To compile my top luxury travel picks for 2016 I had to dig deep. Travel can be a joyful life-changing experience, but I am also aware that safety is a common concern these days. Fortunately, it is possible to have both a safe and luxurious travel experience with any of the carefully chosen recommendations on this year’s list. I truly believe each could help make 2016 your best year for luxury travel yet.
Luxury Travel along the Danube River
Cruising along the Danube river is for many, the quintessential European experience. Among the top destinations to include in such a trip are the beautiful cities of Budapest and Prague. There are several choices of cruise lines serving these ports however I offer my strongest recommendations for Uniworld, AmaWaterways or Avalon. Each are well established with much-deserved high ratings.
New to the area is Crystal River Cruises. Crystal has provided impeccable luxury ocean cruises for years. I have every confidence that they will extend their flawless reputation to the rivers of Europe as well. They’ll soon be launching their first river yacht, the “Crystal Mozart” to sail the Danube (artist photo to left).
In 2017, Crystal will add four more river yachts with new itineraries and other European rivers. The yachts of Crystal® boast butler service for every suite, superb cuisine, and expertly curated itineraries. I also anticipate an abundance of overnight stays and complimentary Crystal Adventures® ashore in every port of call.
Spain and Portugal
When thinking of Europe; France or Italy are often the first destination that might come to mind. Personally, I still consider Italy my number one European destination, however; Spain and Portugal are two absolutely beautiful countries offering numerous highly-rated luxury experiences.
Spain is lovely and diverse. Barcelona is a spectacular city where you could easily spend several days taking in the sites. Especially appealing is the gothic quarter featuring narrow winding roads and impressively haunting architecture. If you were there in early July, you could head to Pamplona for the running of the Bulls, but I might advise against trying the run yourself. If you prefer a more educational experience, you could visit the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, considered one of the world’s greatest contemporary art museums.
Spain is also known for fine wine and cuisine, offering surprisingly affordable luxury when compared to the rest of Europe.
Portugal is right next door to Spain. I recommend starting in the capitol of Lisbon, a city older than London and Paris. From inexpensive, but delicious Portuguese wines to coffee and pastries in the cafes of the Alfama district, “Lisboetas” do not shun the good life!
Portugal is blessed with a subtropical climate, mostly sunny days and and delightful nearby beaches. The drive to the Algarve with their famous golden cliffs, sandy coves and great golf is a must. I also suggest making the jaunt over to Porto to see the unique terracotta-topped port wine warehouses.
Peru and Macchu Picchu
Many people consider Machu Picchu to be among the top “must see” destinations in the world. While it is a bit more of an adventure trip, it is one you will never forget.
It is usually best to start by flying into the capital city of Lima and plan for a day or two to relax and check out the city. There are fascinating sites like the Plaza de Armas, founded in 1535, the San Francisco Monastery built in the 17th century, and the seafront walkway known as El Malacon. You will also find numerous parks, a scattering of sculptures and excellent views of the Pacific ocean and Lima’s coastal cliffs.
The real adventure begins with a short one-hour flight to Cusco. Stopping in this quaint and attractive city is very important to allow you to to properly acclimatize yourself to the extreme altitude. Once you’ve adjusted you’ll take the Heram Bingham Train to see the incredible lost Incan city of Machu Picchu. With its awe-inspiring location, it is the best-known and most spectacular archaeological site on the continent. You’ll quickly understand why it is called one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Luxury Travel in Canada
My final top luxury Travel Pick for 2016 is where I was born and raised: Canada! From the west coast of British Columbia to Nova Scotia on the very east, it is packed with natural wonders like the Rocky Mountains, beautiful landscapes and friendly people.
I recommend starting in Vancouver with its crown jewel Stanley Park. Just imagine a 1,000 acre rain-forest right in the middle of a world-class coastal city. You’ll also find a pleather of restaurants, shops and endless mountain vistas there.
Next I suggest you take the one-of-a-kind train from Vancouver to Banff Springs, Alberta aboard Rocky Mountaineer with their award-winning Goldleaf Service. You’ll take in countless panoramic views while enjoying gourmet dining, followed by stays in luxury hotels with five-star service all the way.
New luxury Aircraft
There are even some new ways to experience luxury while travelling to and from your vacation! A well-trained travel consultant can find out which type of aircraft is being used for each flight, and if you’ll be spending six hours or more in the air, this information could determine the flight or airline you might choose.
The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is smoother, quieter, far more comfortable and with larger windows than previous models. These feature can help you relax and reduce jet lag. It doesn’t take long to understand why they’re called “dream liners.” I also love the Airbus A380 which is so comfortable. Emarites has the best service on board these aircraft for both busines and economy.
As for airlines, if it is international flights, hands down Emarites. Air Canada is once again winning awards for their business class service so this would be my second pick. Turkish Airlines coming in third. Both deliver luxury-level service on otherwise long and uncomfortable flights. With all three you can travel in style and be pampered all the way.
So, now you have my top luxury travel picks for 2016! Of course, the best way to discover YOUR perfect destination, hotel or cruise is to work with a skilled travel consultant. I look forward to helping you discover yours soon.
Luxury Travel Experience Specialist based in Woodstock, Ontario. Dean Barreca’s career and purpose are guided by one simple truth: Life can be a magical experience when lived to the fullest. With that in mind, Dean tends to take a different approach to the business of luxury travel.