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Turn down for what? How the wealthy enjoy their travel safety bubbles

Photo by Chalo Garcia from Pexels.

Photo by Chalo Garcia from Pexels.

Published Mar 26, 2022


While the rest of us have put off travel plans going on years, the reality TV stars, footballers and celebrities of the world used the pandemic as a chance to refine their holidays, making them more exclusive.

Of course, none of it came without backlash. Nevertheless, the wealthy are continuing to spend more money on holidays than ever before after years of being confined to their Beverly Hills mansions and secondary beach homes in the Hamptons.

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In 2022, these vacations are taking on the form of ‘safety bubbles’, which are defined by getaways that are designed to be as private as possible. Steering clear from both the public, the pandemic and beedy-eyed paparazzi, they’re looking to do anything from renting out islands to jet-setting on their own planes in order to travel the world in the most elite way possible.

4 ways the ultra-rich are creating ‘safety bubbles’ in their 2022 travel plans:

Super yachts

The word “super” really says it all when it comes to these sea monsters. Epitomising wealth, these buoyant symbols of status are ultra-luxurious, professionally crewed and range from 24 metres to more than 180 metres in length.

These majestic sea vessels tick every box when it comes to bubble travel. From the open air, sea breeze and crews who have been quarantined for seven days before welcoming guests – it can’t get any more exclusive than this.

With every hotel luxury on-board, they form the ideal basis for a getaway without having to come into contact with people outside of your travel bubble. Decked out with saunas, steam rooms, massage rooms, hair and nail parlours, gyms, swimming pools, Jacuzzis, wet bars, underwater observation rooms, helicopter landing pads, cinemas and new-technology glass portals - there’s hardly any reason to dock at all.

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While it’s usually celebrities who enjoy sultry summers chartering around the Amalfi Coast in 2022, more people are getting on-board with the idea of having a luxurious yachting experience all to themselves.

Adrian Walker, co-founder and CEO of BoatAffair, a company that offers boutique yacht experiences, said in an interview with Travel + Leisure: “We are witnessing a double-digit increase in terms of booking requests from clients who are looking to switch from a hotel stay to a yacht vacation.”

The reason behind this surge is closely linked to the fact that yachts offer people more authority over their environment than they could ever achieve at a hotel. “Yachts are a controlled private environment where everyone aboard is properly screened. The sanitising procedures are more manageable and can be as frequent as desired,” Alvaro Nunez, co-founder of Super Luxury Group, said.

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Private islands

Private islands are highly coveted primarily because of how scarce they are. Industry experts gage that there are only 2000 islands that meet the right demands. In order for the richest of the rich to have any interest, they must be close enough to land, located in stable regions, and allowed to be developed.

Some of the world's most famous businessmen, musicians and actors have bought their own private islands. Some serve as a paparazzi free hideaway and luxurious holidaying spot, while others are rented out to wealthy travellers. Popular destinations include the Bahamas, Fiji's Lau Group of islands, and the islands off the coast of Belize.

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During the pandemic, however, they’ve become somewhat of a safe haven for celebrities to escape and forget the woes brought on by Covid. In October 2020, Kim Kardashian’s celebrated her 40th birthday in style by jet-setting to The Brando resort in Polynesia, effectively renting an entire private island for an elaborate bash with around 30 of her closest friends and family. According to the reality TV star, everyone had been isolating and tested prior to the trip, ensuring all safety measures were taken.

Kardashian’s little island getaway isn’t an isolated event. According to an interview published by Robb Report with Jacques Menahem, founder of French Polynesia Sotheby’s International Realty, the company would usually only receive around two e-mails a week about private islands. Since the start of the pandemic, that number has soared to as many as 10 a day. “They are all looking for a remote area where they can control their environment, and no one is going to tell them to put on a mask,” he said.

Private jets

Long queues, security checks and stuffy cabins with stale food - there’s nothing glamorous about flying for the average person. Many people still don't trust commercial aeroplanes for their personal and leisure travel demands, notwithstanding vaccination distribution and lessened restrictions. However, for the one-percenters of the world, they simply used their drop in commercial airline travel confidence to turn to private jets and aircraft to fulfil their wanderlust needs.

Unlike commercial flights, the enjoyment aspect of the trip begins once you set foot on the private aircraft and are handed a glass of champagne. These stunning jets and planes can be made to order with fully equipped spas, full-service kitchens with private chefs, personalised decor and furniture, dedicated bedrooms and meeting rooms. With their long-range, top speed and plush interiors, they are designed to fly passengers in comfort and style.

Latitude 33 reported that: “This trend of flyers utilising private jets for personal and leisure travel rather than business travel picked up steam in 2021 and continues into 2022. In fact, July 2021 had the most private flights – 12345 flights – since March 20, 2008.”

Buying assets instead

When all else fails, write a cheque. At least, that seems to be the case for the wealthiest jet-setters of the world.

According to an article by The Washington Post, for many people, instead of fighting over luxury rentals, they are buying the assets instead. In an interview with Jaclyn Sienna India, founder of ultra-luxury travel business Sienna Charles, “People are buying yachts and the planes and the second and third and fourth homes as opposed to renting them,” India said.

Of course, most of the splurging is kept under wraps, or it may rub people online the wrong way. “A lot of our clients are CEOs, and a lot of their staff is either laid off or on unemployment or struggling to make ends meet,” India said. “So we have found that every single one of our clients, even with a private profile, do not share when they travel,” India continued.

This article first appeared in Saturday Insider, March 26, 2022