By Zsarlene B. Chua
TRAVELING has become more than just a simple vacation as there are quite a number of people who have made traveling a way of life – leaving their jobs to travel the world – but there are also those who travel to experience the best the world has to offer, and for those kinds of travelers, Luxury Gold presents more than 40 itineraries promising a “unique and exclusive collection of VIP experiences,” said a company press release.
“Luxury Gold is special, it’s more for the discerning travelers looking for the best experiences,” said Aileen Clemente, chairman and president of Rajah Travel Corp., the local partner of Insight Vacations (which creates the Luxury Gold itineraries) during the press conference on Oct. 20 at the Raffles Hotel in Makati.
The 42 itineraries done for the 2018 brochure features new and old favorites including Italy, France, Britain, India, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries in Asia, Latin America, North America, and Africa.
“Everything is handpicked,” said Evon Ler, president of Insight Vacations Asia, of the itineraries which she assured includes VIP access to many well-known tourist spots including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Doge’s Palace in Venice, and a private visit to the Tower of London, among many others.
This year’s brochure also features the Chairman’s Collection – experiences handpicked by the Travel Corp.’s (Insight Vacation is part of the company) chairman, Stanley Tollman.
Available only on select departure dates, the Chairman’s Collection includes a lunch with an Italian count at his grand Tuscan Villa, or visiting the gardens of Alnwick Castle with the Duchess of Northumberland, among others.
The beauty of a Luxury Gold experience, said Ms. Ler, is that everything is already taken care of: passengers are driven to their five-star accommodations (sometimes even a castle) via a limousine, a Michelin-starred lunch or dinner will always be included in the itineraries, and the tours will be helmed by a travel concierge who will ensure a smooth-running journey and will include local experts who will provide “an extraordinary perspective on the heritage and traditions of their respective regions,” said the press release.
The itineraries are also meant for smaller tour group, usually around 25 people.
“Filipinos know what luxury travel is about… Filipinos enjoy luxury,” said Robin Yap, president of the Travel Corp. in Asia, before adding that when Singaporeans are offered a luxury itinerary, the first thing they’ll ask is “how much” before “how good is it,” unlike Filipinos who ask “will I have a good time” first.
Mr. Yap considers the Philippines their second largest volume market following Singapore, but that it’s mostly because of visa considerations which he considers a good thing as this encourages people to book early.
Compared to the usual Insight Vacations itineraries, he has pegged Luxury Gold itineraries at 20% higher in price on average, but stressed that every cent is worth it because of the elevated experience they offer.
A cursory look at the brochure shows a British Royale itinerary – a nine- to 10-day journey from England to Scotland – which costs at least $4,225 per person. The British itinerary which includes the Chairman’s Collection (the visit with the Duchess of Northumberland) costs $5,225 per person.
Ms. Clemente pointed out that the favorite destinations for Filipinos include Lourdes in France, and Russia (“it will always be mystical to Filipinos”), while Iceland is coming up because of the increased interest in seeing the Aurora Borealis alongside New Zealand which she described is “very, very active in promotions.”