The ultrarich headed everywhere from France and Turkey to India and Japan in 2019, from sabbaticals to brief vacations.
- The ultrarich are investing more in travel as a way to show off their wealth, and that includes everything from sabbaticals to brief vacations.
- We teamed up with the luxury travel agency Original Travel to find the hottest spots billionaires went to in 2019.
- A few classics like Great Britain made the list, but many billionaires are seeking adventure, from Rwanda to Bhutan.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
But just where are these billionaires headed?
Business Insider teamed up with the boutique luxury travel agency Original Travel, which plans trips for high-net-worth individuals, to find out the hottest spots the elite spent their money on in 2019. It based this ranking on the number of bookings and performance; the latter was assessed by feedback, the agency's expertise, and client inquiries.
Turns out, billionaires had a taste for adventure in 2019. While a few classics made the list, such as Britain and France, other destinations such as Rwanda and Myanmar appeared on the list, too.
Keep reading to see where the rich are got their passports stamped this year.
Lesser known than its neighbors Croatia and Greece, the tiny slice of Adriatic coastline that is Montenegro has previously lacked high-quality accommodation (other than the Aman network) to rival its fjord landscapes, Tom Barber, a cofounder of Original Travel, told Business Insider.
Montenegro got a luxury upgrade in 2019 with the newly opened Chedi Lustica Bay, he said.
Business Insider previously reported that Oman was the next big destination for luxury travelers. Its peak travel season runs from October to April.
"Luxury brands like Anantara Hotels, which has already opened two resorts there, are claiming the country's culture and unique topography are a huge draw for travelers," Sarah Jacobs reported.
Champagne, in particular, is France's hottest destination right now, according to Barber. Belmond's new Pivoine Champagne barge launched in 2018, and the recent opening of The Royal Champagne Hotel "injected a much-needed shot of luxury and style to the hotel offerings of the region," he said.
He added: "From barge or hotel, we recommend arranging a private vineyard tour and tastings including a backstage at Bollinger experience, along with a make-your-own Champagne lesson and treehouse Champagne bar experience for a comprehensive immersion in the region."
12. Great Britain
From the countryside to the city, there's plenty on offer for a luxury holiday in Great Britain. Original Travel has been working on developing a network of tailor-made itineraries around the British Isles, beginning with London. The city is home to a number of luxury hotels including Claridge's, The Connaught, and The Dorchester.
"India has always been one of our favorite destinations for an authentic travel experience, but in 2019 [we honed] in on the country's spiritual specialism," Barber said.
From January 15 to March 4, the ancient city of Haridwar in northern India played host to Ardh Kumbh Mela, the UNESCO-recognized largest spiritual festival in the world where Hindu devotees come to wash away their sins in the river's holy water, Barber said. With Kumbh Mela festivals happening on rotation between four cities over the course of 12 years, 2019 started off strong for luxury travel to India.
Chile is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and scenic landscapes. It's also a perfect spot for luxury seekers: Business Insider's David Slotnick stayed at Easter Island's primary all-inclusive luxury hotel, Explora Rapa Nui, and found his stay to be "phenomenal."
"Less traditional luxury — no white tablecloth breakfasts served on your private balcony overlooking the ocean — Explora offers the luxury of being able to let go of planning and logistics without sacrificing choice or personalization," he wrote.
The gateway to the Turkish Riviera was recently reopened after British Airways resumed its direct route to Dalaman, according to Barber.
"With the Turkish lira having dropped in value, new hotel openings, and things stabilizing a little politically, the Turquoise Coast of Turkey has never looked more appealing," he said. "With the Turkish Aegean back on the map, its turquoise seas, secret beaches, and exclusive bars and clubs are peaking the interests of glamorous beach-goers usually resigned to the same old European break."
Barber called the south-westerly beach town of Kaplankaya a "place to watch," as well as the Bodrum peninsula, which has an array of new hotel offerings.
8. The Seychelles
The dozens of islands across the Indian Ocean known as the Seychelles are one of the most requested spots in Original Travel's diving division.
Seychelles' North Island, in particular, is a luxurious getaway. "Set in the middle of the Indian Ocean, this ultra-exclusive hideaway attracts A-listers and royals," wrote Maxine Albert.
Yangon's highlight is the Shwedagon Pagoda, where Original Travel arranges for visitors to take part in a robe-offering ceremony with the temple's monks.
Rwanda was named a new African luxury destination to watch in 2018 by Luxury Travel Mag. The destination is all about nature and wildlife, home to three national parks: Akagera, Nyungwe, and the Volcanoes National Park.
The latter is the perfect spot — and one of the few remaining places — to see mountain gorillas in the wild, according to Original Travel.
Unspoiled Bhutan is ideal for the adventurous luxury traveler — the country is made for trekking, according to Original Travel. The company has arranged for treks to many of Bhutan's monasteries, mountain-biking along 12,000-foot mountain passes, and participation in archery tournaments.
As of March, Original Travel had already received the number of Colombia bookings it had for all of 2018.
"Experiencing a renaissance in luxury travel, Colombia's breathtaking jungle landscapes and colonial cities deserve more recognition," Barber said.
In November, the new and exclusive Corocora Camp opened, "located inside a remote private reserve on the vast plains of the Llanos Orientales region, a two-hour drive (or 30-minute helicopter ride) from Yopal," he added. "This is the first camp of its kind in Colombia with safari-style tents and a wildlife-focused camping experience."
Original Travel's 2019 Iceland bookings doubled their 2018 rate. That's not surprising, considering it was previously named one of the top places to travel in 2017 by Insider.
Many visitors travel to the island to see the Northern Lights. The ION Luxury Adventure Hotel in Iceland's Golden Circle was specifically designed for optimal Aurora Borealis viewing. Beyond that, there are "Crystal Caves," massive waterfalls, Icelandic horses, and black-sand beaches to explore.
Japan's main island, Honshu, offers several luxury-travel highlights, from bathing hot spring snow monkeys to skiing in Nagano, according to Original Travel.
There are also plenty of ways to enjoy luxury travel in Japan by train — like The Twilight Express Mizukaze with a top room that costs $22,000 for a two-night, three-day trip or the Skiki-Shima train that boasts glass ceilings and suites.
Original Travel's 2019 bookings for Egypt tripled last year's bookings. According to Barber, there are two primary attractions fueling this trend.
The first is Steam Ship Sudan, a cruise that glides down the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, stopping at archaeological sites, temples, and tombs along the way.
The second is the Grand Egyptian Museum, relocated and newly built overlooking the pyramids of Giza. "The museum will house over 100,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts, many of which have never previously been shown in public and includes King Tutankhamun's complete collection of over 50,000 artifacts," Barber said. "Once complete, the museum will be the largest in the world devoted to a single civilization."