With more travel options at our disposal than ever before, it’s the personal touches that make a trip memorable
TEXT Julia Freemantle PHOTOGRAPHS Supplied
Travel today is so much more than ticking items off a of must-do-and-see list. For the well-travelled and discerning globetrotter, a trip needs to offer tailored and bespoke experiences, from spectacular out-of-the-way locations to remarkable service.
Travellers increasingly want a curated offering that provides experiences crafted specifically for them. They also want the peace of mind that comes with knowing a reputable provider has done the background checks to ensure a location or service lives up to its promises.
Local travel venture Perfect Hideaways has carved a niche for itself as a curator of special holiday rentals across Southern Africa, selected for their design cachet, idyllic locations or interesting backstories. Owners Helen and David Untiedt, who started Perfect Hideaways 11 years ago, have built the business on reliability and quality.
“We see more and more that travellers are seeking remote places, wanting to escape crowds and traffic,” says Helen of the type of location that’s most in demand. Exclusive-use is also paramount, and the experience is as important as the location. “Our guests love the option of cooking together or having private chefs; some even request that our team organise adventure trips on mountain bikes or private surf lessons.”
The destinations are thoroughly vetted to ensure they meet their standards. “All of us try to stay at least two nights at a location to get the full experience,” she says.
Rhino Africa too, is founded on the notion of curation and tailored travel, crafting itineraries for its clients that deliver experiences according to their needs – golf, safari, family, honeymoon…
“Travellers do not want an off-the-shelf itinerary; they want something bespoke and crafted for their individual needs and requirements,” says Ian Martin, creative director at Rhino Africa. “Travellers are also interested in ‘bucketlist’ experiences like climbing Kilimanjaro, watching the great migration, seeing gorillas in the wild and exploring the Okavango Delta. Our clients have very specific experiences they want to tick off their list.”
But sometimes fast and direct is what the discerning traveller wants. And for this there is private air travel. Chartered flights have become much more accessible in recent years. UK-based Victor is an on-demand private global jet service with access to more than 7 000 aircraft and 40 000 destinations. The experience is tailored down to the last detail. Additionally, the high-tech transparent model of the business has seen it praised as a disruptor.
Locally, Federal Airlines caters to high-end international travellers. The business has seen growth across the board in chartered flights – even in the family travel and multi-generational segment. When asked why, Nik Lloyd-Roberts, the airline’s commercial manager, had this to say: “Clients are looking for more bespoke, interesting and original itineraries. Trouble is, air access throughout Africa is limited and expensive, especially for large families. Chartering an aircraft allows guests to essentially create their own air access and travel on their own time and terms.”
The modern traveller doesn’t only want quality once they reach their destination. For many, the journey is equally important – like a trip by train winding through the Portuguese landscape while enjoying meals created by a top chef and stopping to taste wines along the way. The Presidential Train is the brainchild of entrepreneur Gonçalo Castel-Branco, who came up with the business model after falling in love with a retired locomotive at Portugal’s National Railway Museum.
Local industry stalwart Rovos Rail, too, has built its success on the pleasure and romance of train travel. The eight journeys it offers – some of which are as long as 15 days – are all about taking in the scenery and exploring the countryside; there’s no racing to reach a destination. Without Wi-Fi or television on board, the focus is on old-world romance and the celebration of slow.
So, whether you want to get there fast or take your time, the world really is your oyster when it comes to travel in the 21st century.