Business Today

Where the A-listers are holidaying

From taking a deep dive into underwater tourism to going for magical pop ups, the holiday experience of the luxe set is treading off the beaten path
Arjun Sharma        Print Edition: September 13, 2015
The spa at ITC Grand Bharat in Gurgaon, Haryana.
The spa at ITC Grand Bharat in Gurgaon, Haryana. (Photo: Shekhar Ghosh)

COLUMN/ LUXURY TRAVEL

Arjun Sharma, chairman of Select Group and Le Passage to India. (Photo: Vivan Mehra)
Gone are the holidays where high networth individuals (HNIs) wanted it all on a silver platter. Well, they might still want a few things, but when it comes to holidaying, they want to go independent. From taking road trips to keeping it traditional (that means without a truckload of gadgets and technology), here are the hottest trends in luxurious travel:

Staying at a private beach or a pool villa

HNI travellers in India seek unique experiences every now and then. They prefer suites with access to private beaches or pools. There are many such high-end properties in Goa - Leela Hotels, for instance - which have a private beach. Bali offers luxurious villas such as Amori, Ayana etc., which have private pool access. Domestically, Oberoi Udaivilas offers luxury suite with a private pool.

Rejuvenation tours

The focus is on hikes, walks, organic food, spirituality, meditation, yoga and natural therapy. Special rejuvenation programmes at most places include body purification, slimming, and stress management. They're also looking at beauty care programmes such as special rejuvenation massages, fruit or herbal oil massages and medicated steam baths are also available. Ananda and The Glasshouse on the Ganges are quite popular in this category.

Event-based vacations

Avid sports, and art and culture lovers plan their vacations based on an event of their choice. The 2014 FIFA World Cup was a big draw for Indians travelling to Brazil to attend the event. The 2015 cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand was another big example which saw Indians travelling for the matches.

Outdoor activity oriented

Another trend picking up is growth of experiential outbound vacations. Recent Bollywood movies have opened the gates for adventure activities such as scuba (in Andaman, Mauritius, etc.), skydiving (NZ, South Africa, Spain, Dubai), self drive (NZ, the latest trends show self-drive itineraries are becoming popular in Thailand and Europe), and safari (Kenya and SA).

Exotic accommodation

Lately, HNIs prefer exotic holidays in castles, palaces and villas. These holidays are designed to indulge in flamboyance suited for royalty and infused with a mix of modern facilities. Closer to home, the preferred options are Lake Palace Hotel, Taj Umaid Bhawan, Lalit Laxmi Vilas in Udaipur. In Europe, there is the Ashford Castle in Ireland, and the Amberley Castle in England. Relais & Châteaux properties, globally known for its impeccable service, are also becoming popular.

The pool at Villa Bianca in Chianti in Tuscany, Italy
Cruise vacations

Cruise vacations on both oceans and rivers have seen large upswings in popularity in recent years. River cruises, in particular, tend to be more expensive and exclusive. The five-star cruise fleet is now setting its sails for new destinations in the Far East with river cruises in Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam on offer. To name a few in Europe, we have the ones offered by AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways. The Oberoi Group offers cruises in Kerala, Egypt to name a few.

Magical pop-up experiences

The here today, gone tomorrow pop-up phenomenon that started with stores and restaurants, has now spread to include both hotels and retreats. As a result of this pursuit for magical moments, the pop-up phenomenon attracts an increasing number of wealthy travellers. It is not sufficient to dine at the best restaurants in the towns one visits. High-end travellers want to experience something unique and are chasing pop-up restaurants and hotels. Pop-ups' advantages? It is highly unlikely that anyone in their social circle has experienced it. Rooms can, for example, be reserved at yoga ashram retreats popping up in Italy, Mexico and Bali for just two months. In England, The Pop-Up Hotel and Snoozebox are entirely devoted to the pop-up hotel concept. The Pop-Up Hotel, for example, offer "glamping" or glamorous camping with some of the services and amenities expected at a boutique hotel, at festivals and events held across the UK.

Luxury yacht charters

From the olive infused shores of the Mediterranean to the eerie emerald skies of the Northern Lights, luxury yacht charters can show you another side to the world. Imagine setting sail into a hazy horizon enveloped in complete serenity and sheer luxury. Spend mornings sipping champagne on the sun deck and afternoons stepping ashore to explore the blaze of worldly port cities. The beautiful Baltis, show stopping Alaska and the warmth of the Mediterranean are still making waves when it comes to divine destinations to explore on a luxury yacht charter.

Simple pleasures

Inside the Poseidon Undersea Resorts in Fiji
Savvy travellers know that a truly luxurious holiday experience is not defined by status symbols but by attaining a genuine sense of mental, physical and emotional well-being. An increasing number of resorts are responding to this with an array of facilities, from holistic spa rituals to bespoke library collections that allow guests to unwind by appreciating those important little things in life. Providing a special place to spend special time with loved ones is also being recognised as a new luxury. Many hotels have expanded their complimentary activity programmes, along with offering a greater variety of dining and accommodation choices to ensure families can relish their time together in unrivalled comfort.

Underwater tourism

The recent emergence of those fascinating aquarium-like hotels are sure to make a splash! Underwater hotel concept has fascinated people for some time, with research indicating tremendous interest towards such hotels. Given this strong demand and upside potential, there have been several attempts on a global scale to develop underwater hotels, the latest being the Water Discus Underwater Hotel in Dubai. The most prominent development plans for underwater hotels include the Hydropolis Underwater Hotel in Dubai and the Poseidon Undersea Resorts in Fiji. The beauty of the concept is that it offers maximum flexibility with facilities, which can be adapted to each location. This is achieved with the option to add or remove sci-fi style satellite discs functioning as modules, which can feature food and beverage outlets, recreational facilities, conference rooms and other facilities.

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