July 24, 2024

Adventure Destinations League

Navigating Travel Wonders

Destinations My Wealthy Clients Don’t Visit Anymore



The lifting of post-pandemic travel restrictions released a flood of demand for destinations worldwide, but those with the most money to spend on experiences changed their priorities and preferences along the way.

GOBankingRates spoke with two travel industry professionals who serve some of the wealthiest clients in America. They’ve noticed a shift away from previously popular hotspots that have fallen out of favor in post-COVID America.

Here’s a look at the destinations that those with the most enviable travel budgets see as yesterday’s news.

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Caribbean Travelers Seek Greener Pastures on Greener Yachts

Mandy Walker is the owner of Where Land Meets Sea, a charter yacht brokerage that “caters to the 1%-3% population,” she said.

Walker previously worked for three years as a luxury travel advisor for a Belize-based destination management company.

The biggest change she’s noticed about her wealthy clients’ travel habits involves not where they go, but how they get there. While middle-class travelers fly coach to the islands and rich people fly first class, the wealthiest vacationers start the party on the yacht ride over — but their seafaring standards are evolving.

“The very top travelers are feeling a little more guilt when it comes specifically to climate change as they don’t always want the image of them sitting on a 200-foot private super yacht plastered all over social media,” said Walker. “Many are opting for solar-powered luxury sailing catamarans such as an 80-foot Sunreef. The luxury catamaran market has caught up to the standards of a traditional super yacht. This means a high-end traveler can still have all the luxuries that a private motor yacht offers but at a fraction of the carbon footprint.”

Learn More: 11 Expensive Vacation Destinations That Will Be Cheaper in 2024

The Virgin Islands Were the Only Game in Town — but the Game Got Crowded

As for destinations, Walker says the ultra-rich are washing their hands of an offshore American territory that offered wealthy but grounded travelers a rare respite during the pandemic.

“The U.S. Virgin Islands was the most sought-after destination in the world during the height of COVID as it was the only Caribbean destination you could travel to for 18 months,” she said.

The result was that the U.S. Virgin Islands — St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John — saw the highest increase in visitors of any Caribbean destination between 2019 and 2022, according to global hospitality consulting firm HVS.

That kind of mainstream saturation is kryptonite to well-heeled vacationers.

“At the end of the day, a high-end traveler still seeks privacy above anything else,” said Walker. “While it still acts as an important hub for the region, the destination itself is no longer sought after due to the fact everyone who could go there did.”

Bora Bora, the Maldives and Seychelles Fall Out of Favor

William Lee is a travel agent specializing in Europe, Asia, Africa and South and Central America with Chima Travel, a family-owned travel agency with over a century of history serving corporations and wealthy clientele.

In recent years, he’s noticed a change among Chima customers who have the cash to design any vacation package they like.

“A lot of our high-end clients who have spent over six figures on vacations have actually opted for experiences that they can share with their family,” said Lee. “They are no longer traveling to exotic locations like Bora Bora, Maldives or Seychelles but are looking to have shared experiences with the ones they love.”

Exotic and Far Away Becomes Expensive and Familial

Some wealthy people are shunning distant and dollar-intensive playgrounds for the rich — like the trio Lee mentioned — for luxurious stays at high-end spots with more convenient proximity or family-focused luxury getaways.

“Instead, we are seeing requests for trips to Canada for private retreats in Banff National Park, or round-the-globe cruise experiences on luxury ocean liners like Uniworld, Silverseas and Regency. I feel that people are looking to have shared experiences with those that they love.”

That doesn’t mean they’re sparing any expense.

“Instead of purchasing first-class flights for the whole family, they may opt for a private plane,” said Lee.

Other elite travelers are seeking journeys to more distant but less frequented destinations.

“On top of this, there’s more of a desire to see unique parts of the world. Bora Bora is really pretty but is it really worth a six-figure upgrade from Hawaii or Florida if you’ve been to Tahiti and Maldives? If you’ve seen the most beautiful places in the world, you may want to expand your trips to ‘experiences.’ This could be staying in an underwater hotel in the Middle East, a treetop resort in Africa or a luxury nomad experience in Arabia.”

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: I’m a Luxury Travel Agent: Destinations My Wealthy Clients Don’t Visit Anymore