Tag Archives: high end travel

Twelve Random Tips for Planning a Luxury Vacation

Greetings! It’s been a long while and a lot has happened, so instead of explaining, I’ll just jump right in.

Last year I took the first real vacation (no laptop, no phone calls) that I’ve had in years.  Because I’m Daphne, I know no other way than to go big, so I splurged on a whirlwind  ten days in Asia. My trip began in Bangkok, marinated in Phuket and then ended in Hong Kong.  To sum up the experience in a word or two: fairy tale.

Welcome to Hong Kong!

Welcome to Hong Kong!

Some deets: In Bangkok, my sister and I took a private boat tour down the Chao Phraya, toured Chinatown by night and sampled a little street food (not nearly as much as we would’ve liked). Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on perspective, our time in Bangkok was packed with sightseeing so the best dining experience we had ended up being at our hotel, The Peninsula. I’m dying to go back soon, be able to take my time and get all Anthony Bourdain with it.

In Phuket, we lodged at the Trisara aka Heaven on Earth, rented a mini yacht for the day for some island hopping and partied at the newly opened Nikki Beach. We didn’t have to go far for excellent food (Poo Nim Phad Phong Ka-ri, Trisara’s curried crab was unbelievably good!), but we did manage to tear ourselves away. One of the best dining experiences was at the Siam Supper Club – good food, good wine list, hot Aussies.

Hong Kong was pure fancy schmancy. From the overwhelmingly beautiful view from the suite at the Four Seasons to Michelin-starred French truffle overload and Chinese decadence,  I was just blown away. Man Mo Temple, Victoria Peak and shopping occupied us for the remainder of our time.

Cruising along the Chao Phraya with our guide, Tim, and my sis.

Cruising along the Chao Phraya with our guide, Tim, and my sis.

Planning a trip of this magnitude was labor intensive. When I decided to expand to include Hong Kong, I knew that I needed to call in reinforcements.

BONUS TIP: I know it may sound old school, but I worked with a travel agent who specialized in luxury travel.

Our agent was also a member of the Virtuoso network which afforded us complimentary amenities at some of the world’s most exclusive resorts and hotels.  In addition, working with an agent gave me representation I could use to press for even more free goodies. However, even though I worked with an agent, I checked and re-checked every detail. I was able to negotiate rates and receive several free upgrades because I was armed with so much information.

High atop Hong Kong's Victoria Peak with my sis. We also decided to bring a lil Rachel, Tracy, Kate, Tory, Gucci and Givenchy.

High atop Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak with my sis. We also decided to bring a lil Rachel, Tracy, Kate, Tory, Gucci and Givenchy.

Only one is necessary and this clear Tory Burch number was perfect for keeping up with everything I needed for a day of sightseeing.

Only one is necessary and this clear Tory Burch number was perfect for keeping up with everything I needed for a day of sightseeing.

I learned a lot planning this trip that will help me in the future and will hopefully help you as you plan your next sojourn.

12.  Like I said, research, research, research and then research again.  Leave nothing to chance.  Make lists, whether written or mental, of things you’d like to do or attractions you’d like to visit.  Sure, it’s your vacay and you don’t want a detailed agenda like you’re still at work.  BUT, mark my words, lack of planning will only lead to possible missed opportunities and not being able to take full advantage of everything that is available. Trip Advisor is good for many things, but when you’re planning a true extravaganza, Luxe City Guides and Louis Vuitton are great resources.

11.  Get help.  I am aware that some people love a challenge, even during their down time.  When it comes to my vacation, I am not one of those people.   I am not interested in seeing if I’ll throw my back out while schlepping heavy luggage to and fro.  If you’re like me, you’d rather have a lovely gentleman meet you as you step off the plane,  grab your carry on, expedite you through customs, collect your checked bags, load them into a luxury vehicle, open the car door and then hand you a warm towel and a bottle of water, as he whisks you off to your destination.  Firms like Abercrombie & Kent can arrange for private tour guides, valets and chauffeured cars. An agent who knows her shit, should be able to hook you up. Leave the stress at home. Just pay for the help. It’s worth every damned cent.

10.  I flew Cathay for this trip and was very impressed. Business and first class are very comfortable due to a pod-like quality and fully flat seat that make you almost feel like they’re no passengers on your plane.  The food was tastier than I expected and the wine list was good.  The flight attendants were very attentive and only had to be told once to keep the champers a’coming. I give them a pass because they were probably unaware that one person could drink that much.

Six hands rubbing all over my baaaaaaaawwwdddy. Yeah, this happened to me. No, that's not me. :/

Six hands rubbing all over my baaaaaaaawwwdddy. Yeah, this happened to me. No, that’s not me. :/ No pics valuable of me in this state of ecstasy.

9.  Leave the workout gear at home.  Unless you’re one of those people who lives to shred, why fat shame yourself on your own vacation? Pack fly, but loose-fitting ‘fits. Refer to #7.

8.  Mo’ massages, mo’ betta. I love a good massage and nothing says vacation more. Despite the fact that I almost missed my flight back home because I was in such a massage-induced, limp state of delirium,  I am so happy that I managed to book the Jade Stone Therapy massage at The Spa at Four Seasons Hong Kong. It should be a requirement before any long haul flight. I could go on and on about it because it was one of the best NORMAL massages I’ve experienced. However, I was spoiled by something I had experienced only two days before.  I say something because I’m not even sure it can be called something as limiting as a massage – Trisara’s Six Hand Massage. Yeah, that happened to me and I’m not really sure humans are equipped to receive that kind of pleasure.

Mrs. Roper ain't got shit on me.

Mrs. Roper ain’t got shit on me. A Debauchee original, a beautiful silk kaftan I bought in Bangkok’s Jim Thompson House, Roopa Pemmaraju, Missoni.

7.  Pack more kaftans.  There really isn’t much more to say about that.  Just do it.

6.  Take advantage of every opportunity to do anything you would normally never do.  Hong Kong is such a glamorous city and because of my research I knew that I could go all out as far as fashion. In other words, I had the perfect excuse to wear my see through tee with a sequined skirt with train. No biggie.

5.  There is no such thing as too many swimsuits. Bring ALL of them.  Even though you will likely settle on two go-tos that you’ll mix, match and wear daily, it’s still good to have options. My sister learned the hard way that it isn’t so easy for an American body to find a suit in Thailand.

4.  Stay at the Trisara as long as your wallet and free time can afford.  If you don’t know Trisara, google it, make reservations and thank me later. This is where you go when you want to truly get away and be pampered. I only saw other guests when I went to the Sunday Jazz Brunch (best brunch I’ve ever experienced and I’m a brunch connoisseur) and a beach barbecue.

Boats and heaux. Sorry I couldn't resist.

Boats and heaux. Sorry I couldn’t resist.

3.  Yacht like your life depends on it. But seriously, in this part of the world, sightseeing by boat is a necessity with its floating markets and secluded beaches. If it comes down to a budget choice between a boat and something else, choose the boat. You won’t regret it. We took the Phetmanee out for the day and enjoyed a lovely breakfast, snack and lunch on board as we island hopped around the Andaman Sea.

2.  Always, ALWAYS sleep with Aussie Daniel Craig lookalike who asked you to sit with him at the bar of the swanky and delish Siam Supper Club. I know. I know.

1.  Use the lounge. Why sit amongst the teaming masses and their unsupervised children in hard seats? There’s a very nice room with waaaay fewer children, comfy seats and “free” liquor.

This vacation was what some would call a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list trip, but I refuse to limit myself and I don’t plan on dying any time soon. I’d much rather have more of these experiences and I will allot my money accordingly. However, as a debauchee, it’s so hard to set limits. I just can’t get enough. but I’m itching to get somewhere new. Where should I go? Got any tips for me?

I’ll holla. Peace. dd.


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