You might think the entries on your travel bucket lists are aspirational – a trip to see the Northern Lights doesn’t come cheap, after all, nor does a cruise to Antarctica – but we all wonder sometimes what would these wish lists look like if money were no object. What if you could not only hit up that must-see country, but do so with first class tickets, luxe hotels with the best views, and no thought about the tab at Michelin-starred restaurants? In other words, what would it be like if you could travel like a billionaire?
Welcome to the ultra-luxe world of gilded hotels, iceberg-dodging super-yachts, and 24-hour butler service. If you're indulging your imagination, follow along to a list of destinations where your every whim will be catered to, where adrenaline-rush adventures are followed up with soothing spa treatments, and where private suites are fit for a king. We've rounded up six dreamy places to blow those lottery winnings that are one Powerball ticket away.
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
For the ultra-rich who haven’t already bought their own private island, unspoilt Necker Island, owned by billionaire Sir Richard Branson, is available for exclusive hire from US$102,500 per night. The 74 hectare, flamingo-inhabited paradise in the British Virgin Islands can accommodate 40 guests across its casually luxurious accommodations, including the Great House, with panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.
Free from the scourge of other holidaymakers, guests can bask on one of the powder-sand beaches, take wakeboarding lessons in the crystal-clear waters, or work on their backhand with a pro tennis coach, before sitting down to a meal prepared by a culinary team led by Michelin-starred chef Simon Dyer – if they’re not too full from snacking at the floating sushi bar. And don't think that all this luxury comes at the cost of sustainability – Necker Island meets 80% of its daily energy need with renewable sources, while Branson also has implemented conservation programs that benefit some of island's permanent residents, namely, the flamingos that call Necker home.
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Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Dubai’s Burj al Arab hotel has been not-so-quietly setting the "seven-star" standard for others to follow since it opened in 1999. Entirely comprising luxury suites, the 321m-high, sail-shaped building claims to be the world’s most luxurious hotel, with 1790 sq metres of 24-carat gold leaf throughout, chauffeur-driven Rolls Royces for guest transport, and duvets made from feathers hand-collected from abandoned eider-duck nests in Iceland. Naturally only a Royal Suite will do: for a starting rate of US$1500 per night in low season, a private elevator glides you to 780 sq metres of opulence over two floors, including a library, cinema, chefs on hand to create a personalised menu and, of course, world-class round-the-clock butler service.
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The Chedi Luštica Bay Hotel, Montenegro
While nearby Croatia has long has its ties to the billionaire set, it's only more recently that the super rich have turned their eyes and wallets towards Montenegro. The Chedi Luštica is just two years old, set amidst a larger resort complex that includes five star vacation rental condominiums, two marinas, an assortment of private residences and, soon, Montenegro's first 18-hole championship golf course. But the real draw is its private beaches on Trašte Bay off the Adriatic and proximity to the UNESCO-protected Old Town of Kotor and Boka Bay, giving those with deep pockets unique access to this off-the-beaten-path corner of the Balkans.
The Chedi Luštica's penthouse suite is a "cavernous," sound-proofed 1765 square feet, with two bedrooms with ensuite baths, powder room off the living area, a dressing room, and a private balcony with ocean views, which will run you a cool US$14,000 for a week at the tail end of peak season, or about US$2,021 a night.
Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas
What happens in Vegas usually stays in Vegas, but art-loving guests at the Empathy Suite in the Palms Casino Resort won’t want to keep quiet. Reserved for US$1 million high rollers or those who can pay the US$200,000 rate for a minimum two-night stay, the 835 sq metre suite was designed entirely – from the bedlinen to the cantilevered balcony pool overlooking the Las Vegas skyline – by British artist Damien Hirst. Grey marble and furnishings are offset by Hirst’s characteristic colourful dots, butterflies and pill motifs, and the suite displays six specially commissioned works by the artist including Winner/Loser (2018), two sharks preserved in his infamous style. Aside from the art, there’s a "healing salt room", a gym, two massage rooms and a 24-hour concierge.
Editor's note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Palms Casino Resort is closed until further notice.
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Royal Malewane Safari Lodge, South Africa
Seeing the Big Five on safari in Africa is top of many people’s wish lists, but the Royal Malewane Safari Lodge, set in the 15,000-hectare Thornybush Private Game Reserve in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park area, ensures the most exclusive experience for the discerning holidaymaker. Private game drives conducted by “the most qualified guides in Africa” guarantee an intimate insight into life on the savannah. Back at base, every need is catered for in sumptuous interiors accented by handcrafted Persian rugs and the finest antiques. The signature African Harmony massage treatment, carried out by two therapists in tandem at the award-winning spa, is essential for soothing weary muscles after a long day covering rough terrain. For the ultimate safari, exclusive use of the entire 46-bed lodge can be yours for US$77,000 per night.
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Yachting in the Mediterranean
Spending a summer sashaying between French, Spanish, Italian, and Croatian ports is peak frivolity, and hiring a full-service vessel to meander around the Mediterranean and rub shoulders with the Clooneys and Jay-Z starts at about US$50,000 per week – just don’t forget to factor in the marina fees. From around US$3150 per night during peak season, Italy’s ultra-exclusive Portofino isn't the priciest place to park your luxury liner, but with only 16 moorings and one oft-closed road in and out of the pretty village, it’s reserved for the veriest of VIPs. The flashiest spot to splash the cruising cash is undoubtedly Monaco, though, commanding marina fees of around US$100,000 (depending on the size of your boat) to stay in the premier spots for the duration of the Grand Prix.
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Heli-ski in Greenland from the MV Cloudbreak
Wealthy adrenaline junkies seeking thrills beyond the black runs of the French Alps might want to consider the ultimate winter sports adventure: chartering the ice-enduring super-yacht MV Cloudbreak for a week of heli-skiing in Greenland for up to 12 people. No chairlift, no problem: taking off from the on-board helipad, guests and their expert mountain guides will be airlifted to some of the most remote and inhospitable terrain on the planet. For all its Arctic-enduring credentials, the 75m luxury liner is the epitome of splendour inside, with exquisite furnishings, a glass elevator to move effortlessly between decks, a spa, fitness suite and cinema room. One high-octane week of yacht and helicopter experience will set you back around US$1 million.
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