15 over-the-top experiences that make excellent holiday gifts this season

Nov 29 2021, 2:00 pm

If you want to spoil a special someone this holiday season, then give the gift of one of these over-the-top experiences.

They’re sure to please even the pickiest of people.

Skiing & Hotel Package*

Fairmont Hot Springs


The Family Stay & Ski Getaway Package from the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is tailor-made for avid skiers. It includes two days of skiing for two adults and two children, two nights of accommodation in a room with a view, and a $100 resort credit — not to mention all those priceless family memories. Contact the hotel for prices and availability.

Kaiseki Set Menu


Photo by Cody Chan

Fans of Japanese fine dining and exquisite sushi always savour a meal at Miku. Step it up a notch with the waterfront restaurant’s Kaiseki set menus. These multi-course dinners showcase fresh local ingredients, sustainable seafood and innovative dishes. The Waterfront Kaiseki is $98, while the Miku Kaiseki is $150.

Immersive Art Experience

The Da Vinci Experience

Any art lover would be delighted to time travel to Leonardo Da Vinci’s studio in Florence — and they can do so in The Da Vinci Experience. This one-of-a-kind exhibit celebrates the life of the revered Renaissance-era artist, inventor, engineer, and innovator. The immersive multimedia experience, on until January 10, 2022, at Tsawwassen Mills, features reproductions of the artist’s greatest works, replicas of 10 of his incredible machines, and a virtual reality visit to his studio. Tickets are $21.99 to $27.99.

Festive Hotel Package

Fairmont Pacific Rim

Fairmont Pacific Rim is feeling festive with their Sleigh the Season package. Available November 14 to December 30, this holiday getaway package includes a one-night stay, two treatments at Willow Stream Spa (Merry Merry Manicure and Mistle Toes Pedicure), dinner and eggnog at the Winter Wonderland Oakridge at Pac Rim Plaza, a pair of tickets to the Vancouver Christmas Market, breakfast for two at Botanist, and a surprise holiday gift to take home — plus free access to everything in the minibar!

Will the gift recipient be naughty or nice during their stay? That’s up to them! Prices start at $1,675 for a Fairmont Gold Room or $2,325 for Fairmont Gold Suites.

Spa Day

CHI, The Spa

A day of relaxation can feel as rejuvenating as a week’s vacation, especially when that relaxation takes place at CHI, The Spa, an urban oasis tucked away in the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver. Delightfully indulgent escapes include the 180-minute Couples Retreat ($525 per person), which helps couples reconnect; the 150-minute Urban Retreat ($495), which includes a massage and facial; and the 240-minute West Coast Detox ($640), which is inspired by the wellness traditions of local Indigenous peoples. Relax and say spaaaaaaaaa.

Broadway Show


Hamilton photo by Joan Marcus

Fans of big musicals have been jonesing for a live-theatre fix ever since the pandemic shut everything down. Finally, the wait is over. Broadway Across Canada is back with four productions at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre:

  • Anastasia (January 18 to 23, 2022) adapts the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia into an epic adventure about finding home, family and love.
  • Hamilton (May 24 to June 19, 2022) uses colourblind casting and a blend of hip hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway styles to tell the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton.
  • Come From Away (August 16 to 28, 2022) was inspired by what happened to 7,000 passengers stranded in Newfoundland on 9/11.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (November 15 to 20, 2022) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s controversial rock opera takes place during the final weeks of Jesus Christ’s life and is told from the perspective of Judas.

Charcuterie Box

The Graze Platinum Collection

Photo by Sophia Hsin

Foodies drool (quite literally) over The Graze Platinum Collection, a gastronomic delight for the epicurean who has everything. Carefully curated by The Graze Company, the luxurious $1,295 box contains Northern Divine, Osetra or Beluga caviar (your choice), along with Pecorino Tartufo cheese, Cinco Jotas Iberico ham, Dom Perignon champagne, and other mouth-watering morsels. Decadently delicious, it’s perfect for indoor picnicking in front of a roaring fire.


Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler Mountain

Snow bunnies and ski bums will head straight to the slopes after receiving an Epic Pass, which gives unlimited access to resorts such as Whistler Blackcomb and Vail, along with limited access to places like Fernie Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in the Rockies. Don’t spend too long debating whether to purchase one, because the US $819 price tag will increase next month.

Private Flight

Helijet Learjet

Photo by Heath Moffatt

Leave airport anguish far behind on a charter flight with Helijet. Soar in style in a Learjet, a twin-engine Sikorsky S76 helicopter, or other high-flying options. It’s one of the classic over-the-top experiences, seeing gorgeous Vancouver from the sky. Bonus: zero crying babies! Email Helijet for prices and availability.


Formula Fig

Give the gift of a radiant complexion with a Clear + Brilliant facial at Formula Fig. This treatment uses a fractional laser to stimulate collagen production and remove dead cells, resulting in brighter, smoother, healthier-looking skin. It’s less intense than a Fraxel treatment but still effectively targets fine lines and uneven skin textures.

A microdermabrasion Hydrate + Glow facial two weeks later encourages exfoliation — and feels simply heavenly. Non-members: Clear + Brilliant $325, Hydrate + Glow $95. Memberships range from $79 to $149 per month and include monthly facials.


Vancouver Canucks

Photo courtesy Vancouver Canucks Photo Archives

The devoted rink rat or puckhead in your life would love to cheer on Horvat, Miller and the rest of the home team from the comfort of an executive suite in Rogers Arena. Or treat a Vancouver Canucks fan to a holiday-themed game pack, at $227+ per seat. Go Canucks go!

Lucky Hotel Package

JW Marriott Sky Suite

Lady Luck is calling! Even if a trip to Las Vegas isn’t in the cards this winter, an overnight jaunt to Parq feels like Vegas at its best — no international flights required. The Parq VIP Play & Stay Package includes roundtrip chauffeur service, a one-night stay in the JW Marriott Sky Suite, a palate-pleasing dinner for two at The Victor, table service at D/6, a reservation for the Koi high-limit private gaming salons, and Spa Journeys for two, including two spa treatments per person, a glass of champagne each and a wellness kit. Reserve this deluxe $4,000 package by emailing the Parq Concierge.

Champagne & Caviar Tasting

Hawksworth Restaurant

One of the city’s top restaurants is tempting taste buds this holiday season with Hawksworth’s Ultimate Champagne and Caviar Tasting for Two. Savour two exquisite types of caviar, along with crème fraîche, cornichon, capers, egg, chive, and house-made brioche, and raise a glass of perfectly chilled Krug Grande Cuvée in the elegant dining room of Hawksworth Restaurant. Reserve this delectable $1,395 experience by calling Marlen at 604-605-3325, ext. 107.

Outdoor Spa Visit

Scandinave Spa

Photo by Justa Jeskova

These days, who wouldn’t appreciate the gift of peace, quiet, and total relaxation? At Scandinave Spa in Whistler, the hydrotherapy involves alternating between hot (steam baths, saunas, hot baths) and cold (Nordic waterfalls, Nordic showers, cold-plunge baths), with periodic breaks to rest by the fireplace, take a nap, read a book, or get a massage. And, most relaxing (and perhaps most shockingly) of all, no talking or electronic devices are allowed. Spa access is $105 to $145.

For anyone who needs to relax but isn’t ready to venture out of the house yet, the Spa at Home Deluxe package ($177.99) includes a hooded bathrobe, eucalyptus candle, spa sandals and tote bag. Hot tip: During the spa’s 96-hour Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale, $100 gift cards go on sale for $80.

Ice Caves Heli Adventure

Ice Caves Heli Adventure

For the couple who claim to have seen and done it all, there are still some over-the-top experiences to discover. One such bucket list item is the Ice Caves Heli Adventure. Guests are whisked from downtown by private helicopter to go soaring high above Canada’s southernmost ice fields, landing at Whistler’s ice caves for a five-course gourmet dinner inside the caves. There’s time for exploring by snowmobile and hitting around a few biodegradable golf balls before flying to a second location for dessert and champagne, then returning to the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver for a three-night stay in a balcony suite. Also included are a private mixology class showcasing 12,000-year-old glacier ice collected on the trip, a 2.5-hour spa treatment for two, afternoon tea and a $500 dining credit for Miantiao. A personal photographer ensures no moment of this awe-inspiring $60,000 excursion is forgotten.

No matter which of these over-the-top experiences you choose, you’ll be making someone’s holidays merrier and brighter.

*Denotes sponsored placement in article

Sheri RadfordSheri Radford

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