23 of the Most Luxurious Vacations Around the World


 

What’s wrapped in a plush robe, with a glass of champagne in one hand and a personal concierge at their beck and call? Answer: You, on your next holiday. That is, only after you’ve spent the day living out your wildest dreams, whatever they may be: 18 holes on the world’s most famous links, a cruise on a private yacht, or a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant, perhaps.

The true meaning of luxury may depend on who you ask, but there are a few things every lavish locale has in common: premium properties, impeccable service, and access to the finer things in life—spa days, shopping, and fine dining, of course. We’ve searched the globe to find all the best places where you can indulge in your favourite things, from golf to wine to old-fashioned relaxation. The good news is that you don’t have to have the budget of Justin Bieber to have a good time on these luxury getaways—but we’re not saying it would hurt, either.

 

1. Ucluelet, British Columbia

Vancouver Island is known as the sort of place where you can surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon. It’s definitely got an outdoorsy vibe—which makes its luxury all the more surprising. In the artsy enclave of Ucluelet, you’ll find the perfect combination of refinement and rugged beauty.

Stay: Perched on a cliff’s edge overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Black Rock Oceanfront Resort has floor-to-ceiling windows in every suite, to better take in the stunning views.

Play: Charter Archipelago Cruises’ 16-metre yacht to spot sea lions, whales, and bears on a cruise through the Broken Group Islands, where you’ll stop for a gourmet lunch of fresh grilled salmon.

Treat Yourself: Celebrate the flavours of the region at Norwood Restaurant; head chef Richard Norwood has years of experience at 5-star resorts. The “Taste of the West Coast” plate has local fish, oysters, mussels, and octopus. That’s as fresh as it gets!

 

2. Stratford, Ontario

“To thine own self be true”—especially if that self is telling you to book an extravagant, Shakespeare-themed holiday to Stratford. Stratford is known for its annual Shakespeare Festival, and the town really goes all out: there are even Shakespearean Gardens, filled with plants and herbs from his plays.

Stay: Book a stay at the indulgent Stewart House Inn, a fully restored 1870 estate outfitted with fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, and fine art—plus fine linens and plush robes in every room.

Play: Don’t miss the Shakespeare Festival, which takes place from mid-April to October. There’s also the Stratford Summer Music Festival, July 16 to August 26, showcasing world-class international musicians.

Treat Yourself: For a fine meal, venture downtown to Bijou for food that looks as good as it tastes—and wine pairings from small-batch vineyards that will blow your mind.

 

3. Brentwood Bay, British Columbia

Just north of the beautiful city of Victoria lies Brentwood Bay, where those in the know go for seclusion and luxury. It’s the ideal place to get away from the crowds, while still having all the amenities. In fact, it’s in Brentwood Bay that some of the area’s most famous attractions are located.

Stay: Your plush Ocean Villa at Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa has two king bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen, indoor/outdoor fireplace, huge private patio—and breathtaking ocean views, of course.

Play: Spring in Butchart Gardens is a burst of colour, and in the summer, enjoy afternoon tea and the nightly concert at Butchart Gardens. At the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, let hundreds of butterflies alight on your shoulders and marvel at tropical birds.

Treat Yourself: The Dining Room Restaurant at Butchart Gardens has all the makings of a spectacular meal: garden views, gourmet food, and an intimate setting.

 

4. Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador

Every spring, a great migration occurs unlike any other in the world: giant, 10,000-year-old icecaps drift from the Arctic to Newfoundland’s Iceberg Alley. Last year, crowds flocked to see a 45-m-tall mammoth. This year should be even better, and Twillingate is ready for visitors. This friendly small town is B&B country, but you’ll still find all the finer things in life, if you know where to look.

Stay: Embrace B&B culture at White on Wood, a boutique beachfront cottage where you’ll spend your days spotting icebergs from the terrace and strolling through the on-site gardens.

Play: Get up close with the majestic, icy drifters while still revelling in luxury when you charter a private, personalized trip with Captain Dave’s Boat Tours.

Treat Yourself: An afternoon at Auk Island Winery, watching whales play in the bay and sipping wine made from local berries and iceberg water, is certainly a treat. On the way home, stop into Ted Stuckless Fine Arts & Driftwood Gallery for a souvenir by a local artist.

 

5. North Hatley, Quebec

North Hatley isn’t called “The Jewel of the Eastern Townships” for nothing. Nestled on the shores of Lake Massawippi, with historic Victorian homes and adorable B&Bs, this is a place that is truly a breath of fresh air. Don’t believe us? North Hatley recently hosted the Clinton family for a summer getaway.

Stay: The 5-star Manoir Hovey is a secluded lakefront treasure with a private dock (for your seaplane landing) and 30 acres of woods and English gardens. Inside, you’ll find fireplaces, Jacuzzi bathtubs, and lakeview private balconies.

Play: Musical entertainment is always a classic way to spend an evening, and the cozy ambiance at La Caravane Theatre lends itself to intimate performances.

Treat Yourself: Did we mention the wine? Try the sparkling at Domaine Bergeville and the region’s famous ice wine at Le Cep d’Argent.

 

6. Banff, Alberta

With breathtaking scenery, incredible spas, and hotels that are the epitome of class and wealth, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to luxury vacations in Banff. But we probably don’t need to tell you that! If you somehow haven’t experienced the most extravagant options Banff has to offer, now is the time.

Stay: The Fairmont Banff Springs is the most well-known (and most photographed!) hotel here, but it’s not the only option. The AAA four-diamond Rimrock Resort Hotel awaits with impressive views, opulently appointed suites, and a five-diamond restaurant—one of only six in Canada.

Play: When you’re not hitting the slopes at Sunshine Village or taking in the scenery from the Banff Gondola, see what’s on at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (BCAC). You just might see the next big artist.

Treat Yourself: BCAC is also home to the high-end, locally sourced Three Ravens Restaurant & Wine Bar, known for its bison—perfectly paired with a robust, 2013 Chateauneuf du Pape wine, of course.

 

7. Englishtown, Nova Scotia

Just south of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Englishtown is a small village with a big secret—it’s chock full of luxury. With upscale glamping and unique, private fine dining, a stay in Englishtown will have you feeling more relaxed than ever.

Stay: Book a wellness retreat at Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort, and enjoy Qi Gong in the morning and local, organic beer around the warm fire pit at night. Even better: stay in a Mongolian-style yurt, and really impress your Insta followers.

Play: For adventure, hop on Donelda’s Puffin Boat Tours starting in May to see these adorable birds up close. Who doesn’t love puffins?

Treat Yourself: The Bite House, in nearby Baddeck, is so exclusive, it only has 12 seats and sells out months in advance. All ingredients are sourced locally, grown in the restaurant’s gardens, or even foraged, so every meal is completely one-of-a-kind.

 

8. Muskoka, Ontario

Muskoka is known as the “Hamptons of the North,” a lakeside playground where Toronto’s jetset vacations. Fuel up your floatplane—or just take a drive—and you’ll soon be amongst million-dollar lake houses (“cottages”) of Canada’s entrepreneurs and financiers.

Stay: Windermere House is the quintessential place to stay, with an on-site spa, fine dining, and a country club and golf course. The Rosseau Resort & Spa, perched on granite cliffs over Lake Rosseau, is another top choice.

Play: Windermere Golf & Country Club has been a Muskoka tradition since 1919. Need a bit of culture? The historic Gravenhurst Opera House has year-round music and theatre, while the Kee to Bala summer series is legendary.

Treat Yourself: Amba Health & Beauty Spa has locations throughout cottage country, including one in Windermere House. Enjoy a golf massage after your game or settle in for a French seaweed body wrap—this is the life.

 

9. Missinipe, Saskatchewan

The tiny hamlet of Missinipe is just a blip on the map in the vast northern reaches of Saskatchewan. But it’s a blip that’s known for one thing: adventure. Think adventure and luxury don’t mix? Think again. Fancy folks with fat wallets charter planes from all over the world to experience some of Canada’s best—and most remote—fishing.

Stay: Adventure Destinations International is the area’s most prestigious tour operator, and you’ll have your pick of cozy cabins. Thompson’s Camps is in Missinipe, or you can choose from several exclusive outposts. In fact, why not try them all?

Play: On this unforgettable adventure, it’s all about sport fishing—all day, every day. Get your fill of walleye and Northern pike at Dead Lake, or head to the most adventurous of them all: the remote and challenging fishing of Upper Foster Lake.

Treat Yourself: For an escapade like this, chartering your own private plane is half the fun. Adventure Destinations can set you up with private charters, plus delicious meals and more.

 

10. Whistler, British Columbia

Don’t let Banff take all the credit—Whistler has luxury at every turn. Whether you’re here to hit the slopes or hit the sauna (or both!), this ski town has it all. Heli-skiing on a glacier? Check. World’s longest and highest gondola? Check. Gourmet dining and spa experiences to die for? Check and check.

Stay: The Four Seasons Resort Whistler is Canada’s only Forbes Five-Star Resort, and it has all the extras you’d expect. A private resort car, fitness classes, daily wine tastings, and ski concierge are just the start.

Play: Whistler Tasting Tours offers a gourmet tour of five premium local establishments, including four courses and learning how to saber a bottle of champagne. (That means chopping the bottle open with a sword!)

Treat Yourself: Scandinave Spa knows what you need after a few days on the slopes. The Serenity Package is the ultimate treat, including a massage, time in the saunas and plunge pools, and a delicious light lunch.

 

11. Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Fore! You’ve heard of Augusta and Pebble Beach when it comes to legendary golf courses, but what about Kiawah Island? The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a wild and meandering design featuring sawgrass, sand dunes, and ocean views. Plus, it’s hosted every major PGA championship, so you know it’s good.

Stay: Kiawah Island Golf Resort is the only place you need to know about. You have your choice of opulent accommodations on the property, from the five-star Sanctuary Hotel to a private mansion, complete with concierge service.

Play: The name of the game here is “choices”: In addition to the legendary Ocean Course, there are four other courses on the island, all recently renovated with premier papsalum grass and laser-leveled tee boxes for the perfect golf experience.

Treat Yourself: Need a new golf polo or tennis skirt? Try SeaCoast Sports and Outfitters at nearby Freshfields Village, then hit Urban Nirvana Spa for a little rejuvenation before you get back to the links.

 

12. Del Mar, California

Sp-aahhhh! If you’re all about the massages, facials, body wraps, and mineral scrubs, a vacation in Del Mar—located on the Southern California coast—needs to be in your future. You’ll find luxury around every corner in this ritzy beach town, and the good times don’t stop when the sun goes down.

Stay: L’Auberge Del Mar features rooms designed by notable California decorator Barclay Butera, the award-winning Kitchen 1450, and of course, an incredible spa.

Play: Club M brings the heat after-hours. Mingle with the upscale clientele or reserve a VIP booth all for yourself. Just remember to dress your best.

Treat Yourself: Shopaholics will be thrilled at the boutique-style shopping of Del Mar—no major malls here! Designer swimwear at Julie’s Beachwear, beach casual menswear at Durante’s, and unique jewelry at Annmarie D’Ercole Jewelry are all must-visit shops.

 

13. Killington, Vermont

Aspen, Park City, and Jackson Hole? “Snow” way! You want a luxurious ski trip, and that means somewhere off the beaten path—or tracks. Enter Killington, a classic East Coast ski town with a lively apres-ski scene. The best part: Killington is totally driveable for a weekend getaway from Montreal, at just under 300 km south.

Stay: Killington Grand Resort Hotel is nestled right at the base of the action, and its sauna, heated pool, and warm stone massages will be a welcome treat after a day on the slopes.

Play: Killington Mountain has 155 trails totalling 117 km, 1,500 acres of powder, and world-class terrain parks. If that’s somehow not enough, there is also an alpine mountain coaster, gondola, sleigh rides, snowshoe tours, and events year-round.

Treat Yourself: For dinner, go all out with the resort’s Ledgewood Yurt Dinner Excursion: a sleigh ride to this secluded mountainside yurt, where you’ll enjoy five delectable courses in a delightful atmosphere.

 

14. Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Cancun gets all the attention, but you won’t find the rich and famous lining the pools and bars of Playa Del Carmen complaining. They’re here for that classic combination: relaxation by day and party by night, and Playa Del Carmen delivers on all fronts.

Stay: If it’s privacy you seek, you’ll find it in a Grand Class King Suite at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya. With a Jacuzzi tub, private plunge pool, and 24-hour room service, you never have to leave.

Play: One look at Palazzo nightclub and you’ll be dazzled by the hundreds of disco balls glittering in the purple lights. Put on your dancing shoes, because Playa Del Carmen’s premier club is open ‘til 5 a.m.

Treat Yourself: Alux restaurant presents truly unique dining: underground, in a 10,000-year-old cave. Book a private VIP vault for an incomparable experience.

 

15. St Andrews, Scotland

St Andrews Links simply calls itself “The Home of Golf”—and that’s the sort of quiet confidence that makes this a truly VIP vacation. The Old Course at the links needs no introduction to aficionados; however, let us introduce you to this beautiful town’s other extravagant amenities.

Stay: Fairmont St Andrews Bay is an excellent lodging choice for the discerning traveller, and has two stunning golf courses of its own. We told you this was the ultimate golf holiday.

Play: St Andrews Links has been around since the 15th century and hosted numerous championship games. Don’t forget to take a picture with the iconic—and surprisingly small—Swilken Bridge on the Old Course. 

Treat Yourself: Finish a perfect day at The Adamson, which has won much recognition for its cocktails. One look at the Smoky Old Fashioned—served in a smoke-filled beaker—and you’ll see why.

 

16. Bath, United Kingdom

Canada’s got its hot springs, and America has plenty of fancy destination spas, but there’s nothing quite like the history and grandeur of Bath. While it’s named for the ancient Roman Baths, now a museum, you’ll still find some of the United Kingdom’s best luxury spas in the area.

Stay: The Bath Priory is a short stroll from gorgeous Royal Victoria Park, and home to an excellent spa of its own: the first and only in the UK by L’Occitane.

Play: Immerse yourself in the area’s fascinating history at the Roman Baths as you learn about the ancient town of Aquae Sulis. You can also rent out the entire space for a private party, if you’re feeling especially fancy.

Treat Yourself: Afternoon tea in The Royal Crescent Hotel’s English gardens is quintessential Bath; if you were thinking of stronger spirits, book the stylish and private Champagne Lounge at Sub 13.

 

17. Courchevel, France

As the preferred ski resort of Prince William and Kate, as well as international billionaires and Paris jet-setters, Courchevel isn’t exactly an under-the-radar destination. On holiday here, you’ll see and be seen, plus enjoy loads of Michelin-starred restaurants and award-winning spas.

Stay: Be one of the first to book a room at Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges, which opened in 2016. And while they don’t have Michelin stars yet, they do have a Michelin-starred chef, Mauro Colagreco, at their B Fire restaurant.

Play: As a playground for Europe’s glamourous crowd, Courchevel has an unrivalled apres-ski scene. Whether you want a laid-back evening in the piano bar at La Mangeoire or to dance the night away at La Grange, your day definitely won’t end at sunset.

Treat Yourself: The flagship restaurant at Le Chabichou has two Michelin stars, plus a ski-in-ski-out bistro and the largest spa in the French Alps. Restaurant Le 1947 in the Cheval Blanc has three Michelin stars. Suffice to say, even if you don’t ski, you’ll be plenty occupied.

 

18. Sylt, Germany

Hamburg is Germany’s most important trade centre, a bustling port filled with important—and wealthy—businesspeople. The island of Sylt is their summer playground, a laid-back beach town that you might expect to find in the south of France or Australia’s Gold Coast.

Stay: If you prefer your vacations private and personalized, Severin’s Resort & Spa is ready to cater to your every whim. Enjoy private dining, reserve a personal trainer, or book a spa suite and have champagne and canapes delivered to your door.

Play: In Sylt, “play” means relaxing on the beach all day—and they take it to a whole new level with the strandkorb beach chair. Literally translating to “beach basket,” these comfy cocoons are a must-have. You can even take one home: Local company Sylt-Strandkörbe ships worldwide.

Treat Yourself: Even the spas and restaurants keep with the beach theme: the Syltness Center offers thalassotherapy with mineral-rich seawater and algae. At La Grande Plage, order up fresh shrimp soup or local sheep’s cheese and baguette, then kick back for a stunning sunset.

 

19. Lake Garda, Italy

On the shores of Italy’s largest lake, olive trees and cypress sway in the breeze as cerulean waters lap at the fine white sand. This is Lake Garda, located in northern Italy near Verona. It has all the charm of a Mediterranean beach town, with a distinctly relaxed lakeside atmosphere.

Stay: There are many towns dotting the lakeshore, but perhaps the best place to stay is Gargnano, home of Lefay Resort & Spa. Opened in 2008, this posh place was southern Europe’s first hotel to earn the Green Globe environmental certification.

Play: You may not be able to bring your boat with you, but you can rent the best of the best through Garda Boat. Explore quaint villages and sidle up to dockside bars and restaurants—this is living the Lake Garda life.

Treat Yourself: At Restaurant Regio Patio, Michelin-starred chef Andrea Costantini serves up contemporary Italian cuisine in a classic garden setting. Get it while you can.

 

20. Havana, Cuba

Cuba is hot right now: It came in fifth on Statistics Canada’s list of top countries Canadians visit. If you’ve been hankering for some cigars and rum but thought Havana just wasn’t luxurious enough, think again. This capital city is ready for royalty.

Stay: The rooftop pool at Hotel Saratoga is the perfect place to relax above the city, and the exemplary Hotel Nacional de Cuba has seen the likes of Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill pass through its doors (plus, its Bar Galeria has great views and even better mojitos).

Play: La Torre, the city’s skybar, must be on the list for those in search of amazing views; those in pursuit of culture must see the Cuban National Ballet, one of the country’s proudest traditions.

Treat Yourself: Be one of the first to cruise to Cuba—and do it in unbeatable style. Luxury cruise line PONANT is offering the opportunity to cruise to five Cuban cities, starting this spring.

 

21. Saint Barthelemy, Caribbean

The Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy (or “St. Barts” if you’re in the know) is well-known among the luxury cruise crowd. This French-speaking island is all about high fashion, fine dining, and yachts—lots and lots of yachts. Pack your D&G sunglasses and your best white beach wrap, because you might be here a while.

Stay: Le Sereno Resort was voted the #1 Caribbean resort in 2016 by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler. They must have enjoyed the private beach club, warm seashell massages, and elegant waterfront dining, and so will you.

Play: Trust us, you don’t want to spend your whole vacation on the resort. In St. Bart’s, you need to be seen. By day, Nikki Beach is the place to be; then change into your best sparkles and hit Le Ti St. Barth by night.

Treat Yourself: In the capital city of Gustavia, the Quai de la République is the Fifth Avenue of the Caribbean, with chic brands like Cartier, Bulgari, and Louis Vuitton. And in St-Jean, you’ll find exclusive French and Italian fashions in La Villa Créole.

 

22. Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech has long been known as a land of romance and intrigue, where colourful bazaars overflow with unique goods and mysterious characters meet in dark, smoky cafes. It’s also a vacation hot spot for celebrities from P. Diddy to David Beckham to Beyoncé, so you know it’s luxurious.

Stay: The Mandarin Oriental Marrakech opened in 2015 and quickly gained industry awards and celebrity patrons for its understated elegance and first-class service.

Play: The true playgrounds of Marrakech are the markets, but you don’t have to elbow through crowds. Make an appointment at 33 Rue Majorelle for home goods, textiles, and jewellery by local artisans.

Treat Yourself: While you’ll find award-winning dining on all the luxury Marrakech properties, a visit to Dar Yacout restaurant is still a must-do. Book a private lounge and prepare to be enchanted.

 

23. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

It’s time to say “Yasss!” to Yas Island. Abu Dhabi is quickly gaining ground on its more famous UAE sister city (that’d be Dubai), with newer development, super-high-end shopping, and activities sure to break the bank in the best way.

Stay: Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi opened to much fanfare in 2009. It’s located right on the marina, with stunning views. Live like you’re part of the royal family in the Presidential Suite, with a full chef’s kitchen and a private lap pool, spa, and gym.

Play: Yas Links Abu Dhabi is the Middle East’s first links-style golf course, while Ferrari World Abu Dhabi gives you the chance to drive a supercar on a racetrack. Then go from land to water at Yas Marina, where you can charter a yacht or a seaplane.

Treat Yourself: Opened in 2014, Yas Mall rivals anything Dubai has to offer. From big fashion names like Versace and Armani to unexpected delights like fine children’s toys, you’ll go home with packed bags.

 

Whether you want to stay close to home or fly off to an exotic land, you can find luxury escapes anywhere in the world, if you just know where to look. It’s time to put that Louis Vuitton luggage to use in a place that will appreciate it, don’t you think?

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About Author

Carolyn Albee

Carolyn Albee is a lover of writing, dogs, and new cities—not necessarily in that order. When she’s not on a mission to find the best late-night snacks in those new cities, she’s off writing about why you should visit them, or doing some exploring of a different kind: Taking to the hills with her dog, Markus.

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