Tom Marchant is the co-founder of luxury travel company and trip planner, Black Tomato, which delivers luxe experiences around the world via inspiring itineraries and access to the globe’s up-and-coming, remote destinations. Marchant’s finger on the pulse of travel trends and the world’s best in hotels, restaurants, destinations, and honeymoons is unique and incomparable–and he’s sharing his expertise and curated lists of where to visit, stay, eat, and more.
When you think of the world’s most lavish experiences, it’s no doubt that mega yachts, private transfers, and traditional decadence immediately come to mind—but we’d argue that true luxury is instead defined by the exclusive access to some of the world’s most prized gems. The ultimate in luxury entails experiences so transformative that you cannot help but to leave them a changed person. From the far-flung, remote Himalayas to the Rococo splendor of Paris, true luxury takes you to new heights, granting unheard-of insight into new perspectives, cultures, landscapes, cuisine, and, even, landmarks. Whether it’s inhaling crisp mountain air in Canada at a luxurious camp set up 4,500 feet above sea level or exploring the Komodo Islands in an antique, iconic yacht, these incredible experiences all offer a unifying theme: once in a lifetime. Here, the most lavish experiences worth planning the world over.
1- An Ultra-Luxe Sailing Experience in the Komodo Islands
This luxurious experience is perfect for intrepid families. Cruise around the remote Komodo Islands on a lavish, antique vessel sleeping up to 14 travellers, the Dunia Baru. This unique vantage point allows travelers to experience the very best of these islands with a plethora of tailor-made experiences to boot, from hiking volcanoes with photography experts to diving lessons in remote coral atolls without a soul in sight. Inside tip: start each day with paddleboard yoga and conclude with a night dive, where the sea is positively luminous. This lavish experience has something for everyone, and for cultural immersion, a must is a village visit to learn traditional weaving (even taking a stab at it yourself). It wouldn’t be a trip to the Komodo Islands without getting up close and personal to the mighty Komodo Dragons; while hard to spot, you’ll have the best guides on hand to track these majestic, prehistoric creatures. And while you’re up for adventure, swimming with whalesharks here is pretty memorable as well.
Indonesia experience, price upon request.
2- Private Flying Safari Overlooking South Africa
You’ve likely heard the oft-repeated sentiment “it’s the journey, not the destination.” It sounds cliché, but on a private flying safari over Southern Africa, there’s no more fitting description. Taking off from Namibia’s Atlantic Coast and soaring over rolling plains, thundering waterfalls and sprawling deltas to reach the sun-dappled waters of the Indian Ocean, this is an African adventure like no other. For those who’ve always wanted to do Africa and to do it in style, this is the answer. Not only will you take in Namibia’s famous deserts, Botswana’s luscious Okavango Delta, Zambia’s exclusive savannah, Malawi’s turquoise waters and Mozambique’s coral islands, but you’ll do it all with the most incredible view imaginable up in the air. Imagine following herds of migrating wildlife over never-ending plains, and it’s easy to understand why this is one of the most unique safari experiences out there.
Private flying safari, Rs, 97,09,500 based per 6 travelers.
3- Private Overnight Sandbank Experience in the Maldives
For the ultimate “Robinson Crusoe” experience with a most glamorous twist, use the luxurious retreat of Soneva Fushi as your base and with vintage champagne in hand, board a private seaplane. A deeply romantic and out-of-this-world experience, get transported to a private, completely secluded sandbank where you’ll “glamp” under the sapphire Maldivian skies in a luxurious Bedouin-style tent. This lavish experience will have you amble to a candlelit dinner, set up by a private staff, before they depart to allow you to experience the unspoiled island alone. Breakfast will be served at sunrise after which a private yoga instructor will help you find some inner peace, all while overlooking the dramatic ocean setting. A lavish experience few will have, this experience is transformative and deeply personal–the way luxury should be.
Private Overnight Sandbank Experience, price from Rs, 1,29,460 per night.
4– Sunrise Over Rio de Janeiro on Top of Christ the Redeemer
Rio is synonymous with a bustling nightlife, a vibrant beach scene and of course, its verdant gardens and landmarks–none more iconic than Christ the Redeemer. Lines can be seemingly endless, and timing the trams correctly can be frustrating and fruitless. A most marvelous way to experience Christ the Redeemer in utter seclusion and luxuriously is a private, romantic picnic breakfast at the feet of Christ the Redeemer as you watch the sunrise over Rio and the breathtaking Sugar Loaf Mountain. Total privacy, convenience and unparalleled seclusion make this one of the world’s most lavish experiences.
Rio de Janeiro experience, price upon request.
5- La Dolce Vita in Lake Como
Home to palatial villas, jaw-dropping vistas and George Clooney, Lake Como is about as exclusive it gets. Cruising along the winding roads in a classic Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider or sailing over sun-dappled waters on board a Venetian Lancia Ruy, it never fails to take your breath away. For added drama, stop off at the charming Villa Balbianello, where the stunning location makes it easy to see why James Bond came calling. But nowhere compares to Villa Sola–and BAZAAR knows it best, after just heading there ourselves for a fashion photoshoot. Just down the road and a short boat ride from the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, this ornate 16th century villa is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Score exclusive access to the beautiful gardens and take a stroll in complete privacy, discovering the secrets and splendor of the villa—and the extravagant dukes and duchesses that haunted its parlors, before sitting down for a delicious Italian coursed-dinner overlooking the lake.
Lake Como experience, price upon request.
6- Cruise the Brazilian Amazon in a Super Yacht
A simply vast ecosystem, the Amazon is home to some of the world’s most unique species. Undoubtedly the best way to explore this spellbinding region, charter a private yacht and set sail. Set your compass to the Rio Negro and venture deep into the heart of the rainforest and enjoy the flexibility of setting your own course each day. The expert crew won’t only keep you on course, but they’ll take you away from the crowds too and into the Rio Negro’s hidden corners. Boasting every creature comfort, this is how you do the Amazon in style, with a private chef on hand to whip up delicious Brazilian delights after a day of exploring.
Rio Negro experience, price upon request.
7- Private Diamond & Gemstone Experience in South Africa
South Africa’s storied history of diamond mining is one of the most famous in the world, producing both the crown jewels and 5 of the 10 largest diamonds in history. Truly dazzling, a private, hands-on experience at the premier diamond and tanzanite wholesaler in South Africa is spellbinding. Only open to very select guests, this grants unheard-of access for travelers to adorn themselves with some of the rarest gems in the world. Exceptional hospitality accompanies this experience, escorting you into an elegant viewing room where an expert gemologist will bring out a vast array of finished pieces and standalone diamonds, gemstones and tanzanite to test drive. For the ultimate lavish memento, you can design a custom piece to be hand-crafted by an expert team, delivered to you within days of purchase. Originally a private family retreat, Chitwa is a sleek hidden lodge who earned its name as ode to the aging giraffe, a member of their extended family. Right in the heart of South Africa’s bush, this unique destination is a near-perfect hub of wildlife and a center of relaxation and luxury.
South Africa diamond and lodge experience, price upon request.
8- Heli-hiking & Luxury Glamping Above Sea Level
Only a short flight from bustling Vancouver, Vancouver Island feels miles away from the mainland with its quirky communities and epic wilderness expanses. Use Vancouver as a starting point and soar by private plane over the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver Island. Stay at the refined, supremely elegant and remote Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat. Here there are a plethora of 5-star tenting accommodations where wellness is encouraged by “forest bathing” and privately guided meditation. Board a helicopter from the lodge and get whisked away to a secluded peak overlooking a peaceful lake at a staggering height of 4,500 ft, your homebase for a few treasured nights alone with the surrounding wilderness. This is no ordinary glamping set-up–and the lucky few travelers who experience this can heli-hike the surrounding trails, explore the lake in well-appointed kayaks and dine al fresco under the stars with a personal chef and butler, utilizing the fresh catch of the day paired with exceptional, hand-selected wines for an otherworldly nature, wellness and culinary experience.
Canadian rockies glamping experience, price upon request.
9- World-Renowned Culture & Culinary Experiences in Spain
From tiny tabernas on quiet Madrid streets to the world-renowned legacy of elBulli, Spain is home to some of the world’s best cuisine. Throw in its incredible art scene, and it’s a platinum cultural dive. It’s impossible to pinpoint a favorite region here, each offering something completely different; the old world feel you get on a private tour of the Royal Alcazar in Seville is utterly enchanting, whilst Catalonia never ceases to surprise. And as you helicopter from the beaches of Barcelona into the vineyards of Penedès for a private wine tasting, it’s hard to resist stopping for dinner in Girona. Boasting three Michelin stars and currently sitting as the third best restaurant in the world, El Celler de Can Roca always makes for an unbelievable evening. Partner that culinary magic with a once-in-a-lifetime cultural pick, a private evening visit to Madrid’s Prado Museum. Pair these two with the Dali Museum in Girona and a visit to Madrid’s market with two Michelin starred chef, Ramon Freixa, and you’re on to a winning combination.
Spain exploration experience, price upon request.
10- Great Migration & A Maasai-Hosted Banquet In The Ngorongoro Crater
The Great Migration is undoubtedly one of the natural world’s most awe-inspiring spectacles. Drawing in thousands of visitors to Tanzania each year, there is only one way to do it justice. Follow the migration from the air as you float above the plains in a hot air balloon. It’s a truly unique perspective. Coming to land in the cavernous surrounds of the Ngorongoro Crater, you get a real sense of the enormity of the world around you. Raise a toast to this beautiful corner of the world over sundowners with a local Maasai community before tucking into a banquet of local Maasai delicacies and hearing tales of this nomadic way of life–this is the height of luxury, but you’ll simultaneously get to know the real Tanzania.
Tanzania experience, price upon request.
11-The Opéra Garnier Like You’ve Never Seen It Before
The enchanting, storied atmosphere of the Opera Garnier hosts expert dancers who perform regularly before thousands of spectators, but its secret history is rarely revealed. This magical experience grants unheard of access into French opera, with a privately guided backstage tour that reveals fascinating insight into the Opera’s history, stemming from its inception in 1870 during the reign of Napoleon III. Explore the bowels of the grand auditorium, traversing the very foundations of the monument where you’ll see the famed water tank, the origin of many popular legends and lore. Then there’s the rare opportunity to discover the Capstans room, exploring the heart of the machinery of a 19th century Parisian theatre that still operates in all its glory. The most momentous part of this experience involves settling in to the dancers’ favorite halls located behind the stage, in an area considered its “antechamber,” the Foyer de la Danse. This room strikes a deep and long-lasting impression with its splendor, history and lavish display of paintings that very few will ever have access to. Once the meeting place for select members of Parisian high society who wanted to approach the artists of the Opera, the hall still hosts the dancers of the Ballet for their warm-up before the show. The most inspiring crescendo? A private ballet performance and champagne reception to follow.
Paris opera and ballet experience, prices from Rs, 1,73,000 per couple.
12- Spirited Away in Indonesia
Nothing is more exclusive than inside access to some of the world’s closed-off, wondrous spiritual centers, and this trek will have you dine at the spiritual and ancient holy Dalem Segara Temple. A personal butler will serve up a truly lavish and private gourmet feast prepared by a renowned Balinese Chef. After dessert, get spirited away and release a paper lantern that takes your wishes high above into the night sky. Afterwards, experience a rare purification ritual at the sacred spring where a local Mangku (Balinese priest) will chant prayers to cleanse your soul and restore your spirit.
Indonesia experience, price upon request.
13- Private Jet Journey to the Indian Himalayas, Rajasthan & The Maldives
Dramatic landscapes and unique cultures are best experienced with insider access and insights. This journey sets up an exclusive dinner party at Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur with local nobility, where candles and native incense set the stage for a magical night. The next morning, a private jet will fly guests into the Himalayan town of Ladakh where your private guide, an ex-marine with remarkable insight into mountain environments, will lead the way. This extravagant journey goes to soaring heights, leading to an exceptionally luxurious private wild camp overlooking the Himalayas on a remote peak where a private chef will craft inspired regional fare. To truly experience the unfettered night sky, an astronomer is flown in for a stargazing session, tracing the stars around a roaring camp fire. The grand finale is truly opulent, where a private Cessna transfers guests to the Maldives for a week soaking up the sun in one of the finest private islands in the world, Voavah.
India exploration experience, price upon request.
14- Fly Over The Great Wall of China
Starting at the sea and stretching more than one thousand miles to the desert frontiers of China’s west, the Great Wall is a lasting symbol of China’s imperial prowess. Built over the course of two millennia, it is actually a series of defensive walls erected to protect China’s heartland and remains a monument to the ingenuity and determination of imperial China. On this magical experience, travelers can explore the Great Wall of China in a luxurious and private way. Travellers will soar by helicopter over the wall, before landing and enjoying a fabulous dining experience on the Great Wall at sunset, with a leading expert in Great Wall conservation as your guest of honor. On top of a preserved Great Wall turret, you will find a 3-course dinner waiting for you, complete with champagne or a glass of Beijing’s erguotou baijiu if you’re feeling adventurous. As you watch the sun go down, listen to your on-site expert share stories of the wall’s fascinating history, and learn about his lifelong mission to protect this incredible wonder of the world.
Great Wall of China experience, prices from Rs, 2,00000 per couple.
15- A Private Concert–Inside a Volcano
When it comes to the world’s hottest dinner reservations, the magma chamber of a volcano is about as hot as it gets. Descending into the earth’s crust through the crater of the dormant Þríhnúkagigur Volcano, is definitely what you’d call making an entrance. Set up in the heart of the chamber, this is easily one of the world’s most exclusive tables. Feasting on an array of Icelandic delicacies, it makes for one seriously special evening. And it gets even better as you enjoy a private concert that even Bjork would approve of.
Private Volcano Dining and Concert, price upon request.
From: ELLE UK