Nine gifts for the intrepid traveller in your life
Finding a unique and thoughtful gift for the person who has everything can be a steep challenge. That said, gifting them an experience — like one of the following nine over-the-top itineraries and getaways — is sure to make for a showstopping holiday season. From a supersonic plane to make their jet-setting lifestyle easier to a chance to spot the ultra-elusive snow leopard in the Indian Himalayas, these gifts are sure to please even the most intrepid globe-trotter.
And if you’re looking for more luxury gift ideas, check out the complete Robb Report Ultimate Gift Guide for 2017, which includes inspirations in every category from cars to watches to fashion, to travel, and more.
Price: Starting at US$2.3 ($A3) million
While plenty of cruise lines bill their ships as floating hotels, few truly live up to such lofty claims. Ritz-Carlton, however, is charting luxurious new territory with its nascent Yacht Collection, a trio of lavish liners that will soon bring the hospitality brand’s signature white-glove service and unrivaled amenities to the high seas. For one Robb Report reader, the long-awaited union of five-star hotels and oceangoing adventure will come with the ultimate in exclusivity, as Ritz-Carlton offers the rare opportunity to charter its first-ever yacht on a bespoke 5-night itinerary.
Aided by Ritz-Carlton’s yacht concierge, the recipient of this gift will be able to personalise virtually every aspect of his or her journey, from determining the vessel’s route (choosing from ports throughout the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Latin America, Northern Europe, Canada, and New England) to selecting as many as 297 family and friends to join the voyage. Each port of call will come with a host of curated on-demand experiences, from cooking classes in Tuscany and diving excursions in Belize to exclusive access to events like the Palio di Siena and Cayman Cookout.
The experience aboard Ritz-Carlton’s 626-foot yacht will be equally one of a kind, with private dinners crafted by chef Sven Elverfeld of Germany’s Michelin three-star Aqua and signature cocktails mixed by Bob Peters of the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte’s Punch Room. Passengers will also have their run of the Ritz-Carlton Spa, three swimming pools, a pleasure cruiser, and 149 suites, the most lavish of which will be the two 175-square-metre penthouse suites (with their own private plunge pools) — no doubt reserved for the lucky Robb Report reader who sails away with this spectacular gift.
Chic pyjamas from one of New York’s most popular hotels
Though treating a loved one to a few nights in one of the Mark hotel’s lavish new terrace suites is sure to make for a memorable gift, make their stay the ultimate getaway by also gifting them the hotel’s newest loungewear (US$400 ($A525) for the set). The New York City grande dame tapped pajama experts in Paris to design a classic unisex pajama set that is chic enough to wear both indoors and out.
The crisp cotton, long-sleeve button-down and matching pants are elevated by orange piping and bespoke monogramming, making them perfect for lounging around the suite or enjoying a nightcap downstairs at the property’s chic bar, which was designed by Jacques Grange and boldly furnished by Guy de Rougemont and Vladimir Kagan. The brave can even venture out in their set to New York’s busy Fifth Avenue for a truly unique fashion statement.
Straight from the source
Price: Starting at US$15,000 ($A19,700)
Instead of giving the coffee connoisseur in your life a bag of beloved beans, go for something a bit more personal — and a lot more unique — by presenting them with a chance to create their very own custom blend in Costa Rica.
The plush Nayara Springs hotel will be the home base for this 5-night journey into the heart of coffee country. The recipient and a guest will be whisked far away from their local café and into a breezy villa, complete with a private infinity pool, that can be accessed from the road or via a 76-metre pedestrian bridge suspended above the rainforest. After settling in with a volcanic mud wrap at the open-air spa (one treatment a day is included), the recipients will be escorted by one of the property’s expert baristas to a local coffee farm where they will learn how the beans are harvested, roasted, and ground. Once they have tasted all of the different beans, they will create a custom blend — a fresh bag of which will be delivered to them every month for the next year.
After revving up on caffeine, they can enjoy off-property activities ranging from canyoneering to befriending a sloth at the resort’s own sloth sanctuary to soaking in the EcoTermales hot springs. They will head home both fully caffeinated and utterly relaxed.
Track the elusive snow leopard in the Indian Himalayas
In the Himalayas, snow leopards usually live between 2,987 to 5,395 metres above sea level in a treacherous and miserably cold habitat. The mysterious cat is also endangered (with only about 3,920 to 6,390 wild cats living across 12 countries) and notoriously shy, making spottings extremely rare. But andBeyond employs some of the world’s best snow leopard trackers, and its expedition through the Indian Himalayas is arguably one of the best opportunities to try and see the elusive feline — and for those who love adventure and wildlife, it is by far one of the planet’s greatest thrills.
On this 13-day adventure (from US$6,459 ($A8500) per person), guests will set out by foot or on rugged 4x4s in search of the elusive snow leopard, exploring lush valleys and ancient monasteries along the way. After long days spotting more common wildlife like ibex, Tibetan antelope, blue sheep, and marmots while searching for snow leopards, guests will retire to luxe hotels throughout the country where they will enjoy traditional Himalayan food and unwind with relaxing spa treatments.
Turf and surf
Price: Starting at US$40 ($A52.5) million
The azure waters of the Sea of Cortez are just steps away from this glass-encased, 930-square-metres Four Seasons Private Beachfront Yacht Villa in Los Cabos. Designed by Guerin Glass Architects to maximize the sun-drenched seaside location, the customisable home calls for a gourmet outdoor kitchen, swimming pools, and direct access to the sugary beachfront. The layout features six to seven en suite bedrooms with private outdoor decks, a sunken living room, and a formal dining room — plus, the architecture firm will work with the recipient to create a bespoke abode that matches his or her preferences. Floor-to-ceiling walls of glass overlook the sea and Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, creating a natural transition between indoors and outdoors.
Though a one-of-a-kind beachfront villa is tempting on its own, what makes this gift truly stand out is the private yacht, 30-metre dock, and captain’s quarters in the backyard — all included in the home’s price and ideal for those who crave the open seas. The recipient will also enjoy an exclusive, invitation-only membership to the Costa Palmas Beach & Yacht Club.
The villa will be located within the 1,000-acre resort community of Costa Palmas, which includes a 3.2-kilometre private beach, 250-slip marina, and Robert Trent Jones II–designed 18-hole golf course. Residents can move into the villa as early as the first quarter of 2019.
Travel by private jet with one of the world’s best adventurers
Geoffrey Kent, founder of Abercrombie & Kent — one of the world’s top luxury travel outfitters — bleeds adventure. Born while his parents were on safari in Africa, he grew up on a farm in Kenya, and at only 16 years old, he became the first person to motorbike from Kenya to Cape Town. And yet, surprisingly, there are still places the globe-trotting adventurer is dying to go — and he’s taking just 50 lucky guests along for the ride. A roundup of places he has yet to see, the Around the World with Geoffrey Kent: An Inspiring Expedition by Private Jet (from US$150,000 ($A197,000) per person) will whisk guests to 10 destinations across the globe in a custom Boeing 757-200ER tricked out with plush Italian leather seats (complete with massage systems), a fully stocked open bar, and first-class meal service.
The 24-day trip will take guests from the lush rainforests and beautiful beaches of Nicaragua to the Swan River in Western Australia and the vibrant city of Tbilisi, capital of up-and-coming travel destination Georgia. Be prepared for countless edge-of-your-seat stories.
A Spike in flight innovation
Price: US$100 million ($A131,500)
The Spike Aerospace S-512 Supersonic Jet will be more than fast: Its projected cruising speed is Mach 1.6, or 1,770 km/h, which, according to the company, is 725 km/h faster than any other civilian aircraft.
The boom it produces when it breaks the sound barrier will be more like a whimper by the time it reaches the ground — quiet enough to allow for travel at supersonic speeds over land masses with sound restrictions. But perhaps more impressive than the aircraft’s speed or sound will be the “view” from inside. High-definition screens will run the entire length of the windowless cabin walls, displaying video feeds from exterior cameras. “You’ll have a panoramic view of whatever is outside, as if you were standing on a beach,” says Vik Kachoria, the president and CEO of Spike Aerospace, which is based outside of Boston. “From left to right, you’ll have a view of the full horizon.” The screens will be able to display movies or other presentations from a laptop. Kachoria notes that the windowless design will also make the cabin quieter.
The cabin will accommodate 18 passengers in a variety of configurations, including a bedroom if desired, although the flight times might be too short to need one. The S-512 will have a range of 11,482 kilometres; when flying at supersonic speeds, it will be capable of traveling from New York to London in 3.3 hours and Los Angeles to Tokyo in 5.17 hours.
Spike has begun test-flying scaled-down, subsonic drone versions of the aircraft. It expects the full-size, full-speed S-512 to enter service in 2023, after the required certifications from the FAA and international aviation authorities. The early adopters, says Kachoria, “will be the first on their block — or in their country — to own the world’s fastest jet.”
Price: Starting at US$2,000 ($A2630)
Surrounded by the lush greenery and bamboo forests of Bali’s central highlands, John Hardy’s sprawling jewellery workshop is a sort of utopia for its 700 artisans and employees, where much of the food that is served at the communal lunch table is grown on-site and where endless windows and open-air spaces immerse you in nature, even indoors. That Balinese spirit is imbued in the brand’s jewellery, which is instantly recognisable for its unique textures, surfaces, and flexible forms that feel smooth on the skin. The company maintains its distinct sensibility through traditional skills that include hammering metal surfaces (a technique known in Balinese as palu), hand-weaving gold chains, and hand-carving animals and shapes. The recipient of this gift will have an opportunity to learn these approaches firsthand in the first Ubud edition of John Hardy’s Artisan in Residence Workshop Masterclass, where he or she will work alongside the company’s craftspeople to create his or her own piece of jewellery. The intimate experience will include an exclusive behind-the-scenes workshop tour and lunch with the design team and artists. After gaining a deeper appreciation for the possibilities of the various jewellery-making techniques, the recipient will again meet with the design team to collaborate on a unique piece. From a simple woven bracelet to solid-gold bangles, a gem-encrusted necklace to a statement ring — the possibilities are limitless.
The experience is enhanced by a 2-night stay at the nearby Como Uma Ubud hotel, surrounded by rice paddies and rich cultural sites where visitors can tour centuries-old palaces and temples and shop local markets that celebrate the country’s rich heritage of artisanship.
Heli-skiing in the Alps
Price: Starting at about US$70,000 ($A92,000)
Travellers are fascinated with the idea of following in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, whether to a bullfighting arena in Pamplona, his former home in Key West, or a bar in Havana, Paris, or just about any other place where he ever pulled up a chair. Few of Papa’s fans, however, have thought to follow in his tracks on skis.
This gift from House Hannes Schneider in Stuben, Austria, includes a 1-day helicopter trip for four to Schruns, a resort in the Montafon Region where Hemingway skied with his young family in the mid-1920s, in the early days of the sport. The author wrote fondly about his Austrian skiing experiences in A Moveable Feast, and he opened The Snows of Kilimanjaro in the village of Schruns, where his family stayed in the still-operating-today Hotel Taube. The recipient of this gift (starting at about US$70,000 ($A92,000)) and his or her guests will stop for a drink at the Taube after a day spent skiing the Schruns backcountry with a private guide. The day will also include a picnic lunch prepared by House Hannes Schneider’s chef as well as massages for all following the return flight to the chalet.
Recently renovated by the owners of the Kristiania Lech hotel, House Hannes Schneider is a historic residence in the heart of the Arlberg. The recipient and as many as 15 guests have the run of the six-bedroom chalet — which includes a sauna, a 16-seat dining room, a butler, and a chef — for 7 nights. A private ski guide will be available to the group throughout their stay for excursions into the Arlberg, which, with the opening of the Flexenbahn cable car between Zürs and Stuben/Rauz last winter, became the world’s fifth-largest ski area.
At the end of each day, guests can curl up by House Hannes Schneider’s fireplace with a Grüner Veltliner and a good book — perhaps The Sun Also Rises, which Hemingway rewrote during one of his ski trips to Schruns.