High-end holidays: A look at some of the world’s most exclusive luxury destinations

Viceroy Bali. (Supplied)
Updated 10 January 2019

High-end holidays: A look at some of the world’s most exclusive luxury destinations

  • A list of luxurious travel spots
  • Destinations all over the world

DUBAI: Here are some of the world’s most luxurious holiday spots:

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada
From $1,493
Fancy a stay at the end of the world? This boutique hotel on a remote island isn’t easy to get to (quickest way: charter a helicopter), but it’s well worth the journey for the astonishing views and the opportunity — through a sponsorship program — to spend time with locals and really get to explore the area’s culture. Of course, that’s optional, you’re equally welcome to simply lounge around in one of the rooftop hot tubs as well. This really is a place for lovers of the outdoors and nature, though. Take advantage of the guided hikes and the knowledgeable, mostly local, staff and lose yourself in the sparse beauty and unique atmosphere of Fogo Island.

Viceroy Bali, Indonesia
From $818
Recently voted the world’s best resort by readers of Condé Nast Traveler, the Viceroy is situated in the “Valley of Kings,” close to Ubud, and offers jaw-dropping views of the gorgeous jungle landscape and wildlife that surrounds the 25-room resort. The private villas, spa, fine dining and acclaimed customer service combine to offer a truly spectacular experience that should appeal to romantics and adventurers alike, and has resulted in almost-unanimous top ratings for the Viceroy in online reviews.

Constance Moofushi, Maldives
From $1,300
This all-inclusive resort on a small private island is perfect for those looking for a beachside escape, especially watersport enthusiasts — the resort boasts its own house reef, but is also less than an hour’s boat ride from some of the best diving spots in the world. Constance Moofushi has 110 rooms, all with great sea views, although some are more equal than others, perched directly above the water. This isn’t a destination for culture vultures, but if you want to lounge around in the sun and sand, sampling some great food and drink, then this idyllic resort will take some beating.

Pikaia Lodge Galapagos, Ecuador
From $4,680 for 3 nights (minimum stay)
“Designed for the environmentally conscious, physically active and adventurous traveler,” according to its website, this beautiful destination is situated in every evolution fan’s favorite location, the Galapagos Islands, and offers a — for once non-clichéd — once-in-a-lifetime experience in one of the world’s most bio-diverse environments. The islands’ otherworldly landscapes are magnificent, and the 14-room Pikaia Lodge is perfectly placed (on top of two extinct volcanic craters, 450 meters above sea level) to afford guests the best possible views of them. Set in 31 hectares, including a private wild giant tortoise reserve, Pikaia Lodge claims to have its own mosquito-free microclimate.

Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort & Spa, Oman
From $233
This resort combines two hotels — Al Waha (262 rooms) and Al Bandar (198 rooms) — both with breathtaking views over the waters of the Arabian Gulf and the cliffs that enclose the resort’s beaches in its private inlet, accessed via a man-made tunnel through the mountains. Snorkel in the turquoise sea and track sea-turtles, or simply lounge on some of the finest beaches in the Gulf. For the more adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities, from kite-surfing and kayaking to jet-packing. The resort boasts nine restaurants as well as an art gallery, and shops selling local crafts. Those in search of pampering should visit CHI, The Spa, which offers a vitality hydro pool, herbal steam room and an ice fountain, alongside its 12 treatment villas. This is luxury at a bargain price.

Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
From $77,500 per night for exclusive use
If you’ve got the cash to splash, then you and 29 friends can rent this private island as your exclusive holiday resort from owner Richard Branson. As you’d expect, for that price you get some serious ‘barefoot luxury’ to enjoy — from the abundant local wildlife, great sailing, diving and swimming locations, through yoga, tennis and kitesurfing, to spa treatments, and themed parties on some evenings. If you save a bit of space in your suitcase, you can also help the local community by bringing in medical supplies or educational aid. There are also a few excursions available to nearby islands.

The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore, India
From $603
A few hours drive from Delhi this classy retreat has the feel of an old-school safari camp (only with air-conditioning and high-speed Internet). With spacious private tents situated among mango and lemon groves, featuring teak floors, canopied four-poster beds, and standalone, claw-foot bathtubs — and each serviced by a personal butler, of course — visitors will feel like they’ve gone back in time. You may well be greeted by elephants on arrival, and on the twice-daily game drives, you could spot leopards, bears and even tigers — or take the river safari to track down the Gharial, India’s endangered crocodilian. Romantics, meanwhile, can treat themselves to a three-hour couples massage at the spa.

Bunga Raya Island Resort, Malaysia
From $1,245
A secluded hideaway just off the coast of Borneo, this small resort island consists of 47 sumptuous hillside villas (fully equipped with all mod cons) with views out over the beach to the South China Sea. Explore the tropical jungle — either on foot (one four-hour trek will take you across the whole island), or by zip line — and the warm waters, by sailboat, kayak or paddleboard. Scuba diving is also available. Wind down at the spa, which offers both Asian and Western treatments. Guests can order a romantic private meal in a beach pavilion, or dine at one of the resort’s well-reviewed restaurants, some of which require a boat journey to reach.

 


Virgin Galactic reveals futuristic outpost for space tourism

Updated 16 August 2019

Virgin Galactic reveals futuristic outpost for space tourism

  • Critics suggested the project was a boondoggle, but supporters argued that there were bound to be hard and sometimes costly lessons
  • The interior spaces unveiled Thursday aim to connect paying customers with every aspect of the operation

UPHAM, New Mexico: Spaceport America is no longer just a shiny shell of hope that space tourism would one day launch from this remote spot in the New Mexico desert.
The once-empty hangar that anchors the taxpayer-financed launch and landing facility has been transformed into a custom-tailored headquarters where Virgin Galactic will run its commercial flight operations.
Two levels within the spaceport include mission control, a preparation area for pilots and a lounge for paying customers and their friends and families, with each element of the fit and finish paying homage to either the desert landscape that surrounds the futuristic outpost or the promise of traveling to the edge of space.
From hotel rooms to aircraft cabins, the Virgin brand touts its designs for their focus on the customer experience. Spaceport is no different.
Earthen tones help ground visitors on the first floor. The social hub includes an interactive digital walkway and a coffee bar made of Italian marble. On the upper deck, shades of white and gray speak to Virgin Galactic’s more lofty mission.
Company officials, offering the first glimpse of the facility Thursday, say the space is meant to create “an unparalleled experience” as customers prepare for what Virgin Galactic describes as the journey of a lifetime.
Just how soon customers will file into Virgin Galactic’s newly outfitted digs for the first commercial flights has yet to be determined. A small number of test flights are still needed.
Billionaire Richard Branson, who is behind Virgin Galactic, and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, first pitched the plan for the spaceport nearly 15 years ago.
There were construction delays and cost overruns. Virgin Galactic’s spaceship development took far longer than expected and had a major setback when its first experimental craft broke apart during a 2014 test flight, killing the co-pilot.
Critics suggested the project was a boondoggle, but supporters argued that there were bound to be hard and sometimes costly lessons.
Democratic state Sen. George Munoz has enduring concerns about the business model for commercial, low-orbit travel for passengers.
“You can have all the money in the world and come back and say, ‘Was my 30 seconds of fame worth that risk?’” he said.
Munoz says New Mexico’s anticipated return on investment in terms of jobs and visitors is still overdue, with more than $200 million public funds spent on Spaceport America in cooperation with Virgin Galactic as anchor tenant.
At the facility Thursday, the carrier plane for Virgin’s rocket-powered passenger ship made a few passes and touch-and-goes over a runway.
Behind the spaceport’s signature wall of curved glass, mission control sits on the second floor with an unobstructed view of the runway and beyond.
There’s also space behind two massive sliding doors to accommodate two of Virgin Galactic’s carrier planes and a fleet of six-passenger rocket ships.
Virgin Galactic posted on social media earlier this week that its carrier plane had landed in New Mexico and its main operating base was now at the spaceport. And Branson said the wing of Virgin’s next rocket ship has been completed.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said once the test flights are complete, commercial operations can begin.
Chief Pilot Dave Mackay said the crew in the coming days will fly simulated launch missions to ensure in-flight communications and airspace coordination work as planned. The pilots also will be familiarizing themselves with New Mexico’s airspace and landmarks.
“New Mexico is on track to become one of the very few places on this beautiful planet which regularly launches humans to space,” Mackay said.
Branson will be among them. About 600 people have reserved a seat, according to the company, at a cost of $250,000 a ticket.
That buys them a ride on the winged rocket ship, which is dropped in flight from the carrier airplane. Once free, it fires its rocket motor to hurtle toward the boundary of space before gliding back down.
The latest test flight reached an altitude of 56 miles (90 kilometers) while traveling at three times the speed of sound.