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Luxurious hot spots to live like a queen

By Shiloh Woolman
Published On: Dec 06 2011 11:01:36 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 25 2009 04:53:42 AM CDT
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iStock / albln

If you hit the lottery tomorrow, would luxury travel top your to-do list?

We've asked travel experts to suggest no-holds-barred luxury vacations. Where do the rich and famous vacation? How much would it cost a group of girls to reconnect in the lap of luxury?

There are no better experts on the subject than the folks at Elite Traveler Magazine, which is the seat-back publication for private jets and yachts. A private jet costs between $5,000 and $10,000 an hour to fly, and the magazine's readers comprise the top 1 percent of wealth in the U.S.

Laura Q. Hughes, Elite Traveler's editorial director, lists Paris as her top spot for indulgent getaways. The euro is still outpacing the dollar, so everything is already more expensive in Europe. But Paris is where fashionistas find high-end shops by the mile to really splurge. Fashion shows for Christian Lacroix, Dior, Versace, Chanel, Valentino, Givenchy may have just wrapped up but you can shop their stand-alone stores in Paris year-round.

Once you're there, stay in style like a "Sex and the City" girl.

"Stay at Plaza Athenee, a la Carrie Bradshaw, for an opulent suite with a balcony that faces the shimmering Eiffel Tower," Hughes said. "This summer, book the presidential suite for 4,930 euros per night, and included will be a private two-hour cruise on the Seine in a teak motorboat with champagne and macaroons aplenty."

Exotic Hot Spots

Ready for some island hopping? The Maldives were good enough for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' spell out honeymoon, and island options include all the opulence you'd expect celebrities to seek. Cruise and Holmes stayed on a private yacht off the coast of the string of islands near Sri Lanka.

You can book a similar cruise.

"For the adventurous, there is the Four Seasons Explorer, a 128-foot, 11-cabin, three-deck catamaran that takes you island hopping in Four Seasons style," said Casey Wohl, author of "The Getaway Girl.".

"Four Seasons Explorer offers an unforgettable vacation and would be a fabulous girls' getaway. Rent the entire boat for about $25,000 per night for a getaway you and your girlfriends will never forget."

Wohl said the archipelago also includes 87 exclusive resort islands.

Other sun-drenched destinations include Italy's Isle of Capri. Wohl said Whitney Houston, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Keanu Reeves and Mariah Carey have all been spotted there.

"Those looking for the utmost in luxury can reserve the Megaron suite, a unique 150-square-meter penthouse apartment, with swimming pool immersed in the green of a quintessentially Mediterranean roof garden. All this for about $5,400 per night," Wohl said.

Stateside, Florida offers luxury beach travelers some of the swankiest options, according to Arabella Bowen, the editorial vice president of ShermansTravel.com.

"Girls who like to see and be seen flock to Miami's South Beach, where a sexy, 'round-the-clock vibe promises gal pals a chance to perfect their tans by day and party all night," Bowen said. "Miami Beach's Circa39 Hotel offers a two-night Ultimate Girlfriend Getaway package, where you and your best girlfriend get a welcome basket with a bottle of Moët, Aveda Spa products and Godiva chocolates; poolside full-body massages courtesy of hunky local Miami Beach men; and in-room manicures, pedicures or facials from $1,499."

Bowen also recommends Key West. While there are cheaper ways to see the Conch Republic, girls on a splurge like the Pier House Resort and Caribbean Spa, with its private white-sand beach -- a rarity in Key West.

Big City Fun

For girls who prefer the city, the nation's priciest trips are in Las Vegas and New York City.

"If cost were no object? New York City," said Renee Werbin, the co-founder and publisher of Travel Girl. "Hotels in NYC are more expensive. It's never cheap."

"In addition to classic attractions, (such as) box seats at the Metropolitan Opera House when the American Ballet Theater is in residence for the summer ($174 per seat) -- secure a prime see-and-be-seen table at a sizzling dance club in west Chelsea by committing to bottle service for the night. Figure a bottle of vodka will cost upwards of $300," Hughes said.

In Vegas, the Canyon Ranch, Bellagio and Venetian are among the priciest places to do what Hughes calls "detox and retox" -- or get pampered then party.

Overseas, London offers luxury and cutting-edge theater for girls to gather and see.

"Great seats to 'Wicked,' as well as accommodations, are available when you book a hotel-and-theater package from Theatre.com," said Bowen. "The package starts from 279 pounds for two and includes show tickets, upscale accommodations and service fees."

Forbes.com listed London's Milestone Hotel among its list of must-visit European hotels. A master suite with transfers to Heathrow is just over $1,000 per night.

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