Six of the best luxury experiences


Schloss Elmau is a little piece of luxe heaven that has tumbled down amid cuckoo-clock villages to de-knot your muscles, reinvigorate your chi and dissolve your built-up tension. Six different spas encompassing six pools, hammams and a yoga pavilion are dedicated to your relaxation – plus a concert hall, libraries, nine restaurants and a Leading Hotel of the World. Unusually, this wellness retreat is exceptionally family friendly, with children's activities, a kids' club and dedicated family spa. The retreat sits amid flower-strewn meadows in the Bavarian Alps and is embraced in stunning mountain scenery that will invigorate your soul, too. See


If splurging on top-end dining is your idea of extravagance justified, then sashay into splurge-worthy Monaco. Kick off your gourmet odyssey in the petite principality's famous Belle Époque casino, where foie gras tops the burgers of the Rose Salon. Café de Paris in the manicured square outside is for sipping champagne, nearby Le Vistamar provides Michelin-starred seafood with royal palace views. The prince sometimes leaves his palace for cod stew at Castelroc opposite. The ultimate is an evening at Restaurant Joël Robuchon. Bring a wheelbarrow of money for an extraordinary petal-decorated degustation from France's top chef. See


There are tours, and then there's Abercrombie & Kent tours on which you're wafted between palace-hotels, fabulous monuments and tumultuous street markets in a sedate chauffeured car, and might be shown about by a local guide wearing a three-piece cream-coloured suit, Ascot tie and impressive Rajasthani whiskers. Don't be surprised if you end up in an aristocratic residence, dining on slow-cooked goat and improbable owner's tales. Private-journey options are tailored to individual requirements, so if you want to live the maharaja's life, don't hold back on the demands as you ring for your gin and tonic. See


A safari is one of travel's ultimate experiences. Bordering the St Lucia wetlands of KwaZulu-Natal, Phinda Private Game Reserve is home to plentiful wildlife including lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos and giraffes. Hippos gurgle and snort, yawning pink mouths full of yellowed teeth. Habitat is varied, with accommodation located in forest, mountain or vlei (grassland). The best might be Rock Lodge, where six lodges of stone and adobe have decks surveying the valley beneath; or Zuka Lodge, overlooking a well-trampled waterhole. Sometimes elephants wander past your plunge pool. Rhino notching and elephant collaring are exclusive experiences. See


Lech, far from the mass tourist, is an exclusive, sophisticated ski resort for those who prefer to rub shoulders with European royalty, discreet movie stars or simply serious skiers. Chic, family-run hotels such as Kristiania Lech aim for contemporary cosiness and quirky charm, and Lech is equally noteworthy for upmarket restaurant choices. If the ultimate luxury is great skiing, though, then rejoice: Lech is part of the Arlberg ski region, with 305 kilometres of runs, Austria's only heli-skiing, and a reputation for consistently good powder. Engage a ski instructor to fully appreciate the possibilities. See


Would you rather be stylishly booted than well-heeled? Then giddy-up to Triple Creek Ranch in Montana where you can play at being a cowgirl (or cowboy) on a working ranch by joining ranch workers for cattle drives and calf penning. Dung and dust don't mean sacrificing luxe pleasures, however. Triple Creek often features in world's-best lists for its private log cabins, Relais & Châteaux restaurant stocked with world-class wines and activities including fly fishing, rafting and snowmobiling. Mountain landscapes and big skies are complimentary extras to this indulgent corner of the American West. See

Brian Johnston was a guest of tourism offices, hotels and tour providers in the above destinations.