Luxury travel could mean staying a five-star hotel in Europe, a beautiful resort on the Indian Ocean, or a luxurious tented campground on an African safari. It could mean traveling aboard a specially outfitted train, a deluxe river or small cruise ship or even by bicycle, as long as meals, lodging and support is top notch. Many tour operators offer luxury group tours or will plan one exactly to your specifications.
Unique Luxury Travel Destinations
Luxury travel today is going through a renaissance of sorts. In addition to the classic kind of resort stays and European based destinations, luxury travel has expanded to include more exotic and probably some unexpected destinations.
1. Chile - The South American luxury travel market is small but burgeoning. Around the Patagonia region in particular you will find many luxury accommodations and activities. Perfect for landscape photographers and outdoors enthusiasts who want to experience the dramatic scenery of Patagonia without committing to extreme hiking.
2. Kenya - Often called the oldest safari destination, Kenya luxury travel has a legacy that goes all the way to royalty. For it was here that Queen Elizabeth II traveled as a princess, immediately prior to becoming Queen of England. Safari lodges in Kenya date all the way back to the early 20th century - so if you’re looking for a uniquely historic luxury African safari, definitely consider Kenya.
3. Istanbul - Turkey is a fabulous stepping stone destination for travelers seeking to expand their comfort zone. Istanbul is a vibrant city, with many European influences, making it feel more accessible from a cultural standpoint for many travelers. Luxury accommodations are everywhere, and the price point is far more comfortable than in some other luxury travel destinations.
4. Belize - Enjoy the comforts of beautiful eco-lodges among the rainforests of Belize. Traveling in luxury in Belize, you can actually venture much further into some more remote areas and really unplug to enjoy the spectacular nature. You’ll often have a private guide who will take you along hidden trails, and out on the water to experience Belize’s world renowned snorkeling.
5. Peru - Peru is one of those destinations that offers several travel experiences from extreme luxury to extreme budget, that visit largely the same sights. You can even get to Machu Picchu in luxury! Luxury travel in Peru is all about getting special insight into the culture - meeting locals, enjoying culinary delights, and native art.
Luxury Travel Accommodations
Accommodation is one of the largest considerations on a luxury tour, and also one of the biggest contributing factors to what makes a tour “luxury” or not. While many budget or mid-range tours tend to opt for a basic style, luxury tours take their accommodation seriously.
From beachside resorts to glamping, luxury accommodation is something to write home about.
Feel the timelessness of Europe in a villa getaway. Nothing beats waking up to rolling hills of vineyards and roaming the rustic grounds. Feel like a local as you visit nearby markets for fresh produce, and enjoy watching the world go by as lingering over a coffee in a classic European cafe.
Villas are most common in Western European countries like Spain, Italy, and France. They are commonly designed as self sustaining farms or vineyards. When you stay in a luxury villa it’s a great way to feel the rhythm of European culture. You’ll enjoy home cooked meals that highlight local ingredients, and get to know the town and surrounding area with the help of a guide.
You can do luxury travel without a resort stay, and in fact more and more luxury travel outfitters are expanding their reach beyond classic resorts. But this is still one of the most popular kinds of luxury travel accommodation styles. Tried and true, resorts offer a great way to relax in comfort and safety - and are a very popular for families.
Similar to a cruise ship, resorts are largely self contained - you could spend a majority of your vacation at the resort without leaving to explore the outside world. For this reason, they are not the most adventurous of accommodations.
Beach resorts in particular are some of the most popular luxury getaways. And a great option for visiting areas that may be questionable safety-wise, like Mexico or some Central America destinations. Take a dip in crystal clear blue water, and enjoy lounging in the shade, feeling the warm breeze on a private stretch of beach.
Ever wanted to know what life in a castle was like? While they certainly wouldn’t have had WiFi, and probably would have been a great deal colder, you can get a pretty good idea when you stay overnight in a castle - a very popular luxury travel accommodation style in Europe.
Live your own fairytale as you wander ancient halls and explore beautiful gardens.
The relatively new concept of “glamping,” that is luxury camping, it’s actually quite a great way to be close with nature without having to rough it. Glamping destinations around the world are becoming increasingly popular. Get the best of both worlds!
5. Luxury river cruising
River cruising is becoming increasingly popular among older travelers. In Europe especially a luxury river cruise is a great way to travel. This is slow travel at its finest; fine wine, fine food, fine company.
The experience is more about gliding along in comfort, taking in the passing landscapes, than it is about diving deep into each destination - though most luxury river cruises offer plenty of opportunities to explore at each port stop. Excursions are not always included in the price, and are usually fairly specific in nature so you can choose a shore activity that meets your interests.
Private Tours and "Backstage Access"
While your accommodations are a huge part of the luxury travel experience, there is actually so much more to luxury travel.
For the best providers of luxury travel, it’s also about high caliber, exclusive tour experiences. Think an after hours tour of the Vatican or a wine tasting in Burgundy hosted by the winemaker himself.
Luxury tours are an amazing way to get some one-on-one time with experts in their fields, ask questions, and gain unique insight into some of the worlds most impressive sights you might otherwise miss if surrounded by crowds.