12 Luxury Travel Experiences Not to Miss This Year

Great Plains Botswana Experience
Great Plains Botswana Experience

2018’s Chad Clark Certified 25 list of the world’s best luxury travel experiences has just been announced, and being the discerning travellers that you are, we’ve gone ahead and picked our favourites for you. From stays in Canadian log castles to your very own, private airport lounge, here’s what you should be looking at when researching your next holiday.

The days of spending your holidays visiting tourist traps sights, ticking off every historical church and enduring death by museum are over, because we know, you know, and everyone who loves to travel knows that the modern traveller is hungry for experiential travel. That means getaways coloured by unique, one-off experiences and immersive, local adventures you’ll want to share with your friends and family. Well, American travel advisor Chad Clark is making this new attitude to travel official, having last year introduced a system of “certifying” unique travel experiences and releasing an annual Top 25 list.

On announcing the Top 25 for 2018 earlier this week Clark told Forbes: “You have Michelin for restaurants and Forbes Travel Guide for hotels and spa ratings, and golf magazines for Top 100 course lists, but there is nothing like that for experiences and that’s what everyone is looking for today.” And some of the top luxury hotels around the world agree with him, with the likes of Aman and Oberoi already displaying ‘Chad Clark Travel Ventures Certified™ Experiences’ certificates alongside their Michelin stars and 5-Star and Diamond plaques.

Two Aussie experiences made this year’s list, including Southern Ocean Lodge’s Kangas and Canapés signature sunset drinks in the wild experience, and luxury travel agent The Tailor’s Northern Territory Arnhemland Cultural Safari. A jet boat training session and pop-up picnic in New Zealand also made the cut, along with LT favourite, Canada’s Fogo Island Inn.

But enough talk, let’s find out what we should all be doing on holiday over the next 12 months, shall we? Here are our top twelve picks from Chad Clark’s Top 25:

Holistic Immersion in the Birthplace of Yoga

Ananda, Himalayas, India

Guests can experience luxury and ultimate wellbeing all at once with a customised wellness program based on the traditional sciences of Ayurveda and yoga. Set amid the Himalayan foothills, Ananda is perched on a 100-acre Maharaja’s palatial estate within the birthplace of yoga for a yoga retreat quite unlike any other.

The Ultimate Himalayan Village-to-Village Walk

Banyan Tours/Shakti Lodge, India

Spend your days trekking in a remote and beautiful region of the Himalayas known for its gentle people, lush surroundings and sweeping views of the Panchachuli Himalayan Range. This private guided village-to-village walk will see you staying at three beautifully renovated village houses along the way.

The Chilko Experience in a Canadian Log Castle

British Columbia, Canada

Who doesn’t want to stay in a castle? Well with the Chilko Experience in British Columbia you can stay in multiple log castles by night and take in the glacial-fed waters, rushing rivers, bears, salmon and soaring eagles on this world-class adventure by day.

The VIP Palio Experience

Florencetown, Siena, Italy

Take in the view of the world-famous horse race held in honour of the Virgin Mary from the comfort of your own private apartment, while dining on Italian delicacies prepared by your personal chef and sipping fine wines. With each of the historic city’s seventeen districts represented by a horse and jockey, this twice-per-year race has taken place almost every year in Siena’s civic hub, Piazza del Campo, since 1644.

A Journey to a Mayan Wonder’s Past

Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico

Get whisked off in a CESSNA 206 single-engine plane to discover the hidden wonders of the Yucatan Peninsula with an insider trip to Chichen Itzá and Cenotes, and the colonial city of Mérida. Get a private guided tour of the ancient Mayan ruins, take a dip in a freshwater cenote or a carriage ride down Merida’s charming Paseo Montejo, before indulging in lunch prepared by a Grand Velas Masterchef.

Explore Remote Botswana by Foot and Canoe

Great Plains Conservation, Botswana

Spend four days exploring remote northern remote Botswana by foot and canoe on the ultimate safari ­– the Selinda Adventure Trail, where adventure meets luxury. After immersing yourself in nature and disconnecting from the world, fly into the heart of the Okavango Delta for three nights at Duba Plains Camp, where you’ll retreat from a pop-up tent to a 1000-square-foot suite in one of the richest wildlife areas in Botswana.

New York City Luxury by Land and Sea

The Mark Hotel – New York City, USA

Stay in the largest penthouse on the continent (12,000 sq. ft) before boarding The Mark Sailboat, a 70-ft historic 100-year old sailing yacht for some of the best land and sea views of Central Park, The New York Skyline and Lady Liberty. Throw in some private dining experiences featuring famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and you have the ultimate New York luxury experience.

Italian Gourmet Food and Wine Journey

Palazzo Seneca – Norcia, Italy

Listen up, foodies. This food and wine journey gives you the opportunity to embark on a gourmet trail in Norcia, beginning with a truffle hunt followed by a Michelin starred cooking class using the ‘black gold’ you just uncovered. Continue this authentic culinary experience by venturing into the National Park of Sibillini Mountains, and then discover the ancient art of norcineria (Italian cured meats) and olive oil making before witnessing the daily rituals of local Benedictine monks.

Sky-High Service at The Private Suite LAX

The Private Suite Los Angeles, USA

A you the type of traveller that only turns left when you board an airplane? Then The Private Suite at LAX will be right up your alley. The first-of-its-kind in the U.S., The Private Suite is an entirely new type of airline lounge, delivering unprecedented privacy, comfort, and service within a gated, private terminal. Offering VIP travellers generously appointed individual luxury lounges, direct-to-aircraft transportation, and dedicated TSA and Customs & Immigration screening, it’s the new (and for the lucky few, only) way for high flyers to travel.

Navigate Antarctica on a Russian Icebreaker

Quark Expeditions – Antarctica

Take a journey to the bottom of the world, cruising past masses of dense ice and thick, tabular icebergs aboard the legendary Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov. This Antarctic adventure is truly one for those with an explorer spirit, so if meeting Emperor penguins is on your bucket list, this Quark Expeditions’ voyage will bring a smile to your dial.

Breakfast in the Shadows of Mount Everest

Remote Lands – Nepal

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with this experience it will certainly become your most memorable. Take a helicopter ride from Kathmandu to nearly 19,000 feet for a quick visit to Everest Base Camp before descending to 14,000 feet for a champagne breakfast in Kongde in the shadow of Mt. Everest, all the while surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Himalayas.

Paraglide to your Hotel Arrival

Six Senses Zighy Bay – Oman

This is one for the adrenaline junkies – Arriving at Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman by paragliding off a mountain. Soar above the craggy peaks of the Hajar mountains and land next to the azure waters of the Gulf of Oman, all the while taking in astonishing birds-eye views of the bay.



See the full Chad Clark Certified 25 here.

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