Spear’s 500 Travel Guide 2018 — bringing you the best in HNW travel
Luxury is the new normal, so much so that the dread word is now a fixture in the lexicon of almost every five-star and boutique hotel or tour operator. When I see the word luxury, I often think bland and predictable, so providers of travel experiences need to up their game a little. That doesn’t mean piling on the bling or re-branding their bathroom products: it means simply exhibiting thoughtfulness in presentation and sometimes even restraint in description. Grand dame hotels should not try to dress themselves up like young pretenders, but should feel comfortable enough that they don’t have to beg for attention. Quality of service trumps all.
So, too, with experiences: while a certain standard of comfort is desirable, it is the depth of knowledge conveyed and the level of authenticity that truly matters to the discerning traveller.
Last year, Lauren Jarvis wrote about conservation in Kenya. This year she has written two pieces about big adventure experiences: a Lindblad expedition cruise to Antartica and, back in Kenya again, a trekking safari to stalk black rhinoceros.
Even Europe offers some destinations little known outside natives of the countries themselves. One such is the Aeolian Islands, seven volcanic atolls off the coast of Sicily, which are visited mainly by Italians. Silvia Marchetti gives us a brilliantly atmospheric insight into their mysteries.
Andrew Harris took a stylish Nile cruise with Oberoi at a time when tourists are thin on the water, owing to the spectre of terrorism. Those who are not entirely risk-averse should head there now, while low numbers permit a more leisurely experience. In North America, he visits a favourite old resort, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, and Ocean House, a newly restored gem in the less-often-visited Rhode Island.
We also sent Alba Arikha to report from Morocco’s most mysterious city, its former capital of Fez, which offers an insight into the authentic Morocco.
The Amazon does not just mean Brazil, as Laura Millar explains while cruising on the Peruvian Amazon with Aqua Expeditions; similarly, Belmond doesn’t just operate the Venice-Simplon Orient Express but has recently added the Belmond Hibernian, out of Dublin, to its roster of luxury train tours, as described by Teresa Levonian Cole
Finally, and closer to home, Rasika Sittamparam visits the Pendennis shipyard in Falmouth, and hears from CEO Toby Allies about what makes this builder of yachts and superyachts so very special.