Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith hotels Image by: Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith hotels
Move aside bling, yachts and private jets (sorry Jay and Bey, most of us just can’t roll the way you do). The new way to be a true jetsetter doesn’t equal loads in a Swiss bank account, an Amex with no limit (though that would be nice for shopping, no?), or a plane waiting for your last minute trip. The new swish-set of in-the-know travellers tick a few other things off their luxury list (hint, boutique hotels are high up there) when it comes to hitting the hottest spots on the globe. We chatted with Tamara Heber-Percy and James Lohan, co-founders of Mr. & Mrs. Smith (a luxury boutique hotel collection site), about how to trot around the world and get amazing experiences, sans the hype.
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How to be the new jet setter
You don’t have to be A-list or make the Forbes list of most influential people to make your way around the world hitting the hottest destinations. The new jet setter sees luxury and travel in a different way. “Getting access around the world to destinations that you’ve always dreamt about, is a jet setter to me," says James. “It’s not about how often you get to go, but the fact that you get to go where you want to go.” That and having unique experiences will make your trip feel more luxurious and more “insider” says James. “Think about special access, the things that money can’t buy. That’s what makes a destination special, what makes your trip more memorable.”
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And a jet setter means it’s all about you
It may seem to be common sense when planning your vacation; it should be about what you want to do. But a jet setter gets exactly what they want and puts in the research before hand. “What do you like, what kind of holiday do you want – is all about the size of the property (small boutique hotels), or more lively and party atmosphere?” says Tamara. Think about every aspect of your holiday and cater it to your likes; what kind of food do you love? What type of spa do you like (wellness spa, day spa, retreats)? Do you want that manicured beach, or are you obsessed with jagged cliffs along a coastline? “Write out your perfect holiday,” says Tamara. “Ask yourself what you don’t want – sometimes it’s easier to narrow it down when you look at what you don’t like first.” When it comes to accommodations, create a list of your ideal hotel room – don’ be afraid to ask for what you want. “People often think it’s rude to ask for something extra in their rooms,” explains James. “But you can be a bit more demanding – ask for the room with the best view if that matters to you. Ask for one that is super quiet if you’re a light sleeper.” The other critical thing to consider? Weather. If humidity wreaks havoc on your hair, avoid tropical and hot destinations during their hottest times of the year. If the cold literally chills you to the bone, cross ski vacations off your list.
Book yourself a luxe treat at An Lam Saigon River hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The new luxury in travel
Think small when it comes to travel to get that new luxury feeling (we don’t mean planes, but hey, if you can swing a private jet, don’t forget your friends). We’re talking smaller destinations (think the small towns and cities outside the main metropolitan areas) and think about boutique hotels. “Luxury is such a personal thing, I think,” says Tamara. “Whether it’s adventure, fine wine, or a beach.”
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Get the most out of a traditional destination
Remember this. A jet setter doesn’t wait in line. Who wants to spend hours in line to get to the top of the Eiffel tower, anyway? The way to be a jet setter is to buy advanced tickets, or organize a private tour so you not only bypass those long lines, but you get even more information from your guide than you would strolling around yourself. Book private cooking lessons at a small restaurant, or select a boutique winery rather than the most popular for a more intimate (and more romantic) wine tasting.
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Find the best of the best on your vacation
The hotel concierge is amazing at pointing you in the right direction on a map, but when it comes to finding that tucked away restaurant that only locals go to, they're not always the best option. “Find a local butcher, produce stand, or corner grocery shop and ask the owners or workers where they go to eat, what their favourite places in town are,” suggests James. “You’ll be sure to get a real local experience and will find hidden gems that most tourists would ever see – often these are your best meals on your vacation.” Same goes with shopping. Pop into a small, boutique store and ask the owners about other great places to shop and find one-of-a-kind items.
Get in touch with your inner child at Chewton Glen in Hampshire, UK, that has several tree house suites.
The new travel trends: Boutique hotels
Right now, boutique hotels with character are the hottest things in travel – and it doesn’t look like that trend is going anywhere anytime soon. “New England is a good example. It’s filled with boutique hotels that are homey, colourful in design and styled – we’re finally seeing the death of minimal in hotels – we’re now seeing loads of hotels with real character,” explains Tamara. Want to up your travel ante? Book a boutique countryside hotel that oozes charm with an upscale feel.
The new travel trends: Tree house hotels
Another hot trend? Tree house hotels – yes, you heard us right – chic rooms perched in treetops are becoming one of the hottest hotel trends. “Living amongst the trees is just amazing,” says Tamara. “It takes you back to your childhood and people love being in the midst of nature.” So book yourself in a super luxe tree house (your friends won’t believe just how amazing it is!).
The new destinations
Of course, if you’re part of the new jet-set club, you need to be on top of where the next hotspots are going to be – before they become top tourist attractions.
For the beach bum traveller: Burma
Stunning beaches in this off-the-beaten path will make you forget about your wild days in Thailand.
For the give-me-something-new traveller: Sri Lanka
After the 2004 tsunami, tourism in Sri Lanka took a major hit. It’s slowly coming back into it’s own. Now is the perfect time to visit, mingle with locals and check out secluded beaches before a tourism rush hits.
For the get-in-touch-with-the-locals traveller: Vietnam
Vietnam has been on the backpackers’ list of Asian hot spots for years – but with a recent slew of hotels that have activities that involve the local community it’s ideal for the volun-tourist. We're currently loving the Nam Hai hotel on Vietnam's China Beach.
For the Europe lovers: Basilicata, Italy
Remote and oozing with Italian countryside charm, Basilicata is now home to a chic boutique hotel that was once Francis Ford Coppola’s private home (you get access to his massive film collection as well – over 300 to pick from).
For the been-there-done-that traveller: Umbria instead of Tuscany
If you’ve hit up Italy’s Tuscany region already, but can’t get enough of wine tasting test out the smaller up-and-coming region of Umbria where vineyards and wineries dot the rolling hills.
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