Juliet Kinsman: Put a little A* into getting from A to B
Something to Declare
Sunday 03 June 2012
You might imagine that, in my role as an arbiter of stylish stays, I am obsessed with being there. But the getting there also floats my boat. Rushing to our rendezvous, we rarely relish the journey, particularly in an era of endless security checks and traffic jams. It's remarkable no "PRT" medication has hit the market: a tonic for Pre-Ryanair Tension – that mixture of luggage- and seat-related anxiety and general misanthropy. When time's at a premium, those long, languid segues from home to hotel get the heave-ho. Pity.
Since luxury travel today prioritises personality and sense of place over bling, a three-seater Cessna to Belize's Blancaneaux Lodge easily wins over a cab. But at the top of my wish list is the Vigilius Mountain Resort in the South Tyrol, which can be reached only by cable car. Similarly, the transit to Verana in Mexico: a taxi from Puerto Vallarta, then a boat along the Pacific coast, followed by a mule ride for the final stretch to your jungle retreat. (Noire d'Ivoire in Marrakech's medina also wins hearts with its donkey chaperone.) But it's not just about novelty steeds: it's a state of mind in which we savour the travel.
From my home in London, Pool House in Scotland requires a train or flight to Inverness, then two hours by road to Wester Ross. It was tempting to shelve the jaunt in favour of no-car-needed Edinburgh, yet I'll never forget the magical drive through that Highland wilderness, past shortbread-tin loch scenes. Ditto the journey to mid Wales: stuck in Friday-night traffic I wondered whether the Cotswolds would have been easier. However, rolling out at Llety Bodfor on Aberdovey's untouched coastline, having savoured Led Zep and Radio 4, I felt a million miles away from my metropolitan life.
Still straining for the Golden Age? Be assured it can exist. You won't bust out your patent-leather court shoes and pill-box hat for that flight from Luton, but city-break starts don't come much more sybaritic than sipping champagne at Heathrow's smart Terminal 5, or on the Eurostar to the Continent.
Throwing money at making the A to B special is an obvious, but prudent tactic: taking the Hiram Bingham luxury train from Cusco to Inkaterra Machu Picchu, for example. I recently experienced Virgin Atlantic's new Upper Class cabin, which was like being in a Soho cocktail bar in the sky. It was almost disappointing when we landed. On the way back I spent the night with 50 Cent: the rapper was in the booth next to me; and no, he didn't wear the free pyjamas.
But you don't have to VIP it for rewarding retrospectives. Just surrender, be immersive, and consider whatever is thrown at you to be part of the experience.
I know at the time I'd have signed over the deeds to my house not to be one of three in the back of that bumpy, decades-old Ambassador car in Kerala, but I wouldn't swap a sausage now for the joy I felt when we pulled up at my backwaters bolt hole. So, my advice? Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Juliet Kinsman is the editor-in-chief of Mr & Mrs Smith hotel guides ( mrandmrssmith.com)
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