For the past nearly four years of writing this blog I’ve been on a mission to show that luxury travel isn’t just about posh, stuffy hotels that cater for the elite. For me luxury travel is about rare experiences, exclusive access, privacy and distance from the crowds and a look at culture in an authentic way. It’s about bespoke and personalised moments, attention to detail, people, places, memories, times…it’s not about things, showing off or how much money you’re spending. Needless to say, everyone defines luxury in a different way and it’s all about that special meaning that it has to you.
Luxury travel has been a passion of mine for many years, long before I started my blog, with a love for beautiful hotels, different destinations, unique experiences and gastronomy. I read recently abut the wanderlust gene and the idea that desire to travel is inherited from our parents but in my case that’s not true. My parents don’t have that wanderlust bug and actually don’t enjoy flying…when I was younger they’d take us cruises around the Caribbean and the Meditteranean. Having been on lots of cruises I now have strong opinions on them, whilst there’s a lot to be said for waking up in a new country everyday and the ease of exploring multiple destinations on one trip, I would personally rather travel deeper, feel a culture and take my time to see a place in depth. That’s not to say I would never go on a cruise again…never say never!
Let’s skips forward a few years past the post A-Level and university trips to Kavos and Ibizia – those are certainly experiences that I’ll never repeat – and on to how I choose to travel nowadays. I wrote a post about year ago on my travel style which focuses on travelling with Mr S, enjoying foodie experiences in unique places and creating memories. It is the places I’ve stayed in that have formed this style and given a narrative to my travel story. For me a hotel should be chosen carefully in order to epitomise the destination and embrace all aspects on the culture. If a hotel doesn’t have a sense of place, I will struggle to fall in love with it.
Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains of Sydney was the first time I ever stayed in an luxury, experiential lodge and it was here that I fell in love with this style of travel. At Wolgan Valley you stay in incredible accommodation in a conservation-based resort in a nature reserve. With nothing else for miles around you can be at one with nature (kangeroos and wallabys), explore the history of the location and dine on local cuisine. For a Londoner or city dweller seeing the stars at night alone is a luxury…
Since our stay at Wolgan Valley it’s been my mission to seek out incredible places like this…
A place may be defined as five-star by it’s amenities but in my eyes it’s the experience that truly makes it…For example Sasaab in Samburu. Our accommodation was a tent – no mini bar or even air conditioning but one of my favourite all time places to stay. Waking up to incredible views, dik-diks playing on our terrace, the opportunity to go camel trekking and eating breakfast in the wilderness.
A climb to the summit of the rock and eating sausages cooked over a flame and drinking prosecco from metal cups was a far cry from Michelin-star restaurants and caviar but still one of the most luxurious experiences of life. At Sasaab we may have been surrounded by the most incredible wildlife but what truly made the experience for us was the warmth and hospitality of the staff. After all it’s the people that really take the hotel experience to the next level.
Another hotel that’s played a big part in my travel story was Mnemba Island which is probably tied with Singita Boulders for being one of my favourite hotels of all time. With only 12 cottage-like bandas we experienced the ultimate in privacy at this gorgeous lodge in Zanzibar. The incredible location and beauty of the architecture still wouldn’t be complete without the incredible people that run the hotel – from the general manager who met you for a drink before dinner, to the chef who carefully plans your meals with the utmost respect to your personal taste and your personal butler who is there for you whenever you need him.
Yes, I fell in love with luxury travel but it wasn’t through superficial things, five stars hotels and over the top service – it was through places, experiences, uniques opportunity…but most of all it was through the people I met.