This looks to be the year for immersive travel. Or so says Eric Grayson, founder and CEO of Discover 7 Travel, a luxury-travel concierge service. “People want to do more than go to Paris and stay at the Ritz,” he says.
“Instead, individuals are looking for travel that touches more of their senses.” Read on for five experiential travel spots worth journeying to this year.
While luxury dude ranches have always been popular, Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming has ramped up the luxe element to the max.
Set on a 30,000-acre working cattle ranch in Saratoga, a town perched in the south-central part of the state, the award-winning property features luxury lodge rooms, cabin suites or cabin residences. “This is a great getaway for families,” Grayson says. “You can take the family for horseback rides, whitewater rafting adventures, fly-fishing, hiking, and train adventures of all sorts.”
No trip to Bolivia is complete without a visit to Lake Titicaca, famous for its crystal-clear waters that reflect the snowy peaks of the nearby Cordillera Real and the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni.
“It’s famous for its otherworldly landscapes, with salt as white as snow that looks like you’re walking on clouds,” says Lia Batkin, co-founder of In the Know Experiences, a travel lifestyle company in New York.
Bolivia offers the best Amazon wildlife spotting in South America, too. “The pampas tour—a wetland savanna area where the chance of seeing animals is much greater, as they aren’t hidden among trees—is a real highlight of the country’s eco-tourism,” she says. Consider starting your exploration with a tour of La Paz, the nation’s capital. “While you’re in La Paz, the five-star Atix Hotel is a must-stay,” Batkin adds.
No matter the season, Iceland is a big draw. “Iceland boasts incredible experiences and spectacular scenery anytime of year,” says John Spence, president of Scott Dunn Private Journeys, a London-based custom travel company.
Spence suggests a restful stay at the new Retreat at Blue Lagoon, a resort plus spa that’s built into an 800-year-old volcano and is surrounded by the Blue Lagoon’s mineral-rich geothermal waters.
Luxury travelers seeking a more quiet and laid-back alternative to India are flocking to Sri Lanka, Grayson says. “The culture is fascinating, the terrain is diverse, and it’s an appealing place to those who have either been to India before or are seeking an additional flavor of the region.”
Consider staying at Ceylon Tea Trails, a Relais & Chateaux resort situated amid mountains and lush tea fields. The resort features five restored colonial-era tea-planter bungalows, complete with period furnishings. “Guests can relax, hike and experience a rural part of this incredibly beautiful country,” Grayson says.
The recent opening of Wilderness Safaris’ Bisate Lodge, and the imminent arrival of One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, a new lodge from luxury safari specialists, puts Rwanda’s wildlife-rich Volcanoes National Park in the spotlight for 2018 and beyond.
“Set within the dramatic Virunga Mountains, the Volcanoes National Park is home to spectacular wildlife, including the endangered mountain gorilla,” says George Morgan-Grenville, founder of Red Savannah, a London-based travel company that creates tailor-made travel experiences worldwide.
“It is here that American zoologist Dian Fossey famously studied the species.” While there, guests can visit the research center and her grave, which lies beside that of Digit, her favorite gorilla.
Further afield, One&Only recently opened the doors of Nyungwe House in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park. “Set within a working tea plantation, Nyungwe House offers wild chimpanzee tracking, gastronomic picnics, kayaking, mountain biking, trekking, and invigorating spa treatments,” Morgan-Grenville adds. Each of the 22 rooms has an open fireplace as well as a private deck for watching wildlife and contemplating the forest views.