Expert advice: Experiential travel on the rise

5th Oct 2006

Who tells the rich and powerful where to travel(TM) Meet Gary Mansour, founder of Mansour Travel Company and a luxury travel guru whose company caters to entertainment and business VIPs the world over. Over the past 20 years, Mansour has earned a loyal following of tony clientele who pay a $15,000 retainer for his unique expertise and rely on him to plan every detail of their dream vacations.

With offices in Beverly Hills, Cannes and London, Mansour’s top-secret client list is highly guarded, but he recently shared some of the hottest trends in luxury travel, including where he is sending the jet-set crowd and what they look for in new travel experiences.

According to Mansour, experiential travel is the hot ticket these days and “authentic” is the prevailing buzzword in the industry.

Today’s travelers demand “real” experiences, from immersion into local cultures to personal access and privileges beyond the ordinary. These global nomads are not content sitting poolside; they want genuine experiences, stunning natural surroundings, and locally inspired activities. Call it “luxury-off-the-beaten path.”

Several global hot spots rank among the fastest growing in popularity among Mansour’s clients, with many seeking the ultimate in travel experiences that are hip, modern and chic. The destinations that are gaining celebrity appeal, he reveals, include:


— Africa - South Africa has also emerged as a major luxury destination,
  with an eclectic array of attractions from wildlife to beach experiences as
  well as a sophisticated wine country. In other areas, the “wildlife”
  experience has been elevated to luxury levels hitherto unknown.
— India - Hotels in India have also raised the bar for an unparalleled
  level of opulence with their palace hotels and tented luxury properties.
  Gary’s access to the finest rooms and over-the-top bespoke tours have made
  India among the hottest destinations for American luxury travelers today.
Of course, the world’s metropolitan centers still attract the “who’s who,” and the rich and famous travel smart and chic with Mansour’s access to the hottest and best, when visiting the perennial favorites of Miami, London, Rome, and New York City.

It’s not just where you go, according to Mansour, but how you get there. And, he should know, since he also owns Avion Private Jet Club, the exclusive and stylish service that allows its members to purchase individual seats on chartered business jet flights. “Time truly is the ultimate luxury,” says Mansour, and when flying with Avion or other private jet options, there are no delays, airport hassles or lines.

Mansour launched Avion in 2005, with service between New York and Los Angeles, creating a “country club in the sky” with complimentary door-to-door private Town Car service, cuisine by fellow member Wolfgang Puck, and top-flight amenities, such as Italian cashmere blankets. Avion members also receive significant discounts of up to 30% over other programs on charters anywhere in the world.

As a U.S. Department of Transportation approved (part 380) Public Charter Operator, Avion is approved to operate up to eight flights per week. Flights are operated by the direct air carriers Avjet Corporation or Segrave Aviation.


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