Luxury travel post-Covid-19: Year of the Ox highlights, from a new private island at US$3,280 a night to a view of a super rare eclipse – for US$40,000
- New openings and unique ways to spend big on luxury travel adventures are coming in the next year, assuming normal service resumes
- Highlights include an ultra-remote private island resort in Indonesia, a railway trip across Russia in style and an Antarctic total solar eclipse
For travellers, the Year of the Rat was a write-off. For many of us, there was no boarding of planes, no dream vacation, no ticking-off of an item on a bucket list. Hopes of a post-lockdown “normal” holiday are now pinned on the Year of the Ox.
Whatever travel is possible this year it looks likely to be mostly a “pre-vaccine” year, wherein a certain amount of isolation will be wise. However, there are reasons to get excited about travel this year, with several landmark events, new openings and unique ways to spend big on adventures in Asia and beyond. Here are some highlights.
First quarter 2021 onwards: An ultra-remote private island resort in the Anambas Islands, Indonesia
If you’ve got money to burn, you’re after somewhere you couldn’t have visited in 2020 and are looking for a remote destination, Elang private island might be for you.
The isle is a new and exclusive extension of the Bawah Reserve, part of Indonesia’s remote Anambas Islands, in the South China Sea.
Due to open early this year, the all-inclusive island is the brainchild of Singaporean designer Sim Boon Yang and consists of six cliffside lodges made from recycled natural materials. Each comes with a butler, a balcony and private paths leading into rocky coves and to the sea.
At US$3,280 (HK$25,400) per night, however, this is one for big spenders.
Second quarter onwards: A seaside sanctuary off Phu Quoc island, Vietnam
With an average year-round temperature of about 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) there were few trendier places to head for a beach holiday in pre-coronavirus Asia than Phu Quoc island, off Cambodia’s southern coast (though its busy west coast and Duong Dong’s crowded night market had perhaps lost some of their appeal).
Cue a new resort opening on idyllic Bai Truong’s Phu Quoc Marina, where remoteness and privacy are guaranteed. On the pristine white sands of Long Beach, Regent Phu Quoc – due to open in the second quarter of 2021 – will have suites, villas, a private beach and six restaurants.
July 2021: A landmark departure on the Trans-Siberian railway
If you’re after greener ways to explore the world, July sees a special departure on one of the planet’s greatest rail journeys.
An otherwise gruelling journey, travelling from Moscow to Vladivostok is best done in style. The luxurious Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express on July 25 will celebrate its 250th departure by setting off on a 12-night journey (US$18,000) from Moscow to track the 9,288km (5,770 miles) east across the Urals and the steppe to Vladivostok.
This special departure will stop for a celebratory banquet on the shores of Lake Baikal, in southern Siberia, and include a glass of champagne at Yekaterinburg as passengers stand with one foot in Asia and the other in Europe. The ticket includes a silver class cabin on the hotel-on-wheels Golden Eagle, home to fine dining and an elegant bar lounge.
November 2021: A self-isolated paradise for two (or more)
When travel does restart, top trends are going to include naturally socially distanced havens and restorative “wellness” escapes. This is where the Maldives, a series of one-island resorts in the Indian Ocean, comes into its own.
The Maldives is a country of individual bubbles of white sand beaches and tropical waters that’s best visited from November to April. The Maldivian theme is luxury all-inclusive resorts, but there are variations.
At one end of the spectrum is the recently renovated Como Cocoa Island (US$700 per night), a resort dedicated to personal well-being, complete with Pilates studio, yoga pavilion and hydrotherapy pool. You can even hire a “body alignment expert” to fix bad posture earned from all that working at home.
For those after something more family-orientated there’s the Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa (around US$950 per night), which will lay on pizza- and gelato-making classes, tennis courts, water sports, diving, and even meditation and yoga for kids.
December 14, 2021: A rare total solar eclipse on the White Continent
The movements of the sun, moon and Earth are such that every 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours a magnificent total solar eclipse is visible from remote Antarctica, but very few people have ever seen it. The spectacle next happens on December 4, 2021 at 7.33am, when parts of the White Continent will be thrown under the moon’s shadow. For about two minutes those in the shadow will see the sun as it really is – a bright, white star with a spiky corona glistening in space.
Luckily it will happen in an area of Antarctica that’s easily accessible. A throng of cruise ships will take eclipse-chasers into the “path of totality” near the South Orkney Islands after sailing from Chile and Argentina (prices start at around US$11,500). If you want to watch from the ice, TravelQuest is offering 44 seconds of totality from the Union Glacier Camp at 79.4 degrees south latitude (US$39,800).
There are no cheap options for this celestial event, but if there are clear skies, it’s set to be one of the most incredible total solar eclipses anyone has ever seen.
January 2022: An “ultimate journey” through Japan
Want to make the next trip a big one? Although the Tokyo Olympics look likely to take place it’s certainly not going to be the global tourism event it should have been. So why not keep your powder dry and visit the Land of the Rising Sun in 2022?
For total immersion, avoid the busy season from March to May when people visit to see sakura cherry blossoms, and instead use January to complete a top-to-toe, 31-day, all-inclusive “Ultimate Journey” trip (US$10,175 from Inside Japan) billed as a “love letter to Japan”.
The details and specific itinerary can be tailor-made, but the Ultimate Journey template covers 27 locations with 38 personal stories and tips, travelling more than 2,000 miles by bullet train, bus, ferry, cable car and more. It takes the intrepid traveller from Hokkaido, in the far north (ideal for skiing in January), through mainland Honshu, to the island of Shikoku, to Kyushu and finally to Okinawa’s tropical islands.