“Travel has a unique way of opening up the world, but it’s even extra special when you can get behind the scenes for an exclusive viewing or private dinner,” says Theresa Szejwallo, South African Managing Director for The Travel Corporation. Here are 7 tours with VIP access that might tickle your fancy:
Centuries of Saffron
Discovering the essence of the most expensive spice in the world has been on my bucket list for a long time. Skipping the crowds with Uniworld’s Enchanting Danube and Munich trip, was an absolute bonus. In 2007 ecologist, Bernard Kaar, found mention of the Wachau Valley’s 12th-century saffron crocuses in an 18th-century document at Melk Abbey’s library. Today he’s one of Wachau’s most important producers. Meeting him and his wife, Alexandra, for an introduction to saffron and tasting flavourful delicacies like red-wine-and-saffron chocolate and saffron infused jams, vinegars and honey is inspiring.
After Insight Vacations’ Italian Intermezzo, a private celebration dinner in the Vatican was the ideal climax to an already memorable trip. We got fast tracked into the Vatican Museums via the VIP entry, but it was only after the museums had closed their doors to the public that the magic happened. A special invitation was extended from the curator of the Ethnological Museum to gain insider knowledge and enjoy a VIP private dinner in the elegant Cortile del Giardino Quadrato with incredible views of the cupola of St. Peter’s.
An acquired taste
As part of its Castles on the Rhine cruise, Uniworld’s exclusive excursion to the Weinessiggut Doktorenhof estate put a new spin on the Palatinate wine region experience. Doktorenhof, which was founded by Georg Wiedemann, produces vinegars from premium wines like Gewürttraminer, Sylvaner, Riesling and Pinot Noir. It makes for a complex and elegant aperitif, ideally sipped between courses or after a meal. The experience was exclusive with candles, cloaks and choir music adding to the tasting room’s ambiance.
The Ceremony of the Keys
On its 10-day trip of Britain, Luxury Gold allowed us to witness the exclusive Ceremony of the Keys on its British Royale tour. The tour uncovers the very essence of this island nation – from meeting a Royal Horse Guard and a bagpiper in Edinburgh to experiencing a private tour of the Tower of London with a serving Yeoman Warder, who explained the history and importance of each stop. Carried out by the Beefeaters every night for the past 700 years, the Ceremony of the Keys was a very fascinating and educational experience. The Yeoman Warder provided a history of the tradition and explained the etiquette of handling the keys before we witnessed this ancient gate-closing ritual.
Dining among Boxing Legends
Trafalgar’s 8-day exploration of Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee includes an exclusive VIP visit to the boxing legend, Muhammad Ali’s home in Louisville, Kentucky, where the Ali Childhood Home Museum documents his life. After our museum visit, dinner with his brother, Rahman Ali, was in order, where he shared memories with our exclusive group.
The King of Graceland
As part of Luxury Gold’s Southern Grace Tour, George Klein, a close friend of Elvis Presley (The King) conducted a VIP tour followed by an exclusive dinner in the grounds of Elvis’ former home in Memphis, Tennessee. The immense effect that Elvis and his music had on the American culture was evident in the flowers outside the Graceland gates, as well as the tear-streaked fan faces inside.
Morning of the Masters
During Morning of the Masters in Vienna we were treated to an exclusive early entrance at the Vienna Art Museum, especially for Uniworld as part of their 16-day European Jewels cruise. An art expert tour showcased Habsburg’s imperial treasures as well as magnificent works of art by some of the world’s greatest artists. We visited the Kuntskammer galleries, with the legendary salt cellar by Benvenuto Cellini and concluded the tour with a reception in the magnificent Cupola Hall – an architectural highlight.
Travelling the globe is an experience in its own; doing it with VIP access is the cherry on top!
Written by Renate Engelbrecht