Have you been dreaming of shimmery white sands, morning mojitos on a private island, or skiing down snow-clad mountains? Jetting off to an exotic destination to revive your tired soul, draw inspiration for your work, or just to spend time with your family can make for some memorable moments. To ease your confusion about where to go, we spoke to some frequent flyer designers and entrepreneurs about their most luxurious vacations. Read on and get planning your gilded bucket list trip. By Chirag Mohanty Samal
Designers and entrepreneurs on their most luxurious vacations
Rahul Mishra; SUSTAINABLE COUTURIER
“Luxury, for me, means being close to nature and experiencing it in its raw form. One of my most luxurious trips has been a vacation at Soneva Fushi, Maldives. I went there for two to three days with my friends. Throughout my stay at the property, I moved about barefoot. There was stunning white sand all around and bright coral reefs under water, which I discovered while snorkelling. Soneva Fushi is a sustainable resort, where they recycle everything from door knobs, glass bottles, to wood and resin—they make construction out of waste. The time spent at the property was magical. I stayed up at night to gaze at clear, star-filled skies and woke up early to see the sun rise. I took inspiration from the landscape, underwater foliage, and skies for one of my Paris Haute Couture Week collections.
Another vacation that left a huge impact on me was my trip to Santorini, Greece, with my wife Divya and daughter Aarna. We had booked a beautiful Airbnb home at Imerovigli. We explored the beautiful island on foot. We would stop at corner stores to shop, halt at scenic spots to soak in the beauty, and speak to locals. I feel that the best way to explore any place is to live like a local there. I also used the inspiration from the trip to design my Shape of Air collection, which I showcased at the Paris Haute Couture Week in 2021.”
JJ Valaya; VETERAN COUTURIER
“I have taken several wonderful vacations, but Istanbul remains special. And when in Istanbul, staying on the Bosphorus makes for a different experience. One of my most beautiful stays was at the Hotel Ciragan Palace Kempinski, which is located right on the Bosphorus. The hotel excels in every way in terms of luxury. Besides the interiors, the exteriors of the property are also brilliant. Most luxury properties have their own signature style of service, and the Kempinski is no different. Not just the hotel but Istanbul is fascinating. It is culturally empowered, and it encompasses the best of both the worlds (Europe and Asia).
It has lovely weather, delicious food, and offers an amazing shopping experience. On this particular trip, I was returning with my friends from a wedding in another part of Turkey, and we decided to stay back in Istanbul. I also got to capture some brilliant images of the place that to put together and create my own travel memoir, titled The Little Book of Memories. When you go to Turkey, you must visit the museums and palaces that bring to life its beautiful past. Topkapi Palace Museum and The Blue Mosque left an indelible impression. We [also] went to some places that have never surfaced on the tourist map.”
Kalyani Saha; SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR
“I have done quite a few trips that I loved. But not everything is about the place you travel to or the luxurious hotels you stay at. For me, it’s more about the experiences. A luxurious holiday that I fondly remember is my trip to Japan. I was visiting Tokyo for a cruise show, and I stayed at the Palace Hotel.
I stayed back with a friend of mine, and we did all sorts of crazy things—from chasing sumo wrestlers at Shibuya Crossing to singing in a fabulous gay bar, from tasting amazing Japanese food to shopping from local designers. Another vacation that I recently took was to Courchevel, France, where I stayed at the Aman Le Melezin. It’s one of the most spectacular experiences I’ve ever had. I’m not much of a ski person, but on this trip, my skiing skills improved. I discovered Courchevel, visited all the restaurants there; it was simply wonderful.”
Neelam Kothari Soni; ACTOR, JEWELLERY AND INTERIOR DESIGNER
“My vacations at the palace hotels in Rajasthan have been the most luxurious. And these are my go-to place every winter. I had gone to Jaisalmer and stayed at Suryagarh just before the first lockdown happened. Ahana, Samir, and I celebrated Holi at the property, and those memories will always stay with me. We heard that the whole world was starting to shut down. So, I cherished every moment, and being in Jaisalmer during Holi was spectacular as Rajasthan is rich in culture and art. The architecture of the Mughal period has always fascinated me. Even my jewellery pieces are inspired from that period. As an interior designer, I draw inspiration from nature, architecture, [and] culture, so such vacations enrich me personally and professionally.”
Ashiesh Shah; ARCHITECT AND INTERIOR DESIGNER
“Stunning vistas across Lago di Como and its vast landscape, [and] Villa d’Este with its old Italian charm, served as the perfect destination to unwind and rejuvenate: whether it was a dinner by the lake or the spectacular suite. The host was absolutely lovely and extended their hospitality through personalised gestures. This picturesque location evoked a certain calm—a refreshing contrast post the hustle and bustle of Milan Design Week.
I relished how the hectic pace of the previous week transitioned into slow living, providing some much-needed quiet and solitude. The property was delightful on its own, but they did arrange visits to the neighbouring islands. The beautiful landscape served as an inspiration along with the sumptuous food and weather—truly a taste of laid-back luxury.”
Krsna Mehta; INTERIOR DESIGNER, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF INDIA CIRCUS
“Overlooking the Listerine-green waters and ancient limestone seastacks of Phang Nga Bay, Phulay Bay, a Ritz- Carlton Reserve stares at one of the most extraordinary landscapes in Asia. My most luxurious holiday has been at this hotel. There is a personal butler service. You are looked after well by the exceptional team from the time you enter the gorgeous property All the restaurants offer dishes that are thoughtfully presented, and the super-fresh produce always takes centre stage. The place offers the most romantic dining experience and serene spa treatments.
Scale and imperial luxury are the defining traits of the villa that I stayed in. The enormous bed was such a delight. The hotel’s design reflects Krabi’s heritage, blending peaked-roof buildings and Thai artworks with Moorish-inspired pendant lamps and pops of purple. There is a big spa complex, where you can get a Thai massage surrounded by the tropical gardens of Krabi Island. The hotel is so impactful that, in retrospect, it selfishly gobbles up the capacity of your memories. We visited many places in Thailand but this property stood out amongst the rest.”
Yash Dongre; BUSINESS HEAD, HOUSE OF ANITA DONGRE
“My most luxurious holiday till date has been to Peru along with my wife Benaisha (pictured above). It’s been the most memorable one as well, because it’s a stunning country. We visited Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. On every leg of our trip, we stayed at a few luxurious properties, and some of them stood out, like the Sanctuary Lodge. This Belmond hotel is the only property located at the gates of Mach Picchu. And the other one was Tambo del Inka, a luxurious resort and spa based in the Sacred Valley, which is another fascinating region of Peru. The resort is a sanctuary within a sanctuary, a hotel and spa enveloped in hills. The property also offered several activities.
There is an organic farm, and we got to experience farm-to-table dining besides their extraordinary service. We drove from Cusco to the Sacred Valley, which sits at the foothills of Machu Picchu, and the journey was breathtaking. We encountered miles of greenery dotted with wild alpacas and set against majestic mountains. We made quick pit stops to enjoy the local cuisine and met some amazing people on the way. We took a train that traverses up the mountain to Machu Picchu, and that was one of the most scenic rides. The train was fitted with glass ceilings, and we enjoyed a 360° view of the location. This trip is memorable also because it gave us time to bond and enjoy each other’s company.”