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The luxury travel world never ceases to amaze and surprise me. Just when I think I’ve seen every first-class airline cabin, five-star hotel room, all-suite cruise liner and exclusive beachfront villa, along comes another cutting-edge concept that takes my breath away.
I always expect to be wowed on any trip to the Maldives, with its kaleidoscopic waters, coral reef lagoons and uber-luxury resorts, but nothing prepared me for the Beach Bubble – a new glamping concept on the tiny island of Finolhu in Baa Atoll – which graces the cover of this special edition of Luxury Travel Magazine.
Perched on a secluded sandbank away from the island’s retro-chic resort, the transparent inflatable ‘tent’ offers the chance to spend an unforgettable night under the stars in exceptional style and luxury. Launched just six days before my arrival, the bubble is the brainchild of The Small Maldives Island Co, a relatively new and innovative resort company with strong Australian connections that manages Finolhu and nearby Amilla Fushi, as well as Huvafen Fushi, north of the capital, Malé. All three islands deliver a dazzling Maldives experience, as you’ll see in my review, starting page 116.
Australia is another constant surprise, delivered this issue on a memorable road journey to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. These fragile yet monumental wetlands are home to abundant wildlife, ancient Aboriginal culture and pristine wilderness, all of which can be explored in comfort with leading luxury tour operator Inspiring Journeys. My Kadadu Dreaming feature starts on page 134.
The surprises keep coming with our Out of This World cover story, showcasing what we believe are the 20 most intriguing, surprising and rapidly trending destinations on the planet (page 46). Along with features on France’s alluring Luberon, Macao, Bali, Western Australia, South Africa’s Cape Winelands, Bhutan and Switzerland, this edition is packed with wonderful ideas to place on your 2019 bucket list.
And finally, I had the privilege recently of meeting acclaimed American photographer Steve McCurry, the man who shot the iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ image, which captured the imagination of millions of people around the world when it appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985.
Steve continues to travel the world, most recently in partnership with Silversea Cruises, and he kindly agreed to share more beautiful images from his global explorations. The result is a personal and intimate photo essay I’m honoured to share with you (page 142). I hope you are as surprised and delighted with the result as I am.
Andrew Conway | Editor