Category: Travel

A Guide to Luxury Travel in 2021

Although it is still uncertain when we will be able to freely travel in 2021, there are still possibilities. We asked Jarvis Marcos, The Luxury Traveller, to give us his insight into luxury travel during the pandemic. Jarvis is an avid traveller and has been writing luxury hotel reviews since 2013.


Prior to COVID I didn’t think twice about flying from London to Sao Paulo just to have dinner, flying back the following day. I’ve spent long weekends in Jakarta, Montreal and Mexico City. I’m of the opinion that life is short and opportunities to travel should always be taken. You’ll have the opportunity to feel tired once you return home.

As such, it’s safe to say that the last year has come as something of a shock to me.

Luxury Travel

Last March it seemed like all of 2020 would be a complete write off. And at the moment 2021 isn’t feeling much better.

Writing off travel isn’t in my nature though.

I lived in China during SARS; I was in Ulaanbaatar during the 2008 riots; I lived in Bangkok as snipers were placed on shopping mall rooftops and grenades were thrown at the Skytrain in 2010; I flew into Japan during Typhoon Hagibis, when all direct flights from Europe had been cancelled…so you can see that I don’t give up easily.

Here are the lessons that I’ve learned travelling during the pandemic. I hope that they’ll serve to inform and inspire you during what continues to be an uncertain period for global travel.

Airplanes are just about the safest public spaces you can find yourself in

All major airlines require the use of masks on board and all modern planes feature HEPA filtration systems. HEPA systems filter 99.97% of all airborne viruses and bacteria from the air and are also used in hospital operating theatres.

If you’re flying in Business or First, not all products are created equal. But I’d feel very comfortable with the amount of distance between passengers on enclosed suite style products, like those offered by Qatar in Business Class or Emirates in First.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is safer than breathing unfiltered air indoors at a restaurant, where the closest tables will be no further from you than the next suite on a plane.

Consistency is key

One of the first things I did when the pandemic broke out was to analyse the data regarding tourism and travel as a % of  GDP across the globe. Countries that top the list have tended to be the most consistent and pragmatic. They can’t afford not to be. The best example is The Maldives. Their rules are simple and they hardly ever change. No matter where you’re from, no matter where you’ve been, if you have a negative PCR test that is no more than 96 hours old, you can enter.

The Maldives

You can check up to date entry rules for every country here. Travelling to these sorts of countries affords you a far greater deal of certainty than visiting those where tourism and travel are less economically important.

There are some once in a lifetime opportunities to be seized

Rome

I visited Rome in July of 2020 and saw the Trevi fountain in the middle of the day, on a weekend… and it was completely deserted. I walked around the Vatican museum and spent 30 minutes sitting alone in a room with a Mondrian, a Van Gogh and a sculpture by Rodin.

These are experiences which would be close to impossible to recreate, regardless of your budget.

Of course if you pick the right spot and it is deserted, then not only will you enjoy having the place to yourself but safety shouldn’t be a concern. COVID can’t spread when there’s nobody around.

Not all PCR tests are created equal

When it comes to PCR testing you need to pick somewhere that has meaningful capacity. A guaranteed turnaround time and ideally nurses with a soft touch is also helpful. I’ve had PCR tests that resulted in extreme dry heaving and left me more teary eyed than a night in with Watership Down. Others have been an absolute delight, where samples were taken with extreme precision and no discomfort whatsoever. In London, the best I’ve found is Unilabs. They guarantee results in 48 hours, and generally take a lot less. I have always had immediate availability and the test itself is the most comfortable I’ve encountered anywhere.

Four Seasons, Dubai

In Dubai, a special mention has to go to Aster health who not only delivered results within 24 hours, they sent a nurse to administer our tests in our room at the Four Seasons!

Conclusion

Ultimately, I’m very glad that I travelled as much as I did in 2020 and will return to the Maldives next month. The one thing I’ve noticed throughout my travels – besides the low occupancy in hotels and low yields on planes – is that workers throughout the travel industry have been thrilled to see visitors.

If you travel irresponsibly and don’t adhere to mask wearing and use of sanitiser then people will be justified in condemning you. Travel shaming is certainly on the rise these days…

However, if you enjoy responsible travel within the guidelines, not only will you encounter some truly unique experiences; you’ll be playing your part to ensure the survival of one of the industries most heavily impacted by the global pandemic.

If you would like to plan your luxury holiday in 2021 or beyond, please contact us here.

Turning a dream into a reality

Classic cars can be appreciated on so many different levels; for their history, engineering, art, and above all unique design. Conjuring up many emotions for enthusiasts, classic cars offer an experience, style and exclusivity which a more modern car can’t provide.

RNG Classics offer an enviable collection of timeless and iconic classic vehicles for self-drive. Containing British racing heritage, beguiling design and pedigree. Italian star quality, class and flair and a sprinkling of American muscle and power!

RNG Classics have a highly unique and eclectic range of vehicles lovingly maintained to preserve originality, and presented as if they turned the clocks back to a different era of passionate motoring creation and production.

Robert Gillison, Founder of RNG Classics, knows too well that classic motoring is all about that tug of the heart strings, passion and overpowering feeling. Driving one of their pristine vehicles will help you to fulfil a host of your different dreams and aspirations. And RNG Classics offers a bespoke service focused on each individual request.

RNG Classic Founder

Whether it be the grace, elegance and pace of a 1969 Jaguar E-Type roadster. Or Magnum P.I’s favourite ride, the 1984 Ferrari 308 GTSi. Relive a little of the 70’s in our original and restored 1971 MGB GT or MKIV Triumph Spitfire. Or tear up some tarmac in a brute of an AC Cobra with a 4 litre V8 lump!

Available to self-drive in London, Surrey, Kent & Sussex, the cars are typically hired for weddings, private dining, sightseeing and milestone birthdays. If you would like an introduction to the team, please contact us.

Kate Hales

Tell us the story of Hot Chilli Travel? Where did it all begin?

With a 25 year career background in Marketing and Events, I have always loved planning & organising, but most importantly, receiving the post event feedback was so important to me. Having taken a career break to bring up the children, my dream was to move into the travel industry and after a few conversations with a great friend who had a long career in travel, we decided that with our independent skills, we could bring everything together to set up a small independent agency that would tick all the boxes to provide exceptional personal, attentive service to our clients.

We love the company name, where did that come from?

Honestly, very randomly!  I think a lot of brainstorming, quite a few gin and tonics and the desire to have something a little different, memorable and slightly unusual.

Independent Boutique Concierge

Kate Hales, Director of Hot Chilli Travel

 

Is your personal love of travel the driving force behind the brand?

Since I was born, I was lucky to have travelled a lot with my parents.  Travel has always been my passion for life, and to be able to talk about travel on a daily basis is a dream come true.

What is your company’s promise to clients?

We promise to be flexible, honest and upfront with our clients at all times.

We provide a personal travel expert who will listen to your brief, come up with all the ideas, own and manage the client’s trip from initial enquiry thorough to returning home.  We promise to offer a wealth of knowledge through our contacts and partners, remaining accessible and available when you need us. One of the benefits of booking through a small, independent concierge is that we are not tied to any particular operators or hotels so can really research the best possible options to you at very competitive pricing with no compromise on service.

It must be great fun planning holidays, what are the highlights of running your own travel business?

The highlights are endless. I have met some amazing people in the travel industry and it is heart breaking to see it going though such hardship during the pandemic.  The world will bounce back, and I am so excited to be able to start looking forward to 2021.

I love speaking to my clients and subsequently helping to provide them with memories that will last a lifetime.

What other services can you offer your clients to ensure they create wonderful memories?

We love a brief for ‘not your everyday request’.

Last year, we arranged for elves to knock on a family door and tell them Santa had gone missing and the children were needed to find him! We whisked the family away on a private jet to Lapland for 4 days which including snowmobiling, sledding and playing games to find Santa. The trip concluded with a private meet with Santa himself – memories to last a lifetime!

Do you have a favourite family destination and why?

I love Thailand for the family. Thailand is such a diverse country, and offers so many varied and memorable experiences to treasure.  For families of wildlife enthusiasts, Majestic Asian Elephants can be seen up close in their natural rainforest environment. In Chang Mai, you can take the opportunity to try a night safari by open-air tram with a wealth of magnificent animal to spot.  There is plenty of underwater life to be seen by the coastline, as well as water sports galore, and wherever you go, food is an absolute highlight.  Even the fussiest eaters might be converted by the end of a family holiday here!

Where would you like to travel to next?

I would love to visit Iceland for stunning wilderness and adventure. You can be as busy or as relaxed as you like, from Artic Luxury camps on a glacier to hot springs, Icelandic waterfalls and super jeep safaris and the opportunity to see the stunning Northern Lights. This is most definitely on my bucket list.

What are your tips for travelling in summer 2021?  Would you recommend booking early?

As the green shoots appear and we long for an end to what has been such a tough time for so many and for so many reasons, we know people are itching to get away and to see our beautiful world once again.  For anyone looking to travel in 2021, I would certainly advise thinking about it now. Many people who were due to travel in 2020 have rescheduled to 2021.  There are many incentives to book early with early booking discounts, room upgrades & board upgrades. Low deposits, flexibility to change plans and flexible balance due dates wherever possible all help with the planning too. I also believe that having something to look forward to helps our wellbeing and improves our ability to cope with today and the current climate.

How do you relax when you’re not running Hot Chilli Travel?

I love the gym, Pilates, trying new restaurants, and I can’t wait to get to a music festival next year! In the meantime, I will continue reading Conde Nast Traveller and dreaming about new destinations to explore!

What are the key trends for 2021?

– Wellness, a growing trend aiming to provide holidays that are designed to enrich the body, mind and soul.

– Residential style accommodation for post pandemic travels

– Many companies will be expanding work remotely options, so we anticipate greater interest in longer stays.

To start planning your luxury travel for 2021, please contact a member of our team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. James’s Hotel & Club

Nicholas Davies, Sales Director of the St. James’s Hotel & Club, Mayfair has provided us the interesting history of the private members club.

We have an incredibly rich history, originally as a private members club, and our legacy dates back to the 1840’s. It all began when Queen Victoria’s Head Chef prepared an afternoon tea for her cousin, Lady Bedfordshire and consequently the chef (Chef Charles Francatelli) was summoned by Her Majesty to re-create the concept of Afternoon Tea in the very building that is St. James’s Hotel & Club today. At that time, it was frequented by
parliamentarians as part of their chambers for social gatherings. By 1857, with Charles Francatelli still appointed Chef, English aristocrat Earl Granville and Marchese d’Azeglio, who was a Sardinian Minister collectively decided to found a new club intended as a London base for travelling diplomats. Charles Francatelli was appointed as the General Manager and our private members club was officially established.

Over the years the likes of Winston Churchill, Baron Rothschild, Meryl Streep, Barbara Streisand, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, Elton John, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and even James Bond actors Roger Moore & Sean Connery were esteemed members, in fact Sir Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond was a member of the St James’s Club, and gained inspiration for the character’s name from the name of the area (St. James’s) and nearby Bond Street, whilst he was resident in the building for several months.

We truly set ourselves apart in terms of the incredible gastronomy on offer, with Chef William Drabble holding a Michelin star here for 10 years now. His outstanding menu marries together classic French-inspired cuisine with locally sourced ingredients of exceptional quality from around the British Isles, and the grand setting is his eloquently appointed Seven Park Place restaurant, located within the hotel. William’s Seven Course Tasting Menus (Menu Gourmand) offer quite simply a gastronomic journey of the senses, and some of his signature dishes on the seasonally changing menu include Ravioli of Langoustine & Truffle Butter Sauce; Lune Valley Lamb with Confit Potatoes & Caramelised Onion; Marinated Hand Dived Scallops with Dorset Crab and Blood Orange; not to mention
his Braised Stuffed Oxtail, Celeriac Mash, Wild mushrooms & Bone Marrow; and his highly celebrated (quite simply luxurious) Poached Tail of Dorset Blue Lobster, Cauliflower Puree, Lobster Butter Sauce with Perigord Truffle.

When staying with us, the hotel is rather like stepping into a living art gallery as we are very proud beholders of the Rosenstein Collection of artworks, 450 pieces that can be found all over the hotel including the sweeping Grand Staircase as well as in all rooms and suites. Right now during the festive season, there couldn’t be a better time to come and experience the very best of St. James’s Hotel & Club. After a one of a kind year, bid farewell to 2020 in grand style here with us. Whether you are wishing to spend an intimate family Christmas or welcome in 2021 by celebrating New Year’s Eve in Mayfair, you’ll do so in absolute luxurious comfort, and it’s all guaranteed to be
gastronomic affair, savouring the finest of menus prepared by Michelin starred Executive Chef, William Drabble.

Our festive offerings include:
Christmas Festivities – Arriving on 24th December, indulge in a luxurious 2 night package for 2 guests per room, including Full English Breakfast each morning and a 3 course Christmas Day Lunch Menu.
Prices start from £660.00 including VAT for 2 guests.

New Years Eve – A gastronomic evening awaits you. Enjoy William Drabble’s Six Course New Year’s Eve Tasting Menu before welcoming in 2021, and then retiring to the comfort of your room or suite. Includes Full English Breakfast on 1st January,
Prices start from £720.00 including VAT for 2 guests.

For reservations, please contact Silks Lifestyle Specialists. We look forward to
welcoming you for a truly memorable festive season and grand finale to 2020!

Luxury Travel Webinar hosted by SILKS

On Wednesday 21st October, SILKS hosted a webinar to discuss the future of Luxury Travel in 2020/21.

We were joined by guest experts from across the luxury travel and hospitality industries to help educate us and our clients on the ever changing landscape caused by the current pandemic.

To read more information on luxury travel, please click here, or please contact a member of the team at SILKS.

 

RELOCATING ABROAD – WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY

So a new job beckons and the opportunity is too good to miss – trouble is, the job involves the entire family relocating overseas – oh dear!! All sounds very overwhelming doesn’t it? But not so. In the right hands your overseas move should be a seamless exercise in moving home and embracing change. So what’s involved?

RESEARCH YOUR MOVE

This should be a given, a move to a new country needs thought and you should research your new home land thoroughly. Collect as much information as you possibly can regarding laws, customs, cost of living and anything else that gives you a feel for the culture you’re entering. Engage in local schools, requests brochures and check online feedback and forums. Engage a relocation company to support in the early days. Don’t forget your insurances and all the health coverage you will need. DENTISTS!! Register with doctors and investigate your nearest medical rooms. Hopefully these won’t be needed but you never know.

RELOCATION COMPANIES

Consider reaching out to a relocation company ahead of the move. They can offer you great local knowledge, ensure you don’t miss out on a rental opportunites and arrange the meetings and walk rounds with schools. They will support with all doctors, medical rooms and any form filling that needs to be done. On hand for all that support ahead of the move.

SHIPPING AND DRIVING

Dependent on where you’re heading you may need to obtain an international driver permit. Check online and make the application. If you plan to ship your vehicle overseas, dependent on where you’re going it could be a far more cost-effective option than buying a new car. Remember to check local driving laws and pay attention to which side of the road you’ll need to drive on before you take the plunge with regards to shipping.

VISAS/PASSPORTS

You can’t just turn up without the correct visas/passports and making an application for new ones can take months. Be prepared.

REMOVAL COMPANIES

An international move is far more complex than a local one. Take time to research companies with a track record of overseas relocation. Again check online reviews and forums. Get a minimum of three quotes as these costs can spiral out of control. Take this move as an opportunity to declutter the home. You will be surprised at how much we collect over the years that serve no purpose in our lives. Get rid of what you don’t need. Remember this is a fresh start.

MENTALLY PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN

Children can often worry about the unknown when it comes to a big move so make sure they are fully involved in all the plans. Ensure they have a say about what type of house they’d like to live in and what sort of school would suit them. Of course you are the parent so ultimately you will make the decisions but always incorporate any views your children may have. A new language barrier can add to the anxiety of the move so again be prepared and ensure you seek out any expat communities to make sure your children understand they are not the only ones in this position. The more play dates you can arrange in the early days of your move, the easier the adjustment.

EXCITING TIMES

Moving to a new place abroad is exciting, it’s an opportunity that should not be overlooked. Buy guide books and plan trips and outings. It’s family bonding time and should be embraced. Be excited it’s going to be one hell of a ride.