ELITE RECOMMENDS viEw frOm THE yAmunA rivEr / TAj mAHAl
There are far more than seven potential
wonders of the world for elite travelers.
Ancient as well as modern sites, natural as
well as man-made creations—they all hold
appeal. But how do you decide which seven
are must-visits? Our list of top wonders not
only takes into account the spot’s beauty
and rarity, but also the level of opulence
and exclusivity. Here is elite traveler’s black
book to the wonders of the world.
By SCOTT GOETZ
TAj mAhAl And VArAnAsi
lODHi POOl SuiTE / AmAn nEw DElHi
Built as a mausoleum for mumtaz mahal in 1632, the Taj mahal took more than 20 years to complete, employed thousands of craftsmen and cost roughly $100 mil-
lion in today’s currency. Hailed for its perfect symmetry and walls of semi-precious stones, it is widely considered the most beautiful building in the world. Travelers
awestruck by tales of undying devotion have canonized it as a symbol of eternal love. while the Taj mahal epitomizes the legacy left after death, a journey to the Hindu
city of varanasi reveals the greater truth that life is fleeting. Over a million people make the pilgrimage each year to this sacred site along the Ganges with the belief
that bathing from its 100 ghats (steps that lead into the river) absolves sins and that those who die here skip the reincarnation process.
Top Guide lounge in your three-bedroom Lodhi Pool Suite ($2,400), opening in Octo-
india is impossible to navigate without an expert guide like Puneet Dan and ber, at Aman New Delhi, the chain’s first city resort. with a modern take
his team at Micato India, especially in varanasi where india is at its most on india’s time-honored jaali screen, the hotel’s signature décor casts ever-
chaotic (and its most serene). Trust micato to show you both extremes (if de- changing shadow patterns throughout its corridors, guest rooms and public
sired) plus more. viP services include guided sunrise and sunset tours of the spaces. Don’t miss a state-of-art hair analysis in the Kim robinson Salon.
Taj mahal, private boats down the Ganges, meeting with a maharaja at Umaid Contact: General manager Antony Treston, 91-11-4363-3333;
Bhawan Palace and opium tea ceremonies. email@example.com; www.amanresorts.com
Contact: Director marion miller, (212) 545-1908;
firstname.lastname@example.org; www.micato.com AfTer siGhTeseeinG
for authentic indian goods, your micato guide will take you shopping. Don’t
Top AccommodATions miss: Kohinoor Jewellers in Agra and FabIndia in Delhi for kurtas. vara-
Oberoi’s Amarvilas is only 2,000 feet from the Taj mahal, and from every nasi is the place to buy sitars and tabla drums. in Delhi, go to the Chandni
room of the Kohinoor Suite on the top floor ($4,335) you can take in views Chowk Market for a hectic spin through the bridal market. in Delhi, dining
of the wonder. Book a private yoga class on the balcony and send your “na- at Bukhara is mandatory for nearly every head of state who comes here. it’s
mastes” to the Taj mahal, then relax in the marble pool. not fancy (you eat with your hands) but it’s widely acknowledged as the best
Contact: General manager George Kuruvilla, 91-562-223-1515; indian restaurant in the world.
email@example.com; www.oberoihotels.com Contact: Executive Chef manjit Gill, 91-11-261-122-333; www.bukhara.com
The Taj Nadesar Palace opened its doors to the public in february and for GeTTinG There
the first time there is a luxury comfort zone in varanasi that makes a pilgrim- Lufthansa flies first class to Delhi with short layovers via frankfurt. Take ad-
age to the ghats a must. Book the Queen Elizabeth Suite ($711 nightly), and vantage of the new first Class lounge in Concourse B where the first Class
don’t miss the Abhisheka experience in the jiva spa—you’ll welcome purifi- Spa—in cooperation with Babor—awaits.
cation after wandering the ghats. Contact: lufthansa viP Services, (888) 261-0814;
Contact: General manager Pradeep Bajpai; 91-542-2503-001-19; www.lufthansa.com
liOn ATTACK / mASAi mArA nATiOnAl rESErvE
GirAffE SPOTTinG / mASAi mArA TrEE CAmP / nGOrOnGOrO CrATEr lODGE
The GreAT miGrATion And nGoronGoro crATer
To witness the greatest wildlife show on earth, head to the masai mara national reserve in july and August when the annual 310-mile migration of nearly two mil-
lion wildebeest and zebra makes its way north from Tanzania’s Serengeti and crosses the border into Kenya in search of fresh pastures and water. This perilous
journey reaches its apex at the crossing of the mara river, when the herds stampede into crocodile-infested waters with lions on the other side ready to pounce.
Since most lodges don’t take direct bookings, it’s imperative to hire an op- The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge sits perched on the very rim of the crater’s walls.
erator skilled in working with complex African itineraries. Micato Safaris Choose Tree Camp since it’s closer to the rim and offers exclusive privacy (only
matches you with an expert guide who escorts you throughout your journey. six chalets share the common spaces). if you leave your laundry, your butler will
matching the mArA
GirAffE SPOTTinG / mASAiclient with the right lodge isn’t always easy either, especially return it washed and wrapped in cloth with roses (from $1,280 per person).
when its natalie Portman, Heidi Klum, Teri Hatcher or Blair underwood Contact: Sales manager Colette waring rundle,
they’re sending into the bush. viP excursions include hot-air balloon safa- 27-11-809-4441; firstname.lastname@example.org;
ris, bi-plane rides over the mara with Tropic Air, horseback safaris with ride www.andbeyond.com
Kenya and walks into the Olduvai Gorge with the leakeys (who found the
missing link). AfTer siGhTseeinG
Contact: Director of Bespoke Safaris melissa Hordych, (800) 642-2861; visit nairobi’s mukuru neighborhood to learn about its America Share proj-
email@example.com; www.micato.com ects. many guests choose to sponsor a child after a visit.
Contact: Executive Director lorna macleod,
Top AccommodATions (212) 545-7125; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Set in an ideal location on the edge of the masai mara reserve, Mara Camp’s www.americashare.org
small, six-tent compound lies within the private Olare Orok Conservancy.
Guests who stay inside the park are restricted to their vehicles and camp, GeTTinG There
but at mara Camp you’re free to roam. Being on the border between the two fly upper class on Virgin Atlantic to nairobi and stop to get a massage and
means you can track lion during a walking safari then head into the park mani-pedi at the Cowshed Spa at the virgin Clubhouse in Heathrow during
where there are higher concentrations of game—and other safari goers, too. your connection.
Contact: Bart lever, 254-733-376-368; Contact: virgin upper Class, (800) 821-5438;
email@example.com; www.maraplains.com www.virgin-atlantic.com
BEACH luXury / BOrA BOrA luXury CHArTEr yACHT / rOA yACHTinG On-BOArD DininG / rOA yACHTinG
mOAi STATuES / EASTEr iSlAnD
BorA BorA And rApA nui (eAsTer islAnd) COurTESy Of EXPlOrA CHilE S.A., EXPlOrA rAPA nui
Known as the Pearl of the Pacific, Bora Bora’s green jagged peaks rise from a radiant blue lagoon that, like a necklace, is rimmed perfectly with small atolls and coral reefs. it is
simply the most beautiful island in the world. Although it’s small (the road circling its perimeter is only 20 miles) it hasn’t kept hoteliers at bay—legendary resorts in the lagoon
introduced the world to overwater bungalows. Surprisingly, the high tourist volumes have little impact on the island’s beauty. On Easter Sunday in 1722, Europeans discovered rapa
nui (Easter island) and word spread of the island’s mysterious moai—monumental stone statues that have continued to lure people to this tiny island on the edge of the world.
Charter Roa Yachting’s private 77-foot motor yacht, and let Bora Bora and the porary design but is built with local materials, exemplifying its green ethic.
nearby islands of Tahaa and raiatea reveal their wonders on your own schedule. Book Raa Suite 12 ($3,030 per person for a three-night stay based on double
Captain Steve Carriere will guide you to the Society islands’ best kept secrets occupancy) for the best views.
(cruises start at $5,100 per person based on four-person occupancy). Contact: General manager Giovanna raineri, 56-2-206-6060;
Contact: managing Director Stan roquette, 33-680-67-4685; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.explora.com
Explora Rapa Nui’s guides are all locals (request Samy or Terry) whose an- All who come to Bora Bora must escape their luxury confines at least once to
cestors handed down the legends of the island. experience local color. Bloody Mary’s serves up retro dining, tiki style—expect
Contact: General manager Giovanna raineri, 56-2-206-6060; sand on the floor, fruity cocktails and expertly grilled seafood.
email@example.com; www.explora.com Contact: manager Olivia melaranci, 689-67-6911;
Check into the St. Regis Bora Bora’s 1,300-square-foot Royal Estate ($17,000 GeTTinG There
a night) favored by nicole Kidman and vince vaughn. Savor the sensual views of Air Tahiti Nui flies nonstop from lAX to Tahiti and offers first class cabins
mt. Otumanu and the lagoon from every angle of this resort perched above the with an excellent selection of french wines.
water along a motu’s edge. fall in love with the rice cracker-crusted tuna and Contact: Air Tahiti nui first Class, (877) 824-4846;
steamed Pacific barracuda at lagoon restaurant by jean Gorges. www.airtahitinui-usa.com
Contact: General manager Stephane Delamotte, 689-607-801;
firstname.lastname@example.org; www.stregis.com LAN flies twice weekly from Easter island to Papeete with excellent connect-
ing times, making your flight to the most remote island a breeze.
Posada de Mike Rapu opened its 30 rooms on Easter island in 2008. De- Contact: lAn first Class, (786) 265-6341; www.lan.com
signed by Chilean Architect jose Cruz Ovalle, the lodge incorporates contem-
GrEAT wAll SKylinE / CHinA
fOrBiDDEn CiTy / BEijinG BEijinG nATiOnAl CEnTEr fOr PErfOrminG ArTS / imPEriAl TOurS
The GreAT WAll of chinA And The forBidden pAlAce
Sections of The Great wall of China were built, maintained and rebuilt throughout areas of northern China since the 5th century B.C. But it was the 16th and 17th cen-
turies that saw the wall at its prime when its 4,000 miles of serpentine glory crowned the ming dynasty, offering protection and a speedy causeway to move armies and
long distance communication posts where messages were relayed by fire and smoke. The forbidden City, in what is now Beijing, was the imperial Palace for nearly 500
years until 1912. it is called “forbidden” because those inside rarely left and those who entered weren’t allowed to come or go without the emperor’s permission. But
even within such seclusion, the over 6,000 people who lived within its reported 9,999 rooms (a lucky number) were all involved in legendary courtly intrigues.
Top Guide AfTer siGhTseeinG
Imperial Tours was hired by Katie Couric, Baroness Katherine de rothschild Imperial Tours can offer a private kung fu performance on the Great wall by the
and Sara lee for their visits to China. They excel at white-glove services like pri- famous Shaolin monks, secure behind-the-scenes access at the Beijing Opera or
vate dinners on the wall, helicopter tours, expert art historian guides and more. organize a white-linen banquet atop a seldom-visited section of the Great wall.
Contact: margot Kong, (888) 888-1970; They can also arrange a helicopter tour over the famous fortification or enjoy an
email@example.com; www.imperialtours.net art tour of Beijing’s best galleries led by a local contemporary art expert.
Contact: margot Kong, (888) 888-1970;
Top AccommodATions firstname.lastname@example.org;
The Aman at Summer Palace in Beijing pays homage to the traditional ar- www.imperialtours.net
chitecture of the Summer Palace itself, with courtyard architectural style.
Suites surround an internal courtyard that features an intricate latticework of GeTTinG There
pathways, separating formal gardens and trees. The Imperial Suite ($3,800 Cathay Pacific has new first class cabins with 81-inch-long seats and a private-
a night) comprises three separate dwellings: the private dwelling, the living/ suite configuration to ensure your lAX-Beijing direct flight is an easy journey.
study dwelling and the formal dwelling. Contact: Cathay Pacific viP Services,
Contact: General manager mark Swinton, 86-10-5987-9999; (800) 233-2742; www.cathaypacific.com
rAmSES ii / luXOr TEmPlE COmPlEX
THE GrEAT SPHinX Of GiZA / EGyPT rOyAl SuiTE / fOur SEASOnS HOTEl CAirO AT THE firST rESiDEnCE
The GreAT pyrAmid of GizA And eGypTiAn museum
Built as a tomb for Egyptian King Khufu, The Great Pyramid took over 20 years to build and has lorded over the Giza Plateau since 2,560 B.C. it’s the only still-standing Ancient won-
der of the world, and for 3,800 years it was the tallest man-made structure in the world. However, very few clues are left at the pyramids that shed light on ancient Egyptian culture.
for expert insight you’ve got to wander through the seemingly random and unattended relics of The Egyptian museum. Here King Tut’s treasure is given a well-lit display.
Top Guide AfTer siGhTseeinG
Ker & Downey travel pros have a strong presence in Cairo and hire Egyptolo- nightlife abounds in Cairo, but don’t miss restaurants La Bodega, Steaks at
gists with connections that can open doors—even if they are sealed to the the four Seasons Hotel Cairo at nile Plaza and The Moghul Room at mena
public. request Egyptologist maher Haggag who has access to after-hour House Oberoi. Have your guide take you to Kheiymiya Street where the tent-
visits, archeological digs and can gain private entry into the Sphinx complex makers make beautiful appliqué bedspreads with islamic designs. Purchase
and pyramids. They can also arrange a tented dinner at the Pyramids. a cartouche or fine jewelry at Merit Bazar.
Contact: vice President of Sales David jones, (281) 371-2500; Contact: manager ibrahim El Komaty,
email@example.com; www.kerdowney.com 20-2-385-5539; firstname.lastname@example.org;
The Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence is the spot to stay if GeTTinG There
you want to be in the city, and the Royal Suite has views of the pyramids in Lufthansa flies first class to frankfurt with a quick connection to Cairo. Try
the distance. for a taste of what it would be like to lie in the Great Pyramid, out the showers in the new Welcome Lounge—place your shirt on the but-
the hotel spa has a papyrus wrap treatment that nourishes the skin by wrap- ler’s hanger and it comes back pressed before you’re out of the shower.
ping you up like a mummy. Contact: lufthansa viP Services,
Contact: General manager randy Shimabuku, 20-2-3573-1212; (888) 261-0814;
email@example.com; www.fourseasons.com www.lufthansa.com
COlOSSEum / rOmE
CEilinG frESCOES / vATiCAn muSEum
The colosseum And sisTine chApel
when inaugurated in 80 A.D., the Colosseum of rome could fit 50,000 bloodsport-loving spectators within its walls, and hosted contests and battles as well as theatri-
cal spectacles. Today it stands as one of the most recognized historic monuments on earth. A visit to the Sistine Chapel offers a look at a gentler period, a time when
Christianity dominated and honored the great masters of the renaissance, among them michelangelo, famous for his work on the vatican’s chapel ceiling.
Top Guide AfTer siGhTseeinG
Context Tours offers walking seminars led by professors, art restorers, ar- when in rome…mangia! There is no better view than that from the dining room
chitects and other roman pros. Book a private walk for an after-hours vati- of La Terrazza dell’Eden. from its windows on the sixth floor of the Hotel
can museum visit to the Sistine Chapel (about $400 per person). Eden you can see the entire panorama of rome.
Contact: Specialist jessica Stewart, 39-6-976-25204; Contact: manager Daniele Colombo, 39-6-478-1219;
firstname.lastname@example.org; www.contexttravel.com email@example.com; www.starwoodhotels.com
Top AccommodATions GeTTinG There
live la dolce vita at St. Regis Grand Rome’s Royal Suite ($20,000 nightly). Air France is our choice for an international first class carrier to rome.
it’s madonna, George Clooney and Ewan mcGregor’s pick. Check out the new and exclusive La Premiere Lounge.
Contact: manager vincenzo falcone, 39-6-47091; Contact: Air france first Class, (800) 237-2747; www.airfrance.com
BOrOBuDur / jAvA
villA livinG ArEA / AmAnDAri
BAli And BoroBudur
Bali boasts one of the most diverse and innovative performing arts cultures in the world, so no trip to this “island of the Gods” (nicknamed so because it’s filled with
over 10,000 Hindu temples) is complete without observing a festive temple ceremony. in nearby java, discover Borobudur, a Buddhist temple built in the 8th century
that stands ten stories high and is adorned with over 70 large bell-shaped stupas that each house a statue of Buddha.
Top AccommodATions AfTer siGhTseeinG
There is no need to hire a guide when you book with Amanresorts. They will Dine at Bali institutions Mozaic, Ku De Ta and Naughty Nuri’s. visit John
arrange everything from transfers to viP experiences like full-moon temple Hardy’s eco-friendly factory, arranged by Amandari, to see how his famous
ceremonies, elephant-back trips to Borobudur in java and private cooking jewelry is made before doing some invite-only shopping.
lessons. feel the soul of Bali at Amandari (book the Villa, $3,700 a night),
which integrates a local village as part of the hotel. GeTTinG There
Contact: General manger liv Gussing, 62-361-975-333; fly Cathay Pacific’s new private-suite configurations in first Class.
firstname.lastname@example.org; www.amanresorts.com Contact: Cathay Pacific viP Services, (800) 233-2742; www.cathaypacific.com
A quick flight to java takes you to Amanjiwo. Built to mirror Borobudur, the
resort is pure magnificence set among rice terraces and palm trees. The
Dalem Jiwo Suite ($2,600 a night) comes complete with a private entrance,
two bedrooms and a 15m green javanese stone infinity pool.
Contact: General manager Sean flakelar, 62-293-788-333;
CHriST THE rEDEEmEr / riO DE jAnEirO
HEli TOur / iGuAZu fAllS fAllS viEw / HOTEl DAS CATArATAS
rio And iGuAzu fAlls
The Christ the redeemer statue stands over 120 feet tall, high upon Corcovado mountain, lording over rio and her beautiful bay. One of the tallest in the world, this Art Deco
statue of jesus made of reinforced concrete and soapstone symbolizes Brazil’s proud connection to Christianity and has become the iconic image of rio and its people (who are
especially welcoming during Carnival). Thankfully, Brazil offers rio recovery and relaxation at iguazu falls, which stretch for two miles along the border between Brazil and
Argentina, and contains the mightiest single waterfall in the world, Devil’s Throat.
Top Guide AfTer siGhTseeinG
Blue Parallel is a recommended pro when traveling to latin America. Have your guide take you shopping at Lenny for high-fashion bikinis
They know what’s hot and create unique, exclusive itineraries that include and Osklen for Brazilian sportswear, then hit Ipanema Beach. lunch
helicopter rides, viP soccer events and viP box seating for Carnival. at Quinta and taste the seafood moqueca (a spicy fish stew made with
Contact: Owner Emmanuel Burgio, (301) 263-6670; coconut milk and cilantro).
email@example.com; www.blueparallel.com Contact: Owner lulu Correia de Araújo, 55-21-2428-1396; quinta@
The Copacabana Palace throws a legendary gala ball that’s synony- GeTTinG There
mous with Carnival. Book the Ocean View Penthouse Suite ($28,900 LAN flies to rio via Santiago from the u.S., and flies rio to iguazu falls
for a five-night package) to look out on the festivities. Or try the Las via Buenos Aires. it doesn’t matter which side of the falls you arrive on
Cataratas Suite ($985 a night) at Hotel das Cataratas at iguazu falls, since you should visit both.
opening later this year. Contact: lAn viP Services, (786) 265-6333; www.lan.com
Contact: General manager Philip Carruthers, 55-21-2548-7070;