July 20, 2017 / Luxury Lifestyle

Explore the World by Road, Rail, or Sea

Luxury Defined discovers some of the world’s most interesting ways to travel—because sometimes happiness is in the journey as well as the destination


Today’s travelers don’t just want to go “on vacation.” They want a unique escape into another world. And for those determined to push through vacation clichés, making the journey itself an integral part of the experience can uncover stunning scenery and once-in-a-lifetime excursions—all in luxurious surrounds, of course.

Reclaim the golden age of train travel
Nothing exudes continental charm like a train with Tsar-like levels of opulence. Take the Belmond Northern Belle in the United Kingdom, for example. With liveried stewards, starched table linens, and serious china, this train harks back to the lavishness of the 1930s “Belle” trains.

Ensconced in finely upholstered seats, passengers taking the Northern Belle’s daylong journeys in the UK can head to destinations such as the Roman walled city of Chester or the charming, cobblestoned Bath. “You can sip champagne on the top of North Yorkshire’s Ribblehead Viaduct, or tuck into some haggis as the train crosses the border into Scotland,” says Jeanette Snape, general manager of the luxury train. “There’s nothing like rumbling over the UNESCO-listed Forth Bridge.”

Each of the Northern Belle’s seven carriages bears the name of a great British castle or stately home.No matter the destination—on a locomotive like the Northern Belle, it’s all about the journey. The restored train cars feature handcrafted murals, mosaics, and brass accents. A three-course brunch is preceded by Bellinis as guests settle in to enjoy the rolling countryside vistas. 

Bespoke journeys through Brazil
For a more active experience, try a luxury journey customized to your personal interests. Abercrombie & Kent is able to create your own private adventure—via yacht, canoe, or trolley car—through Brazil.

Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands—and their variety of wildlife—are best explored by boat along the Mutum River. Photograph: Abercrombie & KentStaying at exclusive hotels, guests can enjoy Abercrombie & Kent’s “insider” excursions. Add-ons include everything from one-on-one drum lessons to behind-the-scenes access to the Rio Carnival. Charter a private yacht to take you down the Amazon or, for something more active, a sunrise canoe trip along the Mutum River.

The world-famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, looking towards Sugarloaf Mountain—whose 1,300-foot peak is served by a cable car from Praia Vermelha. Photograph: Abercrombie & KentFor urbanites, there is plenty to discover in Rio de Janeiro. Ride the trolley car, which winds through the narrow streets and past historic buildings in “Montmartre Carioca,” before ending the day at the Belmond Copacabana Palace’s piano bar.

A stylish road trip through California
If you prefer to hit the open road, Exsus Travel understands the art of crafting personalized car trips.

Route 1 along the Pacific coast traces dramatic bluffs, passing through iconic Californian cities on the way. Let’s start with the vehicle: do you see yourself driving a classic Mustang, a Cadillac with fins, or a sturdy SUV? These cars are all options for California excursions. Foodies will love Exsus’s northern California route, hitting world-renowned restaurants and exclusive properties such as Bardessono and the Farmhouse Inn. Motor through San Francisco and Yountville—home to the most Michelin stars per capita anywhere in America—before delving deep into the wine country of Napa Valley and Sonoma.

Bardessono’s Magnolia courtyard is among the serene, clean-lined outdoor spaces of the eco-friendly resort and spa. Wander inside to Lucy Restaurant & Bar for fresh, seasonal dishes and wine from the surrounding vineyards. Photograph: Bardessono“Even seasoned road-trippers regard Route 1 through California as one of the most beautiful in America,” says Mark Beken, head of product at Exsus. “But go one better by exploring Mendocino, the ‘secret Big Sur,’ and bag the best bragging rights while enjoying private sommelier wine tastings, horseback riding on the beach, helicopter trips over the vineyards, and a route less traveled.”

See the world by sea
If you prefer to explore by sea, think beyond a traditional cruise. The World is the planet’s largest private residential ship and circumnavigates the globe every two or three years. The owners—142 families from 19 countries—vote on the itinerary, building excitement about the ports of call and the culturally attuned excursions.

In addition to an expedition to Antarctica, The World has called into Shanghai and can now be found summering along the rugged coasts of British Columbia and Alaska.Imagine taking a private tour of a South African vineyard that has never been open to the public. Or sampling rare Imperial Heritage Caviar in Antwerp with renowned chef Viki Geunes. Earlier this year, The World made a bold expedition to the Ross Sea in Antarctica—one of the most remote areas on the planet. 

The World has everything an active traveler might need, from two swimming pools, a full tennis court, and a golf simulator to a 7,000-square-foot wellness center.The ship is a veritable floating city, complete with florist, art gallery, and chapel. And along with restaurants and bars, there’s a Call-a-Chef program on board for private in-residence chef service.

Wherever you wish to travel, and however you wish to explore—by air, by land, or by sea—you’re sure to find your dream trip if you concentrate on the journey.

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Joanne Latimer
is an award-winning Montréal-based journalist who has written for The New York Times and The Globe and Mail