Singapore Tatler Best of Singapore
THE GREAT ESCAPE
Astute and discerning travellers know what they want and are not afraid to go off the beaten path.
When it comes to dreaming up your own version of a luxury holiday, no vision is too small. As the appetite for novel travel experiences burgeons among Singaporeans, this choose-your-own-adventure variety of vacations is literally taking off—from safaris and glamping in Africa to the Negev Desert in Israel and The Caucasus. With increasing affluence and globalisation, doors are opening and unique destinations beckon to those who seek something out of the ordinary.
BESPOKE TRAVEL OPTIONS
Want adventure-themed romance?
Take a winter sleigh ride in the Finnish Lapland, where you can enjoy a private dinner in a Sami tent amidst the snowblanketed forest, while choreographed fireworks go off over a frozen lake. If you love mystique, how about attending a masked ball in Venice or taking part in a traditional boat race? For the musically inclined, a private after-hours tour of the Milan Cathedral, followed by a private concert featuring a vocal performance accompanied by the cathedral’s magnificent organ, might be more up your alley.
A GROWING NICHE
Bespoke traveling is not entirely a novel concept, as off-the-beaten-path adventures have been in vogue for a long time, says Quotient Travelplanner’s co-founder Lim Hui Juan. “What has probably changed is the rising affluence in Singapore, and that
travel, for many people, has become an integral part of life.”
Customised travel itineraries aren’t only growing in popularity because people want meaningful life perspectives and experiences that inspire them to do more and be better versions of themselves. It also boils down to the fact that people want to brag about what they’re doing and tell their friends about it, explains Yvonne Low, executive director of The Traveller DMC, who puts this down to social media’s influence and the natural human desire to share.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
While a bespoke travel experience may cost more than a beach holiday or cruise, the intangible benefits—these include immersing yourself in local culture and deeper engagement with the community—are worth the memories.
But before planning your trip, Sonia Davies, CEO of Scott Dunn says you should decide what kind of holiday you want, be it a well-being escape, a rugged adventure or an urban getaway. “It’s also important to consider the time of year you’d like to travel, so our experts have an idea of what countries are good to visit at that specific time.”
“The fundamental benefit of a customised holiday is that everyone’s needs and preferences are different, so everybody’s holiday is going to be tailored to their style and thus, is unique,” says Lim. So a bespoke vacation is “perfect for curious travellers who
have a vision for their trip and who care about experiencing the best of the destination authentically.” If all you want to do is relax by the beach or pool, then a customised holiday is probably not required.
GET EXPERT HELP
Quotient’s destination experts “know the tips and secrets of each place, so they can organise behind-the-scenes excursions where guests can sample the real essence of a location,” says Lim. However, she adds, the “bespoke traveller” should also have clarity about his or her expectations and preferences in order to have a welltailored and meaningful itinerary, as the design of the trip will be based on these careful specifications.
Travellers who know exactly what they want from a bespoke holiday are often satisfied with the itineraries that these experts put together. According to Low, “One memorable experience we helped to arrange involved a singing chef cooking local delights as she sang and dined with our clients.” Bespoke vacations can include planning special surprises on birthday or anniversary trips as well, says executive director of Chan Brothers Prestige, Chloe Chan.
There is a plethora of choices for those who want trendy but unique itineraries, too. Wellness tourism and cultural discovery tours in Central Asia and Latin America will be a main highlight this year, says Chan, as “Singaporeans’ growing appetite for more remote and novel travel experiences continue to drive up demand for experiential adventures that differ from the mainstream.”
You can also expect a revival of certain destinations such as Sri Lanka’s Galle Fort, Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago and the untouched beaches of Greece’s Milos, advises Davies. Another gradual change the industry will see is the move to support “operators who are actively healing the planet—regenerating wildlife and forests, preserving indigenous cultures and habitats, working towards carbon neutrality, and supporting and developing local communities,” says Lim.