virtuoso communities 6 Once-in-a-Lifetime Travel Goals

6 Once-in-a-Lifetime Travel Goals

From thousand-dollar wines to awe-inspiring whale dives, Virtuoso advisors bring unparalleled experiences to life.

Scoring Coveted Reservations

At the mythical Sushi Jiro in Tokyo and experimental El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, the waitlists stretch 11 months long and new bookings start at midnight on the first of every month. Hidden away in Earlton, New York, the 12-arce Damon Baehrel restaurant and farm boasts a waitlist that has been closed since 2014. This represents just a sampling of the reservations travelers want professional help with. “One of my clients goes everywhere there are Michelin-star restaurants,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Pam Walker. “I’ve been able to make him reservations at top restaurants in the world, and at new ones on the list. Almost every time, the chef comes out to meet my client and his family. Believe me, it is no small task to get four people into such places.”

Swimming with Giants

Few experiences on earth put life in perspective like swimming alongside the massive bulk of a whale, the creature itself a minute speck in the ocean. Swimming with whale sharks (technically a species of filter-feeding fish that can live up to 70 years old) is possible in locations such as the Caribbean and the Sea of Cortés. For travelers in search of the actual mammal, look further – a lot further – afield. The remote French Polynesian island of Rurutu has no swanky overwater bungalows or nearby coral reefs, but it attracts 40-ton humpback whales and their calves mid-migration. It’s a rare privilege to get in the water with these gentle giants.
A pod of humpback whales swim close below the surface at Rurutu Island.
A pod of humpback whales swim close below the surface at Rurutu Island.

Closed-Door Museum Access

From Fabergé eggs to the Crown Jewels, travelers with the right access can make close studies of history’s precious pieces with the historians, archaeologists, and curators who conserve them. When everyone else goes home for the day, a select few linger in the world’s most iconic museums. Study the contours of the Mona Lisa’s rosy cheeks with a curator at the Louvre Museum in Paris, or walk beyond the crowds to stand face-to-face with a warrior of the Terra-Cotta Army in the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi’an, China. Virtuoso travel advisor Jasmine Folden is an authority on arranging up-close-and-personal encounters with antiquities. Her greatest coup: “I once closed the Cairo Museum for a large family to dine with a famous archeologist.”

Rare Vintage Tastings

Imagine the anticipation of uncorking a Château Cheval Blanc Saint-Émilion 1947 or a Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 – bottles of which have sold for average sums of $135,000 and $500,000, respectively. While such wines might be nerve-wracking to open, leading Bordeaux and Napa winemakers are happy to pour and clink glasses with lucky guests at handsome vineyard estates.

High-Flying Suites

It’s no surprise that several of the world’s hottest hotel suites sit at the loftiest heights – of buildings, cities, and price scales. Imagine a Shanghai suite on the 88th floor with a private wine cellar. But the most lauded hotel accommodations in the world might be on the 16th and 17th floors in Manhattan. At around $75,000 per night, everything about this 10,000-square-foot penthouse pampers and delights, from the living room that can be reconfigured into a ballroom to the rooftop atrium to the rare chocolates and personalized designer slippers at turndown.
Shanghai’s downtown skyline, including the Oriental Pearl Tower, comes alive at night.
Shanghai’s downtown skyline, including the Oriental Pearl Tower, comes alive at night.

Superstars within Reach

Personal heroes come in many forms to the discerning traveler, from country leaders to actors to sports icons. In-the-know travelers can meet legends of all types in the flesh. “Someone wrote that we could ‘do anything’ in a magazine article,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Angela Turen. “We had three separate requests for lunch with the Pope. It took several months to figure out how it could be done.” Key word here: “Done.”

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