Insight /

Thailand, Laos, Mexico

New found Freedom On far-flung shores

We’re putting our trend spotlight firmly on the over 50s.

This trailblazing group of globetrotters are travelling further and more often than any generation before them.

Having thrown off the shackles of parenthood the over 50s are finding found new freedom in holidaying on far-flung shores, and in grouping together with like-minded friends for fun forays to new places where experience is top of the list.

    Where to start

    Traditionally, groups have opted for the classic villa holiday, almost always in Europe. Not any more: now the over 50s have their sights set further afield. The new thing is to book villas in far off places and then build adventurous itineraries around them. It’s a brilliant concept: a luxurious base to call home, with easy access to intrepid experiences. Villas always work well for a group – you have privacy, home comforts in a beautiful location and flexibility on what you can do, when. Combining this with a week or two of real adventure means really getting to know a country: Laos and mysterious Mekong, jeeps to volcanos in Java or discovering Mayan Mexico.

    Unlike Europe, villas in Asia, Indonesia and Central America tend to be fully staffed with chefs, daily housekeepers and a concierge-style manager who will cater to your every whim – suggesting restaurants, arranging transportation and activities. Most importantly, your concierge will make sure the fridge is fully stocked with your favourite wine. We’ve recently arranged such villa trips with adventure bolt-ons to destinations as far flung as Mexico, Java and Laos.

    Into Laos

    First comes Mekong-hugging Luang Prabang and its distinctly French flavour. Watch the orange ribbon of monks weave through the temples and narrow streets at dawn before a feast of sticky rice and fried river weed- fresh from the Mekong! Then a stay in a far-flung mountain lodge by the Nam Pak River, a place whose Lao-French fusion food is worth the journey alone. But then so is the spectacular scenery, the array of outdoor activities – including trekking and mountain-biking – and the chance to spend time in villages of local ethnic groups such as the Hmong who produce distinctive, colourful weaves.

    Time for Thailand

    In Kanchanaburi, visit part of the Thai-Burma Railway built by labourers and Allied POWs during Japan’s occupation in World War II. Two museums commemorate the numerous casualties during construction. Then finish in Bangkok, a capital with many sides. There are mustn’t-miss sights, including the vast, shimmering gold Reclining Buddha at Wat Po. Whizz around the network of canals and visit famed Thai art collector and silk trader Jim Thompson’s house. End your day by taking in the city lights and a cocktail at one of Bangkok’s many rooftop bars.

    “Holidaying with friends is always great fun! And staying in wonderful villas with private chefs, guides and drivers is all much more affordable as a group.”

The Villa

Then to Koh Samui, Thailand, and a week at Samujana Villas, which offer luxury at a reasonable price. Breathtakingly set on a hillside above a coral-festooned cove and sleeping up to 8, each villa promises an infinity pool and five-star service. Hanuman Bay’s sand and calm waters are a five-minute walk away, and tennis, yoga and Thai Boxing can be arranged. Explore the inland waterfalls, night markets and Buddha statues of Koh Samui or hire a stylishly-outfitted catamaran to glide around the thickly-forested islets of the Anthong marine park. Explore the inland waterfalls, night markets and Buddha statues of Koh Samui.

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