Golden days and fash­ion-for­ward nights

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - LISA ALLEN

GOLD prices might have tanked in the past 10 days, but that has not stopped Abu Dhabi’s op­u­lent 390-room Emi­rates Palace Ho­tel dis­play­ing one of the world’s first gold-vend­ing ma­chines within its grand lob­bies.

The Ger­man-built Gold to Go vend­ing ma­chine dis­penses pieces such as a 5g gold heart necklace for AED1425 ($377), while a large gold watch known as the Fat Boy costs a cool $8753. An­other ma­chine of­fers mag­nums of Luxor cham­pagne with 24ct gold specks float­ing in the bub­bles.

Is such ex­trav­a­gant pur­chas­ing likely to be a new trend among trav­ellers? Prob­a­bly not, but the pop­u­lar­ity of multi-gen­er­a­tional hol­i­days is def­i­nitely in­creas­ing, par­tic­u­larly in the cruise mar­ket, with its range of mega-lin­ers and ex­pe­di­tionary ves­sels and di­ver­sity of des­ti­na­tions, ac­cord­ing to Matthew Upchurch, chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Vir­tu­oso, a spe­cial­ist travel com­pany of­fer­ing high-end ex­pe­ri­ences. Upchurch was among 1000 del­e­gates in Abu Dhabi to at­tend the World Travel & Tourism Coun­cil’s re­cent an­nual knees-up.

‘‘The power of multi-gen­er­a­tion travel is in­creas­ing,’’ Upchurch said. He added that cashed-up Amer­i­cans, in par­tic­u­lar, were be­com­ing more strate­gic about travel and mak­ing long-term fam­ily hol­i­day plans and bucket lists. Th­ese vet­eran trav­ellers say they aim to turn their chil­dren into ex­pe­ri­enced glo­be­trot­ters by the age of 18.

Fam­ily trips to the world’s great cap­i­tals, such as Lon­don, Paris and New York, are de rigueur, fol­lowed by African sa­faris and jaunts to Asia, in­clud­ing emerg­ing des­ti­na­tions such as Myan­mar and the lesser-vis­ited re­gions of In­dochina.

Soft ad­ven­ture — also known as ‘‘trekking with a Four Sea­sons ho­tel at the end of it’’ — is also mak­ing a come­back, ac­cord­ing to Upchurch, who cited the ex­am­ple of Ananda in the Hi­malayas, a spa re­sort amid the moun­tain­ous ter­rain of the Rishikesh Val­ley, near the fa­mous Hindu pil­grim­age site of Haridwar at the source of the Ganges. Upchurch added that the tiny moun­tain king­dom of Bhutan should also fea­ture on the itin­er­ar­ies of soft ad­ven­tur­ers this year and next.

An­other con­tin­u­ing trend is the roll­out of ho­tels and re­sorts con­nected with fa­mous fam­i­lies or high­pro­file fash­ion brands such as Ar­mani, Bul­gari, Mis­soni and the Ferragamo fam­ily, known for their de­signer shoes and hand­bags and who opened a 14-suite ho­tel, Por­trait Suites, five years ago on via Bocca di Leone, near Rome’s fash­ion boule­vard of via Con­dotti. ‘‘There’s more of this kind of [fash­ion brand] prod­uct com­ing up,’’ said Upchurch.

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