There are many hundreds of luxury hotels in the world, it’s true. However, the following hotels have that extra something, offering pure indulgence on a Goway vacation.
First of all, what are the criteria for labelling a hotel a deluxe establishment? This is totally in the hands of the individual person/organization assessing the quality of the property. Many factors have to be taken into consideration – hotel facilities such as guest services, gym, pool, business centre, etc., as well as size and furnishings of rooms, food services, location, and so on. My personal view is that once checked into the hotel, you will usually know whether it is a luxury property by your own standards. My first experience of exceptional service was on a Malaysia vacation, when I stayed at a luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur. I had hardly arrived in my room when there was a knock on the door which I duly answered. Standing there was a gentleman who advised me he was my personal butler and asked if there anything he could do for me. I wasn’t expecting this and said not at the moment. He then suggested I might like some tea. That hit the spot and I told him yes. The tea appeared in double-quick time. We all know the quality of exclusive hotels such as The Plaza in New York or Claridges in London. The following hotels, for me, offer that extra something as well as luxury. You may well be able to add your favourites.
Le Royal Monceau, Paris, France
I am biased here, as a long time ago, this was my first stop on my honeymoon on a France vacation. At that time, this traditional-style hotel, although delightful, was assessed a 4-star rating (which I could afford). Since then, it has been upgraded to 5-star level and belongs currently to the Raffles group of hotels. I remember the inner courtyard with a lovely garden where you could have breakfast in good weather. But one special reason, apart from the quality, was its quiet location, literally steps away from the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.
The Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy
Another traditional-style hotel is in Italy which, at one time, was where Venice’s richest and most elite residents socialized. Just to add to the flavour of the hotel, it is filled with antique furnishings, Murano glasswork, and paintings. I quote from a hotel reviewer, “You instantly feel as if you are in a private home rather than a large, busy five-star hotel.” Once again, location makes it special on a trip to Italy as it is situated right on the Grand Canal; want a meal or a drink with outdoor seating? You will be looking out over the canal.
Mystique Hotel, Santorini, Greece
The island of Santorini in Greece is definitely one of the world’s most idyllic islands with its whitewashed houses perched dramatically on top of cliffs above the clear blue Aegean Sea. Also perched on top of a cliff with amazing views is this hotel. If you have a room overlooking the sea, you will be in heaven on your Goway vacation to Greece. It is not a huge hotel but is more intimate than most, and is minutes away from the beautiful town of Oia. It has a unique wine cellar where you can try excellent local wines plus a restaurant where you can dine alfresco.
Africa and the Middle East
Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai, UAE
This hotel is rated unofficially as 7-star. Seems a hotel reviewer felt that a 5-star rating didn’t do justice to this luxury hotel and icon of Dubai. The building claims to be the third highest hotel in the world at 320 metres/1050 feet. That’s pretty big but the exceptional thing about this hotel is that it is shaped like the sail of a boat and is situated on an island reached by a causeway. Want to arrive in style? It has a heliport on the roof. It also has the world’s largest fleet of Rolls Royces for your convenience. You can ask for a 24-karat gold iPod if required. There is, naturally, butler service and 9 restaurants, one of which is under the sea with windows through which you can observe the local marine life. You can charter a yacht and have your own personal spa therapist join you. Well, maybe 7-stars might be a consideration on a Goway vacation to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)!
Royal Mansour, Marrakech, Morocco
This hotel is located in its own 8-acre compound in the city medina (an old walled area with narrow streets and in this case, palaces, fountains, and mosques steps away from the famous Jemaa El Fna Square). This hotel in Marrakech was founded by King Mohammed VI and took 3 years to complete, using 1200 master craftsmen in the process. Just on arrival, you will be impressed with the huge bronze doors giving entrance to a courtyard with hand-made tile work. All the rooms are 3 stories, featuring silk-covered walls, and include a small private courtyard, a private rooftop terrace, and heated plunge pool. Oh, and you have your own personal butler. You can enjoy wonderful views of the Atlas Mountains in the distance on Morocco vacations. The hotel is also very proud of its two restaurants, one Moroccan and one French.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
How about combining game viewing with elegant luxury on a Tanzania safari? This lodge sits on the rim of the crater which houses wild animals galore in the Ngorongoro Conservation area. The decor could be considered more European than African. It is furnished with chandeliers made by the local Maasai tribes people and gilded mirrors, but with a touch of local furnishings. You can always be assured you are on a Goway vacation in Africa by looking out at the amazing view of the surrounding countryside and the stunning beauty of the crater below. There is once again butler service to spoil you as well as liveried staff to serve you. Rooms have leather armchairs and a log fire. At night, animals come up to the lodge to graze on the grass – just for you to enjoy.
Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, India
Want to live like a Maharaja on India tours? Well, you’ve come to the right place, as this hotel is a palace and was the principal residence of a former Jodhpur royal family. It is a large property made of yellow sandstone with over 26 acres of gardens and grounds. The design inside is a mixture of Art Deco and Renaissance styles. One of its attributes is that, from its prominent position on a hill, it overlooks the desert city of Jodhpur below. Apart from expected facilities such as a spa, gym, tennis courts, etc., it contains a fine collection of Victorian and Edwardian antiques. There is also a museum which contains exhibits of stuffed leopards, a very large flag given to the Maharaja by Queen Victoria in 1877, and outside, a collection of classic cars on display in the garden belonging to the Maharajas.
Amanyangyun Hotel, Shanghai, China
Shanghai is an amazing city but a very busy one. So, on your Goway vacation to China, why not stay conveniently just outside the city in an upscale but unique hotel. It consists of 26 antique villas made from stone from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, plus recycled timber from centuries-old homes, transported from 700 kilometres/435 miles away. Each self-contained villa complex has a Chinese garden, a large pool, and a Jacuzzi. To add to the atmosphere, calligraphy lessons and tea ceremonies are available to make guests feel part of Chinese culture, as well as other activities. Once again, a private butler is available who can, if you so wish, prepare a meal in your own provided kitchen. There are restaurants serving Chinese, Japanese, and Italian cuisines. Other facilities include two pools, a spa, a bar, a cigar bar, a gym, and more. You don’t need to ever leave this luxury hotel, although, if you didn’t, you would miss seeing just how outstanding Shanghai really is.
Gora Kadan, Hakone, Japan
First, this is a ryokan. What is a ryokan? They have been around since the 8th century AD. It is a type of traditional Japanese inn that features tatami-matted rooms (a futon on the floor), communal baths, and other public areas. Visitors may wear a yukata (a kind of kimono) around the ryokan. You are expected to take off your shoes at the entrance to your room and don a pair of slippers.
Two hours south of Tokyo by train, Hakone is known as a highly regarded hot spring resort town. There are a number of ryokans in the region, but Gora Kadan is the most famous. It used to serve as the former summer villa of the Imperial family. It has 39 rooms of varying styles and sizes. Some have their own open-air baths. Communal onsen (steam baths) are available. However, you can have your own private one. Breakfast is brought to your room whenever you ask for it. Other meals are served in the restaurant. A stay at Gora Kadan is like no other on Japan tours.
Delana Hilltop Estate, Laucala Island, Fiji
This is for the VERY affluent on a Fiji vacation, as I understand prices start from around US$55,000 per night and a minimum stay is 4 nights. When you have recovered from your swoon, let’s look at what you get for this. This resort hotel is located on a private island, for starters, with its own beaches. Then you get a fully stocked mini bar, en suite bathroom, outdoor private shower, your own heated pool, daily complimentary laundry service, your own private cook, chauffeur, and nanny (if required). Plus on arrival, you are entitled to a 90-minute massage. Gourmet meals are included at any of the 5 restaurants and all drinks in all the bars and lounges. All the activities available are included, such as scuba diving, sailing, horse riding, tennis, golf on an 18-hole course, and much more. You will never want to stay anywhere else again!
Brando Resort, Islands of Tahiti
The Brando Resort is located on Marlon Brando’s private island in the Islands of Tahiti, called Tetiaroa. It’s a 20-minute flight from Papeete. Although this has been sold since his ownership, he lived here on and off before his death in 2004. Barak and Michelle Obama once stayed here on a vacation. Tetiaroa is actually a group of about 12 islets measuring about 27 square miles and surrounded by a lagoon. The resort has 35 deluxe villas, each with its own private beach area and plunge pool. All meals and drinks are included in the cost as well as spa treatments and excursions. A major attraction here on a Goway vacation is the exclusivity and privacy on a breathtakingly beautiful island.
Longitude 131, Ayers Rock, Australia
What could be more wonderful than sleeping in the desert in a tent with Ayers Rock in sight on an Australia vacation. Sounds like roughing it? Absolutely not. This is an extremely comfortable and exclusive desert camp in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the heart of the Outback. There are 16 luxury well-appointed tents with king-size beds, a lounge area, bathroom, mini bar, safe, and telephone. Bathrobes, slippers, and hairdryers are provided. Meals are taken in the main building. Imagine having a drink at sunset either outside your tent or in the bar in the main building watching the colours change on Ayers Rock as the sun goes down. All meals and drinks are included in the room price. With accommodation like this, why would anyone want to stay in the city?
South and Central America
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu, Peru
Here you are just outside of one of the most remarkable archaeological sites anywhere, Machu Picchu. It’s about a 10-minute walk to the site itself, on a Peru vacation. The views are just tremendous and in the distance is the majestic Huayna Picchu Mountain which looms up over Machu Picchu. Obviously, the intent here is to visit the Machu Picchu site. With a stay at this lodge, you can visit before and after the crowds arrive and depart. There are only 31 rooms, so you enjoy a peaceful ambience. Additionally, there are 2 restaurants in which to enjoy meals, plus there is a bar. The hotel has a telescope and digital field glasses for guests to stargaze and bird watch. An idyllic experience all round.
Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica
This hotel’s location offers the best of two worlds on a Goway vacation to Costa Rica. It is set on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and offers only a 10-minute walk to Espadilla Beach and the town of Manuel Antonio. It is also about 2 kilometres/1.2 miles from Manuel Antonio National Park, known as one of the world’s most beautiful national parks. The hotel is situated in 30 acres of unspoilt land. It contains 3 cliffside pools which give you views of both the coastline and the rainforest. For dining, there are 2 open-air restaurants, a steakhouse, and an unusual eatery inside a plane. It is no wonder this hotel is called a tropical paradise.