Nothing opens the mind like a few days away, especially if it involves exploring a locale that is decidedly different from normal vacation destinations. Going exotic often means getting off the grid (except for a few Wi-Fi hot spots for those who just can't cut ties) or at least stepping away from the norm to soak up a different way of life.
It's understandable that most executives feel that "roughing it" is actually a hotel without room service, so included in this list of 10 exotic vacations are some luxurious options:
Just the city name creates visions of narrow streets, bustling markets with spices and colorful artisan crafts. Beyond the urban mystique are also sandy beaches, magnificent desserts, extraordinary culinary tastes, and exposure to great stories found within the architecture and people. There are many cities to explore, each filled with exciting prospects, including Casablanca, Marrakesh, Rabat, and Tangier.
The people of Morocco welcome visitors with open arms; they extend their hospitality and culture for one of the most memorable vacations.
2. Easter Island
Considered to be the most remote inhabited island, Rapa Nui or Easter Island is 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile. Visitors gain access to and experience mysterious ancient sites and cave art, friendly villagers, breathtaking sunsets, and hikes inside volcanic craters. A trip to Easter Island is an awe-inspiring experience that shows an executive anything is possible. All you have to do is look at the Moai, the famed massive stone heads that are scattered throughout the island. The Rapa Nui people proved that anything is possible with ingenuity and teamwork. Strategic leadership typically happens in locations like this around the world.
Flying from Chile, visitors are able to join small tour groups and spend a few nights here within an eco-village resort and spa.
Visiting what was once home to the Ottoman Empire is a great read into leadership, especially when taking in all the rich history of rulers and the empire building strategies employed during that time. This includes visiting the Old City within Istanbul and the Hippodrome, where some of the largest chariot races occurred during the Byzantine Empire. It brings new meaning to the term competitive forces. The exotic locale is also known for its colorful marketplaces called bazaars where you can hone your negotiation skills through the fine art of haggling and focus on profit margins while picking up extraordinary bargains and unique souvenirs.
From the Turkish architecture to the people and cuisine, this is an ideal vacation to stimulate the senses.
This exotic locale is an ideal place to see positive change in action, experiencing a developing country with a long heritage as it moves into a period of economic renewal and growth. There are also leadership lessons in this country of kings, showing the benefit of a spiritual framework through temples and strong communities, but also how leadership and power can go wrong in the form of Pol Pot.
Together, with the solace and meditative powers of temples like the famed Angkor Wat Temple and the stunning beauty of jungles and sandy beaches, Cambodia provides an enriching, thought-provoking exotic vacation.
5. The Cook Islands
Situated between Hawaii and New Zealand, the Cook Islands consist of 15 islands that provide numerous ways to relax in a natural, secluded environment. You can choose from swimming in crystal-clear waters, diving into coral reefs, or wading in lagoons. There are also jungles to navigate, limestone caves to explore, and sunken volcanoes to hike. There are all types of accommodations, including luxury resorts to stay in touch or bungalows to punch out for a while.
September, October, March, and April are the best months to avoid cyclone season and visit this exotic South Pacific paradise to relax, unwind, and collect your black pearl.
The island of Bahamas (specifically Grand Lucayan) is an exotic eco-focused vacation within the Caribbean Sea. Visitors to the island enjoy many memorable experiences and, perhaps, will solidify the value of being a socially responsible organization to preserve the variety of life within our ecosystem.
As an executive you are able to travel with many other leaders and CEO's from other companies. I was able to meet several other leaders on a cruise through Holiday Cruise Line that organizes several cruises with strategic leaders each year. There are a few others that pull leaders as well.
7. New Zealand
This exotic locale offers an extraordinary mix of cosmopolitan features for the executive who wants an exciting nightlife. The area also delivers a powerful message about the infinite power and grandeur of nature. Don't forget that, being in the Southern Hemisphere, their summer is our winter, and vice versa.
The North Island has the largest population and an extraordinary Maori culture that must be experienced. In addition, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy mind-blowing geothermal sites and idyllic beaches. A stay on the North Island might put you in touch with a Hobbit or two so keep an open mind!
The more secluded South Island offers a variety of geographic features including mountains, glaciers, and volcanoes as well as vineyards, boutique hotels, shopping, and spas. You might even want to try a holiday on a working sheep farm where you can add sheep shearing to your skill set or gain insights into daily life operations within the agricultural world.
Deepest, darkest Peru is full of mystery, magic, and adventure. You may come away with many questions and leave with still more after soaking up the incredible culture and spectacular historical and natural sites. The marvels of Peru also mean traveling in unusual ways, such as the Hiram Bingham Orient Express Train that puts you on a luxurious ride back in time with a view of the Peruvian landscape, including the Sacred Valley of the Incas; a sailboat excursion on Lake Titicaca, which is the highest lake in the world; white water rafting down the Urubamba River, known as the Sacred River; or cruising on a river boat down the Amazon.
There is also traditional transport available that will allow you to check out the exotic culture of Peru, such as hiking up into the mountains and digging deep into the past at the Inca capital of Machu Picchu or taking a flight over the Nazcan Lines to marvel at the geometric designs etched in the ground. If you have come this far, you may even make time for a tour of the Galapagos Islands and see the wonders of this unique island.
With 118 islands, you are sure to be able to have your own Robinson Crusoe moments during your visit. Located less than eight hours from Los Angeles, Tahiti proves exotic does not have to involve extensive traveling. Before you know it, you can be soaking up the sun from the terrace of your over-water luxury bungalow where breakfast is delivered by canoe and you can take a dip whenever you want. There is no clock watching, which frees you up to enjoy every moment.
The options for relaxing the mind and body might include a banana tree body wrap or beach massage, or you could even push the fear factor by feeding sharks. Either way, this exotic locale might teach you something about the value of evening out your work/life balance. Your ability to mingle in various villages can also stimulate ideas about diversity and how good ideas can be found outside of your culture comfort zone.
Last year when I was visiting Tahiti I was able to meet several other CEO's that were there helping out with locals that were impacted by the 2010 earthquake. These are some of the top CEO's in the world. I was even able to work on my startup Due while I was there. Make sure to bring your own wifi connection or stay in a good hotel with Wi-Fi. (Call ahead.)
10. New Caledonia
Located just east of Australia, New Caledonia is a mash-up of France and Polynesia in one exotic South Pacific adventure. The area offers big city amenities like museums, gourmet dining, and spa retreats. Visitors can also choose to live like a castaway (beard optional). There are palm trees, quiet beaches, waterfalls, and rain forests that are sure to take your mind off of budget forecasts and help stimulate new strategies upon your return to reality.
Between September and December, you'll enjoy sunny weather without the humidity.
Ready to Explore?
After all this research, I'm in the mood to explore! I bet you are surfing your smart phone right now for some travel deals to one or more of these far-flung places. If you have been to any of these locations, share your experiences in the comment section below! I would love to hear your stories.