Luxury lovers of the world, have you ever visited a national park in the United States? If you’re like us, the answer is likely to be no. Members of the global elite don’t tend to spend their vacations in public parks, perhaps because they still harbor childhood images of grizzly bears eating leftovers from campground trash containers, park rangers in funny hats, collapsing tents, outhouses and the antic cartoon goings-on at Jellystone Park, home of Yogi Bear and friends. We confess to being guilty of dismissing the national parks as “not for us.” Grand jeté, yes – Grand Teton, no. In the interest of research, however, a team from Dandelion Chandelier made an expedition to a national park for the first time ever while on a 4th of July holiday trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton, both of which are day trips from Amangani, the luxury hotel where we stayed. Turns out, this is an outstanding way to mark Independence Day. Or any day, really.
The best luxury hotels and resorts in the world, in the most incredible locations. That’s how people who have visited them describe Aman properties. That is, if you can get someone to talk about them – Aman is still a bit of an insider secret. The hotels do not advertise, they have no loyalty program, and rates average $1,400 per night for a basic room (they can climb to $50,000 per night.) We’d traveled the world extensively for years, but we had never heard the Aman name until we started hanging around truly wealthy people a few years ago. Up until that point, we had fancied ourselves knowledgeable luxury travelers, well-versed in the nuances of the Four Seasons, the Ritz, the St. Regis, and the iconic grand dame hotels in major cities around the world. We thought we were totally in on whatever insider luxury hotel secrets there might be. We were wrong.
The best way to understand a new destination is to head for the nearest river. I learned this on my first trip to Europe, when a friend and I were freshly out of graduate school and in the midst of a classic Grand Tour on an unemployed student’s budget. London, Paris, Vienna, Florence – the first stop we always made in every new city was the river. Thames, Seine, Danube, Arno – we’d jump on the cheapest tourist boat and use it as our crash course in the geography and topography of our latest port of call. From the water you can see the oldest part of the city: its tallest structures, its iconic domes. It doesn’t have to be a river, of course – any major waterway will do. The technique works equally well in Istanbul on the Bosphorus Strait, in Hong Kong on Victoria Harbor, and on the Grand Canal in Venice. If you want to feel grounded, head for the water. Turns out that’s a pretty fine way to get acclimated in …
Sometimes you just need to get out of town. Denizens of the glittering cities of the world are occasionally overcome by occupational and residential hazards – including stress, fatigue, disappointment, overstimulation, ennui, excessive heat, or some combination of all of these, leading to an undeniable longing for fresh air, natural beauty and wide-open spaces. It happens to everyone, whether they’ll admit it or not, especially in the summer. The countryside starts calling. And the only cure is to just pack your bags and go.
Which kind of summer vacationer are you: mountain, beach, or glittering metropolis? Lake, ocean, or infinity pool? If you’re really fortunate, the answer is all of the above.