Travel Weekly has surveyed operators on the top destinations for luxury holidays. We’ve counted and recounted the results, and narrowed things down to create a list of the top ten…
1. The Maldives
This string of islands in the Indian Ocean delivers the ultimate in secluded beach relaxation. Hard-working high earners return time and again safe in the knowledge they’ll be almost forced to relax – the USP is getting away from it all, rather than heaps of activities.
The one island, one resort structure delivers a palpable sense of undisturbed exclusivity, set only to increase with the opening next month of the first floating resort in the Maldives – the Angsana Velaravu InOcean Villas – located a kilometre from the nearest island.
Elegant Resorts Commercial Director Alison Scott said: “The quintessential image of luxury is a Maldivian overwater villa. Where else can you find the same expanse of beach and impeccable service? It’s a perfect destination not only for honeymooners but also families, as kids are really well looked after.”
Sample package: Elegant Resorts offers seven nights for the price of six at One&Only Reethi Rah plus free dinner for the entire stay & complimentary return shared yacht transfers from £2,530 per adult & £1,760 per child – save up to £1,200 per family. Valid until 15 October. (01244 897505)
South-east Asia’s most developed tourist destination is unfailingly popular with Brits. Whilst the country can cater to the Full Moon Party brigade, there is also a wealth of fantastically luxurious beach resorts scattered across the islands.
Also growing in popularity are the more remote northern hill areas of Chang Mai and Chang Rai, where hill-tribe villages and ornate temples scatter the jungle-clad landscape.
Kuoni product manager Darren Lancaster said: “Thailand is world-renowned for its natural beauty, cuisine and legendary hospitality. The sympathetic developments of resorts such as the Six Senses Erawan Destination Spa on Koh Naka Yai and Pimalai Resort and Spa on Koh Lanta Yai as boutique hideaways focus on sheer pampering and promote the smaller islands.”
Sample package: Kuoni offers seven nights B&B at the five star Pimalai Resort & Spa, Lanta Yai in a deluxe room, including flights, transfers and an airport lounge in the UK from £1,062 per person based on two sharing, departing in June. (01306 747008, Kuoni agent site)
Italy is the only European destination to make it into the top ten, with its long history of receiving top-end tourists and reputation for quality standing it in good stead. With a heady mixture of historic and cultural attractions, beautiful scenery, top class hotels, great cuisine and impeccable service, Italy brings its own signature sense of style to a luxury trip.
Cox & Kings product manager Mike Fleetwood said: “Italy is one of our most popular honeymoon destinations. For those getting married in summer the climate is ideal, unlike the Caribbean or the Far East. City breaks to Rome, Venice and Florence are particularly popular.”
4. South Africa
At the moment, South Africa not only offers a wealth of luxury product but also great value for money, with sterling standing up well against the rand.
The ad slogan used to run ‘a world in one country’ and it certainly has a lot to offer; mountains, jungle, bush for safari, beaches, cities, and all within easy reach of each other.
Exsus managing director Andrew Marshall said: “South Africa has had a luxury element for the 20-odd years I’ve been selling it, and over that time it’s cultivated its own hip boutique hotels. Now international brands are following. The service is fantastic and it really is excellent value for money.”
Sample package: Exsus offers a Cape and Kruger combination including five nights B&B at Steenberg and three nights’ all inclusive at Chitwa Chitwa private game reserve from £2,400 per person twin share, including international and internal flights and VIP meet and greet transfers, travelling in June. (020 7337 9010)
They might say money talks and wealth whispers, but in Dubai luxury shouts out loud. Opulent and packed with celebs, this town in designed for big spenders who like their luxury to go large, with extra gold. The hotels are legendary, the shopping is top end, and events like polo and horse racing are suited to the well-heeled.
Hayes and Jarvis product and contract manager Glen McCool said: “The Burj Al Arab provides iconic, overstated luxury, and the One&Only Royal Mirage is a more Arabic and understated choice. There are great offers available at the moment, with free nights and discounted stays on many Dubai hotels.”
Though it has wonderful beaches on offer, the attraction of India as a luxury destination is as a land of experiences rather than pure relaxation. Vast, varied and totally unique, it’s a place of fascinating contrasts, colourful culture and warm welcomes. And whether visitors are gazing at the Taj Mahal, riding an elephant or cruising through the backwaters, there’s always a way to do it in extra comfort and style.
Bales Worldwide product manager Kirsty Bennett said: “Whilst the sleepy southern state of Kerala is growing in popularity, Rajasthan still provides the largest choice of luxury product, from established brands like Taj and Oberoi to boutique and heritage properties.”
Sample package: Bales Worldwide offer a 10 day Romantic India itinerary staying in Oberoi properties and visiting Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur, including flights, private driver and guides, from £2,745 per person twin share. (0845 057 1819)
Another Indian Ocean paradise, Mauritius offers beautiful beaches on a picturesque volcanic island. It’s especially renowned for great service. From honeymooners who tend to stay in resort to visitors who get out and about to explore the island, all guests notice the friendliness of the Mauritian people.
ITC Classics brand development executive Mike Taylor said: “The East coast provides the greatest choice of 5-star luxury resorts with options like Le Touessrok, The Residence, and One&Only Le Saint Geran, but there are great properties all over the island. Mauritius works brilliantly as a stand alone destination but also twins really well with South Africa, Seychelles and Dubai.”
Sample package: ITC Classics offers seven nights half-board in a Junior Suite at the One&Only Le Saint Geran from £1,920 per person twinshare including flights and transfers. (01244 355550, ITC Classics agent site)
Wealthy visitors to Egypt can wake up to a view of the pyramids in a luxury Cairo hotel and then take a cruise down the Nile in one of the many lavish boats – complete with swimming pools – now available. Upscale clients expect top quality guiding as well as palatial accommodation.
Abercrombie and Kent commercial executive Janine Stafford said: “For millennia the iconic sights of Egypt, from the timeless pyramids of Giza to the dazzling colour of the pharaohs’ tombs, have held visitors in their sway. Today, Egypt remains our most popular destination.”
Sample package: Abercrombie & Kent’s 11 day Nile Encounter includes four nights in Cairo and a Nile Cruise on the luxurious Sun Boat III and costs from £3,198 per person based on two persons sharing with flights from the UK. (0845 618 2200)
North African exoticism is available in reams in Morocco. The greatest concentration of luxury properties is in Marrakech, and guests can escape the bustle of the Djemaa El Fna to the peace and tranquillity of a traditional riad.
Jayne Price, Product Manager at Cadogan Holidays said: “One of the most luxurious properties is Richard Branson’s retreat Kasbah Tamadot, an hour away from Marrakech. Guests can stay in one of the unique rooms of luxury Berber Tented Suites, or can just visit for lunch and take in the incredible views.”
Sample package: Cadogan Holidays offers three nights B&B at the Angsana Riad Blanc in Marrakech and two nights B&B at the Kasbah Tamadot from £791.20 per person twin share including flights and transfers. (0845 615 6793, Cadogan Holidays agent site)
10. Latin America
Namechecked by many operators as a real up-and-coming destination, there are pockets of luxury springing up all over this vast area.
Brazil and Argentina are home to funky boutique hotels, Peru and Central America welcome guests to exquisite luxury eco lodges and visitors flock to experience Galapagos cruises and the top selling Machu Picchu.
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