From cruising the Indonesian archipelago on a private custom-built yacht to travelling through the Peruvian Andes on a five-star sleeper train, slow travel is the latest industry trend—and we’re more than happy to hop on board
One of the biggest travel trends since the world started reopening and Covid-19 restrictions ease is to take longer, more meaningful trips, and fewer weekend dashes to nearby destinations.
Alternative modes of transport are getting their share of the spotlight as travellers embrace the romance of slow travel, be it by luxury sleeper train, on leisurely private charters aboard luxury yachts.
“In the [era] of post-pandemic travel, and as demand for greener alternatives to flying are on the rise, we expect interest in long-distance train journeys will continue to grow," says Arnaud Champenois, senior vice president and global head of brand, marketing and communications for luxury hotel group Belmond.
Here are a few of our top picks.
Island-hopping, but make it Aman with Amandira, the luxury hotel brand’s private yacht. Inspired by the phinisi trading ships of the 20th century, the 52-metre twin-masted Amandira was custom-designed and handcrafted by local artisans using hardwoods found throughout the region.
Translating from Sanskrit as “Peaceful Intrepid”, Amandira moves gently through the Indonesian archipelago, allowing guests to discover its hidden beaches and thriving wildlife.
The five-cabin yacht can be hired at a nightly rate, or—in the spirit of this article’s “take it slow” approach—for the six-night Journey Across the Sea package. The charter begins at Amankila, a resort that stretches across the Lombok Strait coastline beneath Mount Agung. Guests set sail on Amandira for a three-night journey to Amanwana, the only resort on Moyo Island, for two nights of glamping in its over-the-top luxury tents. Situated on the shores of the Flores Sea, Amanwana is home to some of the most biodiverse scuba diving and snorkelling sites in the country.
BELMOND, BEST OF PERU
It’s a destination on many a bucket list, but few know where to begin when it comes to exploring Peru. Belmond has taken the guesswork out of navigating the jewel in South America’s crown with Best of Peru, an 11-day itinerary which draws on its collection of hotels, trains and bespoke experiences across the country.
The experience includes two nights’ stay at Belmond hotel Monasterio, a Baroque former monastery dating back to 1592, and two nights’ stay in a swanky cabin on board the continent’s first luxury sleeper train, Belmond Andean Explorer, which travels through the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca.
Ensuring authenticity without culling the classics, Best of Peru covers a range of experiences from a scenic train journey to Machu Picchu and a guided tour of Pisaq in the Sacred Valley of the Incas to exploring Lima’s exciting dining scene and connecting with local communities in traditional villages, quaint farmland and charming towns.
SONEVA IN AQUA, MALDIVES
Sailing from two of Soneva’s private island resorts—Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani—Soneva in Aqua is a 23-metre yacht available for private charter through the atolls of the Maldives and the azure waters of the Indian Ocean.
Taking the experience of staying in one of Soneva’s signature over-water suites to a whole new level, the yacht features two cabins, a full bar, spa, library, sun-deck, outdoor Jacuzzi and a glass-bottomed spa bath in the master suite.
Charters are tailored to guests’ interests, and Soneva’s boat team are happy to let you in on some of the Maldives’ best-kept secrets—from undisturbed dive sites to surfing away from the crowds to desert islands where you can explore, relax and dine under the stars.
On board is a crew of six professionals, including a captain, chef and wellness therapist. An astronomer, surf instructor, dive master or photographer can be added at guests’ request.
VENICE SIMPLON-ORIENT-EXPRESS, EUROPE
Romance, nostalgia and a touch of hedonism are in order on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, where carriages dating back to the 1920s and 1930s have been restored to their original grandeur with vintage-inspired details, including marquetry and plush textiles.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express travels between some of Europe’s most historic and sought-after destinations. A classic overnight ride between London and Venice, or a scenic alpine journey through France and Switzerland, are favourites. There are also routes to cities such as Budapest, Istanbul, Prague, Vienna and Berlin.
In April this year, it was announced that chef Jean Imbert, of Plaza Athénée fame, had been chosen to elevate Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’s dining experience, working with local farmers and producers along the train’s routes to create seasonal menus that can be enjoyed aboard the classic conveyance.
If it’s all sounding a little stuffy, we assure you it’s not. Midnight Brunch in Bar Car 3674 is a lively affair of cocktails, champagne, lobster rolls and truffle club sandwiches, while a pianist plays until the last guest retires for the night (or morning).