For those who can afford it, or those who dreamed and saved a lifetime, there’s a lot of ultra-exclusive travel value to be had in Europe. As a matter of fact, a recent Travel Market Report article suggests the trend toward exotic travel is being fueled by consumer desire to gain truly genuine and unique experiences.
The area of travel once dominated by smaller “niche” operators with highly specialized expertise is now a boom segment for larger and larger tour companies. For Europe in particular, new and old players have caught on to your need for experiential wonderment. For feeling a truly one-of-a-kind get away from it all, here are five European companies offering far-out trips.
Slovenia—Mountain Travel Sobek
MTS was actually the first company to organize a sailing adventure to the Galapagos Islands way back in 1970. Noted for their diverse private travel experiences worldwide, the so-called Richard Bangs Family Friendly Slovenia Adventure affords an unparalleled private experience for families wanting to discover the magnificence that is Slovenia. This 3 day adventure features hiking, canoeing, rafting, and wine tasting in and around wonderful Lake Bled.
Mountain Travel began over four decades ago as an exclusive adventure travel company, but today the company has expanded to go even beyond exploring the wild places on our planet. MTS offers over 200 exotic destinations worldwide now.
As to the Slovenia hiking adventure, if you need your unique experience to include the whole family, this expertly led outdoor getaway is an easy to moderate outing with memories to last a lifetime. Prices start at US$3,995.
Heli-Ski Iceland. The idea simply says it all. You forgot about Iceland, now didn’t you? Of all the adventure-exotic companies out there, EpicQuest simply has few rivals for taking travelers right to the edge. All these excursions and expeditions are completely tailor-made, but this Iceland ski experience is literally awe-inspiring if for no other reason than the scenic landscape. No, I stated that wrong, the majesty of this place on Earth is extraordinary. Looking over EpicQuest’s offerings, its company dogma of, “A company dedicated to the pursuit of living life to the fullest,” seems credible.
Whoever books this trip had better take a camera along. Even still, memories etched with a ski view, high above epic black sand beaches, the cold of the aquamarine sea… Iceland’s wonders are made accessible via helicopter and expert leadership of the legendary kind.
This is the seventh season that guide JB Bergmann has led adventurers on this totally unique alpine quest for discovery. He is, by the way, Iceland’s first and only UIAGM-IFMGA certified mountain guide. Enjoy the northern lights; ski right out onto the beach. Heli-Ski Iceland: Skiing in the land of Vikings, for the adventurous; EpicQuest lives up to their name here along with their partners, Arctic HeliSkiing. Call or inquire via the website for itineraries and prices.
Russia—Abercrombie & Kent
Abercrombie & Kent was founded by Geoffrey Kent and his parents from inauspicious beginnings in East Africa. Geoffrey, who was born there while his parents were on safari, went on to further the dream of making adventure part of other people’s lives. The dream of Valerie and Colonel John Kent lives on today albeit with a far more luxurious overtone present. The well-named Marco Polo Invitational Journeys, afford a tailored and individual value, while adding exclusivity and luxury.
This exotic tour of Russia promises to be unforgettable, including a scheduled meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev’s personal assistant, a walk in Red Square in Moscow, a cruise on the canals of St. Petersburg, and even a private tour of Peterhof Palace. Yes, day three of the itinerary calls for the group to meet Pavel Palazhchenko (Gorbachev’s personal assistant) to discuss current Russian politics. Day five in St. Petersburg you get to meet renowned artist Yuri Petrochenkov for tea. The sendoff event at Podvorie Dacha Restaurant ties you inextricably to Russian tradition.
Included in this cultural adventure are stays at the magnificent Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg, and the Ritz Carlton in Moscow. For something around $10,000 all said and done, those interested in Russia from the artistic or cultural aspect will be enamored for life.
Balaeric Islands via Pegaso
Yachting Partners International (YPI) offers for charter some of the most magnificent yachts in the world for cruising similarly fabulous destinations. The Balearic Islands being one of the most unique places to visit via the sea, YPI’s Pegaso takes the discerning traveler there in unbelievable style for about $700,000 per week!
The five Islands of the archipelago, Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera, and Cabrera are oft visited, but nonetheless picture-perfect destinations for Mediterranean fun and sun. However, what makes this exotic getaway choice so special is the Pegaso yacht. Originally designed to satisfy an accomplished diver/owner, Pegaso is a luxurious 240-foot technological wonder laid out in Spain to an H2/Andy Moore design. The Mark Berryman interiors aboard are striking, not to mention every conceivable convenience guests could ask for.
Take in the sea breeze and sun yourself on the deck, or take solace from the teak interiors, the amazing Owners’ Deck, spa-pool, gym, media lounge, or observation lounge. Also outfitted with jet skis and an HCA-certified helipad; this yacht is the ultimate exotic platform from which to see the world.
Created by the visionary owner of a large tour operation in Italy, Regal Travel takes aim at the real meat of a high-end travel experience from an “agent’s” perspective. That place in tourism that requires the human touch, the added service, the amazing experience; this is where the so-called “jet set” millionaire or billionaire goes to nix hassle and supercharge the unique.
By far one of the most overlooked tourism destinations; Italy is being rediscovered by luxury travelers of this generation. As for Regal Travel, this company is actually a B2B hub for travel agents outside Italy to take advantage of serving their elite clients to the best and most far-out that Italy’s luxury market has to offer. In short, if you want to rent a Ferrari and drive around the Italian Alps for a couple of days, then board a hot air balloon for Genoa, board a chopper to your private yacht anchored off Sardinia, then get married on board… well, you get the picture.
The slogan “red carpet to Italy” is something we’ve seen a need for these last few years where Italian tourism is concerned. The heyday of Italian travel seemed to pass by for a couple of decades. Even though the travel industry there has always thrived, the old hot spots that once were gave way for a spell to more in-vogue places like Croatia, Northern Europe, and Turkey etc. If you look at all Italy has to offer, it’s easy to see the need for a sort of Renaissance of high-end travel.
Phil Butler is editor of Everything PR News, a partner at hospitality PR firm Pamil Visions, and an editor/contributor to a number of travel media including Travel Daily News, Epoch Times, and others.