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Give the Gift of Travel: Mountain Paradises

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We can all agree that it’s better to give experiences rather than objects. Studies even prove it. So heed that advice and send your loved ones on an adventure this year. If they appreciate cold weather and high-vantage views, gifting them a trip to a mountaintop paradise is the way to go -- especially now, since the IHG® Cyber Sale gives you the chance to save 20% on the best flexible rate at participating hotels, with opportunities to save even more when you’re an IHG® Rewards Club member. To help you decide where to put them up, we’ve even included the best hotels in each locale. So check out these ideas for ultimate mountain retreats, and all the must-sees while they’re there:

Banff, Canada

Banff is more than just crisp mountain air and big-mountain skiing (although it has plenty of that, too). It’s also one of the best places to get some Instagram-worthy photos. The Canmore rope swing is one such place, where a quick trek will get you to a mountainside swing that sends you soaring above the pines. Nearby hiking trails to the Lake Moraine or Peyto Lake overlooks are also extremely picturesque, and worth the journey. One more must-do: ride the Banff Gondola. It’s the easiest way to get Rocky Mountain views without Rocky Mountain hiking.
CYBER SALE PROPERTY TO BOOK:Holiday Inn Canmore

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Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown has established itself as a hub for extreme sports in New Zealand, owed in large part to its drastic changes in elevation. If you’re ready to step up your adrenaline level, check out the local bungee jumping, swings, and zip lines. Plenty of hiking trails surround the city, but if you’re looking to enjoy the bay and nearby canyons, you could also check out a jet boat ride. And once you’re done with the extreme stuff, there are plenty of nearby wineries you can tour to relax afterward.
CYBER SALE PROPERTY TO BOOK:Crowne Plaza Queenstown

Courtesy of IHG Hotels & Resorts

Lake Placid, New York, USA

With its small-town, family-friendly vibe, Lake Placid provides lots of relaxing options for experiencing the natural landscape. Hike up to the castle at Whiteface Mountain, or visit The Wild Center, an outdoor activity spot that combines a science museum and outdoor playground into one magical visit. For other hikes, check out some of the local gorges (High Falls being one of the most famous) to get a sense of the Adirondack geology. Then, rev things up at the Olympic Sites, where you can ride a bobsled down the tracks.
CYBER SALE PROPERTY TO BOOK: Crowne Plaza Lake Placid

Lucerne, Switzerland 

As far as mountain hideaways go, it doesn’t get much cozier than Lucerne. First things first: Check out Old Town, which looks like a medieval village (but with indoor plumbing). Make sure you have the Chapel Bridge on your list as well, as the landmark has been in place since the 14th century and provides beautiful views. And while you’re visiting the Lion Monument, which commemorates the Swiss Guards killed during the French Revolution, don’t forget to stop by the nearby Glacier Garden, a showcase of ice-age curiosities that’ll give you a new appreciation for geology. Lastly, make sure you tour Lake Lucerne itself, giving yourself plenty of time to appreciate the endless vistas.
CYBER SALE PROPERTY TO BOOK:Holiday Inn Express Luzern - Kriens

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Shirakawa-go, Japan

Shirakawa-go (and nearby Gokayama) are historic villages nestled in the Mount Hakusan area, and have served as a religious retreat for centuries. Traveling around on bicycle is a popular option, as is visiting the numerous shrines that decorate the landscape. Also worth checking out are the unique gassho-style buildings, with steep roofs designed to shed the area’s heavy snowfall. The ideal time to visit is January and February, when the town celebrates its annual “light-up” festival. The events are so popular that they fill up quickly, so be sure to check the official website for reservations.
CYBER SALE PROPERTY TO BOOK:ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa

Denver, Colorado, USA 

Sure, Denver is a mountain paradise, but it’s also hallowed ground for hippies and adventurers. Hot springs dot the region, allowing you to find plenty of spas or, if you’re looking for a more outdoorsy experience, natural springs. Denver has clusters of art museums (and a terrific botanic garden) but for the real cultural hub, check out a show at Red Rocks amphitheatre. It’s a mecca for jam bands, and you’ll catch a feel for the Colorado vibe.
CYBER SALE PROPERTY TO BOOK:Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown