Be­yond Luxury

What do you do when white-gloved per­sonal but­lers, cloud-like mat­tresses, over­wa­ter vil­las and pri­vate is­lands no longer suf­fice?

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Travel & Fine Din­ning - By Cyn­thia Rosen­feld

Luxury on hol­i­day is by no means passe. How­ever for Asian trav­ellers es­pe­cially, ho­tel ameni­ties that once seemed worth the trip now hardly pro­voke an In­sta­gram post. To­day’s so­phis­ti­cate seeks some­thing be­yond all this pomp, in-depth multi-sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ences in which thought­ful in­dul­gences pro­vide merely the ul­tra­com­fort­able back­drop. For sybarites who al­ready live among life’s most sump­tu­ous ma­te­rial plea­sures, these are the in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ences de­signed to blow your mind and give you din­ner con­ver­sa­tion top­ics for months to come.

asheep farm set in the re­mote Fljot Val­ley within the moun­tain­ous Troll Penin­sula on Ice­land’s north­ern coast hardly sounds like manna for luxury lovers. Think again. Avid skiers and thrill seek­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate this 13-bed­room farm­house owned by an Amer­i­can fi­nancier and up­dated with stun­ningly deca­dent ameni­ties. Jux­ta­pos­ing the rugged nat­u­ral land­scape are the geother­mally heated in­door- out­door pool, spa with two floata­tion beds, in-house cinema and a be­spoke game room with pro­fes­sion­alqual­ity mu­si­cal in­stru­ments.

Se­ri­ous heli- skiers al­ready know that this val­ley sees some of the world’s high­est av­er­age snow­fall. This means the sur­round­ing 914m peaks of­fer some of the world’s finest pow­der, al­most guar­an­teed to be un­touched. Then there is the buzz of ski­ing all the way down to the wa­ter’s edge. Re­turn to dine on fresh Ice­landic spe­cial­i­ties like Arc­tic char and north At­lantic salmon. Forgo turn­ing in early to ease into the pool with its well-stocked water­side bar. And don’t for­get to look up – those al­most in­de­scrib­ably psy­che­delic shapes in the starry sky are the North­ern Lights. Come sum­mer, salmon fish­ing, horse­back rid­ing and blue­berry pick­ing keep guests busy at this re­mote re­treat.

De­plar Farm avid skiers and thrill seek­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate this 13- bed­room farm­house.

French the­atre pro­ducer turned hote­lier Thierry Teyssier did not let a lack of ac­com­mo­da­tions present any ob­sta­cle to his lat­est cre­ation. In­stead, he spent the last four years traips­ing across Morocco’s south­ern deserts and along its rugged coast­line to set the stage for his four-night cir­cuit through some of North Africa’s most evoca­tive land­scapes. Lo­cal crafts­peo­ple erected the route’s three pho­to­genic houses.

Af­ter an evening of foie gras and French wine, wake to bird­song in a hill­side Ber­ber vil­lage at Maison des Ar­ganiers which over­looks an ar­gan tree val­ley. Head south by SUV, stop­ping for tea un­der the scar­let cliffs of El Gezira, which arch over cerulean At­lantic waters.

Veer­ing in­land, the scenery turns flat and sun scorched un­til palm trees sud­denly shoot up around Tigh­mert’s palm grove near the Mau­ri­ta­nia bor­der. Hidden among the green­ery, Maison de l’oa­sis is an air- con­di­tioned ex­plorer’s tent. Break­fasts fea­ture pas­tries cre­ated by Teyssier’s friend Pierre Herme, be­fore this cus­tom car­a­van heads off to­wards the stoneclad Maison Rouge perched within a red earth canyon.

La Route du Sud

Sri Lanka is home to the world’s high­est con­cen­tra­tion of leop­ards in the wild and to the one man who knows how to find them in this dense equa­to­rial land­scape, which is also a nat­u­ral habi­tat for Asian ele­phants, sloth bears, spot­ted deer and mug­ger crocodiles as well as nearly 200 vi­brant bird species. Noel Ro­drigo takes leop­ard spot­ting as se­ri­ously as he does host­ing du­ties which is no sur­prise given the Sri Lankan’s former ca­reer as a first class air­line cabin man­ager. Ro­drigo’s Toy­ota jeeps, en­hanced with cam­era sup­port points and powerful binoc­u­lars for ev­ery guest, are the first to roll in ev­ery morn­ing at both Yala and Wil­pattu Na­tional Parks, af­ter guests have rested in the well- en­dowed South African tents cus­tomised with king-sized beds, en suite bath­rooms, cool­ing units or powerful air con­di­tion­ers and pri­vate decks. In strate­gic co­or­di­na­tion, Ro­drigo and his team of equally at­tuned an­i­mal track­ers and bird spe­cial­ists lead twicedaily game drives – 95 per cent of his guests see a leop­ard, of­ten many – while blue tail bee-eaters, Mal­abar pied horn­bills and pea­cocks flut­ter over­head. Af­ter the parks close each evening, his jeeps roll back to camp where guests will find a cock­tail bar set up un­der the jun­gle canopy, com­plete with Ab­so­lut Vodka, Bom­bay Sap­phire Gin and tonic wa­ter.

Noel Ro­drigo takes leop­ard spot­ting as se­ri­ously as he does host­ing du­ties.

Noel Ro­drigo’s leop­ard Sa­faris

Forty- three stone ca­sitas sur­rounded by gar­dens filled with na­tive flora face the An­des Moun­tains at this Re­lais & Chateau re­sort in Peru’s Sa­cred Val­ley. Each pri­vate sanc­tu­ary has been dec­o­rated with Peru­vian tex­tiles, Span­ish an­tiques and plump beds made with goose feather du­vets and Peru­vian pima cot­ton sheets. Yet this el­e­gant ho­tel, founded by a cou­ple of keen paraglid­ers, pro­vides the vi­tal gate­way to this vast land­scape of lush agrar­ian ter­races, pre- Colom­bian ru­ins and Span­ish colo­nial churches. Once merely the stopover spot to ac­cli­mate to the alti­tude en route to the fa­mous Inca ci­tadel of Machu Pic­chu, the Sa­cred Val­ley has evolved as a dy­namic cul­tural and ad­ven­ture des­ti­na­tion. Say ‘see you later’ to that deep soak bath­tub in favour of trekking or cy­cling into these moun­tains where the In­cas be­lieved their gods dwelled, along An­dean ter­races, past Inca ru­ins and through fields of wild­flow­ers, corn and quinoa. Equally en­rich­ing are the Val­ley’s his­toric trea­sures, es­pe­cially the still un­ex­plained sym­met­ri­cal stone ter­races at Mo­ray, the vil­lage of Ol­lan­tay­tambo where women in hand-stitched, colour­ful cos­tumes and elab­o­rately plaited hair un­der som­bre Span­ish bowler hats tra­verse nar­row, snaking cob­ble­stone lanes and the in­tri­cately fres­coed Church of San Pe­dro Apos­tol de An­dahuaylil­las, con­sid­ered the Sis­tine Chapel of the Amer­i­cas. www.ho­tel­soly­luna.com ≠

Sol y luna Equally en­rich­ing are the Val­ley’s his­toric trea­sures.

Floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows frame the moun­tains that sur­round De­plar Farm.

Maison des Ar­ganiers is home to shep­herds who drive their flocks to and from the pas­tures ev­ery day. In­set: Maison de l’oa­sis is near an old car­a­van cen­tre on the Tim­buktu route.

From a ro­man­tic hon­ey­moon to a fam­ily camp­ing ad­ven­ture, Noel Ro­drigo and his team can cus­tomise the trips to sat­isfy any need.

Sol Y Luna of­fers a range of ex­pe­ri­ences, in­clud­ing horse­back rid­ing to re­mote vil­lages.

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