“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list,” Susan Sontag famously wrote. Every traveller has their wishlist of longed-for experiences and dreamed-of destinations. Every list is different, of course. The one thing that they all have in common – they just keep growing. Here are 10 high-end in-destination experiences to add to yours.
Why go: To pay tribute to fashion polyglot Karl Lagerfeld, who was the most prolific designer of the 20th and 21st centuries. He is long associated with Chanel, the brand for which he served as creative director from 1983, and fans of Lagerfeld’s creative force can visit the Chanel Haute Couture Atelier, then visit Lagerfeld’s favourite boutiques with a personal shopper, before dining at Café de Flore. Retire to one of Hôtel de Crillon’s grand apartments, designed by Lagerfeld before his death to convey his vision of French chic and modernity.
Why go: Wa Ale Island is a remarkable and remote private-island resort within the Lampi Marine National Park – Myanmar’s only marine conservation area. It’s low-impact but high-luxury. Committed to conservation, the resort – comprising 11 tents and three treehouses – dedicates a fifth of all revenues generated to the Lampi Foundation, which protects sea turtles and coral as well as donating to local education and medical programmes. Between that, its no-tree-felling policy and a minimal carbon footprint, you can enjoy this resort in guilt-free bliss.
Where: Western Cape, South Africa
Why go: Great cuisine and the Western Cape go hand-in-hand. From Stellenbosch to Franschhoek, the famous vineyards and Cape Town’s melting-pot food scene make the perfect pairing. With A&K, you can enjoy an ambitious culinary tour to taste the Cape truly. Take a helicopter out to Wolfgat – a seaside restaurant voted the best in the world (World Restaurant Awards 2019); wine and dine at Leeu Estates – the Winelands’ only tourist-board graded “five-star premium” hotel; and hop between street food stalls, markets and eateries in style.
Where: Highlands, Scotland
Why go: Scotland’s most famous Highland games, the Braemar Gathering is held annually in the Aberdeenshire town of Braemar, on the first Saturday of September. Join the Queen, who attends without fail each year, to watch participants toss the caber. There are also running races, a tug of war, pipers and Highland dancers. Watch proceedings from your hotel’s private box. Now owned by Swiss art dealers and collectors Iwan and Manuela Wirth, The Fife Arms – which started life as a Victorian coaching inn – has been updated to become Scotland’s hottest hotel.
Where: North Iceland
Why go: The geothermal delights of Iceland’s Golden Circle have never been more popular – nor crowded. Experience a different side of Iceland by heading north of the tourist trail. The whimsically named Troll Peninsula is perfect for those seeking a no-holds-barred snow experience during peak ski season. Runs average nearly one vertical kilometre on the Arctic Maritime snowpack and will likely never have been skied before. For a chic retreat in the region, try Deplar Farm. This former sheep station offers skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, snowmobiling and more.
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Why go: With a history dating back to the 1700s, Carnival is the most significant event in Rio de Janeiro’s calendar. Party to the sound of steel drums, watch lively samba performances by some of the finest dancers in the region and sample Brazilian culinary classics from local street-food stalls. Across the five-day festival, millions of people flock to this seaside city to enjoy the vibrant blocos (street parties). With A&K, you can watch the proceedings from a VIP box and enjoy tours of some of Rio’s best sights.
Where: Sumba, Indonesia
Why go: Is there any cooler family activity than surfing? Once the pastime of Polynesian royalty, surfing hit the mainstream after World War II in places like California and Hawaii, before becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Swell-seekers speak reverently of “Occy’s Left”, a legendary surf break off the island of Sumba. Its cachet is preserved by the fact that access is limited by Nihi Sumba, the blissful beach resort by the break. Despite the challenges posed by Occy’s, novice surfers can learn here, depending on the swell, or calmer water can be found at nearby Coconut Cove. Imagine the kudos when term resumes.
Where: Siena, Italy
Why go: Twice a year, people gather in the Tuscan city of Siena – a Unesco World Heritage Site – for the most significant event in the city’s calendar: the Palio. This elaborate horse race dates back to the 16th century and is celebrated by locals with gusto. Siena’s different factions (contrade) compete with one another, and the palio – a banner of hand-painted silk produced for each race – is awarded to the victors. While the crowds of excited spectators fill out the streets below, A&K can arrange for you to watch the track from the comfort of a private balcony, glass of Tuscan wine in hand.
Why go: In 2020, as the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum opens and the latest version of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile comes to the silver screen, Egypt will be on many a wishlist. Start your journey in Aswan at the opulent Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel, in which Agatha Christie wrote her famed thriller. From Aswan, sail up the Nile aboard the newly refurbished Sanctuary Nile Adventurer. This boat exudes style and visits sites along its route that have been must-sees since Herodotus. The grand finale to any Nile cruise is Karnak, but if time allows, don’t miss out on Cairo and its new much-anticipated museum.
Where: The Arctic
Why go: To see the region through expert eyes. On a journey through the Arctic – such as the Grand Arctic Voyage, an exceptional expedition team is vital. A&K’s is made up of an incredible range of regional specialists. Led by Bob Simpson, former executive committee chair of IAATO, the team of real-life explorers includes an Arctic archaeologist; a Falkland Islands native raised on a sheep ranch; and a Polar Medal-winning British Antarctica Survey veteran.