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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Top ten luxury destinations for 2012-13

Shruti Menon   March 30, 2012
First Published: 13:16 IST(30/3/2012) | Last Updated: 13:16 IST(30/3/2012)
What is the luxury traveller looking for is an enigmatic question that upmarket real estate developers have been trying to find an answer to. While different permutations and combinations are tried, a few things remain clear. A luxury destination must allow the traveller to feel very special. It must have exclusivity about it and something that only he and a few of his ilk can experience and talk about. 



The moment it becomes 'common' is when it loses its luxury appeal and becomes just another destination. Whether the person chooses an island, resort, safari, mountain top or an ancient ruin, is a matter of personal taste. Budget in most cases is not a constraint. Infact, the more expensive it is the more intense is the luxury tag associated with it. Hindustantimes.com talks to select luxury travellers and tour operators to come up with a list of ten top destinations for the year.

1. Romance on Bora Bora
Ever thought of taking a luxurious vacation to the French Polynesian islands? Imagine the exotic scenery and amenities of the overwater bungalows of Bora Bora. About 230 kms northwest of Papeete surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef lies the romantic, breathtaking island of Bora Bora. This island is mainly dependent on tourism and is arguably the planet's most scenic wonder, a land of beaches and lagoons. Hotel Bora Bora built the first over-the-water bungalows on stilts over the lagoon about thirty years ago. These bungalows are perched above the turquoise lagoon waters and allow one to enjoy the view of the ocean and sunset from the private terrace.

Even though French and Tahitian are the main languages spoken, people do have a good command of English as well. The nearby islands of Tahiti and Huahine are equally picturesque. Should you be tired of your room, you can swim, snorkel, and sunbath right from your dock.

Best time to visit:
May - October

Where to eat: Bamboo House is known for its seafood, Villa Mahana specialises in Mediterranean, and La Bounty serves up the island's best pizza. Temanuata is famous for fresh tuna and Matira Bar for duck.

What to shop: The "specialty" of Bora Bora is Black Pearls, commonly known around the world as Tahitian Black Pearls.

2. Sip a cocktail and enjoy Nice, France
It's a place for sun lovers, it's a place for honeymooners, it's a place with fascinating culture and it is the capital of the Côte d'Azur - Nice, on the French Riveria is a cosmopolitan tourist destination. Nice, France, located on a bay in the Mediterranean Sea attracts a number of tourists every year. It is not just a place for honeymooners but also for adventure seekers. It has a lot to see and the beaches are simply not to be missed! Sun shines almost 300 days a year whether it is summers or mild winters. You can simply sit along the white sandy beaches and watch the sun setting...

Apart from the blue - green sea, varied shopping and impressive dining, the Cours Saleya Flower Market, the museum, the Roman ruins and the Cathedral are a must see. If you just want to enjoy the Mediterranean coast then take a stroll on the Promenade des Anglais, a long wide road full of cafes, and hotels, both modern and Belle Epoque, museums and posh apartments. Visitors can take pleasure in sunbathing, boating, sailing or swimming in the sea.

Best time to visit: May and June, or September and October.

Where to stay: Le Palais de la Mediterranee

3. Dream big, dream Venice

This destination is like a wonder world, it makes you believe in fairly tales. It is one of the most talked about romantic destinations on the planet. You guessed it right, we are talking about Venice! You can spend the whole day feasting your eyes at the magnificent palaces, churches, canals and bridges. This is a place free from the uproar of wheels and pollution and meant just for total relaxation. Venice is a place for art lovers, food connoisseur, and music and theatre lovers and for the party people. One must pay a visit to the stunning art museums and galleries for some spectacular paintings and sculptures by well know artists.

As Venice is considered as "City of Canals", boats or gondolas are the only transportation that is available. Most people prefer walking though. A boat ride to the Grand Canal is not to be missed. The canal forms an S shape and you can see spectacular churches and palaces along the canal. Just 58 days before Easter starts the Carnival of Venice and it is an adventure worth experiencing.

Some of the famous Hollywood movies like 'The Italian Job' and Angelina Jolie starrer 'The Tourist' have been shot here.

4. Journey of rejuvenation in Sedona, Arizona
The Enchantment Resort & Spa is a place to relax, refuel and enjoy the "red rock" view in Sedona, Arizona. This resort is renowned for its spa featuring 16 luxurious spa suites and some of the world's best therapists practicing healing arts. Horse back riding, mountain biking and hiking are some of the other available activities. For photography buffs, the most popular place is the Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing.

From arts and culture to shopping and outdoor sports, this "Red Rock Country" has it all. This beautiful city is bounded by arrays of red sandstone which shine and turns orange and red when sun rises or sets. Just soak your worries at this world class destination spa resort.

Many spiritual travellers visit Sedona as they consider it as one of the most energetic places on earth. Also, if you are looking forward to getting married, then Sedona offers world class professionals to take care of weddings and other ceremonies.

When to visit: March to May and September to mid-December.

What to shop: Original paintings, fine jewellery, woven textiles and hand-crafted furniture

5. Bollywood at Tirol in Austria
Stunning valleys, breathtaking views of alpine snow - covered peaks, mighty glaciers and quaint little wooden chalet nestling in the foothills is only part of what Tirol, Austria has to offer. Bollywood and Tirol have long standing relationship. More than 70 Indian movies including Yuvraaj, Raju Chacha and Mast have been shot in Tirol. Skiing is one of the main tourist attractions but those who are not interested can partake in the picturesque beauty of the Alps. With it's mountainous terrain, Tirol is well suited to hiking and mountain biking. Not just Tirol but Innsbruck, the capital city, is also considered a popular tourist destination and has a reputation for winter sports as the Winter Olympics have been held here often. Be it summer or winter holiday that you are planning, Tirol will definitely impress you.

When to visit: Anytime during the year.

Where to stay: Hotel Klosterbräu, Relax & Spa Hotel Astoria

6. Imagination meets reality at Alaska
Luxury is the word associated with cruises so an Alaskan cruise vacation is a must try for everyone irrespective of their age. Watch the whale's dance, experience diverse wildlife, see soaring mountains, touch the icebergs and witness dazzling glaciers while sailing. Not only that, a cruise has all the comfort that you look for in a good five star resort. From gyms to swimming pools to cinemas to the best food and services, the Alaskan cruise promises a dream vacation.

Though there are plenty of cruises to choose from and each of them has a different route or itinerary, the most popular is the "Inside Passage Alaska Cruises" as they travel around one of the most beautiful stretches of the coast - Alaska's Inside Passage. It's not just the water that you get to see, the ship also docks near interesting small

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