There’s nothing like VIP treatment in a hotel or resort. It makes you feel like a rock star or movie star.
So with that in mind, here are some of my destinations with terrific VIP packages.
Private chef in Tuscany
Perched on a hill overlooking the Serchio Valley, one of the most undiscovered areas of Italy and about an hour outside of Florence and Pisa, guests get the Tuscan Wine & Culinary Experience Package (www.RenaissanceTuscany.com), which includes a classic room and wine tasting for two.
This experience ($351 per night) offers an opportunity for guests the chance to cook side by side with one of the resorts’ chefs for an authentic taste of Italy. Guests begin their culinary experience with a trip to a local food market and hand pick their favorite ingredients. Then it’s on to the kitchen for a cooking experience, complete with local wine. Finally once the hard work is done, they can will enjoy their three-course meal outdoors on a private veranda overlooking the mountainous region.
Make 900 acres of lush tropical reserve a playground at Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort (www.tabacon.com) in Costa Rica. After getting the adrenaline pumping with adventure activities like whitewater rafting, horseback riding and rappelling, soak in the resort’s natural thermal springs, sip cocktails in the secluded, adults-only Shangri-La garden complete with cocoon-shaped private cabanas, get a couple’s massage in an open-air spa bungalow tucked away amid the trees, and enjoy a candlelit chef’s dinner prepared in a private rainforest bungalow. Package rates start at $2,520 for three nights.
Private Panamanian villa overlooking the Pacific Ocean
Have the ultimate VIP escape just minutes from bustling Panama City at The Westin Playa Bonita’s new 25,000 square foot mega villa, Casa Naga. Perched at the edge of the rainforest overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the villa features six suites, private plunge pools, an indoor koi pond, show kitchen, and outdoor patio with semi-Olympic infinity pool and traditional Panamanian rancho for entertaining. Guests get 24/7 on-site staff, full access to The Westin Playa Bonita’s Pearl Club and Sensory Spa by Clarins, and VIP concierge service that can arrange anything from private cars to wine pairing chef’s dinners to excursions that put guests in touch with Panama’s local culture. Villa rates start at $5,000 per night (www.westinplayabonita.com).
Private Villa in Guatemala
Retreat to a lakeside villa at Casa Palopo, a private home turned boutique hotel located at the shore of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan. Approximately 150 steps above the main hotel is Villa Palopo, a grand two-bedroom villa that’s fully equipped with two oversized suites, a full living room, dining room, kitchen, and the main event — a jacuzzi and serene infinity pool that overlooks the lake and the three volcanoes across the shore. Guests who book the villa enjoy full use of its amenities, along with a private butler and chef. To get there in style, book roundtrip helicopter transfer from Guatemala City ($3,080 roundtrip) and land at the property’s very own helipad (www.casapalop.com). Villa rates from $884 – $1368 per night.
Charter a mega yacht through the Galapagos
Set sail on the trip through the Galapagos with Ecoventura’s new luxury vessel, the MV Origin. The 20-passenger mega-yacht offers private charters through the islands. Groups receive twice daily excursions, snorkel and kayak tours lead by two onboard certified naturalists, a concierge, locally inspired gourmet cuisine, and a Jacuzzi on the outside deck, not to mention viewing of the islands’ scenery and topography from their stateroom’s panoramic windows. Private charter rates for 2016 start at $117,000 per week (www.origingalapagos.com).
VIP in St. Kitts
A Caribbean getaway at St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino. The experience starts upon arrival with a luxury vehicle waiting on the tarmac to transfer guests to the airport’s YU Lounge where guests can sip champagne while immigration and luggage are taken care of. They will then head to their suites where they will receive express check-in, a welcome amenity at the hotel and daily breakfast as well as nightly turndown service. Guests also have the experience of the YU Lounge on departure. Rates start at $418 per night (www.StKittsMarriott.com).
Ultimate Bubble Bath in Italy
Set just outside of Florence, Il Salviatino is a stylishly restored 15th century villa that seamlessly blends authentic Italian charm and modern luxury. The property’s Ojetti Suite is a two-story haven with a rooftop jacuzzi that offers direct access to a private balcony where guests can enjoy views of Florence and the rolling Tuscan hills. And for a touch of suite-ness and additional relaxation, guests can arrange the “The Ultimate Bubble Bath” in which one of the hotel’s discreet Service Ambassadors will fill your private bath to the brim with luxurious “bubbles” – Prosecco, Spumante or French Champagne). The experience starts at $10,000 (www.salviatino.com).
Private, in-room Italian opera serenade
Located in the heart of Verona – home of the Opera and Shakespeare’s fabled lovers Romeo and Juliet – Palazzo Victoria is a romantic Italian retreat featuring original frescoes and individually decorated rooms that mimic the charming Veneto region. The hotel can arrange an opera serenade from the privacy of your own suite. The 30-minute “serenata” is performed by a local operatic tenor. (www.PalazzoVictoria.com).
South Beach and the Keys
Embark on a wild adventure and zip around the streets of Miami in a luxury Lamborghini or Ferrari. Guests who book Stanton South Beach’s Millionaire’s Miami Package (www.MarriottStantonSouthBeach.com) will get a suite accommodations for three nights, a private seaplane rental for lunch in the Florida Keys, one bottle of Veuve Clicquot, jet ski rentals, luxury car rental, and a gourmet, five-course Millionaire’s Dinner with wine pairings at Red, The Steakhouse. Package starts at $8,999 for three nights.
Fly coast-to-coast in Florida
Get whisked away on a five-day bi-coastal Florida adventure with this Coast to Coast experience. Travelers will start out on Florida’s east coast at Jupiter Beach Resort (www.jupiterbeachresort.com), then hop aboard a private plane to The Resort at Longboat Key Club (www.longboatkeyclub.com) in Sarasota to continue the first-class treatment. It includes limo transports, suite accommodations at two Four-Diamond resorts, champagne, spa treatments, dinners, golf and tennis, paddleboarding and more. Package starts at $10,500 for five nights.
Travel in style in Fort Lauderdale
The W Fort Lauderdale’s VIP Luxperience Package offers a multi-million dollar Intracoastal waterway tour for guests to explore Fort Lauderdale in style. For added leisure, the package includes deluxe, roundtrip transfer from the airport, a VIP suite, a private poolside cabana, a massage for two at Bliss Spa, dedicated VIP concierge attention for a personalized stay and more (www.wfortlauderdalehotel.com). Package starts at $699 per night.