Lavish New Year's Eve experiences

By A. Pawlowski, CNNPublished 16th December 2011
Hey, big spender. New Year's Eve is coming up fast, but there's still time to think about an unforgettable getaway to usher in 2012.
Maybe this is the year for the trip of a lifetime or perhaps you're looking to be somewhere out of the ordinary when the clock strikes midnight.
If so, here are six luxurious itineraries that require deep pockets, but will set the tone for an amazing New Year.
Can't make it this time around? Use the list as inspiration for New Year's Eves to come.
Secluded Hawaii
Celebrate in your own (almost) private paradise, far away from any crowd. It takes a 45-minute ferry ride from Maui to get to tiny Lana'i, a former pineapple plantation that has earned the nickname "Hawaii's Most Enticing Island."
You might not be able to rent the whole place for yourself, like Microsoft founder Bill Gates did for his wedding, but you can sip champagne at midnight at the Four Seasons Lana'i at Manele Bay resort.
"It would be a very exclusive, quiet New Year's celebration," said Janice Hough, an agent with All Horizons Travel in Los Altos, California.
"The service is incredible. It's very much a get-away-from-it-all trip, although you're still in the U.S."
Rooms start at about $775 a night. The resort is offering a New Year's Eve prix fixe dinner for $125 per person and will treat guests to a special fireworks show over Hulopo`e Bay.
Luminous Santa Fe
This adobe wonderland at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico draws art lovers, foodies and outdoor enthusiasts all year round.
But Hough noted the destination is especially beautiful during the holidays with "farolitos" -- or lanterns -- placed along the Santa Fe Plaza and the city's art gallery district.
"It's very pretty and very easy to get to. ... You're also not that far from skiing," she said.
There are plenty of posh accommodations to ring in the New Year in style. Hough recommended staying at the Encantado for a "resorty, out-of-town experience" or the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in the heart of the city near the Plaza.
Rates for both start at several hundred dollars a night around New Year's Eve.
Mega-yacht in St. Barts
Join celebrities and billionaires who spend New Year's Eve partying aboard yachts moored in St. Barts' famed Gustavia Harbor.
Stars like Demi Moore, Beyonce and Salma Hayek have been spotted celebrating on the Caribbean island in recent years, taking in the fireworks at midnight and staying to get a suntan on New Year's Day.
Don't have your own ship? No worries.
SeaDream, which offers cruises on luxury "mega-yachts" that carry up to 112 passengers, is sending both of its ships to the picturesque harbor on the big night as part of itineraries that also take you to other parts of the Caribbean.
"You feel like you're on a yacht yourself rather than a big cruise ship," said Sue Bryant, a contributing editor for, who has sailed on the SeaDream II. She praised the ship's "foodie" cuisine and attentive service.
"The first day we were sunbathing on deck, somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Ms. Bryant, may I polish your sun glasses?' I've never had anyone say that before."
The voyages start at about $5,000 per person.
Romantic Vienna
There is something magical about Vienna during the holidays, but the city on the Danube really goes all out for New Year's, with elegant galas and an imperial ball to mark the occasion.
For a classic experience, stay at the famous Hotel Sacher, located next to the Vienna State Opera. You can start your night there with a 6-course New Year's Eve gala dinner, which features dishes such as beef consommé with truffle-celery ravioli and turbot with lobster jelly.
For 364 euros per person (about $486), the hotel also offers a package that will take you from the festive meal right to the Kaiserball -- a grand ball in the Hofburg Palace, the former residence of Austria's monarchs.
On New Year's Day, music lovers who have been lucky enough to score a ticket can attend the elegant "Neujahrskonzert" -- the New Year's Concert at the Vienna Philharmonic, where Strauss waltzes rule the program.
African desert adventure
New Year's Eve celebrations usually involve crowds, but this getaway to Morocco will have you and a select group of adventurers marking the occasion in the Sahara, away from most signs of civilization.
The journey begins in Fez and continues to the oasis city of Erfoud, said Mary Ann Ramsey, president of Betty Maclean Travel in Naples, Florida, who arranges the trips through Abercrombie & Kent.
Traveling by four-wheel drive and by camel, you go out into the desert and the huge Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Guests spend the night in a luxury tented desert camp -- an experience Ramsey described as "incredible" and "spectacular."
"To me, that would be the coolest place to be for New Year's Eve," Ramsey said.
"I've had people go out there to propose. ... It is the most romantic and fabulous [experience] -- the stars are their own fireworks. There are so many stars because there's nothing nearby."
The full itinerary costs about $13,460 per person, an Abercrombie & Kent spokeswoman said.
Caribbean fantasy
Ready to be whisked off for an over-the-top experience? This "Fully Loaded" New Year's Eve package at the Gansevoort Turks and Caicos resort starts at $100,000.
That price includes private jet service to and from the island of Providenciales, accommodations in the oceanfront penthouse suite and your own on-call spa therapist for massages, yoga and other treatments.
On the big night, you take a luxury catamaran excursion to a secluded cove, where a personal chef prepares your meal, a personal conch diving instructor takes you out for an underwater adventure, and a personal videographer films your journey.
You'll usher in 2012 while "glamping" (that's camping with a glamorous twist) in a luxury tent.
The Gansevoort Turks and Caicos resort was among the winners of TripAdvisor's 2011 Travelers' Choice awards -- chosen by the site's members as one of the top 10 trendiest and most relaxing hotels and in the world.