Top 10 Luxurious Adventures of 2010 -- And How to Perfect 'Em in 2011
When people ask me for luxury travel advice, usually along the lines of "I want to plan a perfect trip to XYZ," I have two responses: a) there ain't no such thing as perfect in this world, no matter how much money you spend; and, b) you always know exactly how to make a trip as perfect as possible after you get home.
Still, the following trips I made in 2010 pleased me greatly, which is basically what I count as sublime perfection -- and should you plan to follow in my footsteps in 2011, note the tips I've added for making terrific travel even better.
- Sail French Polynesia Aboard the Paul Gauguin: This is the best way to explore the islands of French Polynesia -- obligingly beautiful sail-ins and outs, which you'll watch from your private balcony as your butler brings you beverages. Tip: Paul Gauguin is offering guest privileges credits of up to $1,000 on 2011 cruises.
- High Lights Festival, Montreal: This arts festival goes on all night long -- and there's also always terrific culinary events. Like a dinner made up entirely of cheese. Tip: This year's festival theme is "Women". Stay at Hotel le St. James for gender balance.
- Tasmania, Australia: It takes a long time to get there from the U.S., but this Australian state has wine, oysters, views and fresh berries most of the year. Tip: Stay at the new Saffire hotel on the Freycinet Peninsula.
- Vieques, Puerto Rico: A Caribbean island retreat, complete with wild horses, and you don't even need a passport. Tip: Check out the new W Vieques.
- Applewood Inn in Sonoma, California: Sometimes you just gotta kick back in wine country. Best night of sleep I had all year, and I'm sure that was only in part due to the wine I drank all day and the excellent dinner I had at the inn that night.
- La Mamounia, Marrakech: My favorite cocktail hour of 2010 was at the incomparable hotel and resort La Mamounia, where a strong gin and tonic was made for me table-side at the bar La Marocain, as I watched the sun set over the Koutoubia mosque. Tip: the hotel exhibits the photographs of Carole Bellaiche through February 2011 in another jewel-like bar on the resort, L'Italien.
- The Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia: Highest tides in the world. And you can raft 'em. (Watch this video and be amazed!) Tip: Stay at the Blomidon Inn, for dinners of expertly prepared game meats. And, unrelated to game meat, keep your eye out for Jason Priestly, who frequents the hotel.
- Melbourne's Hidden Secrets Tour: I'm not much of a fan of organized tours, but I dropped a great deal of money at the one-of-a-kind boutiques that were revealed unto me on this tour. And every single one of the gifts was for me. Tip: Stay at the Langham Melbourne and you won't have to schlep your shopping bags far.
- Vintage Charm: We all know that luxury isn't all about sleek modernity. Take a step back in time and stay at the Lexington House Bed & Breakfast which dates back to 1749. Or if you'd prefer a different era, hit the historic Hotel Burnham in Chicago, in a building which is a whippersnapper in comparison -- it was built in 1895.
- Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, Ontario: If you watch Glee and fell all jealous of the gang's theatrical aspirations-- and admit it, you know you do -- this is where you want to go next year. It's not just Shakespeare. Tips: Visit the Costume Warehouse; stay at the Lofts at 99 to restore your sense of cool.