Insights from a luxury travel advisor about the hottest luxury destinations in 2023.
We spoke with Melbourne-based Yvonne Verstandig, Director, Y Travel about her definitions of modern luxury travel, the benefits of using a luxury travel advisor to plan your holidays, and the destinations she’s most excited about this year. Yvonne is one of the co-founders of Y Travel. Previously, she co-founded Executive Edge Travel in Melbourne more than 20 years ago.
Yvonne is a luxury travel specialist advisor who has been planning premium and bespoke trips for her clients for more than two decades.
LT: What regions are you most excited about in terms of luxury travel for 2023?
Africa is starting to trend, and Europe is still hot for 2023, with consistent favourites, Italy and Greece, topping the list again. What’s refreshing to see is that travellers are seeking more immersive journeys throughout some of the lesser-known areas.
2023 will also be all about destinations and experiences that have recently come back onboard as options for luxury travellers, including countries like Japan and Bhutan, and expedition cruising—which has returned bigger than ever, with plenty of new vessels and fabulous itineraries through polar regions.
LT: What are the key trends you’ve seen in travel post-pandemic?
After not being able to travel for so long, 2022 saw people planning longer trips, loaded with activities and authentic experiences, exploring countries in more depth, and heading to off-the-beaten-path regions. There is a real focus on full-bodied itineraries, incorporating adventure, culture, and foodie highlights.
LT: What is one of the most authentic travel experiences you’ve had recently?
During a recent trip to one of my favourite places, the Dolomites in Italy, I had two salt-of-the-earth encounters with locals. After a day of skiing in Corvara, the owner of the boutique, family-owned hotel I was staying at, whisked my group away to “Uncle Willie’s” tiny rifugio (local hut). Uncle Willie, in his 80s and with limited English, was the consummate host, feeding us with all his local specialities, keeping our glasses full of his regional wines, and entertaining us with the stories of his youth in the Dolomiti.
We were again immersed in the Dolomiti culture during our stay at the Relais & Châteaux property, Gardena Grodnerhof in the quaint town of Ortisei. One of the boutique hotel’s guest experiences is a hike, led by one of the family members, Emmanuel. The Stevia hike of 600m elevation had our hearts pumping but, when we reached the top, the view over the many peaks of the Dolomites was truly spectacular. A must for any adventurer, especially when led by one of the “mountain men” of the region!
LT: What’s your definition of ‘modern luxury’?
It’s a nuanced combination of authentic experiences, fabulous food, luxury hotels with exceptional service and the right facilities for each client. On the one hand, it’s about genuine and authentic immersion into the local culture while, on the other, it’s about catering to individual travel desires—whether that be a Maldivian relaxation and wellbeing experience, a hike through a national park with a local trekking guide and glamping by the side of a fjord, or the more expected authentic Mediterranean European experience.
LT: What are the key benefits for travellers in working with bespoke luxury travel advisors such as Y Travel?
Knowing the likes, dislikes and individual quirks of our clients is key to our business. Our Y Factors, or ‘Portals of Passion’, help us to curate the most authentic, individual travel experiences, with our longstanding contacts on the ground central to the design of personalised itineraries that resonate for each one of them.