California · Dining · europe · French Polynesia · Italy · Travel Tips · Uncategorized · United States · Wine

My Definition of Luxury Travel

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams.  In the Virgin Islands

I think what people consider “luxury” versus “normal” or even “budget friendly” when it comes to travel is all in the eye of the beholder.  To me, saying that something is a “luxury” item when it comes to travel really means that (i) it’s a bit more money than I would normally spend to eat, drink, tour someplace or have a roof over my head or (ii) it’s not really necessary to enjoy where you are but it sure is a nice experience.  So, here are a few things that I think of as “luxury” when it comes to our travels.

Flying First/Business Class

The older I get, the more babyish I get about traveling in coach.  Don’t get me wrong, if it’s a domestic flight of less than 5 hours, coach suits me just fine.  If Steve is traveling with me, I always go for extra leg room seats because he is 6’4 and he needs it to be comfortable.

On our way to Spain in Business Class several years ago – Steve hates having his picture taken (and I don’t think the lady behind us was thrilled either)

However, flights across the pond, flights longer than 6-7 hours and red eye flights where you really need to get some sleep, I  don’t want to do them unless I can afford to buy a business class ticket or have enough miles to get one.  This year we are flying business class to France in August, Fiji in November and then Argentina in 2019.  I sometimes feel guilty about the splurge but it really does make a difference to wake up feeling refreshed and not miserable from jet lag.  I hate losing even one day of my vacation to feeling groggy and grumpy and business class helps so, so much.

Flying coach – the last time I went to NYC, my seatmate here was over the arm rest with his arm in my seat and that is his giant haunch all the way over on my side and under the seat in front of ME.  This is the worst case of manspreading I have ever experienced.

Private Excursions/Tours

I have done plenty of group excursions in my travels.  Sure, some of them have been great and we have met some nice people.  In general, though, I prefer a private tour where it’s just me and Steve or me and whomever I am with for the trip.  I have been on so many group trips where someone’s kid had a massive, screaming meltdown, a person doesn’t feel well and wants to go back early, or someone is “that person” that loudly complains or is always pushing their way to the front or being obnoxious, etc…

Private Island Champagne Lunch – Bora Bora 
Just the two of us…and Mr. Polynesia, the Tour Guide (see photo below)

Of course, private tours are much more expensive as the guide has to make up for not having a larger group.  My favorite private tours to date have been our tour of the Vatican with Paola Barbieri and our private snorkeling, shark swim and BBQ island lunch with Bora Bora Romantic Tours (plus, check out our hottie of a tour guide!!!).

Me and our Tour Guide….not too shabby.  Hello?  Is it me you’re looking for?

Luxury Hotels

Okay, this is definitely subjective.  What I consider luxury, someone else may consider their average hotel.  To me, it’s a “luxury” hotel if its costing me on average more than $500 a night.  I make allowances for expensive cities like New York, Paris, London, etc…and have paid upwards of $1,000 a night.

Our beautiful room at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley – the bathroom was about equal size and this picture isn’t even getting half the bedroom in it (there was a fireplace, sitting area, etc…)


View of Napa Valley from our private patio in Napa

I’ll also splurge for special occasions like anniversaries or birthdays but I really do try to be budget sensible for the most part so these splurges seem extra special.

Steve doing a cannonball from our overwater bungalow in Bora Bora

My favorite splurges have been the St. Regis Bora Bora (Overwater bungalow), Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Cabo San Lucas and the Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.  This year we are splurging with one night (our last night of the trip) at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris and January 2019 we will be staying in Elizabeth Taylor’s old bedroom suite of her former private villa in Puerto Vallarta – I can’t wait to take a bath in her heart shaped bathtub!

Image result for elizabeth taylor suite casa kimberly
Elizabeth Taylor Suite at Casa Kimberly in Puerto Vallarta, MX (her old love nest with Richard Burton is now a boutique luxury hotel) – Staying here in January 2019


Fine Dining and Good Wine

I love good food and wine.  I especially enjoy good wine and Steve and I have made a point of visiting several wine regions in the U.S. and abroad to learn as much about wine as possible.  When we are on vacation, much of our schedule revolves around where we are going to eat for that day.  I start out planning what to do for lunch and at lunch we are already talking about what to do for dinner.  It’s a curse.

Me and my mom doing a private wine tasting in Napa Valley at Stag’s Leap

I love fancy restaurants and getting dressed up but I also like casual beach side shacks and authentic local food so we usually have 2-3 “nice” meals on a vacation balanced out by some super casual places.  I’m in trip planning mode for our August France trip right now.  So far, I have decided that we will definitely be doing a lunch at the 2 Michelin starred Chevre D’or in Eze during the French Riviera portion of our visit.  I can’t make up my mind about where to eat in Paris our last night.

One of my other favorite fancy lunches was my birthday lunch at La Sponda in Positano in 2016 – it was magical.

My 2016 birthday lunch at La Sponda in Positano
View from La Sponda lunch – sigh….

Luxury touches make such a big difference when traveling but I also believe in being financially responsible.  I never want to come home from a trip and regretting that I spent “X Amount” on something when I get home and see my credit card bill.  Travel should be fun but not to the point of hurting your bank account beyond repair.  I think we have learned to balance that out by staying in moderate hotels or even AirBNBs for some vacations and then splurging on others.  It’s worked pretty well for us so far!

7 thoughts on “My Definition of Luxury Travel

  1. Wow, those are some fab experiences…and hello Mr Bora Bora 😜 I think it’s absolutely worth having a splurge when it’s going to enhance your travels significantly… as someone who can never sleep on overnight flights i may have to invest in a more “luxury” flight experience soon! From #travellinkup

    Liked by 1 person

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