If you feel like you're missing out because you don't fly a private jet, own an address in a tax haven or have the latest Bottega Venetta handbag, take heart. There's always aspirational travel.
While some of the rich may be dabbling in good-deed tourism (or "voluntourism") to lighten their 21st-century guilt, the less fiscally-endowed among us are following the wealthy to all corners of the world tropical islands, mountains, ski fields in an effort to keep up with the Rockerfellers.
So where are the rich holidaying these days? And how can the less fiscally-flamboyant join in?
Since money buys exclusivity, trips to the Antarctic have become popular with the wealthy in the past few years. With only 26,000 people visiting in 2006, this polar wilderness is an elite destination, neatly tucked away from the rest of the world. Travel to the remote southern region is by cruise ship, aeroplane or, less often, mounted expedition. For a very cool US$35,000 ($36,400) per person, Adventure Network
offers flights from Punta Arenas, Chile, to the South Pole. Their Antarctic Odyssey program includes guided trips around Patriot Hills on a variety of transportation, including snowmobiles and skis, plus a flight over the local terrain. Croydon Travel
in Australia offers a few flights a year from Sydney and Melbourne on a Qantas 747. For $5199 you can grab a first-class seat, while $2199 buys you an economy seat. You'll fly into East Antarctica (four hours) and then spend four hours swooping over the icy landscapes and rugged mountain peaks.
Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas
Las Vegas is back in the books. The wealthy are returning in droves to squander their fortunes, eat at celebrity-chef restaurants and play golf in the desert. And aspirational travellers are not far behind. Wynn Hotel
caters to both the rich and the not-so-rich with its two-tiered accommodation. While the wannabes will be sitting by the main pool, for which they may have paid as little as $400, the super-well-heeled will be lounging it up in the Tower Suites section, complete with gated entrance, separate check-in and enormous suites. At $1300 a night, you'd want the extra security. The hotel golf course, however, is for everyone. Millionaires and wage-earners alike can hire a caddy and play a round of golf on the 18-hole course. After their game they can enjoy a martini at the Country Club overlooking the green (and beyond that, the drought-ravaged hills of southern Nevada). Idlers can play a game of poker by the pool. Women can go shopping at Alexander McQueen, Chanel or Cartier. The aquatic show La Reve
offers VIP seating, where you'll be fed chocolate-dipped strawberries and Laurent Perrier Champagne.
Okay, it's not a place, rather a chain of high-end resorts owned by Adrian Zecha. Dotted along exotic, faraway coasts and in high-altitude mountains, Aman Resorts
combine exotic vistas and ravishing wilderness with "simple luxury". Hotel Bora Bora in French Polynesia is set on one of the world's most spectacular lagoons and was where Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban honeymooned. Here, thatched huts sit atop crystal clear waves. The 270-degree view is ample entertainment. At Amanbagh in Rajasthan's Aravalli Range, rugged mountain views and pink marble create an atmosphere of palatial elegance. Once the site of the Maharaj of Alwar's hunting lodge, guests can sit by the pool or explore the culture of the Moghul era. Other Aman destinations include Cambodia, Bali, Indonesia and Wyoming.
It's being touted as the New Dalmatia, so you'd better get there before the crowds pour in. Conde Nast Traveller
and other glossy mags have been sending travel writers to this far-flung Balkan destination to uncover its riches. From the languorous coasts to the mountainous inland, Montenegro is an undiscovered destination on the verge of a global travel breakthrough. The island Sveti Stefan, once the playground of the rich and the famous, was developed into a luxury hotel many years ago. Recently purchased by Aman Resorts, this will be a hotspot to watch. With most hotels below the $200 a night mark, this is one place the rich don't have to be rich themselves.
Located in the Trois Vallees, France's Courcheval
draws Russian billionaires and European royalty. This snowy paradise is billed as the world's largest ski area. With a Dior boutique, two Michelin-starred restaurants and plenty of eye candy, this is the place to party, play and ski. For the past few years, Russians have descended on this alpine town in January (precisely 20,000 Russians in 2006) and many of them are billionaires. Rumour has it that Roman Abramovich tried to buy the resort.
Hvar, Vis, Croatia
Don't be fooled by the little old men nibbling on fresh lobster and drinking plum brandy in the town squares. Croatia has become a world-class destination and two of its islands, Hvar and Vis, are the new St Tropez of Europe. "Vis is an exclusive hangout for publicity-shy celebrities and the most extravagant yacht owners," writes Harper's Bazaar
. Many of the luxury boutique hotels here shelter fashionistas and oil magnates. Meanwhile, Hvar is the stopping-off point for Hollywood celebrities and European royalty sailing out of Portofino.
Since Australia is, for many of the wealthy, so far away, it makes a worthy destination for European and American millionaires, celebrities and heiresses. Celebrities such as Misha Barton have checked into Hamilton Island's sumptuous new qualia resort
, where they get uninterrupted ocean views, water sports and opulent pavilions all to themselves. The Red Centre is another hot destination, with Longitude 131 ° proving popular. Kangaroo Island's Southern Ocean Lodge is another drawcard for the cashed-up hordes looking for an opulent hideaway.
In Mozambique, the new concept of "intelligent luxury" has taken off, with the rich going for simple luxury with an ethical slant. The website travelintelligence.com offers luxurious boutique hotels in far-flung places such as the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Meanwhile, in Aspen and Vail, Colorado, USA, the Russians flock to live the American alpine dream. Arriving en masse throughout the winter months, they clock up huge bills at luxury hotels such as the St Regis
and Four Seasons.