The world of luxury travel is changing and today’s Fortune 500 CEO’s, self made entrepreneurs and top-of-their-game celebrities are seeking out more out-of-the-box experiences.
“Luxury travel today is about personal value - a trip that can bring a family together, enhance a luxury lifestyle and ultimately create unforgettable memories” says Alison Gilmore, director of the International Luxury Travel Market in Asia, Cannes and the Americas.
Jacqui Spice of New Zealand based luxury travel concierge company, Touch of Spice, agrees. “Our clients want more tailor made experience driven travel. They want real attention to detail, to taste, feel and touch and be blown away by everything they do and they want exclusive access.”
Privacy is also key for many ultra rich that live their lives under a spotlight. Private islands, super yachts and exclusive use safari lodges in remote African locations offer the opportunity to spend time with chosen friends and family away from prying paparazzi eyes.
“At the luxury high end there can be no one size fits all” says Brett Godfrey, co-owner with Sir Richard Branson of Makepeace Island, a private island near Noosa.
“Our guests expect to be treated as if the island was theirs given they pay for its exclusive use. What they want are experiences but above all they want seclusion and privacy. A private island offers guests the opportunity to completely 'disappear' and meld into another world.”
Here are our the top 10 picks of ultra rich travel experiences:
1. ST BARTS, THE CARIBBEAN
Who: Microsoft's Paul Allen, Beyonce, Miranda Kerr
If you like your wealth on display then this is the island for you. Bed down in one of 34 rooms at Eden Rock Hotel or sign on the dotted line for the resort's Villa Rockstar complete with two pools, four master suites, cinema, gym and Mini Cooper.
How much: Rooms start from €505 ($640) and villas from €7000 to €25,000 per night.
2. VALEMOUNT LODGE, CANADA
Who: Fortune 500s and CEOs looking for boasting rights
Heli ski in an exclusive-use lodge? Don't mind if I do. Valemount Lodge is accessed by private plane and sleeps up to 10 people with chef, masseuse, heli ski guide and private helicopter. Add 1498 square kilometres of skiing terrain, a gym, sauna and hot tub.
How much: $C198,000 ($191,500) for the week for up to 10 people from December 29 to April 19
3. VERBIER, SWITZERLAND
Who: Sir Richard Branson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Sir Bob Geldof
Verbier is party town for those who like to ski. Bed down in the big mountain ski resort in a private chalet. Sir Richard Branson's The Lodge is an exclusive-use ski lodge complete with 13 staff, indoor pool, unlimited alcohol and a Raymond Blanc-trained chef and 24-hour driver.
How much: The Lodge is CHF82,500 ($86,900) to CHF149,700 for exclusive use.
4. DOLPHIN ISLAND, FIJI
Who: Celebrity chefs, Pink and Corey Hart, financial moguls
Expect four Virginia Fisher-designed bures from the team behind Grand Provence in South Africa and Huka Lodge in New Zealand. The resort is available for exclusive hire for up to eight guests and comes with a team of chefs, spa therapists and water sports experts plus a sleep-out bure for star gazing.
How much: From $7500 to $12000 a night for exclusive use.
5. MOLORI SAFARI LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA
Who: Kate Moss, Lily Allen, Raila Odinga
All five suites at the Molori Safari Lodge are individually designed, each with an infinity pool and terrace and found in the middle of South Africa's Madikwe Game Reserve bordering Botswana. The lodge is available for exclusive use and comes with game guides, butlers, chef and more.
How much: Rates on request
6. NIHIWATU, SUMBA, INDONESIA
Who: The Hermes family, Layne Beachley, Mark Occhilupo
Nihiwatu eco-resort sits on 71 hectares of private land on the island of Sumba. Choose from bungalow, villa or residence overlooking one of the world's best surf breaks. Lie by the pool, fish, surf or help The Sumba Foundation, a not-for-profit group set up by the resort to help the island with wells, medical clinics and schooling.
How much: Rates on request
7. COMO HOTEL'S PARROT CAY, TURKS AND CAICOS, THE CARIBBEAN
Who: Demi Moore, Jerry Seinfeld, Donna Karan
This 400-hectare private Caribbean island can be accessed only by a boat provided by the resort, which means it is a paparazzi-free zone. No cars, just golf carts and all guests stay in Como's hotel rooms, villas, beach houses and private residences with whitewashed walls and dreamy draped beds.
How much: From US$450 ($434) for a Terrace Room to $30,000 for an 11-bedroom villa
8. AMANGANI, JACKSON WYOMING, UNITED STATES
Who: Justin Timberlake, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elle Macpherson
Winter guests are shuttled by private leather clad four-wheel-drives to the Amangani Ski Club at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort where ski sherpas warm the ski boots, wax the skis and hold guests' hands. Did we mention the intuitive service with drop-dead mountain vistas, infinity pool, super spacious suites or mountain residences?
How much: From US$725 ($700) to US$5500 per night
9. QUALIA, HAMILTON ISLAND, AUSTRALIA
Who: Oprah Winfrey, Gordan Ramsay, Collette Dinnigan
The gated Qualia community offers 60 pavilions overlooking the Coral Sea. Guests negotiate the resort in golf carts, there's a private beach and pool club, a day spa to lose yourself in, infinity pools in half the villas and a sense of peace, calm and tranquillity at all times.
How much: From $975 to $4800 per night
10. ANANDA SPA, RISHIKESH, INDIA
Who: Madonna, Uma Thurman,Bill Gates
Once a maharaja's palace, Ananda Spa offers reclusive respite from the stress of life. The world's weary head to this Conde Nast favourite to rejuvenate in the 2230-square-metre spa. Guest rooms take views of the Himalaya foothills and wake-up calls come with fresh ginger tea and honey followed by cleansing yoga.
How much: From US$410 ($395) to US$1690 per night