Your Passport to the World's Most Luxe Experiences


Butler service, bespoke itineraries, fireworks for your eyes only... You need buckets of money for this bucket list, writes Jo McKay. You only live once.

Magnificent Mexico

The Ty Warner Mansion at Las Ventanas al Paraíso in Los Cabos, Mexico, is a 2600-square-metre private sanctuary designed to impress. From the cascading vertical-garden entrance and soaring atrium ceilings to the glittering marble floor, no detail has been overlooked – or underplayed. Outside, a 100-metre infinity pool, with views of the Sea of Cortez, wraps around the building. The interior features vibrant Mexican and Moorish furnishings. Two master bedrooms flank the living spaces and there’s a tequila library, a Bedouin-inspired media room and an elevator to access the vast rooftop terrace, which has a glass-bottom lap pool and putting green. And how could you make your stay at this $46,000-a-night property even more ostentatious? Cap it off with your own private fireworks display, of course.

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Stately Sailing

A superyacht managed by a super-luxe hotel? Yes, please. For $344,000 a week, the prestigious 56-metre, six-suite The Wellesley couples the superior service and styling of one of London’s finest hotels with a spectacular backdrop of ocean and coastline – the Mediterranean in the northern summer, the Caribbean in winter. On board, glamour reigns: velvet and leather furnishings, marble ensuites with Hermès amenities, your own humidor, plus a haul of water toys and two tenders for onshore jaunts. A crew of 12 attends to every desire. Host a silver-service dinner with Baccarat crystal, sink into repose on the spa deck or hand yourself over to the onboard masseuse.

Bespoke Lapland

Imagine marvelling at the aurora borealis, cocooned under a fur blanket within the confines of a plush igloo while sipping Champagne. Luxury Action makes it possible – and impressive glass igloos with a panoramic outlook are among the remarkable accommodation options on its customisable, all-inclusive Northern Lights tours. There are alpine-chic chalet lodges for exclusive use, gravity-defying tree houses and even luxe heated teepees set in pristine wilderness, complete with a private chef and butler service. At night the sky comes alive. In the daytime there are snowmobile safaris, husky sledding, ice driving and reindeer rides. Bespoke itineraries start from $14,000 per person and can cost as much as $1 million.

Wild South Africa

Set on the 18,000-hectare Sabi Sand private game reserve, Singita Castleton was once the home of Singita founder Luke Bailes’s grandfather. Now it’s a six-suite residence – an impeccable blend of lodge, farmhouse, hotel and safari camp – for which private use (maximum 12 guests) costs a minimum of $16,000 a night. The décor is refined, inviting and informal and the cuisine topnotch. The tennis court, swimming pool, spa room, gym and trampoline will put the entire brood at ease. And perish the thought of set safari schedules, as exclusive use means there’s no timetable. Singita’s expert guides will track the best of the region (leopards, lions, rhinos, elephants, cheetahs and hippos) whenever you choose.

Sky-High New York 

No bucket list is complete without New York City and the prerequisite for standout accommodation in the Big Apple is a view. With commanding panoramas that span Central Park and the Manhattan skyline, the Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle certainly delivers. Of course, that’s not all this $25,000-per- night suite offers; curated artworks, silk-upholstered walls, handcrafted rugs, onyx tiles in the bathrooms and sumptuous furnishings make this a highly distinguished stay. Enjoy in-room fine dining, tech gadgets galore (such as a 65-inch plasma TV, surround- sound speaker system and Xbox 360 game console) or just soak in the oversize tub – which also takes in those magnificent views.

Private Maldives 

The concept of a private island in the Maldives is, quite frankly, commonplace. Plenty of resorts have exclusive use of an atoll – hence “private” – but you’re not the only guest. For unrivalled seclusion, you want your own island. And from about $49,000 a night (plus taxes), you can have it. Four Seasons’ Maldives Private Island at Voavah is a two-hectare idyll, marooned in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, that’s yours alone. Seven elegant bedrooms are spread over land and water – use whichever you like – plus there’s a gym, library, spa and dive centre, as well as a 19-metre yacht anchored offshore. Up to 25 dedicated staff members can fix anything, from kids’ activities and romantic castaway dining to swimming with manta rays.

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Out-There Australia 

On the Whitsunday Coast, not far from Airlie Beach, Villa Del Mare is a grand and gracious tribute to Mediterranean architecture set within manicured gardens. Prices start from $6000 per night for a minimum-five-night stay. The interiors are rich with fine Italian furnishings and chandeliers, while the facilities include a wine cellar, gym, pool table, cinema and aquamarine infinity pool. All six bedrooms showcase dazzling views of the Coral Sea and a personal butler finishes the lavish picture. The private helipad and marina provide easy access to local highlights such as Whitehaven Beach, Dent Island’s championship golf course and haute dining at Hamilton and Hayman islands and beyond.

Grand Venice 

They call it an island within an island – a romantic notion, given this two-storey, two-bedroom villa on Isola delle Rose is sequestered by verdant gardens rather than water. It matters little, as Villa Rose is a glorious oasis that will set you back about $7000 a night. Part of the JW Marriott Venice resort, it’s a study in contemporary classicism: its sleek interiors feature pale neutrals, pops of colour and an airy design. Views upstairs stretch across to Basilica San Marco, while outside, the private pool and deck beckon. Exceptional resort amenities heighten the experience, including a cooking school, 12 hectares of parkland, three pools, a splendid spa and the Michelin- starred Dopolavoro Dining Room. You’d be forgiven for “forgetting” to take the 15-minute boat ride into the Floating City itself.

Unbound Antarctica

Camping in Antarctica? Surely that’s for the likes of Shackleton and scientists? Not so at White Desert. Established in 2006, Antarctica’s only luxury camp underwent a superlative upgrade last year. The six sleeping pods now flaunt Scandi-inspired furniture, Saarinen chairs and fur throws. The lounge boasts custom- designed sofas, while a weighty yet graceful dining table helps showcase the cuisine of Justine Lindsay, former chef for the Mercedes Formula One team. Indoors, it’s world-class; outdoors, there’s an entire untouched continent to explore. Itineraries start at $63,000 and include ice tunnelling, visits to emperor penguin colonies and trips to the South Pole.

Opulent Oman

Camping on the Arabian Peninsula might sound like roughing it but the expeditions run by Oman’s Hud Hud Travels defy expectation. The tents are better described as portable deluxe bedrooms that change with their location: traditional Bedouin for the Wahiba Sands, African safari-style for the Hajar Mountains and white canvas bell tents for Khalouf Beach. All feature handmade rugs and proper beds swaddled in fine cotton. Each has a personal bathroom tent, while the majlis (communal tent) is decked out with chic lanterns and tasselled cushions. Outside, there’s a crackling fire and Middle Eastern delicacies served on fine china and white linen. Bespoke itineraries, magical seclusion, stately service and starry skies: this is the luxury road less travelled. Packages start from $1430 per person, per night.

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