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Going to Udaipur, a status-symbol trip!

May 26, 2007 12:38 IST

London? Been there. Provence? And there. Hawaii? Please, you've got so many leis you could open a tiki bar tomorrow.

Yet it wasn't too long ago that these were among the hot spots to which luxury travelers flocked.

"Five years ago, if you had been to London or Rome or any of the other quote on quote majors, you had really been somewhere," says Michelle Anderson, a travel specialist at Admiral Travel Gallery, a Florida-based travel agency that focuses on luxury trips. "These places elicited wows."

So wow-worthy that today's well-heeled have been there time and again and become, well, bored with them.

The result? Spending a week in the South of France or taking a family trip to the Big Island has lost some of its luster, and travelers aren't satisfied with the same old spots. Instead, they're seeking a crop of never-before-done destinations.

"[People] today are much more traveled than other generations before them and have seen all the classic destinations," says Tom Armstrong, corporate communications manager at Tauck World Discovery, a Connecticut-based luxury travel tour operator. "Now, luxury travelers are going further afield or hitting places that weren't viable before because the tourism structure wasn't developed in terms of hotels and restaurants."

Sought-After Spots

Croatia is among them. Tourists, Armstrong says, are drawn to several local UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik; the Dalmatian Coast, which some call "the new Rivera"; and dozens of historic villages. A spate of new luxury hotels such as the 169-room Grand Villa Argentina in Dubrovnik, a medieval city on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, also make the area attractive to well-heeled travelers.

India is high on the list of travelers looking for never-before-visited spots, say travel agents. They are attracted by historical sights such as Palace of Winds in Jaipur, tropical Kerala on the Malabar Coast, and Goa's beach resorts.

Asia is also seeing an influx of visitors.

Jody Bear, owner of the New York City-based Bear & Bear custom luxury travel agency, says that for the past year she has received a higher frequency of calls about Vietnam and Cambodia. "Interest in these countries," she says, "is up at least 20% in the last year."

The draw? Angkor in Cambodia brings travelers eager to explore the Angkor Wat temple complex which is the largest in the world and is spread out among 40 miles. Temples like Angor Wat and Phnom Bakheng can keep history buffs occupied for more than a week.

In Argentina, the cognoscenti indulge their oenophile instincts in Mendoza, a vineyard-rich region about two hours by plane from Buenos Aires. With Argentina's wine receiving international attention and luxury hotels like Cavas Wine Lodge, which opened in late 2005, offering upscale accommodations, travelers are finding this a worthwhile region to visit.

Money Matters

Access doesn't come cheap, and luxury tours to far-off places might run more than $10,000 a week. But the growing popularity of off-the-beaten-track trips means that bargain hunters can find deals.

For example, Indus Travel, a tour company with locations in Canada and the U.S., offers a 27-day trip to India, with prices starting just shy of $3,000. All hotels, sightseeing and some meals are included.

If these new destinations sound exciting but you can't part with your regular trips to Rome or Provence, don't worry about being unfashionable.

"The old places aren't not hot," Bear says. "You can still go to them. It's just that the list of the places you have to visit just got longer."

Shivani Vora, Forbes