In today’s travel market there is a definite trend towards the upscale traveler who wants to experience quality travel. In fact, some travel experts report that more and more people with deep pockets, or heavy savings, are not particularly choosy about WHERE they go – as long as they go First Class all the way, feeling pampered and unique.
Adrian Ballinger, of Alpenglow Expeditions, completely agrees with the concept of high end luxury travel. “But you should always get your money’s worth!” he adds. “Check your itinerary thoroughly before you leave” he advises, “or have someone check it for you.”
He cites the example of a Manhattan couple who wanted to go to Hong Kong to see the world’s only solid gold toilet, ensconced in a bathroom where all the fixtures are also solid gold. They planned to be photographed in various humorous poses with the fixture and use the photographs for their annual Holiday letter to family and friends. (We’re happy to say we are NOT on their mailing list!) Sadly, when they arrived at the Hang Fung Gold Technology Center in Hong Kong, they discovered that no photographs were allowed of the costly water closet. A little due diligence would have prevented this disappointment.
Ballinger enjoys taking people to the literal mountain top, piloting expeditions to some of the world’s highest and most challenging peaks, including Mount Everest in Tibet, and Mount Cook in New Zealand. He prepares everything thoroughly, including health check-ups for his prospective clients:
“Your health is really one of the greatest treasures you have, and you need both health and stamina to see some of the glories I can show people on the way to the top.” Adrian notes that some amateur mountain climbers indulge in illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, to boost their endurance levels, much like athletes use steroids. This is a terrible idea, states Ballinger, and can easily lead to abuse and addiction. Drug testing is now becoming commonplace prior to a mountaineering expedition – for both clients and employees.
Ballinger strongly recommends that anyone contemplating a climbing expedition who might have a problem with chemical abuse, be it alcohol or methamphetamines, should invest in a rehabilitation program before even thinking of climbing.
One new way to treat addiction is to go on an ocean voyage. Not the proverbial ‘booze cruise’, but a medically supervised cruise. The world-famous Hazelden Clinic of Minnesota is considering offering this option to some of their patients.
Ballinger also recommends that a complete physical checkup would not be remiss prior to starting a rigorous climbing expedition. With a twinkle in his eye, he states “If you’re going to go in for a checkup, don’t let it be boring. Try having it done in Bangkok!”
This is not as flippant as it sounds. Medical tourism in Thailand is a half-billion-dollar-per-year industry. Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok does complete work ups for about a fourth of what it costs in the United States. Their doctors are all trained in either America or Great Britain. And if something needs fixing, the cost of a minor operation at a Thai hospital is less than half what it would be in the US. Your room will have fresh orchids every day, and the hospital food at Bumrungrad features Thai dishes cooked so well that the Thai staff have all their meals at the cafeteria, including before and after their shifts are over. If you need to recuperate for a longer period of time, the hospital will help arrange rental of a bungalow on the beach.
With such luxury and service, you may NEVER want to recuperate!
- Image courtesy of MyBlogGuest
Adam Torkildson is an avid writer. He has not had the pleasure of traveling in luxury, but aspires to it. Which is why he likes to spend time with those who do, like Adrian Ballinger.