Deluxe Destinations

If you can drop some serious coin for a hotel room, try one of these ritzy destinations.

Sharq Village and Spa – Doha, Qatar

Perhaps the best word to describe Sharq Village and Spa is lush. The hotel, in the country’s capital city, sits directly on Doha Bay, part of the Persian Gulf.

Unlike most Western hotel concepts, Sharq resembles a village, with abundant greenery, fountains, pools and courtyards “reminiscent of a sheik’s palace,” according to the resort’s website. Visitors can choose between rooms that sleep two, suites for up to five and luxury villas sleeping 10. Accommodations showcase Arabic decor with stunning sea, pool and garden views, ample space and enviable bedding and bathroom amenities. Rates begin at about $235 but can go up to $6,800.

The cuisine highlights Qatari, Lebanese, Persian and Asian delicacies. There are three restaurants, a poolside snack bar and an indoor lounge with desserts, teas and coffees. Spa treatments use a holistic approach inspired by Asian and Arabic traditions.

To learn more, visit ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/qatar/sharq-village.

Courchevel Ski Resort – Courchevel, France

As a master on the slopes or a fan of frosty festivities, you can find what you’re looking for at this resort in the commune of Courchevel.

Outdoor activities are seemingly endless. Apart from the world-class ski slopes (with deals on daily passes), visitors can enjoy snow rafting, snowmobiling, dog sledding, hang-gliding, helicopter rides, hiking, snowshoeing, skydiving and ice climbing.

For those looking for a respite from the chill, Courchevel offers the largest mountain “aquafun” center in Europe. The 82-foot heated pool boasts lagoons, water slides, saunas and hydro-baths. Other indoor activities including bowling, rock climbing, a spa and a movie theater. 

Courchevel is a group of villages rather than one brick-and-mortar location. Accommodations can be found at a number of locations in the commune, including Courchevel 1850 (the most exclusive in the consortium), Le Praz, Village and Saint-Bon. Rooms range from single beds (about $800) to chalets sleeping 10 or more (several thousand dollars). Courchevel 1850 has welcomed celebrities such as Prince William and Kate Middleton, George Clooney, and the Beckham family.

For information, visit courchevel.com. 

Trisara – Phuket Province, Thailand

If you’re the sun-and-sand type, Trisara is right up your alley. The resort, in a secluded cove in northwest Thailand, offers privacy and heavenly views on the shores of the effervescent Andaman Sea.

Self-described as “a garden in the third heaven,” this slice of nirvana has private pool villages and suites, pool residences and a state-of-the-art spa. Activities include private cruises, private cooking classes, an ultramodern gym and complimentary water sports, such as snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing and paddle-boarding. The beach is steps away for those looking to lounge.

Food is no afterthought. Trisara chefs work with local farmers to create dishes with plenty of seafood options. They offer Sunday brunch, private dining experiences and a stunning outdoor patio.

Prices depend on the size of your party, room and dates of stay. The Ocean View Pool Junior Suite, with one double bed, is $2,020 a night. The seven-bedroom villa on a private headland is more than $12,000 a night.

Visit trisara.com to book … or just look.

Taleon Imperial Hotel – St. Petersburg, Russia

Ornate. Decadent. Opulent. Stepping inside the Taleon Imperial Hotel is like stepping back in time. This palace-like structure in Russia’s second city makes you feel like nobility.

The hotel, with 89 rooms and four premium suites, evokes 18th-century aesthetics and boasts a personal butler, free high-speed WiFi, antique furnishings and a luxurious penthouse dubbed the Taleon Spa, where you can enjoy a salt room, a 72-foot pool, massage and steam rooms, and a sauna.

The Taleon Restaurant features authentic Russian cuisine and an extensive wine list, and the Victoria Restaurant offers beautiful views of the city. There are also an ostentatious lobby bar and a cozy coffee and pastry cafe. 

Every room in the hotel offers a unique design. “Superior Rooms” are 377-485 square feet and start at $187. The “Emperor Suite” is 2,500 square feet and runs about $3,850. Or you can try something in the middle, like the 485-square-foot “Superior Suite” for about $225 or the 1,200-square-foot “Eliseev Suite” at $936.

To book, visit taleonimperialhotel.com. 

High-Priced Hobbies

Racehorses, James Bond cars and space travel are extracurriculars that cost a pretty penny.

Space Tourism

Bucket-list vacation spots include rocketing into the vast reaches of space … at least for those who can buy a ticket past the stratosphere for prices ranging from $250,000 to $200 million.

Billionaire entrepreneurs have devoted vast resources for technology to coordinate with NASA and Soyuz programs as a means to get into the Earth’s orbit, fly around the moon or even go beyond.

For space cowboy wannabes, there is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a planet-orbiting ride-share dependent upon the continuing development of reusable rockets, according to spacex.com, where you can sign up for notifications as opportunities develop.

Another avenue for off-Earth journeys is Eric Anderson’s Space Adventures (spaceadventures.com), which bills itself as “the company that organized the flights for the world’s first private space explorers.” Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic (virgingalactic.com) aims to begin civilian space travel by the end of 2019. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos plans to sell tickets for his Blue Origin flights next year, too.

As interest is keen and money itself not enough to get a ticket off the planet, those interested should continue to research the possibilities because technology reveals opportunities almost daily.

Aston Martin DB5

There are luxury cars … and then there is the multimillion-dollar, limited-edition, British-manufactured Aston Martin DB5, made famous in the James Bond spy movies.

High interest is shown by the $4.6 million auction price of the actual DB5 driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger. And in association with 007-film producers Eon Productions, an exclusive Aston Martin Goldfinger DB5 Silver Burch reproduction debuts in 2020. Those with a cool $3.5 million to spend on one of 25 reproductions can enjoy a straight-six-cylinder, 3,995cc engine with 282 horsepower, a top speed of 148 mph and the capacity to go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds.

Whether you’re a secret agent for Her Majesty or simply someone with megabucks to spend, the sporty Silver Burch comes with a rotating license plate and other Q-worthy spy gadgets.

Car and Aircraft Collection

Like children collecting toy cars and assembling model airplanes, some adults with significant financial means make their transportation fantasies come true with collections of full-size versions of their dream machines.

For these folks, it’s not about recognizable names like Mercedes-Benz or Jaguar. Connoisseurs’ passions extend to exclusivity, where transportation becomes art and moves collectors to add to their fleets of aircraft and other vehicles.

In Oklahoma, an automotive aficionado can choose from among the latest top-of-the-line Audis, says John Hill, general manager at Audi Tulsa. The convertible, sporty R8 Spyder runs in the mid-$200,000 range while the top-of-the-line Q8 High Performance sport-utility vehicle, depending on options, is in the low $100,000 range.

Custom interior and exterior colors, specialized stitching and highly specific materials like wood grains can double and triple those prices in Audi’s exclusive program, which results in “a unique, custom-tailored model,” Hill says. “There are many off-palette choices to make it a truly individualized vehicle. The process takes four to five months as the custom cars are delivered from Europe.”

Hill says the future of transportation is in electric vehicles, and this spring brings the debut of Audi’s first in that line: an SUV called e-Tron.

“We are all on the cusp of an automotive paradigm shift similar to when aviation moved from propellers to jet,”  he says. “The electric car – smooth, quiet and fast – is a leap in technology that will be unique to everyone, as we’ve all been driving internal combustion cars. For Audi, the 2019 debut will be the first of many electric models over the next several years.”

Vehicle collectors come at all levels, and connoisseurs like to gather and show off their beauties at a variety of Oklahoma car clubs, including one of the largest in membership, the Route 66 Cruisers. Details are at route66cruisersok.org/oklahomacarclubs.htm.

For aircraft lovers, simply owning a private plane is trumped by exclusive names of the most high-priced, high-class jets, such as the Cessna Citation Hemisphere with a 4,500-nautical-mile range or the Bombardier Global 7500, another ultra-long-range business craft, which costs $60.5 million new or between $52 million and $56 million used. Fractional ownership makes sense for those who don’t want to commit to full ownership and the $8,600 per hour operating costs. Passengers fly up to 12 hours nonstop at a typical cruising speed of 564 mph, according to corporatejetinvestor.com.

Racehorses

From simply owning equines for pleasure riding or ranching to the intricacies of racing and owning Thoroughbreds and Arabians, horses are big business in Oklahoma.

“There have been a few studies done recently that say more than 50,000 Oklahomans derive some, if not all, of their yearly income from horse racing,” says Dale Day, communications manager and announcer at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. Other spots for watching live races and placing bets are Will Rogers Downs in Claremore and Fair Meadows in Tulsa. Remington Park also operates an off-track location in Oklahoma City at Thunder Roadhouse.

Matt Vance, Remington Park’s vice president of operations, says racehorses can vary widely in price.

“I would probably categorize the racehorse market similar to the car market,” he says. “You can basically find a horse or car cheap in the $1,000-$2,000 range, and most of the time you’re getting what you paid for. But there are some famous Cinderella stories with racehorses in this category. The great John Henry was a $1,500 purchase and earned more than $7 million.

“Then there are also multimillion-dollar stories, such as a horse named The Green Monkey. He was sold at auction for $16 million and couldn’t win one race. He was royally bred and was an outstanding- looking individual … and was very fast in his early training days, but once he got on the track and had to look another horse in the eye, he became ‘pea hearted,’ as his trainer said.”

Extreme cases aside, the average racing horse in Oklahoma costs from $5,000 to $75,000.

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