From bespoke itineraries to seeing a place like a local, the latest travel companies are adding a big dollop of imagination to the process of booking a holiday.
At VIVID Travel, for instance, the emphasis is on flexibility and personalisation across a range of authentic experiences in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Canada. Designing each holiday around a client’s needs and preferences, the result is an individually-created itinerary which is big on imagination and catered around each individual’s interests. Highlights include a 14-day ‘Live Well’ trip to Myanmar, which can include yoga classes, hot air ballooning across the city of Bagan and learning about native Eastern medicine.
Meanwhile, take off for Vietnam and you can enjoy a two-night cruise around Halong Bay, see Hoi An by bicycle before travelling to Saigon via a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels to hear how residents utilised the underground network throughout the war era. The 15-day ‘Bright Lights and Golden Sands’ trip, travellers can lunch with locals, practice tai chi on a boat, kayak down rivers and relax on the white sands of Lang Co.
Focusing on luxury holidays, Niquesa’s new travel service also focuses on the ‘bespoke’ buzzword but, it says, its ethos is not so much about where clients want to go, it’s more about how they want to feel. Consequently, trips are designed to encompass emotive experiences such as celebration, connection, indulgence, romance or replenishment.
Guests can celebrate a milestone birthday with their own private camp and DJ on a glacier in Iceland, indulge in a gastronomic tour of the Douro Valley, or connect with each other better through the power of storytelling in the Botswana bush. Parents can connect with their teenage children while making their own feature-length wildlife documentary with a filmmaker in Kenya, or seek replenishment upon crystal-clear waters during a fortnight’s sailing trip across the Indian Ocean.
Curated by a dedicated travel design team, the company has initially launched with 12 innovative experiences, and will continue to add to the collection as new journeys are created. Completely bespoke itineraries are also available, upon request.
Acting as ‘travel matchmakers’, the company can also connect travellers to a variety of people around the world whose passions and talents have made them leaders in their field. A black book of contacts opens doors across the globe, from visionaries to cultural icons, historians to conservationists, culinary masters to the world’s greatest explorers. Factor in 24/7 support from a dedicated personal assistant, giving access to translators, restaurant bookings, private nannies, and personal shoppers, and the world is your oyster.
Allowing visitors to ‘live like a local’ is new venture LOCALIKE New York. The company is the brainchild of Manhattanite Andreas Leuzinger, who was inspired to launch it after planning countless trips for his friends in the city.
“Receiving advice from locals has always been a cherished travel resource, especially in a city like New York,” says Leuzinger. “We are able to decode the city’s DNA for visitors who may not be familiar with the city, or who want to see a different side to it. We have our finger on the pulse of the real New York City.”
The process is simple: travellers complete a profile on LOCALIKE’s website, highlighting their preferences and interests during their time in the city. Within five business days, LOCALIKE’s local experts will create a personalised itinerary for their trip. From a Japanese restaurant that doesn’t publish its phone number to an original New York speakeasy, an in-depth and comprehensive Trip Planner includes bespoke advice on the most up-to-date and off the beaten path sights, launches and events.
Finally, LuxuryBARED – a new online ultra-luxury booking and recommendation platform – promises to provide clear guidance, inspiration and simple booking services to make the entire process of finding the best luxury travel as effortless as possible.
With a USP of offering a sense of ‘truth’ behind a hotel’s marketing hype, it will outline best available rates and pithy independent hotel reviews, as well as online booking. Featuring only ultra-luxury hotels, users can tap into the site’s travel industry experts’ knowledge. Recommendations include whether visitors were made to feel welcome and cared for during the arrival and departure experience, the profile of other guests they met at the property, and which rooms to book and which to avoid. It’s the new face of travel.