For my one minute pitch, I asked my Fabulous Women (and Marvellous Man) group in Ealing to close their eyes and imagine they wanted to spend all or part of their £20k lottery winnings on the holiday of their dreams. Where did they want to go and who did they want to take with them? Write the answers on a post it note and pass it back to me.
Here are the results. First of all all except two wanted to take their partner. What surprised me most was that nobody wanted to take George Clooney. There were 12 replies and everyone had a different answer so there was plenty to think about and enough material to compile a blog post.
1. Set up business in Monaco with business partner
One lady wanted to set up her business in Monaco. No name on this but since it has always been her dream, I knew immediately who this was. I know that one day she will achieve this as she has already had so much success with all her other projects.
For the rest of us visiting Monaco is simple, fly to Nice on Easyjet or BA or even by rail and then it is easy to get to Monte Carlo from there by road or helicopter. I visited Monte Carlo for the first time in May. I loved the place. a clean and pretty town with lots of character. There are some old pastel coloured buildings and some very new car showrooms, but it all works. The views from the top are stunning and there are flowers everywhere. There is an aquarium, a cactus garden, museums, the casino of course and plenty to do. There are some nice restaurants too. It would be very easy for me to organise a weekend break combining Nice and Monte Carlo and you certainly don’t need to win the lottery to do that. it is a lovely break at any time of year with some great bargains in the winter.
2. French Canals with partner
French canals is a really interesting one and there are several options. I could organise a self drive canal boat from basic to de luxe on one of many canals in France using companies like Le Boat. I could organise a river cruise with several companies such as Viking, Avalon or AMA or with your lottery win I could organise the Orient Express owned canal boat. Any of these can be combined with a land stay or car hire to extend your trip.
3. Costa Rica with partner
The rest of them unsurprisingly looked further afield. Costa Rica is very diverse for such a small country and claims to be the most bio diverse country in the world per square mile. Although there are currently no direct flights from the UK , there are many good connections through the USA offering some 2 centre opportunities or through Europe avoiding the need for a US ESTA. I worked out an interesting 14 night itinerary for a client last year and I think you do need 14 nights to appreciate what Costa Rica has to offer. I would recommend flying into San Jose and out of Liberia or vv. The best way to get around is mostly by self drive for the west and south. It is also possible to get buses and boats for the north and east, some of these areas are inaccessible by car.
4. Several Caribbean Islands by boat with partner
5. Bequia with private yoga sessions travelling with partner
Two chose the Caribbean, one fancying a boat tour from island to island. A private yacht would certainly use up most of your £20k budget and probably much more to sail the BVIs or the Grenadines, the two areas I would recommend for the most beautiful, calm azure waters. For an experienced sailor the Atlantic is more challenging. I can organise all these through Sunsail
There is a budget option though. I recently priced a Caribbean cruise in December and the average cost for a balcony cabin for 7 nights was only around £700. Of course flights from the UK have to be added but in low season these should be around £600 so for £1300 per person you can experience a 4-5 star cruise with all you can eat and a chance to experience 3 or 4 Caribbean Islands.
Bequia is a beautiful island. Most of the accommodations are quite simple. Like many smaller islands they are exclusive because of their inaccessibility. The options are small aircraft, private jet or boat via Barbados. It is possibly to combine Bequia with Barbados or St Vincent to make a 2 centre option. There is a Yoga Center in Bequia so I’m sure some private classes could be organised.
6. Indonesia with partner
Indonesia can be a surprisingly affordable option but you need to book early because of the lack of flights. There are no direct flights to Bali since the Bali bombings. Garuda will shortly be commencing flights to Jakarta. This was due to start in May but was postponed. When eventually launched, this will make other Indonesian Islands like Java more accessible. The easiest island to get to is Bintan which takes less than an hour from Singapore airport. Bali is best visited in summer and islands can be combined for a less touristy and more cultural and diverse experience.
7. Bora Bora (Tahiti) with partner
Bora Bora is a lovely but very expensive holiday, popular with honeymooners and likely to use most or all of your lottery win. It is a very long flight from the UK with at least two changes so I would recommend combing this with Australia, New Zealand or the Far East and it is also possible to combine other Tahitian Islands like Moorea and there are also a few small boat or yacht cruises that cover this. The ultimate holiday is a luxury hotel with overwater bungalow. There are a few more basic hotels but this cannot be considered a budget option from the UK.
8. Argentina and Brazil with partner
Argentina and Brazil is a really interesting option. Both of these countries are expensive by South American standards. Both countries are vast and are probably best done separately unless you have at least a month, even then it will be an exhausting and expensive trip. To see anything of either country involves internal flights which are pricey so even staying in basic accommodation requires more than a backpacking budget. With limited time it is best to do an organised trip with someone like Cox and Kings which will cover all the highlights in a short space of time. Within Argentina there are some day trips from Ushuaia for glacier and wildlife but doing even the most basic cruise to the Antarctic will blow the entire budget. The most exciting border option is Iguassu falls and it is worth blowing some of your lottery win on 1 night in Sheraton Iguazu on the Argentinian side and 1 night in Las Cataratas on the Brazilian side for the ultimate experience. Border crossing is easy between Brazil and Argentina.
9. Mauritius with partner
Mauritius can be a surprisingly affordable option. Of course you could choose a 2- bedroom private pool villa with your lottery win but there are also a few 3.5 to 4 star all inclusives at little more than European prices. It is a beautiful destination for both couples and families with good accommodation standards, great service levels and lovely French creole cuisine.
9. South Africa and Namibia with family
South Africa and Namibia. What an exciting option this is. As a family option it would blow the lottery budget as South Africa is such a vast country. South Africa caters well for families. My best advice for family safaris would be to choose the safari in Madikwe or Pilansberg both non malarial and within easy distance of Jo’Burg by transfer or self drive, combining this with Kwazu Natal, Drakensburg mountains, the battlefields and some whale watching off the Durban coast which is doable by self drive. Kwazu Natal is malarial but if you don’t go to the Wetlands in the north the risk is very small. Alternatively you could take to family along the garden route which is non malarial, but this will involve another round trip flight to Cape Town as well as the flight to Windhoek so more expensive and less easy to combine. Drive back to Jo’Burg and fly to Windhoek to either hire a 4WD or join an 7 night organised tour of Namibia to include Sossusvlei the red sand dunes. The Northern third of Namibia is malarial so with younger children it us better to do the southern part.
10. Western Australia with partner
11. Australia and New Zealand and round the world ticket with partner
Two chose Australia, one chose Western Australia. fly into Perth as a base and from there self drive is the best option, taking in Fremantle, Wave Rock, and Penguin Island.
Australia and New Zealand with a round the world flight. This can sometimes be a very affordable option if you hit a seat sale in economy class and if you have friends and family along the way, this need not blow the budget. New Zealand flights do tend to cost more than just Australia and will add to the budget.In New Zealand we did North Island by bus and South Island by self drive which us the most cost effective option. Accommodation is reasonably affordable. There are many organised tour options if you have limited time and these can be good value. I do feel that trying to do Australia and New Zealand in one trip is too much if you are sightseeing rather than just visiting.
12. Seychelles or similar island with villa on stilts with friends
Last but not least Seychelles or similar, beautiful island, villa on stilts with close friends. I have left this last as I feel this is the request I would be the least happy to fulfill. First of all Maldives also in the Indian Ocean has the overwater bungalows, Seychelles doesn’t and secondly I would only recommend this type of holiday for couples and not for groups of friends. Seychelles certainly does have beautiful beaches and I would recommend self drive and island hopping to get around but again much better suited to couples than friends. I feel the best Indian Ocean Island for friends would be the resort of Grand Baie in Mauritius where there are a few bars and some limited nightlife as well as water sports or otherwise Koh Samui in Thailand which has the sugar white beaches and would be more suitable for a group of friends.
Whether your travel plans are big or small, give me a call, I can arrange them all 020 3432 4740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org