Long gone are the days of arriving to a hotel to tediously queue at a lobby and await your turn so someone at the reception desk is free to attend to you. Luxury travelers demand more, much, much more. Many of the more boutique hotels and resorts have done away with reception desks, and even lobbies, and an in-room check-in is now par for the course rather than a surprise at most luxury accommodations, even at many large city hotels. Some hotels even have procedures in place to pick-up at the airport and pre-check-in, either at their private lounge or on the ride over, so everything is ready by the time you arrive at the hotel. But how do you truly arrive in style?
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Here are five of the most spectacular hotel arrivals:
Any Maldivian resort that sits on its own island several miles from the capital of Malé, or from one of the other domestic airports, typically requires a seaplane to arrive at – so what makes Cheval Blanc Randheli special? While other resorts, many of them quite luxe in their own right, whisk passengers to-and-fro on a shared seaplane operated and maintained by a local aviation company, guests staying at Cheval Blanc can expect (following a relaxing stopover at the resort’s dedicated lounge) a custom-designed seaplane featuring high-quality leather interiors, embedded technology, an amenity kit, and most importantly, was designed for and is operated solely on behalf of the resort. It’s less dinghy seaplane and more private jet, except it’s a jet that floats on water! The chic design really sets the tone for the resort, owned by luxury fashion-house-conglomerate LVMH and designed by Jean-Michel Gathy.
You could take the scenic two-hour drive from Dubai to Six Senses’ north Oman outpost at the rugged Musandam Peninsula, or to speed things up, opt for the speedboat that will whisk you to the resort in 15-20 minutes from the pier. But to make the most and really take in the raw power of the rugged landscape which sees a 1.6 kilometre-long beach straddle the ocean and rugged cliffs, choose to paraglide in 290 metres from the edge of the mountain range in Zighy Bay with Six Senses’ resident paragliding professional.
Royalty begets royal arrivals. At the resplendent Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, the limousine which transports you from the airport to the hotel only reaches a certain distance into the property. From the main gate, you alight and hear the clicking and clacking of horses as you board a horse-drawn carriage, as guests arriving at the palace would have a century ago. The carriage takes you from the gates to the main palace building where the experience to transport you to a different time and place truly begins!
Of course one of the world’s most extravagant hotels would make this list! One of the most over-the-top cities in the world allows you to really feel the height of some of the world’s tallest buildings with a helicopter arrival. That the helicopter lands on a helipad (where Roger Federer and Andre Agassi once played a friendly match) that juts out, with nothing below it, from at the top of the sail-shaped hotel is just the icing on the cake in this city on steroids.
The Peninsula Hong Kong also features a helipad, and while a helicopter transfer in this vertical city that mixes mountains and skyscrapers is fascinating in and of itself, Hong Kong’s most famous luxury hotel is famous for its fleet of 14 bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantoms, painted an elegant, custom and signature “Peninsula green”.