The future of luxury travel is exclusivity. That means more than rarefied experiences alone – travel post-Covid-19 might veer towards seclusion and privacy, now more than ever. Which is great, as it’s well in line with the shift toward arcane, wellness-focused tourism that hospitality has been seeing in the past decade.
There’s the practical considerations. The pandemic, at the very least, has reminded us of everything that global interconnectedness entails. Although many travel and hospitality establishments have begun rapid overhauls of their infrastructure (think enhanced air filtration systems and self-disinfecting sprays), it’s hard to shake off the feeling that social distancing is truly the new normal. That goes double for travelling.
On the other hand, the outbreak could have just hastened what was already on the horizon. Gone are the days when a holiday necessarily means ticking locations and attractions off a checklist. What we’ve seen is a rise in resorts centered around wellness, or hideaways that bring you far, far away.
Pampered, yet isolated
Six Senses Zil Pasyon is offering up a little bit of both: situated on Felicite Island, Seychelles, the resort is tucked away on an island paradise surrounded by pristine beaches and azure oceans. This isn’t just marketing speak. It’s a private island accessible only by a picturesque private helicopter or boat trip. You, and 19 other friends (or more if you have them) have private access to the entire island for a week or more.
For around S$515,000, you’d get eclectic, ocean-focused dining options that draw from Seychelles’ rich heritage. If you aren’t fond of the local creole cuisine, that’s fine too: the chefs there are equipped to prepare a variety of European, Asian and African fare. The package includes a soiree with plenty of good tipple, including Billecarte Salmon Champagne and Provence Rose, as well as plenty of blue water fishing and snorkeling amid the untouched reefs and beaches scattered around the island. You’d also get full reign of all the facilities.
The only problem? Deciding who’s going to get which room. Some offer oceanfront views, while others are nestled among verdant greenery; there’s also the bigger two- and three-bedroom villas, complete with private pool terraces, that are perfect for bringing the kids out for some relaxation after months of home-based learning.
If mountains are more your scene, there’s always Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. The mountain resort aims to enable guests to get the most out of the UNESCO World Heritage area-declared Greater Blue Mountains. Covered with acres of bucolic greenery and natural wonders for as far as the eye can see, the haven is the perfect getaway from it al. What better to release any pent-up pressure than a scenic horseback ride with nothing but the sights and sounds of nature?
Retire to a villa clad in sandstone and timber furnishings and take in the best that New South Wales has to offer through the villa’s floor-to-ceiling windows. While isolated from the world at large, the resort still contains all the requisite creature comforts. Think cosy, double-sided stone fireplaces, private pool and plush cushions all around.
Australia’s no slouch when it comes to good food and great wine, which is why you’ll get to sample all of that during your stay. Whether you’re partial to craft Australian beers, or some fine vino, you can trust their expert sommeliers to find something that’ll pair well with grub overseen by executive chef Jerome Tremoulet, whose skills have been honed in a multitude of renowned hotel restaurants.
Sand, stars and silence
Exclusive experiences (with a focus on conservation) is kind of andBeyond’s whole deal. But its allowed them to carve out quite a niche in the luxury travel industry. What conservation usually entails is the protection of the land, air or sea, as well as what lives upon it. At the andBeyond Sossuvlei Desert Lodge however, you can witness a different kind of reservation: the Namibrand International Dark Sky Reserve. The first of its kind in Africa and the second place on Earth to receive a Gold tier by the International Dark Sky Association, the reserve maintains the dark sky by carefully regulating artificial light fixtures and use of vehicular light.
This maintenance of natural darkness is great for surrounding nocturnal and diurnal animals, part of what andBeyond is committed to conserving. It’s also great for pristine, otherworldly views of the night skies. It’s no wonder then that one of the key attractions at the lodge is stargazing: complete with a resident expert astronomer, on-site observatory and cutting-edge telescopic equipment.
During the day, you’d still get everything that comes with staying in an isolated desert oasis – from dune walks to hot air balloon rides over the sands, expect to marvel at one of the world’s oldest living deserts. The accommodation is similarly luxurious: comprised of glass, rock and steel, every suite is designed to maximise views of the unending vistas. You’d also get to enjoy the use of private plunge pools, a central-island bar and the requisite gym and wellness center. We’d try to get more rest during the days though: after all, the pristine night sky awaits.
Eleven Life’s wellness retreats are all about aggregated gains – that is, making small changes to your lifestyle in terms of fitness, nutrition, and wellness, that add up to something more than a little life changing. Think of it as a sort of luxury bootcamp: removing all the distractions and obstacles that might prevent us from getting the life we’d want (for example, being too tired and ordering takeaway), and replacing it with something healthy instead (at Eleven Life Deplar Farms, a curated culinary programme by executive chef Gardar Kari Gardasson armed with the freshest local ingredients and exhaustive knowledge of their nutritional benefits).
Apart from carefully designed menus by a chef that’s won various high-level Icelandic competitions, you’re tucked away in the Troll Peninsula, Iceland. Home to some of the best scenery and breathtaking expanses in the natural world, expect to spend summer days outdoors – a lot. Everything from plucking wild, antioxidant-rich berries when in season, to plenty of wilderness trekking, skiing and biking.
Indoors, Deplar Farms also boasts a fully equipped gym and yoga centre, as well as other wellness facilities like a geothermal-heated outdoor pool and spa equipped with Isopod flotation tanks. There, guests are offered a slew of spa treatments that focus on vegan, sustainable and all-natural products. Bedrooms and suites are clad in black timber and grass-sodden roofs – they’re rustic but comfortable, designed specifically to bring you away from the ideas of conventional luxury and your life back home, while maintaining a high level of livability.
There’s no guarantee that the world circa 2021 might look a lot closer to 2019 than it does now. We also can’t be too sure if the new normal is truly here to stay. What we are sure of, however, is that as travel eases open worldwide, ultra-exclusive and private resorts and experiences would have the upper hand for luxury travel: now more than ever.