Business travelers, even Millennials, are developing a taste for luxury travel. Tour operators, hospitality groups, aviation companies and other service providers in the realm of travel now go the extra mile to cater to the rising number of tourists wanting elusive and exclusive experiences. Below are four such escapades complementing the basic elements of life that the discerning ones may find interesting.FIRE
The experience begins with a chartered helicopter ride over Iceland’s beautiful waterfalls, geysers, black lava beaches and the Jokulsarlon ice lagoon. If we’re lucky, we may even get a glimpse of the aurora borealis. Once atop the Thrihnukagigur volcano, walk on a carpet of lava rocks that are around four thousand years old and into the cave-like magma chamber. This “room” is the heart of the mountain through which the lava erupts. Of course, the volcano is dormant now, so no need to worry. Dining guests are seated at wooden tables attached to benches, covered in crisp white sheets. The table is arranged luxuriously with crystal glasses, chinaware and stainless steel cutlery. Meals are customized to one’s preferences and allergies. Try a glass of ice cold Reyka, considered to be the world’s best vodka.
The experience starts at about $14,000 per couple and includes luxury accommodation, as well as a guided hike on the volcano’s slopes. Check with the hotel concierge or a local tour operator for details.AIR
A vacation needn’t necessarily wait until we arrive at our destination to start. If we’re flying the Etihad Residence, our relaxation begins from the time we board the aircraft. Taking luxury up many notches would be the 14-hour journey in the A380 from Abu Dhabi to New York. The “seat” includes a personal living room, separate bedroom and en suite shower room. The double seat leather sofa faces a 32-inch flat screen television in the living room. We can share a meal with our partner at the foldable dining table here or request for it to be served in the bedroom. The six-foot ten-inch double bed is dressed in designer Italian linen. Another 27-inch flat screen television is available in the bedroom. The en suite shower is equipped with bathrobes, luxury amenities and a vanity unit. A butler waits on us throughout the flight, the in-flight chef personalizes our meals and the lifestyle concierge helps plan our days at our port of call. He or she goes as far as making restaurant reservations and booking tickets for shows and events too.
The Residence accommodates two passengers at a time. Airfare for a roundtrip flight from Abu Dhabi to New York starts from AED126,945 ($34,560) for one passenger. etihad.comEARTH
There comes a time when we wish to vacation, but can’t be bothered with the many bookings involved — airline, hotel and tours. This is where Oberoi Exotic Vacations steps in. The shortest journey offered is the eight-day package. At Delhi, check into The Oberoi Gurgaon. Tour the heritage and cultural sites of the capital. Fly to Jaipur and check into The Oberoi Rajvilas. Visit the ancient palaces of the city and meet its people—enroll in a yoga session at the property, shop for gemstones, silver jewelry and hand-painted textiles, for which the city is well known. Drive to Agra on the morning of the fifth day and check into The Oberoi Amarvilas. Here, you will get another dose of history with an engrossing tour of India’s past before flying back to Delhi for a guided tour of the local markets.
Prices start at 23,000 ($325) per night per room, and include airport transfers, breakfast, accommodation in a Premier room, yoga sessions and 25 percent off on spa therapies. Package prices vary depending on the customized itinerary and the number of guided city tours booked. oberoihotels.com/special-offers/exotic-vacations.
A cruise ship, even a luxurious one, can be too crowded for some of us who are yearning for a real sense of calm. Chartering a superyacht (over 80 feet in length) gives us the best of both – a cruising experience with a path that is customized to match our interests. All we need to do is narrow down on the month of our getaway and decide on the group size. Camper and Nicholsons does the rest, from suggesting a suitable destination and vessel, even matching the crew to our vacation style. The level of luxury can be upped by adding a yoga teacher, dive instructor and a masseuse to the crew that already includes a chef. All of them sail with us for the entire the cruise. The most convenient factor here is that we can visit multiple coastal cities in different countries, without having to change hotels.
Charters start from approximately €20,000 ($23,200) per week; camperandnicholsons.com