Travel is an investment in well-being and adventure. No longer content with the “bigger is better” mentality that has dominated for the past few decades, discerning travelers are now seeking experiences and returning home with stunning pictures and tales rather than souvenirs that won’t last until their next trip. Read on to be reintroduced to classics that have been revamped for adventures that will do more than just stamp your passport.
Phuket is a tear-shaped island in southern Thailand. An hour-long flight from Bangkok feels like the beginning of a magical adventure. Below the wings of the plane, there are lush islands spotting the tranquil blue Andaman Sea. Once off the plane, massages can be taken on the beach or in hotel rooms. A tuk tuk, an open-air taxi that will take you over the mountains, offers breathtaking views of the majestic waters. Guests will love visiting temples and seeing holy Buddhist artifacts. Make sure to leave donations and be mindful of being adequately covered before entering the sacred buildings. Elephant safaris are available at almost every tourist spot. Families with young children will delight in visiting the local zoo, where elephants play soccer and paint for snacks. Those who have experienced this Asian country describe it as paradise filled with seemingly impossible luxuries. This once-sleepy beach town was reinvented in the late nineties as a destination hotspot for Europeans. With the masses able to attain affordable flights to the island and a rapid saturation of visitors, it had become a touch passé with and many luxury travelers looked for other horizons despite the stunning views from Kamala Beach and the Phi Phi Islands. What is new on this stunning island is the state-of-the-art Splash Jungle Water Park, located next to The West Sands Resort. Not only for the younger jet set, adults will also appreciate the lazy river and adventurous slides. It allows a space everyone on the island to come together for fun. While top-rated dining has also been a staple, an art community is gaining international recognition with artist colonies on the south end of the island. Here, artists from around the world gather for street fairs and sell their masterpieces to visitors and locals alike. Given the lush greenery of Phuket, it should come as no surprise that Rawaii Beach is now an internationally recognized raw juicing hub. Meditation centers offer juicing programs, as do the hotels. The program of only consuming raw fruits and vegetables in liquid form helps tourists not only lose weight but increase well-being. Rawaii is now filled with raw food restaurants where staff is eager to share their healthy lifestyle and offer tips.
Iceland is more than the land of fire and ice. It is a place where magic seems to live in every geothermal spring, like the internationally famous Blue Lagoon now with a spa retreat. Local delicacies such as hakari, which is fermented shark meat have become a must for any self-respecting foodie. Leaving the past behind, a new wave of development has brought the capital city into the present day and made it one of the world’s premier destinations. Recently constructed luxury hotels offer panoramic views of the volcanic city, and suites come with fireplaces and personal butlers. The CenterHotel Thingholt does away with traditional Nordic interiors and boasts suites with black ostrich leather and Fendi chairs while preserving Iceland’s tradition of unrivaled beauty with a perfect view of local volcanic mountain ranges. The city reinvented itself after the 2008 banking collapse forced investors to turn their focus domestically and tourism began dwindling. When black sand beaches and volcanos were not enough, Reykjavik’s focus turned to health and wellness. Now the compact city has an international vibe that is drawing quite the crowd. When visiting Reykjavik, don’t forget to pen adventure excursions into the itinerary. The famous Northern Lights are visible during the Aurora season, from October until March, dazzling crisp fall and winter nights with their otherworldly beauty and colorful intensity. Lush parks are never more than a few feet away in the Viking city. Reykjavik is a destination for literature and history buffs alike, with several museums dedicated to the local heritage. Those with a taste for art will appreciate a visit to The Marshall House. The reincarnated herring factory is now an exhibition space for artist collectives where new artists and pieces are awaiting discovery. Visit boutiques to discover Icelandic design that ranges from traditional to unique. Try to visit during one of a vast number of annual festivals to experience the clean energy-powered city.
The safari experience, typically reserved for big game hunters and traditionalists, has been updated to blend the customs of the past with modern comfort. Instead of tents in the field guarded by locals, there are luxury camps with in-field spa treatments and an eye on ecologically responsible design. These lodges offer stylish comfort with luxury accommodations and crystal-clear Wi-Fi signals alongside breathtaking vantage points of the lush plains. As leopards and lions bask nearby in the midday sun, visitors will be able to enjoy the sweeping plains. Safaris traditionally have five a.m. start times, but these revamped safaris start the day later since many offer late-night stargazing and dining experiences from the comfort of strategically placed lounges. Local culture includes the formerly nomadic Maasai tribe. Against craters and hiking trails, their fluttering red robes are ubiquitous as you walk around the African tribal grounds. Some accommodations, such as the luxury eco-conscious safari resort Asilia Highlands, commission the tribe to teach guests how to make jewelry and learn traditional dances. Direct flights to the capital city of Dar es Salaam are nonexistent, but major Gulf airlines make transportation possible. Make sure to book during the dry season when animal herds gather at watering holes and seek shade close enough so that they are more visible than any other season, particularly notoriously elusive leopards.
No matter where you go in the world, luxury, in all its incarnations, will be your trusted travelling companion.