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Popular destinations Like Italy, France, and Spain have always taken a front seat on bucket lists worldwide, but we are here to challenge your perception of where a luxury vacation can take you. Our team has been busy traipsing the globe and compiled a list of the top 10 unique and breathtaking destination recommendations you might not even know exist. Luxury travel is becoming more accessible than ever! If you are ready to book a trip that exceeds expectations while opening up your world, check out the list below and get inspired to step out of your comfort zone. Embark on a grand adventure to one of the top luxury destinations you never knew existed.
Tetiaroa, French Polynesia
Best known as Marlon Brando’s private island! When the star fell in love with his third wife, a beautiful Polynesian woman on the set of his 1962 movie, Mutiny on the Bounty, he made the impromptu decision to purchase the small island of Tetiaroa in the Society Islands in French Polynesia. Today’s island is a pristine South Pacific Paradise home to a wide variety of marine wildlife, a local bird sanctuary, and an exceptional resort named The Brando that finally opened the island up to the public. Undoubtedly, this island makes an appearance on our list of the most luxury destinations you never knew existed, its just spectacular! The French Polynesia is a spectacular destination for any romantic getaway, or even a honeymoon.
While Bora Bora gets lots of attention and is home to many incredible resorts one of the most exclusive and exceptional properties in French Polynesia is actually located on the island of Tetiaroa. The Brando is a unique luxury resort on French Polynesia’s breathtaking private island of Tetiaroa, an atoll composed of a dozen small islands surrounding a sparkling lagoon 30 miles north of Tahiti. This resort offers carefree luxury in pristine nature. With access to the island by private plane, the resort features thirty-five villas and one Teremoana Residence on white-sand beaches frequented by sea turtles and exotic birds. Each villa has its own private beach area and plunge pool.
If the Brando is a bit outside your price range, consider visiting the incredible island of Mo’orea. It is equally as beautiful as Bora Bora but can be more affordable and is kept abit under the radar. Mo’orea is strikingly stunning and located only 10 miles from Tahiti. It is easily accessible by ferry or plane. Appealing to different types of travelers, from families to honeymooners, it offers exquisite views of 8 majestic mountain peaks sitting on a translucent lagoon wrapped around Cook’s (Paopao) and Ponuohu Bay. Considered Tahitit’s baby sister, Mo’Orea has been a cherished destination for many years. Today, it reflects the islands’ laid back, warm and welcoming Tahitian lifestyle to anyone who graces the area. Tetiaroa, along with the rest of the French Polynesia, are home to many breathtaking luxury 5-Star resorts. Check our our previous blog for the best options on where to stay!
While parts of Rwanda are still recovering from a painful past, the country is emerging as an ultra-luxury destination for eco-tourism, specifically gorilla trekking. Resorts such as One & Only Gorilla’s Nest pave the way for life-changing adventure travel experiences. The resort is committed to supporting the local community. It works with Handspun Hope to support women who experienced trauma in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and women living with HIV/AIDS. One & Only Gorilla’s Nest, nestled in the foothills of Volcanoes National Park, makes it possible for you to get an up-close and exclusive encounter with the rare and majestic gorilla families roaming free in the National Park.
The unforgettable park experience can only be possible with luxury eco-tourism, which aids in gathering funds from wildlife and gorilla trekking expeditions. These top safari experiences are important to book in advance. Some of the proceeds are invested in forest restoration and conservation, hiring park patrols and rangers, and monitoring the well-being of the primates still on the endangered list because of illegal human activity like poaching and deforestation. For the ultimate Rwanda experience, consider booking with a private jet trip!
Once you have taken in the park and crossed that once-in-a-lifetime excursion off your bucket list, explore other areas of Rwanda outside of the National Park to learn about the history and beauty of the country. Visit the Genocide Memorial Center, which commemorates the lives lost in the brutal killings that took place in 1994. Or take a trip to Lake Kivu, where you can picnic by the water and bird watching during the afternoon. Finally, experience game viewing in Akagera, Rwanda’s only Savannah national park home to lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and more. Of course, you could also spend a day simply relaxing on the stunning hotel grounds. Once you visit this breathtaking country, you will agree that it is one of the most luxury destinations you never knew existed.
This tiny Buddhist country tucked away between China and India is steeped in historical culture, ancient traditions, and a unique way of life that few of us have ever lived. Bhutan has outlawed smoking and tobacco products, fishing, and hunting unless it is for catch and release purposes. The country also has no traffic lights and requires visitors to spend a certain amount of money every day to avoid low-cost tourism and control the number of visitors entering the country. They encourage travelers to dress attractively and act courteously towards the culture and customs taken seriously by its residents.
While some of this might seem a little untoward, the country of Bhutan celebrates peace and kindness. They inspire travelers to explore the countryside and monasteries to get an idea of what the spirit of Buddhism is all about. Bhutan’s government introduced the world to the GNH, Gross National Happiness index, as a way to live a holistic lifestyle free of pressure and restriction. Every five years, surveyors travel through the forests and glaciers to speak to over 8,000 residents about their well-being, health, and vitality, among many other subjects. They collect clear data on where the citizens sit on the scale and what can be done to better the community and the lives of the locals.
Luxury here is about more than 5-star service and impeccable hotels and resorts. It is also about access to rich cultural traditions, remote locations, and authentic experiences. A visit to this world wonder gives viewers an inside look into the colorful life in the Himalayas and the stunning topography of the county that is 70% covered in forests while the rest sits between glaciers.
Resorts such as COMO Uma Bhutan create the perfect base to explore the rich culture, history, and temple visits. COMO Uma Bhutan sits in the heart of the rugged wilderness and is the ideal place to hike, mountain bike, and tour the monastery and temples with English-speaking guides. Holistic therapies and spa treatments will melt your troubles away, and authentic Asian and Himalayan dishes will bring your senses back to life.
The Aman brand has also embraced Bhutan’s sustainable tourism ethos and built 5-star lodges such as Amankora, located in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, and Bumthang. Each lodge honors the rich cultural traditions while respecting the mountain kingdom’s natural beauty and incredible scenery. Amankorais a series of lodges sitting at the base of the valleys that offers visitors a chance to visit all the lodges while trekking through forests and mountains to see unparallel views of the gorgeous countryside. Find spirituality, deep-rooted peace, a new-found love of nature and the harmonious connection to the earth this small country holds.
Glenorchy, New Zealand –
Nestled on the quiet northern shores of Lake Wakatipu, about 45 minutes away from Queenstown, sits Glenorchy, a magical getaway for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, and wine connoisseurs. Set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountain ranges, native forests, and glacier-fed rivers and lakes, you cannot get wilder and more untouched than Glenorchy. Due to it’s pristinely exclusive location, only about 200 residents live in the small town, film companies have taken advantage of the privacy and vastness of the terrain to shoot hits such as The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia.
Visitors to Glenorchy can participate in excursions such as wilderness jet boarding, horseback tours thorugh rivers and fields, off-road four-wheeling, scenic helicopter rides, majestic hiking trails, and skydiving.
To enjoy the region in an ulta-luxurious manner book a stay at Blanket Bay Resort in Glenorchy. This eco-friendly lodge feels like you’ve stepped into an entirely new world. Blanket Bay has received international recognition year after year. The lodge is famous for its stunning views of the lakes and mountains, superior service, and food and wine pairings created to bring you the most sensational dining experience.
Easter Island, Chile –
With just around 5,000 inhabitants calling the iconic island, known by the locals as Rapa Nui, home, Easter Island boasts many unique features, landscapes, and incredible history ready to be shared with travelers. Easter Island is a Chilean territory on a remote volcanic island in Polynesia. Despite its remote location, there are two modes of transportation to reach the island, by flight or by boat. The privacy and quaintness this island offers is why it is on our list of the top luxury destinations you never knew existed.
Latam Air is the only airline that offers flights to the island from places like Santiago and Tahiti. The trips back and forth using boats have been known to be very uncomfortable due to the relentless waters of the South Pacific Ocean, so your best bet is a flight. Once you get on the island, take your luggage to Rapa Nui to stay in their luxurious lodge that looks like it came straight out of a travel magazine. You will have the most beautiful view of the Pacific and the ancient Rano Raraku Volcano, where the historic Moai human sculptures started.
Once you are settled in and have enjoyed the 5-star amenities, take time to explore the region. Popular activities include scuba diving with underwater moai, surfing, exploring the Ana Kakenga Cave, watching traditional dance shows, and walking around the island’s three volcanic craters. Take a few hours each day to soak up island life with traditional Polynesian food, drinks, and entertainment.
For an added expedition after navigating Easter Island, make your way back to mainland Chile and explore the Patagonia region and the gorgeous and untouched plants and wildlife native to the area. Explore the terrain created by both glaciological and geological events that took place millions of years ago, creating the glaciers, lakes, and valleys you get to see today. The best way to explore and soak in all the island has to offer is on a private highlight tour!
Stay at Explora Lodge for an unbeatable and inclusive hotel experience. The lodge sits inside the stunning Torres Del Paine National Park and provides visitors with unbeatable views of mountain ranges, towering summits, and surrounding glaciers and lakes.
Antiparos, Greece –
Considered the little brother to the island of Paros in Greece, the island of Antiparos has kept a low profile over the years, opening up its world to the few who make their way to its sandy beaches and hiking trails. Antiparos has been a destination for respite and relaxation for understated billionaires and celebrities looking for some privacy and seclusion. Antiparos is known to be one of the top crowd-free Greek islands.
You will not find large resorts or cruise ships passing by, making it the perfect place to unwind and take it slow. Here, you will experience beautiful diving and snorkeling spots where you can swim by reefs and old shipwrecks along with the marine wildlife that calls the Aegean Sea their home. For more adventurous outings, you can take a private yacht around the island or find a trip where you can try your hand at windsurfing or kite surfing. You can also walk to the Venetian Castle or explore the Antiparos Cave for an exciting day trip.
Antiparos is also home to several beautiful boutiques and shops for everyone in your family. Once you are done shopping the beautiful island jewelry and apparel, you can stop by a seaside restaurant for some of the most traditional and local Greek cuisine made fresh every day in the kitchen. Antiparos is a great island to incorporate on any island-hopping experience amongst Greece. In an honest review of the Celebrity Cruises Apex voyage, both teen and adults mentioned wanting to return to this beautiful island.
Portonovi, Montenegro –
Portonovi Montenegro has remained a remote and off-the-beaten-path destination for travelers looking to slow down time and create a few adventurous memories. Set in the heart of southern Europe and only a short flight away from the major European cities like Rome, Paris, and London, the vast seas of Boka Bay have long been a haven for anglers, boaters, and sailors looking to make the calm waters their own.
If you ever make your way into the city, visit the neighboring ancient towns of Kotor and Perast that offer historical knowledge and grand palazzos teeming with exciting stories, travelers, and cuisine. Many people find themselves attracted to the outdoors as the city is the perfect place to soak up the Adriatic sun by your hotel pool, hidden beach, or hiking trail offering panoramic views of the town below. Visit the Durmitor National Park and spot local wildlife and sailing boats off the coast. If you are visiting during Winter, catch a ski lift to the top of the mountain and make your way down nice and easy. These unique experiences make Portonovi one of the most luxury destinations you never knew existed.
Once you get done exploring for the day, One and Only Portonovi, a magnificent resort sitting on Boka Bay, designed to reflect old Venetian palaces and elegant colonnades in its architecture and décor, awaits you. The views are simply unrivaled, and the renovated gardens and pools will be the only place you want to spend your time.
Sardinia, Italy –
Home to some of the most crystal-clear waters, vibrant coastline cities, and soaring cliffs to catch an unbelievable view, Sardinia is the perfect place to visit after an action-packed trip adventuring through popular destinations like Rome, Florence, and Venice. Although not far from major cities, once visited, you will understand why Sardinia is one of the best luxury destinations you never knew existed. Everything slows down in Sardinia, making Dolce Far Niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) that much sweeter. Sometimes travelers forget that Sardinia is a large island and boasts many activities and excursions for the explorers and homebodies that want to take it easy. If you are looking for an adventure, explore ruin destinations like Tharros and Cagliari, then Castelsardo. In this small fishing harbor town, you can visit a 12th-century castle and a neighboring museum, as well as Grotta di Nettuno, a beautiful seaside cliff carved out by the sea itself.
You can visit it up close by boat or get in your car and drive to a spot close by and walk down to the cliff. Suppose you are someone who enjoys a quieter holiday. In that case, visiting places like the beaches of Capo Testa, the small and vibrant town of Bosa, the capital town of Cagliari, and the northern town of San Teodoro may be more up your alley. For slower days, walk around the cobblestone streets and enjoy the most delicious local flavors and wines created right in the region. For a lovely night’s stay in San Teodoro, we recommend booking at the newly opened Baglioni Resort, a stunning resort sitting in the Tavolara marine reserve. Decorated with chic décor and furnishings meant to sweep you away, the hotel is a lovely respite. Enjoy food prepared by a Michelin-starred chef, a dazzling pool bar, and views unmatched on the island.
Ninh Thuan, Vietnam –
Ninh Thuan is located about 200 miles from Ho Chi Minh City, a gorgeous and largely unspoiled province on the South-Central Coast of Vietnam. It is a remote destination with sparkling blue seas, majestic mountains, and beautiful dense forests you can go and explore, making it one of the top luxury destinations you never knew existed. A few local attractions popular for tourists to visit first include Po Rome Tower, a 17th-century tower known as the last of the Champa Kingdom. While you can find many God sculptures and symbols, the tower wasn’t created to celebrate any one God or deity but to honor King Po Rome, a famous king of the Champa people. He ruled as a nurturer, peacemaker, and inspirational leader.
Another popular destination is the Nui Chua National Park, which covers nearly 20,000 hectares of forest, flora, and over 300 wild animal species. Its waterfront location makes it a beautiful spot to explore for the day before returning to Hotel Amonoi for the night. It is a contemporary beachside resort overlooking Vinh Hy Bay with mountains and calm waters for the ultimate backdrop. Enjoy their hilltop infinity pool, beach club by the shore, and private sand beach that sits on a marine reserve.
Livingstone, Zambia –
Established in 1905 as a European settlement, this quaint town in Zambia is a testament to its past and the influence Europe had on the area and its citizens. The streets are lined with British colonial architecture and African design accents as the town has been rebuilt and updated over time. Sitting just 10 kilometers or roughly about 6 miles away is Victoria Falls, a gorgeous water spectacle sitting high on the famous Zambezi river in the protected area of the Mosi Oa Tunya National Park.
Victoria Falls is known as the curtain of falling water worldwide and draws many visitors each year looking to set their eyes on this national treasure. At the same time, they hike the river and enjoy the raging waters and natural wildlife life surrounding it. While the Falls is the pinnacle of the park, the Zambezi river, which runs through 6 different countries and is recorded as the 4th largest river in Africa, is something to look forward to when you travel to the area. Don’t forget, you can also find many opportunities to enjoy a safari experience for an up close and personal look into the wildlife that thrives alongside the river. Stay at The Royal Livingstone Resort right on the bank of the mighty river and Falls and river and get to know the area more intimately as you enjoy 5-star service, dining, and luxury amenities.
Now that you know our list of the top luxury destinations you never knew existed, where will your next adventure be?
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