WHERE SHOULD YOU GO WHEN THE SKY’S THE LIMIT? WE ASK THE EXPERTS.
It’s a great big beautiful world out there. For the luxury traveler, there are truly no limits on where the five-star experience can take you. But the rest of us can dream, too. If money were no object, where should you go?
We reached out to three travel experts to find the finest luxury destinations in the world. To fine-tune the experience, we presented them with three scenarios. Scenario one: a young, adventurous couple looking for a long weekend. Scenario two: a family of four, with the added difficulty of having a tween and teen in the mix. (If you don’t know why that adds to the difficulty, you have never traveled with a teenager.) And finally, scenario three: a pair of retirees looking for an extended two-week adventure.
With their help, we’ve put together a few mind-blowing itineraries that have us itching to add a few more stamps to our passports.
Travel Expert No. 3: Mark Murphy
As founder of TravelPulse.com, Mark Murphy is regularly called upon to serve as a travel expert on outlets such as Fox News, CBS News, CNN and more.
ROMANTIC GETAWAY: Murphy goes global to give our young adventurous couple an extended trip of a lifetime, starting with a visit to Dubai.
“Just outside of Dubai, you can tear across the desert in Range Rovers. They could do a one-day adventure out there or spend the night,” he said. “So it combines a city-stay in Dubai, which is world-renowned for crazy shopping and six-star hotels like the Burj Al Arab.”
From there — and obviously this trip requires more than a weekend — Murphy would send our couple to South Africa to relax in a five-star private game reserve.
“I stayed at the Kapama Private Game Reserve,” he said. “I really liked this place because your suite has this massive living room leading out to a plunge pool right off your deck. Plus, you’ll see everything from Cape buffalo to elephants and packs of lions. You’ll see everything.”
FAMILY TRAVEL: For one destination offering a ton of different experiences, Murphy would encourage our family to check out Ecuador.
“I would go experience four climates in Ecuador,” he said. Start in Quito before heading up the volcano to the crater. After that, explore Ecuador’s beautiful wilderness. “I would take in the Amazon jungle and I would take in one of the eco-lodges out there.”
One in particular, Sacha Lodge, lets you explore the rainforest in a canoe and climb up to a stunning catwalk among the jungle canopy. “You can see a lot up there – not a lot of people realize how much of the animal life lives up in the canopy of the rainforest,” he said.
SCENARIO THREE: For our seniors, Murphy recommends Seabourne Cruises, a luxury cruise line that has been making quite a name for itself due its high-class service and exotic itineraries.
“I’d put them on a cruise that covers southeast Asia,” Murphy said. “Seabourne has come out with some new ships that are really upgraded.”
Travel Expert No. 1: Jim Buckley
Jim Buckley is a Virtuoso-certified travel specialist who co-founded Island Travel in 2001. He specializes in luxury travel for a discerning clientele of world travelers.
For family travel, he recommends Costa Rica because it offers everything from adventure activities to quiet luxury. Buckley recommends splitting time between the rugged terrain of Costa Rica’s mountains and the luxury of its coastal resorts.
“There’s a lot of different activities around the Arenal Volcano, from zip lining to whitewater rafting and just enjoy the rainforest. Then you can go to the beach after all that activity and relax and enjoy the ocean at one of the all-inclusive resorts on the Pacific coast,” he said.
For mature travelers looking for luxury, the old-world opulence of train travel is making a big comeback. Buckley highly recommends Rocky Mountaineer’s Canadian Rockies and West Coast voyages for senior travelers.
“Within the Canadian Rockies… you can gauge your level of activity based on how you feel on a given day,” he said. “You can walk on a glacier, you can take a gondola ride up a mountain in Banff. There’s a diverse amount of activities with differing degree of difficulty based on what someone feels like doing on a given day.”
Buckley also noted that the exquisite cuisine, exceptional service and seamlessness of the voyage — once you board, you never lift your luggage again — as reasons Rocky Mountaineer is perfect for older travellers.
Travel Expert No. 2: Kelly Brock
Kelly Brock of AAA Carolinas has earned national awards for her travel expertise over nearly 30 years in the industry.
Brock has a suggestion for our young couple that keeps them pretty close to home, sending them to the hipster haven of Asheville, North Carolina.
“A visit to the Sierra Nevada Brewery and possibly a beer and/or food tour of the downtown area would be suggested, as well as a visit to the Biltmore Winery and possible Land Rover excursion on property,” she said. “A day trip out to the Smoky Mountains for hiking, white water rafting on the Nantahala or tubing on Deep Creek would make for a super fun day. Dinner and spa treatments at the Grove Park Inn would be a bonus.”
For our hypothetical family, Brock recommends a tour with Tauck Bridges or a trip with Adventures by Disney. These companies are all-inclusive, offer five-star services and amenities, and have itineraries in national and international destinations including U.S. National Parks, Alaska Europe, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia.
“Not only is the family experiencing a destination together, the kids are engaging with other kids from all over the country,” she said.
If the family isn’t interested in packing and unpacking, or if they’re looking for a more relaxed holiday, there are many top-notch all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico, such as Dreams Resorts — and, of course, cruising is always an option.
For our older couple, Brock said European river cruising has seen a huge jump in popularity thanks to massive investment in luxury ships. From Viking River Cruises to the decadent luxury of Crystal Cruises’ new ships, there’s never been a better time to hit the water in Europe.