If there was one person who could truly be called an icon of the travel industry, it was Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
TORONTO — Luxury destinations are a dime a dozen these days, with sure-fire hits like Paris, London and Polynesia regularly seen on bucket lists. But if you’re a travel agent looking for exotic new locales to impress your most discerning clients. Travel Leaders Network has a few suggestions.
According to the group’s most recent travel trends survey, luxury travellers are most interested in exclusive access, including VIP tours, private cars and drivers and customized culinary experiences. However, sometimes their customized experience is through community service in a foreign land.
“Some want to help with a community project or spend time, for example, in an orphanage in Africa for an extended period of time, not just for an hour or two,” says Tom Mieczynski, a luxury Travel Leaders advisor in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. “They fulfill deeper connections with themselves by stepping out of their comfort zones and finding real meaning in their experiences.”
The survey also shows that luxury travel isn’t always overly pricey or remote. Valerie Lederle, a Travel Leaders advisor in Colleyville, Texas, says luxury travel is trending toward unique locations like Greenland, which is only a 90-minute flight from Iceland.
“A unique hotel with a small spa, a hot springs experience, a private champagne lunch overlooking the fjords or staying in a deluxe safari-style camp on the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet is a very unique and appealing experience,” she says.
Here are a few other suggested destinations for luxury travellers from Travel Leaders Network:
Set in the Tyrrhenian Sea, about an hour off the coast of Naples, Italy, is a small mountainous island called Ischia. Featuring stunning views of the Bay of Naples and some of Italy’s best beaches, Ischia “offers the views, charm and experiences of Western Europe without the crushing crowds,” says Marybeth Green, an Atlanta Travel Leaders advisor who just returned from Italy.
Ischia Pointe is home to most of the hotels, shops and cafes, while adventurers usually head to the town of Fontana where they can journey to the top of Mount Epomeo.
The capital city of Estonia boasts beautiful beaches and all the trappings of a modern metropolis. It’s also one of the ports of call on the Crystal Cruises’ Serenity ‘Baltic Treasures’ cruise, which sails from Denmark to Sweden. Tallinn’s Old Town neighbourhood, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with cobblestone streets, is considered one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe.
Tallinn is really a Baltic gem wrapped up in an easily walkable package,” said Ted Blank, a luxury advisor with Travel Leaders in Stillwater, Minnesota. “As overtourism becomes a fact of life in many destinations, travelers are seeking a stress-free alternative that still allows authentic cultural experiences. Less crowded destinations can offer tremendous historical, cultural, and culinary highlights in a serene environment, where the locals still welcome travelers with open arms.”
A cruise in the southern Pacific Ocean is one way travelers can uncover the hidden gem of the Tuamotu Islands, a French Polynesian chain of almost 80 islands and low-lying atolls near the eastern part of Tahiti. Whether one arrives on a Silversea Cruises World Cruise or a 10-day Windstar Cruises sailing, it’s awe-inspiring to realize that The Tuamotus cover 16 regions in an archipelago that stretches across an area roughly the size of Western Europe.
Manihi, built on a coral reef, is the farthest north of Tuamotu Archipelego and is less than a two-hour flight from Tahiti. This obscure getaway, known as the Island of Pearls, has the perfect lagoon for scuba diving, especially for people interested in searching for black pearls.