(Contributed by Janice Kei) In today’s luxury travel landscape, how do you truly make an impression? At these hotels and resorts, the real experience begins even BEFORE your check-in, with your arrival setting the stage. After all, first impressions count! Here are six of the most spectacular hotel arrivals…
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Fly into Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
Any Maldivian resort that sits on its own island several miles from the capital of Malé 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 that involves stopovers at other resorts, guests staying at Cheval Blanc can opt for (following a relaxing stopover at the resort’s dedicated lounge) a custom-designed seaplane featuring high-quality leather interiors, embedded technology, amenity kits and a seaplane that was designed for and is operated solely on behalf of the resort, with no stopovers. It’s also possible to charter this plane privately for your own personal transfers. It’s less dinghy seaplane and more private jet, except that it floats on water! The chic design really sets the tone for the resort, operated by luxury fashion-house-conglomerate LVMH’s Cheval Blanc brand and designed by Jean-Michel Gathy.
You could take the scenic two-hour drive from Dubai to Six Senses’ north Oman outpost at the Musandam Peninsula, or opt for the speedboat that will whisk you to the resort in 15-20 minutes after a drive to 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!
If there is one thing we know about a Bill Bensley tented camp, it’s that it will be fun! We think the hotel website’s description sums it up nicely:
“Climb Eastern Tower’s 102 steps, don the zip line equipment, and clip into a double cable for extra safety, and after the safety briefing, fly…at upwards of 50 kmph for 400 meters, over the Butterfly tent and the first crossing of our Tmor Rung River to land at the West Tower. Fly in the face of Raging Big Sister Falls, before landing at the Landing Zone Bar where you’ll be handed a gin and tonic.”
We also hear that a gin and tonic BEFORE the zipline might come in handy too…
Of course one of the world’s most extravagant hotels would make this list! Dubai, arguably the most over-the-top city 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”.
Row into Hoshinoya Kyoto, Japan
A scenic 15-minute ride upstream along the Ooi River to the ryokan takes in the breathtaking sites of Arashiyama’s lush landscape – especially in spring’s cherry blossom season or autumn’s vibrant colours. While many resorts around the world offer speedboat transfers out of necessity (primarily because they are islands or located conveniently along a waterfront), and although the ryokan is accessisble by car, guests are encouraged to arrive in the boat, modernised but with the look and feel of a traditional row-boat that would have brought guests to the now converted villa, which dates back almost a hundred years, to add an air of authenicity and to truly set the scene for a memorable stay.