As the founder of luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent, Geoffrey Kent knows a thing or two about worldwide travel. Kent, who recently released his memoir, “Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer,” has two passions: one, clearly, is travel. The other is animal conservation. Seeking to end the poaching of wild animals stems from his own personal experience growing up in Kenya when, at just 15-years-old his parents sent him on an elephant-hunting safari as a rite of passage. Given that this animal conservationist is also the founder of a luxury travel company, we decided to pick his brain and find out what worldwide hotels topped his luxe list.
1.) Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel, Dubai
“I’ve recently been staying here, and it reminded me that it really is one of the most magnificent hotels in the world – starting with the Rolls Royce transfer from the airport, the personal attention from your private butler, the welcoming bottle of Dom Perignon waiting in your room, and the incredible views of the city and the Arabian Gulf. The distinctive sail-shaped silhouette of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is more than just a stunning hotel, it is a symbol of modern Dubai.”
2.) Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong
“This iconic building near the Star Ferry terminal in Kowloon has spacious rooms that marry European style with Asian touches. I love the Peninsula Suite with its breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour from a double-height living room with floor-to-ceiling windows…plus its own movie theatre and gymnasium. I like to sip coffee in the Clipper Room before boarding the helicopter for an unforgettable aerial view of Hong Kong.”
3.) North Island, Seychelles
“North Island in The Seychelles is one of those magical places where I find I can truly switch off. You have so much space all to yourself, it feels like you are on your own private island – only with amazing food and impeccable service. The villas are gorgeous, huge and open plan, with your very own section of beach sweeping down the turquoise shoreline. There is so much to do – cycling, walking, snorkeling, kayaking – the only problem is time passes too quickly! I am a keen scuba diver, and North Island has excellent diving facilities and guides – you can wander into the crystal clear waters from the powdery white beach, or take a boat out to superb dive sites”.
4.) Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi Forest National Park, Uganda
“Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is a relatively simple, but eminently comfortable place to stay, entirely in keeping with its raison d’etre. I consider it the pinnacle of luxury, thanks to where it is and the experience it affords: an audience with mountain gorillas. You trek, usually for an hour or two, to find them; the time you then spend in their company, observing their behaviour, is an unparalleled privilege. I have even had the good fortune to be staying at the camp when the gorillas paid us a visit! Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is particularly dear to me as I encouraged the Uganda’s President Museveni to designate Bwindi Impenetrable Forest a National Park, creating a safe refuge for the protection of these magnificent apes”.
5.) The Cipriani, Venice, Italy
“For sheer glamour and romance, it doesn’t get much better than The Cipriani; it just oozes the feel-good factor. I like to stay in a lagoon-view suite; waking up to such a glorious vista of Venice never fails to make my heart flutter or put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. In the evening, nothing beats savouring a night cap on the terrace of Cip’s Club while absorbing the uplifting view of St Mark’s Square. At The Cipriani I find the day always ends as well as it begins”.
6.) Selman, Marrakech, Morocco
“Hidden away from the hustle of the medina at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. Designed by Jacques Garcia, this intimate, family-owned property has five private riads with private swimming pools and butler service. I will never forget our breakfast overlooking the hotel’s Arabian horses, including the 2009 World Champion, Sandhiran.”
7.) Amangiri, Utah, USA
“For that sense of splendid isolation, I love Amangiri in America’s desert southwest. I find it an incredibly relaxing place to stay; perhaps it’s because you are surrounded by nothing but magnificent untouched landscape that you immediately unwind – there are certainly no man-made distractions anywhere nearby! The space and contemporary style of the place add to the sense of tranquillity, and the natural materials used in its construction blend with the desert surroundings, helping you feel you really are at one with nature”.
8.) Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, India
“India is well known for its palatial hotels, and the grandest and most opulent of them all, in my opinion, is the Taj Falaknuma Palace. Built by the last Nizam of Hyderabad, who was famous as the richest man on the planet (he had his own money-printing mint!), it really is fit for a king. You can’t help but feel entirely regal while staying here, not only because of its history and style, but also thanks to the extraordinary level of service that accompanies your every move – or thought; the staff here are amazing, incredibly attentive, but unobtrusively and seem to have extra-sensory powers of anticipation”.