For travellers who seek the finest that the world has to offer

25 best luxury travel experiences

From remote heli-skiing in little-explored territories to life-changing wildlife encounters, why settle for ordinary when there are blow-your-mind ways to experience this wonderful world. Which of these incredible adventures will you put at the top of your travel experiences bucket list?

Lead image: Klahoose Wilderness Resort

1. Retreat to an exclusive South African reserve

Remote and ravishing doesn’t even begin to do justice to Leobo Private Reserve. A fantastical South African pleasure delivering architectural drama in a safari setting. Available only on an exclusive basis, the reserve is the sole development on the 8,100-hectare estate. That leaves plenty of space for wildlife, which has been known to nudge the boundaries of the two wings: Leobo Lodge which sleeps 18 and the Observatory Villa which sleeps nine.

When you’re not on sunrise and sunset game viewing expeditions, cut your own course exploring the savannah on horseback or quad-bike. Go in search of giraffes, hippos, zebras, wildebeest, cheetahs, kudu… and ancient bushman paintings preserved for centuries on these grounds.

The award-winning travel team at Ker & Downey Africa provide discerning guests with exceptional experiences. If Leobo is on your Africa travel experiences bucket list, contact them today to create the trip of a lifetime.

An extraordinary experience at Leobo Private Lodge
Leobo Private Lodge

2. Delve into British Columbia’s wilderness with First Nation guides

Paddleboarding on aqua-blue waters in some of British Columbia’s oldest glaciers is a travel experience steeped in history. This is just one of the adventures on offer at Klahoose Wilderness Resort. It’s a remote retreat accessible only by boat or seaplane, where all tours are led by Klahoose First Nations guides. Helicopter over glacier fjords before trekking to a mountain top, or head into the remote Toba Inlet for some of the best black and grizzly bear viewings in the region. All the while knowing you’re helping to rejuvenate Indigenous traditions, language and identity.

3. Ski and sail Antarctica with Pelorus X

This one-of-a-kind adventure with Pelorus X tests your limits in the best kind of way. An adventure perfect for adrenaline junkies. After training on Argentina’s glaciers, fly by private plane to King George Island, where you’ll don crampons and axes to reach Antarctica’s pristine tracks. More awe-inspiring experiences follow, including citizen science, wildlife photography and iceberg spotting – with your own yacht as a base.

4. Take on the Himalayas by helicopter

You can tick off the highest peaks in the world in just 10 days when you tackle them by helicopter. With bespoke touring specialists Remote Lands you are accompanied by your own personal sherpa guide. Helicopter around Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Manaslu and Annapurna base camps, before heading to Chitwan National Park for a spot of jungle trekking. Evenings are spent in the comfort of historic mountain lodges, spa resorts and guest houses.

5. Witness the real Rwanda with Adventure World

Love wildlife? Walking through gorilla territory in Rwanda should be top of your travel list. Take it to the next level with Adventure World’s eight-day ‘Wild Rwanda’ experience. Part of the company’s Conservation Collection, Adventure World’s small-group tour gets you up close (at a responsible distance) to the gorillas on treks through Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe National Park. Go behind the scenes at the Karisoke Research Center. All while staying at five-star properties such as One&Only Nyungwe House.

6. Discover the hidden gems of Norfolk Island

From snorkelling in crystal clear waters to hiking the Mars-like landscape of Phillip Island, there are many hidden gems to discover.

Six kilometres south of Norfolk is Phillip Islanda birdwatcher’s paradise. While it might be devoid of human residents, it is an avian riot full of sea birds to breed and nest. Part of the Norfolk Island National Park, it’s an excellent hiking spot, with timber-ladder paths crisscrossing the rocky surface, a crevassed Mars-scape that could be a movie set.

Then dive into the waters of Bumboras Beach to brave the rocky entry to be rewarded with the company of green turtles in water that is unbelievably clear on a classic snorkelling expedition. Post swim, take to the ‘High Tea by the Sea’, served on the neatly clipped clifftop lawns of Forrester Court, arguably the Norfolk Island’s most luxe accommodation. Under towering pines, platters of delicate savouries, cakes, tea and champagne are served with sparkling service only matched by the sea.

7. Experience a sustainable safari in South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda or Zimbabwe

Not all safaris are created equal. Five-star brand Singita translates to ‘place of miracles’ and it’s not hard to see why. The family-owned lodges are located inside Sabi Sands and Kruger National Parks, offering a sustainable safari experience. Take your pick of luxurious lodges or split your time between them. The Private Villa Collection offers something extra special. There are seven exclusive-use villas across South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

8. Discover a rugged refuge at the Fleurieu Peninsula’s Naiko Retreat

With its rugged coastline, sheer cliff faces and isolated beaches, South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula is a refuge for those seeking isolation.

Tucked between two national parks with views across to Kangaroo Island, you’ll find the adults-only eco-hideaway Naiko Retreat. The self-sustainable, off-grid property is perched above the ocean on a sprawling 800 hectares – and it’s all reserved for just six guests. Take a walk among wildlife on one of four tracks, including the 1,200-kilometre Heysen Trail – one of the world’s greatest hikes. Echidnas, western grey kangaroos, blue-tongue lizards and bandicoots are some of the native species that call this countryside home. Twitchers will delight in the 110 bird species around while wellness warriors will retreat to the on-site ‘spaceship’ – used solely for treatments. The rare Futuro House, conceived by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late ’60s as a portable ski chalet, is one of only 60 worldwide.

Visit between May and October and you might even see a migrating whale as you wander among the verdant landscape to your futuristic pod for your remedial massage. If not, you’re sure to see one of the 20 resident dolphins that call Naiko Beach home.

9. Golf around the world in 22 days

Happy to travel to tee off? How about a private jet tour of the world’s best golf courses? TCS World Travel’s 22-day tour starts on the Island of Hawaii, swings past Australia, heads through Asia, and makes stops in Oman and Rwanda before holing out in Morocco. The all-inclusive travel experience includes time off the greens too. Local guides at each destination will help you explore the incredible surrounds.

TSC's golf around the world_Morocco Assoufid
TSC's golf around the world_Morocco Assoufid

10. Rejuvenate on a NIHI Sumba Spa safari

Indonesia’s Sumba Island is your playground when you’re staying at NIHI Sumba. There’s swimming with horses, deep-sea fishing, snorkelling, waterfall treks, mountain biking, cooking classes… but it’s the Spa Safari Nihioka that’s not to be missed. Starting with a sunrise trek through rice fields, you’ll earn breakfast overlooking the ocean before settling into a private cliffside pavilion for body treatments.

11. Discover the untamed beauty of Andasibe National Park

The haunting call of Madagascar’s buggy-eyed indri, the largest lemur in this East African island country, echoes across the lush canopy of the 810-hectare Andasibe National Park.

The siren-like sound of the yellow-eyed, bear-faced primate can be heard for up to three kilometres. You don’t have to wait long for a response from a sibling or playmate before the child-sized creatures tumble together on the forest floor. They are, after all, a highly social species.

For those who love wildlife, few travel experiences will match watching a limber lemur leap from tree to tree – all the while knowing it is found nowhere else on Earth. Travel here with Abercrombie & Kent and you’re likely to spot some of the other 11 species of lemur as you wander through the rainforest. Bamboo lemur, common brown lemur, diademed sifaka and black and white ruffed lemur, to name but a few. The forest is also home to satanic leaf-tailed geckos and five chameleon species. While the lemur’s loud call often competes with the croaking and chirping of frogs.

Twitchers can gaze skyward beyond the canopy for the velvet asity, blue coua and nuthatch vanga. Head further south and you’ll be able to walk among the ancestral tombs of the Antandroy tribe, meeting the local tribespeople who live in the arid, spiny desert peppered with 500-year- old baobabs, where lemurs are never far behind.

Here, among these ancient trees, sip sundowners before you retire to spacious tents with four-poster beds on the banks of Mandrare River. You’ll fall into a blissful sleep, waking only to the call of the lemur.

Beautiful Baobab trees at sunset at the avenue of the baobabs in Madagascar
© Shutterstock/ Vaclav Sebek

12. Elevate your heli-skiing in Chile

Ski adventures are the name of the game for bespoke adventure specialist, Eleven, and it has upped the ante in the Chilean Andes Mountains. Guests will tackle glacier runs, open bowls and steep chutes in newly pioneered terrain. Swap this out in summer for white-water rafting on the famous Futaleufú River and waterfall hikes. Year-round, travel to the company’s Rio Palena Lodge, with just seven guest rooms on the edge of the mighty Palena River.

13. Learn polo where the royals play

Been watching The Crown and itching to pick up a new skill? Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park Estate is the only UK hotel to have polo fields on-site. The Guards Polo Academy offers private lessons or polo plays through summer. Dating back to the 1700s, the estate has a long association with the British monarchy’s love of equine sports, hosting royals attending the nearby Ascot Races since the late 1800s. More recently, Prince Harry spent the night before his wedding at the five-star property, which borders Great Windsor Park. It’ll be a truly royal travel experience.

Coworth Park-Guards Polo Academy-meadow in front of Mansion House_an extraordinary travel experiences must-do
Coworth Park

14. Go heli sledding, snow biking and ice cave dining

Whistler’s backcountry is your playground when you head out for the day with Head-Line Mountain Holidays. The team has its own ‘Heli-Dome’ on the Pemberton Ice Cap, which acts as a base for a day of sledding and snow biking across 2.5 kilometres of Canadian ice fields. This is not your average snowmobile tour, though. Walk into ancient cathedral ice caves where Head-Line’s private chef has set up fine dining under the ice. The dishes will match the drama of the blue ice rippling overhead.

15. Escape to a resort island in Singapore

Sentosa is one of Singapore’s gems. Known as Asia’s favourite playground, the resort island south of Singapore is bursting with nature trails, beach hangouts and world-class attractions. If you’re planning a trip to Singapore, consider staying on the island for a true tropical getaway and yet remain highly accessible to any points of interest on the mainland.

A monorail can zip you to VivoCity, one of Singapore’s largest shopping malls and transport hub to get you to the CBD and other attractions within 15 minutes.

Whether you’re looking for an island party vacation or a discreet getaway, you’ll find just an island hotel located in the heart of Sentosa to suit any style of travel from amongst the cluster of hotels managed by Far East Hospitality.

Oasia Resort Sentosa

A serene Singapore destination if you are seeking a stay that embraces sustainability, wellness, and a slower pace of life. Set in the heart of Sentosa Island, Oasia Resort Sentosa is an idyllic destination to rest and recharge. There are 191 rooms designed in earthy tones; while its restaurant Bedrock Origin’s exclusive selection of steaks, seafood, dry-aged meats, and roasted harvest to refuel the body and soul. The award-winning Oasia Spa, with treatments crafted for a balanced lifestyle, makes Oasia Resort Sentosa the perfect getaway for anyone looking to make wellness their priority.

The Outpost Hotel Sentosa

If adults-only is more to your liking, The Outpost Hotel Sentosa has a no-under-16 policy. Glossy monochrome rooms provide all your thoughtful creature comforts. With the Coast-to-Coast Package, you can enjoy tandem biking and picnic along the southernmost coastlines of the Asian continent, a sea tour weaving between Singapore’s southern islands on a fast inflatable craft, or a decadent dinner experience on board the cable car with panoramas of the city.

The five-star resort has recently unveiled 1-Altitude Coast, featuring a stunning infinity pool, day club, all-day bistro with views over the Singapore Strait and DJs that keep the mood upbeat.

The Barracks Hotel Sentosa

All about discreet opulence, The Barracks Hotel Sentosa were a pair of British artillery barracks that were lovingly restored. Think dark woods, warm brass and leather-accented furnishing all elegantly weaved within a heritage building. This high-end property has just 40 rooms, its ground floor rooms with direct access to one of the two 30-metre lap pools set in tropical gardens. The Barracks offers a sweet blend of heritage safari packages take you on a private jeep experiential tour discovering cultural and heritage districts in Singapore.

Village Hotel Sentosa, Pool Deck_an extraordinary travel experience must-do
Pool Deck, Village Hotel Sentosa

16. Party and play on Richard Branson’s private estate

Want a peek at Sir Richard Branson’s private estate? Do one better and spend a few nights at the extraordinary Caribbean paradise he calls home. There are just 10 private estates on the 50-hectare Moskito Island, and four are available for visitors through Virgin Limited Edition. Choose from The Branson Estate (owned by Branson), The Oasis Estate, The Point Estate and the newest addition, The Village. As the name suggests, The Village isn’t your average villa, with nine bedrooms for up to 18 guests, an infinity pool, dining pavilion, DJ booth, gym and cinema. Talk about living it up.

17. Visit a secluded Indonesian isle where marine life rules

On the tiny island of Pulau Tolandona swaying tropical palms are the backdrop to a necklace of the secluded villas and bungalows of Wakatobi Resort. But it’s what lies beneath that will truly surprise. Located on a UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve, this little island packs a big punch under its gin-clear waters.

Covering 1.4 million hectares, the marine park is the largest coral barrier reef in Indonesia. It’s second in the world to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Here, in this playground for dolphins, turtles and often whales, you’ll find more than 40 easily accessible dive sites.

On land there is also a wellness spa, nature trails, village tours and hammocks tucked away in quiet corners.

Read: The tiny Indonesian isle with a jaw-dropping underwater world

18. Ski Western Norway’s Fjords with 62°NORD

Spend six days in Scandinavia’s Sunnmøre Alps and ski routes off the beaten track with 62°NORD. Each day you’ll set sail from your base in Glomset, straight to ski-tour some of the 100 peaks across the fjord network. Could there be anything better than pff-piste skiing surrounded by Scandinavia’s most dramatic peaks? Yes, when it is accompanied by wild Nordic cuisine and Viking history lessons. Days end with hot-tub soaks in historic hotels, or spending the night on Mount Saksa.

19. Travel the trails and temples of Bhutan

Hike through the Himalayas by day, bliss out at Six Senses lodges by night. This eight-day Captain’s Choice tour caters for just 24 guests. You’ll traverse some of the Kingdom of Bhutan’s most breathtaking natural and cultural landmarks. There are visits to cliffside monasteries including the famous Tiger’s Nest, lunches on the grounds of ancient temples, and an audience with the Venerable Mynak R. Tulku Rinpoche at his Thimphu residence. This travel experience will take your breath away.

Bhutan Paro Six Senses Main Building Terrace_travel experiences
Six Senses, Bhutan

20. An African safari on horseback

Horse riders should make a beeline for this extraordinary experience across Kenya’s Masai Mara. Black Saddle’s Wildlife Safari is a seven-night excursion through Kenya. Get up close to the animals while your luxury glamping tents follow on a flotilla of Land Rovers. A mess tent comes along, too, so you can wine and dine after epic days in the saddle.

21. Follow in Picasso’s footsteps

For art aficionados, few compare to Pablo Picasso. On a bespoke art adventure, you can get a rare insight into his life. Access important private collections, visit a flat in Paris where Picasso lived, or even meet a family member. With 2023 marking the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, there’s never been a better time to pay tribute to this revered artist with this incredible travel experience.

22. Take a walk in James Bonds shoes

It’s no secret Bond is a character of impeccable taste, and this James Bond-inspired trip is certainly up to scratch. Marking the 60th anniversary of Bond, there’ll be an opportunity to suit up with VIP access to the Casino De Monte-Carlo. You’ll also be able to pull some stunts with water skiing and seaplane flights at Lake Como. While showing off your horse-riding skills with exclusive use of Château De Chantilly. Stay tuned for the full itinerary in March 2023 to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event.

23. Partake in a spiritual trek through Java Aman

The pilgrimage through the Indonesian island of Java to UNESCO-heritage- listed Borobudur temple has been made by millions. But aboard the Kereta Api Wisata train, the journey is extraordinary. The end destination is Amanjiwo, with guests accompanied on the seven-hour journey by the hotel’s resident anthropologist. Just two kilometres from one of Buddhism’s largest temples, Amanjiwo is a serene and spiritual place to recharge away from the crowds. Private villas with plunge pools look out over the Kedu Plain and the extensive spa takes influence from Javanese healing.

24. Get amongst the wild and wonderful in the Pantanal

The Pantanal straddles the border of three South American countries – the north-east of Paraguay, the south-east of Bolivia and Brazil’s western province of Mato Grosso do Sul (‘thick bush of the south’). The latter makes up the vast majority of this 200,000-square-kilometre eco-region.

Every year, heavy rains cause myriad rivers and lakes to overflow, submerging grasslands and forests and turning them into vast waterways impenetrable and immune from human development. And every year, these waters recede, leaving behind an extraordinary tapestry of grassy plains, woodlands and waterways which brings a vast array of wildlife.

25. Witness the world-famous Sardine Run

Got the Big Five on your must-experience list? Why stop there? andBeyond’s Greatest Marine Migration Expedition takes just 12 guests diving off the Wild Coast to witness the world-famous Sardine Run where, between May and July, billions of sardines form ‘bait balls’. The unforgettable dives are accompanied by marine scientist Dr Tessa Hempson. Back on land, the andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve is home for a few days to dry off and spot South Africa’s great predators.

South Africa Wild Coast Sardine Run Marine Migration marlin
South Africa's Wild Coast Sardine Run Marine Migration

This article originally appeared in volume 43 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.