Recent posts

Top 10: my 2016 trips that I am most excited about!

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (January 4, 2016): my 2016 trips that I am most excited about.

The past 2 weeks, I reflected on my most memorable travel experiences of the past year and the biggest stories that dominated the travel industry in 2015. But now that 2016 is finally here, it’s time to look forward and share with you 10 great trips that I have already planned for the coming year and that I am looking forward to share with you in my Wednesday blog posts (which always feature flight trip reports and luxury hotel reviews).

If you have some tips and suggestions for my upcoming trips, please share them in the comments section below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*** Follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***


10. FLYING FIRST CLASS IN A CATHAY PACIFIC BOEING 777-300ER

In April 2015, I experienced a 24 hour delay when flying Business Class in a Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 from Qatar to Hong Kong, due to a sandstorm and the subsequent incompetence of the airline to deal with the whole situation. While it is not always possible for an airline to eliminate all of the factors that lead to a flight being delayed, it is crucial that there is no compromise in both communication and service for the passengers in such situation. And this is exactly where Cathay Pacific failed, not once, not twice, but multiple times. After the ordeal, I was in touch with Cathay Pacific (making a complaint using the link on their official website) and I was offered 2 upgrade vouchers as a compensation. I will now use those vouchers to upgrade myself from Business to First Class for my upcoming flight from Düsseldorf (Germany) to Hong Kong.

CATHAY PACIFIC FIRST CLASS

CATHAY PACIFIC FIRST CLASS


9. TRYING OUT LOS CABOS’ MOST EXCLUSIVE RESORTS

In December 2014, I had planned a 4 night trip to Los Cabos’ Rosewood Las Ventanas, an ultra luxe resort located on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula that is a favorite among Hollywood celebrities. However, I had to cancel that trip after a category 3 hurricane slammed into Los Cabos, causing severe damage to almost all of the Cabo resorts, who subsequently had to close their doors for months. But the region bounced back from the disastrous hurricane, rebuilding almost from scratch, and all resort properties are back in business. I am now looking forward to return to the area, and finally stay at the famous Rosewood hotel, as well as its neighbour The One&Only Las Palmillas. I am looking forward to find out how these hotels compare to that other high-end Cabo hotel, The Resort at Pedregal, where I spent a holiday a few years ago when it was still managed by Capella Hotels & Resorts. I will also sneak in some whale watching, since this is one of the best spots on the planet to observe these magnificent creatures.

LAS VENTANAS AL PARAISO, A ROSEWOOD RESORT

LAS VENTANAS AL PARAISO, A ROSEWOOD RESORT


8. HIKING IN THE CANADIAN ROCKIES

The Canadian Rockies is one the world’s most scenic places and one of my favorite destinations. The National Parks of Banff, Jasper and Yoho offer world-class and jaw-dropping scenery, centered around glacial lakes that are filled with deep crystalline waters, mirroring pine forests, dizzying mountains and endless sky. Wildlife is also abundant in these areas, with grizzlies, bisons and wolves roaming free in the forests. And the Icefield Parkway between Banff and Jasper is one of the most scenic drives in the world. I will bring a return visit to the area in September, and combine day hikes and sightseeing with stays at the best hotels and lodges in the area, such as The Fairmont properties in Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff, Emerald Lake Lodge, and Moraine Lake Lodge.

EMERALD LAKE LODGE, CANADIAN ROCKIES

EMERALD LAKE LODGE, CANADIAN ROCKIES


7. ENJOYING ISLAND LIFE IN BORA BORA

The lush strip of land called Bora Bora lies in the South Pacific Ocean’s most mesmerizing lagoon and has, as you probably expect, some pretty awesome beaches. Luxurious bungalows nestled over ridiculously clear waters with Mount Otemanu as a tropical backdrop put Bora Bora atop the bucket list of most discerning travelers. I have booked a week-long Bora Bora holiday in May, which should be the start of the dry season, and I will stay at the St Regis and  Four Seasons resorts, both of them representing the best French Polynesia has to offer in terms of ultraluxe accommodations. I will fly to Bora Bora in Business Class on Air Tahi Nui from Tokyo for just 25 USD (and 80,000 miles from my account with Amercian Airline’s AAdvantage, which I consider to be best loyalty program in the world, even when it will devaluate later this year).

FOUR SEASONS BORA BORA

FOUR SEASONS BORA BORA


6. FLYING FIRST CLASS IN QATAR AIRWAYS’ AIRBUS A380

Qatar Airways has a superb and cutting edge Business Class product on its Boeing Dreamliners (read my trip report here), Airbus A380s, and Airbus A350s, earning the airline a spot in my top 10 list of the best Business Class cabins in the skies (try to avoid their A330s though). Their First Class is a more elusive product, since they only installed it on their Airbus A380 fleet and Qatar only has 6 of these planes in its fleet, mostly deploying them on the Doha-Paris and Doha-Bangkok route. They also offer a far from impressive First Class cabin on some narrow body planes that fly regional routes, and which is somewhat reminiscent of domestic First Class on USA airlines. In February, I will fly in First Class from Doha to Paris, and I cannot wait to report on that, as well as to post a review on the Qatar Airways First Class Al Safwa Lounge at Doha, which is supposed to be the most luxurious airline lounge in the world. I paid 80 euros (100 USD) for the flight, since I used 80,000 British Airways miles (Avios) to book the flight.

Update: I have now completed this trip. You can read my trip report here.


5. SIGHTSEEING IN OMAN

The sultanate of Oman, a growing tourist destination of the Middle East, has always been on my bucket list. I’ve been in the country once, although that was not exactly what you call a sightseeing trip since I stayed at Six Senses Zighy Bay, a sublime resort on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, which is an exclave of Oman, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates. Oman’s diverse terrain with Wadi’s deserts, beaches, and mountains are areas which make the country unique to its neighboring nations. In addition, its capital Muscat, with its golden minarets in the middle of a maze of brown pleated mountains reaching down to the Arabian Sea, is described as an “Arabia’s jewel”. During my trip, I will stay at some superb resorts, such as Alila Jabal Akhdar, Al Bustan Palace (a Ritz-Carlton hotel), Shangri-La Al Husn, and The Chedi Muscat.

ALILA JABAL AKHDAR, OMAN

ALILA JABAL AKHDAR, OMAN


4. FLYING FIRST CLASS IN ETIHAD AIRWAYS’ AIRBUS A380

Last year, Etihad Airways introduced an enhanced onboard product for its new Airbus A380 and Dreamliner Boeing 787 planes. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier even pushed luxury to a sky-high new level – and beyond First Class – with the unveiling of its new ‘Residence’ class on board its Airbus A380 superjumbos. The three-section private cabin, designated “the most luxurious living space in the air”, features a lounge area, a bedroom and a bathroom with shower. There is also an onboard butler solely to service passengers in the ‘Residence’, trained by the Savoy Butler Academy in London. While I won’t be flying the Residence soon, I have an upcoming flight in a few weeks from London to Abu Dhabi in Etihad’s First Class A380 cabin, which is in fact an apartment. A friend is joining me, and that’s cool since the the divider between apartments can be lowered to join rooms. I booked the flight for me and a friend for 2 x 30 USD and 80,000 AAdvantage miles.

Update: I have now completed this trip. You can read my trip report here.


3. FLYING FIRST CLASS IN EMIRATES’ AIRBUS A380

Since I will be flying First Class in the A380 cabins of both Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, I though it would make sense to fly an Emirates A380 in First Class as well, so that I can make trip reports about and compare the First Class products of the 3 major Middle East airlines. My post in which I compare the Business Class products of Emirates versus Qatar versus Etihad and which contains several links to my trip reports, is one of my most read articles of the past year. In addition, my Youtube clips about Business Class trips on the Middle East airlines are very popular, and all have more than 100,000 views (my most popular clip – documenting an Emirates Business Class flight from Dubai to Sydney – even has more than 1,500.000 views). So, apparently, there is a lot of interest in the Middle East airlines and their A380s, and the next few months, you will be able to read (and watch) a lot of trip reports of flights with them on my travel blog. I will pay my Emirates First Class ticket by transferring some of my Starwood points to Alaska Airlines‘ loyalty program, which partners with Emirates.

EMIRATES A380 FIRST CLASS SUITE

EMIRATES A380 FIRST CLASS SUITE


2. ENJOYING THE GOOD LIFE IN THE MALDIVES

It’s no secret: the Maldives is my favorite beach destination in the world. And I consider it to be the globe’s ultimate luxury hotspot, synonymous with paradise whether it is for honeymooners, sun worshipers, or scuba divers. Located on the equator towards the south of India and stretching over 800 km (500 mi), the Maldives are the visible coral tips of an oceanic volcanic mountain range whose outer edge at some points plunge to depths of over 3 km (1,8 mi). The stunningly beautiful islands are blessed with some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, crystal clear blue lagoons, incredible underwater wildlife, and unrivalled luxury resorts that take up their own private island. In January, I will be staying for a week at Soneva Fushi, which is managed by Soneva, my favorite ultra luxe hotel brand in the world. Soneva Fushi is the sister resort of Soneva Kiri, which I consider to be among the 10 best luxury hotel in the world (you can read my review of Soneva Kiri here).

Update: I have now completed this trip. You can read my trip report here.


1. EXPLORING ANCIENT CULTURES IN JAPAN

Japan has been a blind spot on my travel map, but finally, that will be a thing of the past by May. I am looking foward to visit the country of the rising sun, and I hope that Japan’s ancient temples, shrines and traditional geisha districts will offer me a fascinating glimpse into the country’s rich history and heritage. I will explore the temples in the supposedly stunning imperial city of Kyoto, emerge myself in the bustling capital of Tokyo with its dizzying dimensions and flashing neon lights, and I also plan to do some hiking on Mount Fiji. Of course, I will try out several of Japan’s most iconic hotels, so you can expect later this year some reviews on – among others – the Aman Tokyo, Park Hyatt Tokyo, Andaz Tokyo, and the Ritz Carlton Kyoto. I still have to book my Business Class plane ticket though, and I am doubting between All Nippon Airways (which now has a direct flight to Tokyo from Brussels, my hub) and Japan Airlines (which requires a stopover via London or Helsinki). I probably stick with Japan Airlines since they are a Oneworld airline, my preferred airline alliance.

AMAN TOKYO, JAPAN

AMAN TOKYO, JAPAN


*** Follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***


 

6 Comments on Top 10: my 2016 trips that I am most excited about!

  1. Wow, what an amazing year of travel you have planned! Great that you’re headed to Alila Jabal Akhdar, as we’ve commented about before. I loved its serenity. I just returned from Kyoto and Tokyo — spent NYE atop the Park Hyatt and had a wonderful evening. Kyoto is incredible — so much culture to explore. Hope you have a year of wonderful travel experiences!

    Like

  2. Looking forward to your posts in the new year You will enjoy Oman. I visited in November 2015. It was a great trip and I went the budget route except at the end when I stayed at Shangri-La Al Husn. Disappointment barely expresses my stay. I do not recommend Al Husn. See my review – http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g4283716-d1216393-r332437538-Shangri_La_Barr_Al_Jissah_Resort_Spa_Al_Husn-Barr_Al_Jissah_Muscat_Governorate.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

    I love your blog and all the great advice….keep it up.

    Like

  3. are there any ‘shortcuts’ for staying at Soneva Fushi at a more or less reasonable cost? loyalty points? anything?

    Like

  4. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any shortcuts at Soneva Fushi. The best rates are the ones you find on their website. Alternatively, you can always make the reservation through a Virtuoso travel agent (which will cost you the same but includes some benefitis, such as a free lunch): http://www.classictravel.com/hotels/soneva-fushi-resort-maldives?agent=LuxTravelExpert. To make the trip more affordable (and still enjoy nice weather), consider travelling just before or after the high season. I can always offer you a confirmed free villa upgrade at the time of bookinh (through my Soneva contacts), but in that case you need to send me an email (info@theluxurytravelexpert.com) before proceeding with any booking. Kind regards

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: