lifetime. Swap family holiday stories over a barbecue on a desert island; give your grandchildren something to remember with a catered picnic against a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains; or share your love of skiing with your own private après-ski event following a day on the slopes. Short on time? Call on a luxury travel agent like Carrier and they'll plan and arrange everything on your behalf – from private planes and bands playing your favourite music, to bespoke dinners personal photographers and even your very own film to keep of the entire celebration.
Island paradise: Santorini
For those looking for a tranquil home-from-home in which to entertain your nearest and dearest, Nafsika Estate will certainly impress. Space and privacy can be hard to come by in Santorini, but hidden away on a less trodden path is this modern architectural gem with uninterrupted views of the Megalochori caldera.
Housing up to 10 guests, this dramatic villa is carved into the hillside with sleek white walls and an expansive ocean-gazing terrace that alone is worth the trip. Arrive in style on a private helicopter, swooping over the glistening Aegean sea before touching down on the villa’s helipad, where your private butler will greet you with your favourite cocktail. Bask by the pool in the beating sunshine while your very own executive chef prepares a feast of grilled fish on the barbecue for the ultimate al-fresco dinner party, set against the backdrop of a dramatic sunset.
For something seriously special, let your chauffeur drive you to Symposium, a music and mythology centre housed in a turn-of-the-century winery and dedicated to preserving Greece’s cultural heritage. Have the place to yourselves, so you can sit back and relax in the beautiful courtyard while listening to a powerful and immersive musical concert performed just for you and your family.
Caribbean charm: Anguilla
For a smaller, more intimate get together with a touch of high-glamour, seek a location that offers the utmost seclusion. Meads Bay is nestled beneath the clifftop resort of Malliouhana, where the chalk white shoreline of Anguilla leaks into the Caribbean Sea, and the evening light casts a golden hue. This secluded spot is a serene location for an intimate celebration, which can be made all the more special by hiring it out exclusively for a private and unforgettable beach party.
Kick off the evening with a celebratory feast prepared by the hotel’s expert chefs, with local seafood and the day’s catch grilled on the barbecue and seasoned with fiery Caribbean flavours. When the sun sets, jump on a transparent paddle board for a truly unforgettable moonlight trip through the crystal-clear waters. Let the darkness heighten your senses as you learn to paddle board in a whole new, thrilling way, looking out for schools of fish swimming beneath your feet as you navigate the gentle waves. On return, gather around the firepit for toasted smores and gift giving, sharing memories as you sip zingy rum punch cocktails. End the night by dancing together under the stars to the beat of a local band playing your personalised playlist.
Adventure time: Colorado
Nothing marks an occasion with the family like an adventure. Embrace a completely different way of life at Sleeping Indian Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection a private working cattle ranch set against Colorado’s arresting landscape. Created for multi-generational groups of up to 16 people, this stunning retreat is yours exclusively and sets the stage for an authentic Western adventure. Saddle up a horse and roam free through Colorado’s golden undulating hills and Rocky Mountains, or be a ranch-hand for the day on a cattle drive.
Ditching laptops and iPads for a digital detox, lace-up your best walking boots and hit the arterial hiking trails that snake around the 15,000 acre estate. The breathtaking scenery and the possibility of an encounter with elk, moose and the elusive black bear will command everyone’s full attention. Accompanied by a local expert, explore Colorado’s picturesque ancient woodlands, wildflower-strewn meadows and flowing streams. Don’t forget to pack some champagne, as you’re likely to stumble across the perfect spot for a surprise birthday picnic.
The largest post-and-beam log structure ever built, Sleeping Indian Ranch is pitched as an ‘entertainment’ lodge and is designed with special events in mind. Its pioneering spirit is infectious from the moment you enter; inspired by the sense of freedom ingrained into the surrounding landscape, you’ll have limitless creativity to make this occasion truly personal, creating stories that will be told to future family generations to come.
Chalet chic: Val d'Isere
If your birthday falls in winter or you’re happiest together when on the slopes, take 20 of your brood to the most desirable and exclusive chalet in Val d’Isere. Secluded from the crowds on the side of the Solaise Mountain, Le Chardon is an inviting ski-in ski-out private enclave with enviable access to the slopes and jaw-dropping views. After a day hitting some of the most technically challenging pistes, retreat to the chalet where boot warmers, a roaring fire and champagne on ice await. Ease weary legs with an in-chalet massage, or relive the day’s most exhilarating moments while relaxing in the bubbling outdoor hot tubs, private saunas or 18ft swim spa.
There are several spacious living areas in which to enjoy board games and conversation, but you may find it difficult to draw your attention away from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the bedrooms, which bring the enchanting snowcapped vista to your bedside. Make the most of the scenery and host a celebration on the large private terrace, where you can gather around the roaring fire pit with a glass of Dom Pérignon in hand and raise a toast – this is the perfect setting for speeches to begin. The sweeping views of Manchet Valley and Vanoise National Park make for a remarkable backdrop to the rest of the evening; watch your mixologist show off their skills with a shaker at the hand-crafted snow bar, while a private chef prepares a bespoke gourmet feast.
Unrivalled entertainment: Sri Lanka
Parties take on a new meaning at Ani Sri Lanka. This 15-suite resort is only available for exclusive hire, making it the perfect spot for large families or groups looking to reconnect and spend time together completely uninterrupted. With the sprawling estate all to yourselves, celebrations can be as intimate or blowout as you want them to be. The resort’s attentive staff are experts in throwing unforgettable parties and, with almost everything included in the price of the holiday, you can simply relax and enjoy spending time together without worrying about the admin.
The allure of having a resort to yourselves is unparalleled; here you are free to spend the day as you please, without worrying about when and where to meet – at Ani Sri Lanka, you’re already together. Itineraries can be tailored to each family member’s tastes, with myriad cultural and action-packed activities on offer – take a boat and your binoculars out to sea for an afternoon of whale watching, ride the waves with a surfing experience or sample Sri Lanka’s most delicious teas at a local plantation.
After a day of exploring, come together for a celebratory dinner on the palm-fringed beach or in the shallow end of the infinity pool, with your feet dipped in the water to keep cool in the tropical heat. Tuck into head chef Cyrill’s attentively-crafted Sri Lankan dishes while enjoying incredible entertainment put on just for you and your family: fire dancers whose daring tricks will leave you in awe, a private DJ providing the soundtrack to an evening of dancing, or a spectacular firework display with the dazzling colours reflected in the gentle waves of the Indian Ocean.
Dinner of dreams: Marrakech
Art lovers, meanwhile, will be in their element at Dar El Sadaka, a private villa in Marrakech designed by the visual artist Jean-François Fourtou, where the parties are as creative as the interiors. A uniquely playful paradise with wildlife-themed suites, Dar El Sadaka’s charm lies in its ability to wow at every turn. Venture into a new kind of luxury influenced by modern art and character; we’re talking lifelike sculptures of orangutans swinging from living room chandeliers, an elephant’s trunk peeking out from behind vine-draped gardens, a giant’s room inspired by Fourtou’s childhood home, and even an upturned house in the garden that’s fallen from the sky – a tribute to the artist’s late grandfather.
Spend mornings strolling through the estate’s whimsical sculpture park, taking turns to climb on the towering furniture in the curious Giant’s House, and afternoons exploring the bustle of the medina. In the evening, as the light softens and the cicadas reach their crescendo, the palm-lined gardens take on an inviting glow. Under the light of 1,001 candles, tucked into lanterns and strung on the creeping branches of an ancient tree, raise a toast to good fortunes with a cocktail whipped up by the resident mixologist. Dinner is served in the Caidel tent, where a mirror ball dapples the banquet table in light. A Moroccan feast, cooked with ingredients grown in the kitchen garden, ends the day on a high.