Somewhere beyond the haggard indignity of economy class, and the mere adequacy of a standard hotel room, lies another kind of travel experience to which the passport is money and lots of it. Scored a huge bonus? Won the lottery? Or are you just plain loaded? Here are five places to stay that will swaddle you with personalized attention and luxury, as well as relieve you of much cash.
LOS CABOS: The vast Spa Suites at Mexico's Las Ventanas al Paraiso, tel: (52-624) 144 2800, each come complete with a dedicated spa butler, treatment room, infrared sauna, rainforest shower and organic minibar. They're also the setting for the 14-day Ultimate Fitness Program for Two a tailor-made overhaul that includes 26 yoga, pilates or fitness classes, four exfoliations, 18 sports massages, three silver-ion facials and daily herbal remedies. The package costs a total of $59,400 a sum that might have given you a heart attack, were you not in such tip-top shape upon billing.
PHUKET: Private pools at the 39-villa Trisara resort come as standard, if that's any indication of the cosseting on offer. For a proper splurge, however, book Trisara's top-dollar escape. For $35,000, you'll be waited on hand and foot at a seafront three-bedroom hideaway for five nights, before boarding a three-cabin luxury yacht, which counts a spa therapist and chef among the crew. You'll then be taken on a one-night cruise around Phang Nga Bay, Krabi and Phi Phi, anchoring at Maya Bay a location for the Danny Boyle movie The Beach. The next day, the yacht docks near Phuket Airport, and limousines whisk you on your onward journey. See www.trisara.com.
CARCASSONNE: Latter-day élites can see just how merry life might have been for them in the Middle Ages by booking the medieval banquet at the Hôtel de la Cité, tel: (33-4) 6871 9871. Located within the southern French town's ancient citadel, the hotel is a splendid venue for you and 25 of your favored henchmen to feast on the likes of suckling pig, while jugglers, fire eaters, sword-playing duelers and other menials perform for your amusement. Afterward, sleep off the wassailing in the Villa, a discreet building that is the hotel's top-tier accommodation. The bill for dinner comes to a trifling $7,000; the three-bedroom Villa costs $2,720 a night in high season. Well, you wouldn't be skulking around in low season, now would you?
LONDON: When the Dorchester, tel: (44-20) 7629 8888, opened its stately doors in 1931, a four-bedroom apartment on the top floor was reserved exclusively for co-founder Sir Malcolm McAlpine. Today, it's available to anyone or rather, anyone who can spare $35,000 a night (and is thus not merely anyone but probably a rather grand someone). The amenities include 24-carat gold-plated bath fixtures, a fully equipped hairdressing station and carpets woven with 22-carat gold and silver threads. This is the most expensive place to stay in town quite a superlative, given the sorts of prices the British capital is notorious for.
AUCKLAND: If you find sharing a holiday island intolerable, you'll be pleased to know that the 12 pristine beaches on rugged Great Mercury Island 25 minutes by helicopter from Auckland are exclusively yours. So are the chef and staff, the Pacific Ocean views, two villas (offering eight en-suite bedrooms in total), a boathouse, swimming pool, hiking trails, water-sports facilities and more. If you can handle the $20,000-a-night price tag (and the three-night minimum booking), have your personal assistant call (64-9) 360 8461 for the minor details.
Next An Eye for Quality