Whirlwind Trips Supply Concentrated Doses of R&R

Not everyone has the time, the inclination or the pocketbook to take off a month or longer for a dream trip. Sometimes less is more. A variety of whirlwind tours offer the cash-strapped, time-pressed or easily bored travelers a concentrated dose of R&R.

Short and sweet outdoor adventures are especially satisfying. The Bar W Guest Ranch, an authentic dude ranch in Whitefish, Montana, offers action-packed three-night stays for $950 per person, all-inclusive. Guests can try skeet shooting, white-water rafting, archery or fishing, or go rowing or canoeing on the ranch's lake. Horseback riding is by far the most popular activity; the ranch offers two-hour and half-day trail rides, as well as a challenging daylong trip through wildflower meadows and up a 2,333-meter mountain. The luxuriously rustic accommodations include six bedrooms in the main lodge and four individual cabins. At night, the head wrangler plays honky-tonk piano, and ranchers join in with harmonicas around a raging campfire (barwguestranch.com).

Serious deep-sea divers will relish a quickie on the English Channel island of Guernsey. The town is small and quaint, with two shipwreck sites to explore. The Old Government House Hotel, the former governor's home dating to the 1850s, offers the Discover Guernsey Experience, $440 per person for a two-night stay that includes a three-course dinner for two at the hotel's brasserie, a picnic-hamper lunch to enjoy on a bike ride, hike or diving expedition, and a two-day car rental (theoghhotel.com).

Some resorts are enticing short-term trippers by throwing in an extra night at no cost. Hawaii's newly spruced-up Halekulani Hotel, situated at the tip of a sandy cove overlooking Oahu's defunct Diamond Head volcano, will give anyone booking three nights a fourth for free (from $1,275 per room, through Dec. 22). The Halekulani features lush floral gardens, lovely beaches and nearby high-end shopping on Waikiki beach. Most rooms have wide balconies for alfresco dining and exceptional ocean views (halekulani.com). Guests can achieve the full aloha vibe by tandem parasailing, where two fearless pals can view scores of surfers and even sea turtles from a dizzying 230 meters above sea level ($44.82 per person if booked online; xtremeparasailing.com). Foodies should head to the state's only Michelin-starred restaurant, Alan Wong's, for Hawaiian cuisine like ginger-crusted red snapper with miso-sesame vinaigrette and organically grown Hamakua mushrooms and corn (alanwongs.com).

Even luxury safaris come in small packages. Singita Sweni (singita.com) in South Africa's Kruger National Park is offering a pay-for-three-nights-get-a-fourth-night-free package for $3,300 per person. Sweni, with just six guest rooms, is the most intimate property in operator Singita's collection of resorts. Included in the package are two daily open-air Land Rover safaris, guided walking treks, all meals—including wine—and laundry and valet service. Kruger National Park's expansive bushveld is alive with grazing herds of elephant, Cape buffalo, zebra, giraffe, hippo and gorgeous lions, leopards and cheetahs. Sweni's amenity-laden guest rooms have bathtubs overlooking a river with the occasional wallowing hippo, and daybeds on porches for massages or open-air catnaps. Just don't become a cat snack.

Whirlwind Trips Supply Concentrated Doses of R&R | Culture