LAS VEGAS — Chances are you've never heard of Virtuoso Travel Week. Well my friends, it's time to change that.
Think of the mammoth Virtuoso Travel Week trade show as the Fashion Week of travel. Every year, thousands of representatives from the luxury travel world — hotels, cruise ships, tour companies, and all things wanderlust — come to Las Vegas to reveal their latest and greatest to travel agents. Sorry, I mean travel advisors. Please, don't call anyone here a travel agent or you'll be administered a swift paper cut with a business card.
These advisors then book their moneyed clients in the newest, most opulent digs, such as a villa at the Nayara Springs resort in Costa Rica, a luxury hut over the ocean at the new Conrad Bora Bora Nui, or perhaps a room with a view of Lake Geneva at the Hôtel Royal in Evian-les-Bains, France.
For those of us on the outside of the scene, the travel envy can be overwhelming. We may not have the sacks of cash necessary to finance these luxury excursions, but as musical goddess Debbie Harry wisely sang "Dreaming is free." So start fantasizing and feast your eyes upon these gorgeous new getaways.
Lake Como is Italy's sophisticated, aristocratic playground and it deserves a hotel to match its majestic setting. Designer Patricia Urquiola gave the Il Sereno a cutting edge, contemporary look that wisely doesn't distract from views of the nearby Southern Alps. (Opened August 2016.)
Travel one-up-manship is a dangerous game to play. Try it at a highfalutin dinner party and you'll end up embarrassed over the shrimp cocktail. But claim you've been to Antarctica, at the same lodge where Prince Harry and Bear Grylls once stayed, and you'll earn the life-long respect of peers. White Desert offers top-notch accommodations and opportunities to explore blue ice caves and try kite skiing and abseiling. Thankfully there's also a sauna for defrosting. (Recently refurbished.)
Luxury comes to Napa Valley with 68 rooms overlooking serene vineyards. Interiors are by award-winning design firm Yabu Pushelberg with furniture custom-made for the hotel. Las Alcobas award-winning flagship hotel is in Mexico City, and expectations are high for its Napa Valley sister property. (Opening Oct. 2016)
Located in a former grain elevator, the Silo is now being transformed into a fashionable, architecturally-forward Cape Town waterfront hotel. It shares its space with the Zeitz MOCAA, a contemporary art museum that will be the largest modern art museum in Africa when it opens in next year. (Hotel opening March 2017)
and Villa Fleur de Sel , St. Bart's
These two new private villas may come with a steep price tag (up to $30,000 a week during peak season), but can you really put a price tag on exclusive Caribbean sunsets, infinity pools, and private jaccuzis on the chic French island? Well, at $30,000 a week, I guess you can. (Now renting.)
Each of the 50 villas on this 13 acre island has its own pool, and some of the villas are located on stilts over the ocean. The island is part of the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, which means the snorkeling is incredible. If you want to mix with the locals, you can go tuna fishing, but do you really want to go fishing when you have a private swimming pool? (Opening November 2016.)
If you've been grumbling to yourself "I wish there was a way I could travel through Ireland on a luxurious train" — and who among us hasn't? — the Grand Hiberian brings glamorous rail travel to Ireland with 40 private suites and an elegant observation car. You'll explore ancient castles, visit historic sites, and, most importantly, sample famous whiskies. (Now running; a luxury Belmond train is coming to Peru next year.)
After six years, this remote sliver of paradise was transformed into a jaw-dropping guest lodge. Villas will go for as much as $3,500 a night along the private beaches in this nature lover's dream vacation spot. (Opening November 2016.)
After years of delays, our fingers are crossed that the imposing Fort Bishangarh in India will at last open as a resort with 59 suites in an 230-year-old impressive fortress. We haven't seen renderings of what the space will look like, but if the rooms can match the bigger-than-life exterior, we'll be ready to book. (Opening 2017.)
For those who prefer viewing the animal kingdom in luxury rather than dusty tents and Jeeps, the tour company &Beyond opens nine suites and a private four bedroom villa along nine miles of the Zambezi River, close to Victoria Falls. After a day of communing with nature you can relax with a massage and a bottle from the wine cellar back at the lodge. (Opened Aug. 1.)