For the millionaires-and-billionaires club, summer vacations mean sailing their yachts to Ibiza, lounging alongside Richard Branson on Necker Island, and partying until sunrise in St. Tropez. However, these exclusive hubs make up a mere sampling of what's available to the top 1%.
These affluent holidaymakers look for exclusivity, sophistication, and authentic, meaningful experiences, Jack Ezon of Ovation Vacations said, and his clients are willing to spend, on average, about $30,000 per week for it.
"For some, it means privacy and digital detox to disconnect from the world and reconnect with the people they love, the places they go, and most of all, to themselves," he said. "For others, it is about celebrating — whether at the best table on the dancefloor, the hottest nightclub, or with friends in a see-and-be-seen environment like Sardinia, Ibiza, or St. Tropez."
Anne Scully of McCabe World Travel said that when it comes to choosing the right resort, both hospitality and the opportunity to experience a culture are key for the wealthy. They want to mix Michelin Star dining with authentic local eateries.
"Wealthy people are different because they can afford more choices but that does not mean they have better vacations," she said. "To have a great vacation, a client must be open to new tastes, cultures, and taking a leap of faith with new opportunities."
From the beaches of Bora Bora to the savannas of South Africa, here are seven luxurious resorts that offer everything they're looking for and more.
1. Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Starting at $4,500 a night, Aman Sveti Stefan offers a two-story suite with a private swimming pool overlooking the Adriatic coastline. The resort occupies a 15th-century village on its own private island and features a 20,000-square-foot spa.
When they're not catching rays on one of the property's three pink-sand beaches, guests here tend to hop around the cities and islands of Croatia, partying into the night on nearby Hvar and touring the ancient Unesco World Heritage site of Dubrovnik, Ezon said.
2. Gladden Private Island, Belize
For those who don't want to share their private island with other vacation-goers, one resort off the coast of Belize allows guests to have an island all to themselves for $3,000 per night.
Gladden Private Island is so private that the entire staff stays on a separate island and takes a boat to and from Gladden at the guests' request. Here, breakfast on the roof terrace yields a view of the Maya Mountains and surrounding protected marine reserve.
3. Belmond Grand Hibernian, Ireland
Not all opt for private island vacations, though, Ezon said. Some non-beachgoers prefer the lush landscapes — and world-class golf — of the Emerald Isle.
And while being on a train for up to seven days might seem opposite to luxury, the Belmond Grand Hibernian packages ultra-luxe Ireland vacations into multi-day train rides, including stop-offs at 17th-century palaces, storybook castles, the iconic Cliffs of Moher, and more, for between $3,000 and $11,000 per person, per journey, according to Belmond.
The sleek, Gregorian train offers modern Irish cuisine, live music, and lavish, if compact, sleeper cabins.
4. Soneva Jani Resort, Maldives
Comprised of more than 1,000 coral islands in the Laccadive Sea, the Maldives have long been synonymous with luxury.
Perched over the azure Medhufaru lagoon, the Water Villas at Soneva Jani offer retractable roofs for stargazing and their own water slides, ideal for kids or the kids in all of us.
The resort includes five islands and can only be reached by a 40-minute seaplane flight or hour-long speedboat ride. The least expensive room, a one-bedroom water retreat, costs between $1,754 to $4,783 per night, depending on the season, while more spacious villas, such as the four-bedroom island reserve, go for $14,668 or more per night, according to the hotel.