For the extremely wealthy, a vacation to Europe or South America just doesn’t cut it. They demand adventure and luxury that takes them to the ends of the Earth and back. As Financial Times travel editor Tom Robbins puts it, “It’s all about bragging rights. If I was at a dinner party with you and you’d say you’d been to Barbados in a lovely hotel with gold taps I’d say ‘that doesn’t really impress me much,’ but if you said you’d been to Myanmar and gone trekking with the hill tribes I might think more of that.”
Robbins joined Yahoo Finance to discuss the hottest exotic travel destinations for the 1%.
How the upper crust travels (Photo: Thinkstock)
Flying into Bhutan isn’t for the faint of heart. The only international airport, Paro, is surrounded by mountains as high as 18,000 feet and is considered one of the most challenging airports to fly into and out of. It might be easy to get over the perils of the flight, however, as Bhutan created and tops the “Gross national happiness index.”
Situated in the Himalaya Mountains between China and India, Bhutan is an environmental wonderland. They also have a prevailing lifestyle that has managed to resist global cultural homogenization. Bhutan only opened its borders to foreigners in the 1970s and had a ban on television until 1999. But that doesn’t mean that their hospitality industry hasn’t quickly evolved, says Robbins.
A monastery in Bhutan (Photo: Thinkstock)
“What people want is something with a sense of adventure but with luxury added to it and Bhutan is a perfect example of that because you’ve got this really remote Himalayan country, completely intact culturally, that only gets 50,000 foreign visitors every year,” he says [Disney world gets 50,000 visitors daily]. “The strange thing is that even though it’s incredibly remote…the hotels there are not backpacking hostels, they are some of the most lavish and well designed and expensive in the world. Rooms will often set you back at least $1000 per night.”
Ibiza Town (Photo: Thinkstock)
This Spanish paradise has gained a reputation for all-night, drug-fueled dance parties in recent years but it’s now becoming an upscale resort island, says Robbins. “The Ibiza that everyone really knows is of clubbing and what’s happened in the last few years is that it’s changed and moved upmarket. There have been a lot of very smart restaurants and hotels moving there.”