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Seven Travel Advisors On the Most Over-the-Top Trips They’ve Planned

Joali Maldives offers exclusive privacy, abstract architectural design, and expert wellness and fitness trainers amid a naturally stunning island environment.
Joali Maldives offers exclusive privacy, abstract architectural design, and expert wellness and fitness trainers amid a naturally stunning island environment.

An inside look at favorite experiences – and inspiration for future luxe getaways.

We’re ready – more than ready – for a VIP vacation. The key to making this a reality: Virtuoso travel advisors. From private yacht cruises around the Amalfi Coast to exclusive viewings of the Crown Jewels in London, these on-the-go pros can secure exclusive access to just about anywhere. Below, we’ve gathered some of our experts’ best experiences for their clients and highlighted similar exclusive ideas from Virtuoso hotels, cruise lines, and tour companies that specialize in ultraluxe travel.

Animal Encounters

“I sent an 85-year-old mother – along with her three grown children and their spouses – on a bucket-list trip to Rwanda for gorilla trekking, then on to a safari in East Africa. The mother had a hard time clambering up and down the jungle hills, so porters carried her on a comfy stretcher whenever she needed a bit of help. Memories made!” – Nancy Yale, Virtuoso travel advisor

Guests traveling in Rwanda with Micato Safaris can observe multiple families of mountain gorillas – and cultural differences between each clan – in their lush, natural habitat.

At Cayo Espanto in Belize, staff are happy to charter a private boat for guests. Popular on-the-water diversions include snorkeling and visiting spots such as the famous Hol Chan Marine Reserve with an expert guide to see sea turtles, stingrays, and colorful coral reefs.

Like one of Botswana’s many vibrant birds, travelers visiting the country with Wilderness Safaris can soar silently over the Okavango Delta in a hot-air-balloon.

Kokomo Private Island Fiji can arrange full- and half-day private boat charters for guests who wish to scuba dive or drop anchor at any number of nearby secluded islands and beaches.

Alizés Private in Morocco coordinates visits to some of the country’s most spectacular, bird-song-filled gardens in Marrakech, from Jardin Majorelle to Jardin Secret, which recently opened to the public for the first time.

Xigera Safari Lodge offers helicopter safaris that depart from the property grounds – and include headsets so passengers can chat with their pilots about Botswana’s flora and fauna below.

For those in search of the Northern Lights, Iceland Encounter conducts a seven-day luxury itinerary that includes private bike and gourmet tours, stays in stylish boutique hotels, and plenty of outdoor wildlife viewing.

Exclusive aquatic experiences await at Baoase Luxury Resort, where staff can arrange a ride in a mini-submarine under the surface of the Caribbean Sea.

Life on the Med

“My clients took their children and grandchildren, a party of 11, sailing on a 140-foot yacht in Italy. The trip started at the Cala di Volpe in Sardinia and ended in Sicily. I planned unusual events and excursions along the way, including a tenor arriving to surprise them at dinner, a toga party on the yacht the day they visited the Coliseum, a cooking class in Positano, a picnic at Mount Etna with traditional singers and dancers, and a pizza show in Amalfi.” – Suzanne Terry, Virtuoso travel advisor

For travelers exploring Messina, Sicily, during a seven-day cruise around the Mediterranean islands, Seabourn can arrange a private car and guide for two, plus a customized agenda tailored to individual interests.

While on SeaDream Yacht Club’s seven-day Dubrovnik-to-Venice itinerary, passengers can spend a day sailing to secluded spots in Croatia’s Hvar Archipelago, stopping for snorkel breaks and a lavish lunch along the way.

When they debut, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s three 298-passenger yachts will whisk passengers around the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and the Baltics (plus Canada, New England, Northern Europe, and across the Atlantic), in style.

Access Italy handles everything for travelers visiting their country, from private meals at Michelin-starred restaurants to behind-the-scenes tours of the Vatican.

Travelers who want to see a lesser-known side of the Greek Isles can hop on a privately chartered yacht for a day trip with Eclectic Greece by Kyvernitis Travel, complete with swimming off the island of Rhenia and an elegant on-board dinner during sunset.

For architecture-loving guests of Spain’s Finca Cortesin Hotel, Golf, Spa & Villas, staff can arrange a private, guided visit to the Alhambra Palace, located just two hours from the resort.

The city of Florence may be known for its stunning art and architecture, but it’s also home to a little-known monastery where hand-made scents and creams have been crafted for centuries – I.D.I. Italy can arrange a visit and shopping experience.

Staff at Porto Zante Villas & Spa can plan a customized, private daytrip itinerary that includes a visit to and tasting at a local Greek winery.

Fly above Lake Como – or head farther afield to Lake Maggiore or Lake Garda – on a private helicopter tour arranged exclusively for guests of Villa d'Este.

A sunrise view of the Grand Canyon's north rim, just outside of Page, Arizona.
A sunrise view of the Grand Canyon's north rim, just outside of Page, Arizona.

Close-to-Home Dream Trips

“I’m in the middle of planning a round-trip private jet charter from Long Island, New York, to Page, Arizona, along with a helicopter to transport my clients from the hotel to the Grand Canyon on two different days for private tours.” – Mark Hoyer, Virtuoso travel advisor

American Excursionist offers a ten-day private-jet tour of Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon national parks by, complete with private cultural experiences in each destination.

Wine lovers who stay at Vintage House at The Estate at Yountville can glide over some of Napa Valley’s most beautiful vineyards in a hot-air balloon – it’s a five-hour experience complete with Champagne, a photoshoot, and brunch.

Guests checking in to Nobu Ryokan Malibu enjoy priority reservations at the celebrity-loved Nobu Malibu Restaurant next door, as well as a personal concierge who can cater to their every wish and whim during their stay.

Austin Adventures offers itineraries in the American West that include VIP ranch stays, chef-prepared meals, and locally sourced wines.

Privacy, Please

“I have several clients who use only private jets. I’ve done private helicopter trips to dude ranches out west, a private plane over Yellowstone National Park to see the sights, and a private train car to Aguas Calientes at the foot of the ruins of Machu Picchu. I did a private honeymoon in Greece with helicopter transfers to and from their all-inclusive villa with an entire staff.” – Pam Walker, Virtuoso travel advisor

Whether they’re visiting Machu Picchu for the first time or making a return trip, guests traveling to the celebrated Peruvian landmark with Metropolitan Touring - Peru can enjoy a privately guided tour of the ruins, as well as a lavish lunch at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge.

Guests traveling on Luxury Gold (Chairman's Collection) itineraries around the world can spend time with prominent personalities, including a former Canadian Olympic skier, a British duchess, and award-winning country musicians.

Staff at Villas of Distinction can arrange special, celebratory surprises – think fireworks, invitation-ony music and dance performances, and more – for guests at their own private villa.

At Joali Maldives, guests can have their own exclusive paradise with a stay in the three- or four-bedroom overwater Ocean Residences, which are outfitted with pools, decks, and spa treatment rooms.

Groups who want to enjoy a sun-soaked escape in utmost privacy can stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Seven South, the largest luxury suite configuration in the Caribbean, which comprises 11 bedrooms on the hotel’s penthouse level.

In the British Virgin Islands, travelers can take over Valley Trunk Estate and enjoy limited-number excursions to must-see spots including Virgin Gorda’s famous Baths.

You don’t have to be a newlywed to enjoy Velaa Private Island’s secluded Romantic Residence, which sits on stilts atop a crystal-clear lagoon and is accessible only by boat.

Travelers who want to make their temporary home among Norway’s stunning fjords can do so in a luxury villa arranged by Norwegian Adventures.

At Amanpulo in the Philippines, guests can set sail for a privately chartered moonlight cruise, followed by a barbecue and bonfire back on shore at their casita.

With locations in Mauritius, Mexico, Malaysia, Montenegro, and Greece to choose from, travelers who rent or own One&Only Private Homes are treated to a variety of luxury amenities, from helicopter transfers to designated concierge services.

Along with a stay in the only Caribbean property that enjoys a palace distinction, guests of Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France can escape to the seas aboard a yacht, dropping anchor at secluded beaches for picnics and solitude in the sun.

In Bordeaux, savor rare winetastings, tour medieval châteaus, and explore the countryside in a retro sidecar.
In Bordeaux, savor rare winetastings, tour medieval châteaus, and explore the countryside in a retro sidecar.

Seriously Upgraded Picnics

“I planned a great surprise for my clients on a New Zealand trip. They boarded a helicopter in Queenstown, thinking they were flying to a glacier at Milford Sound. The pilot flew around the sound, but then landed on a helipad on top of a yacht, where a butler escorted them to the ship’s stern for a lobster lunch. They cruised around the sound accompanied by dolphins frolicking in the waves.” – Peggy Purtell, Virtuoso travel advisor

Seasonz offers a twelve-day private-jet journey around New Zealand that includes a Fiordland helicopter excursion with a glacier picnic lunch.

Watch Australia’s coastline slowly drift by from aboard a private yacht – complete with your own crew and chef – arranged by The Tailor.

The Dolomites are among the most beautiful mountains in Europe, and travelers visiting Italy with IC Bellagio can fly above – and among – their craggy formations aboard a helicopter, stopping for a mountaintop lunch and wine tasting along the way.

Oenophiles exploring New Zealand with Southern Crossings can enjoy private, guided vineyard tours and tastings on Waiheke Island, a sought-after playground among Auckland’s elite and home to several stylish wineries.

Staff at The Brando in French Polynesia dream up private, romantic dinners and music in travelers’ villas or on the beach to celebrate special occasions – or no occasion at all.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ Masterpiece Collection shore excursions include chances to explore destinations in less-conventional ways – such as zipping through the streets of Bordeaux in a retro sidecar on the way to a winetasting.

Far, Far Out

“I organized and escorted a group of 30 people around Australia in two private jets on behalf of a Sydney couple. We traveled to Coober Pedy, Uluru, Jabiru, and Hayman Island.” – Adrienne Witteman, Virtuoso travel advisor

Travelers who embark on White Desert’s four- or eight-day Owners’ Club experiences can pilot their own aircraft from Cape Town to the White Continent, where they’ll land on Antarctica’s only runway designed specifically for private jets.

Remote Lands, Inc. partners with Aman to offer design-your-own jet expeditions in destinations around the world, with itineraries including stays in multiple resorts.

Animal enthusiasts can hop from one continent to the next on Abercrombie & Kent’s 24-day, around-the-world private-jet safari journey.

Regardless of where travelers’ adventures take them, Medjet can transport its members to the world’s best care facilities in the event of a medical emergency or other crisis.

Mabat Platinum - Israel Touring Services can arrange helicopter tours over Israeli sights including the Negev desert, the Mountains of Galilee, the old city of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv’s beaches, and more.

Windows to Japan offers an array of itineraries for varied interests in the island nation, with options to travel with expert guides and drivers along the way.

The only thing more thrilling than feeling the mist of Iguazu Falls on your skin? Seeing the thunderous natural wonder from a helicopter during a tour planned by Blue Parallel.

The iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai was constructed in the shape of an Arabian dhow ship.
The iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai was constructed in the shape of an Arabian dhow ship.

Behind-the-Scenes Access and Events “A traveler wanted to re-propose to his wife, so I arranged a private viewing of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London so he could pop the question. He’s also a big James Bond fan, so later that week, I secured him tickets to the world premiere of Skyfall at Albert Hall. He was seated a few rows in front of Prince Philip.” – Andrew Butler, Virtuoso travel advisor For its guests in Paris, I.D.I. France can arrange a half-day tour of an area rarely seen by tourists, where artisans specialize in gilding, carving, and other time-honored crafts. Race through Dubai like royalty while driving a Lamborghini, Aston Martin, or Ferrari, or in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce – the staff at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah can arrange it. In the United Kingdom, the travel experts at NoteWorthy - United Kingdom can arrange meet-and-greets with guests’ favorite thespians, film stars, athletes, and other high-profile figures. For serious football fans, Overseas Leisure Group can arrange tickets to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, complete with chauffeured transportation to matches. Fashion plates who stay in the Mandarin Oriental Penthouse at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London can enjoy an in-suite consultation and shopping experience with a personal shopper – or a private car to take them to the city’s most esteemed designer boutiques. For clients tracing their ancestry on the Emerald Isle, NoteWorthy - Ireland can plan detailed itineraries that include visits to libraries and other institutions where family records are held, as well as exclusive cultural experiences. A private class with a master chef under the sails of the Sydney Opera House or a walk-on-role on stage alongside professional actors are just a couple over-the-top experiences Southern Crossings can arrange in Australia. No lines here. Art and history buffs who travel on an itinerary arranged by NoteWorthy - France can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Louvre in Paris, or hit the city’s high-end boutiques in the company of a French-speaking driver and guide. If you’ve ever wanted to tour the Montreal Museum of Fine Art after hours, Canadian Excursionist can make it, and plenty more exclusive urban experiences around Canada, happen. In-suite spa treatments and five-star meals are just a couple of perks that guests staying in The Parisian Apartment at the Mandarin Oriental, Paris can enjoy during their stay in the City of Light. Produced with support from Virtuoso Ultraluxe Travel partners. Find out more about hotels, Applebee Travel Professionals tour operators, on-site tour connections, cruise lines, and destinations that specialize in ultraluxe travel.

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