By: Rachel Peace
Across cultures and centuries, certain stories arise with distinct similarities, from mutually familiar plots to distinctly heroic or tragic characters. This story book explores well-known adventure stories and legends, and presents parallels in surprising destinations. Best of all, travelers can experience these in the present day, and find luxury accommodations conveniently located to the attractions.
Loch Ness of Laos
Now cryptozoologists reveal similar creatures may not only have once existed, some may still be living and breathing on earth, not yet discovered.
Loren Coleman, director of Portland, Maine’s International Cryptozoology Museum, suggests that likely habitats for new species research are locations which have recently undergone political transformation, such as Vietnam and Laos.
A Laotian legend is that of the Phaya Naga, said to be the guardian of capital city Vientiane. Naga Balls, or Boong Fai Phaya Nak are firey glowing orbs which shoot out of the Mekong River usually around the month of October, at which time a holiday and festival take place to celebrate the mythic creature.
In 2017, amateur cryptozoologist, and fantastic beast hunters can book a stay at the first 5 Star hotel in Vientiane, opening between December 2016 and February 2017. The President hotel will be directly situated on the Mekong River. A boat available to guests will make the search for the truth behind the tale a reality.
A Royal Russian Escape?
Before long, a legend arose that one young princess, Anastasia, had miraculously escaped the execution and was living in hiding or had suffered amnesia and knew not of her royal heritage nor recalled her harrowing near-death experience. For some time, women would arise from the woodworks, claiming to be the long-lost princess. No claims proved true, but the story lives on in countless forms, from the classic animated movie to an upcoming Broadway musical, set to debut in the spring of 2017.
Those captivated by the legend who still seek unexplored, potential hideaways of the long lost little princess can look no further than St. Moritz, Switzerland. The story goes that a grand building was planned to be a summer escape for Russia’s last Tzar, Nicholas II, Anastasia’s father. Though this has never been confirmed, it is true that the building instead opened as the Carlton Hotel in 1913.
Perhaps the young Anastasia found her way there and sheltered by the peaks of the Engadine mountains, grew up hidden away disguised as a Swiss mädchen with a dark secret to keep. Perhaps she was even raised by the Greek Royal Family, distant cousins, who lived in exile at the hotel throughout World War II.
Whatever the truth behind the myths, the present day interior designer of the Carlton Hotel found swatches of fabrics hidden away in the attic. Assumed to be of Russian origins, the fabric swatches became design inspiration for each unique lake-facing suite, and are featured above the bathtub in each. Visitors can now bathe in the splendor of Russian decor and infamous lore at Switzerland’s legendary Carlton Hotel in Sparkling St. Moritz.
Healing Waters of Fertility
Legend has it that in the 9th century B.C., Celtic Prince Bladud was struck with Leprosy, and thus left the royal court to become a swineherd. When the pigs he was looking after, who also suffered skin deformities, stumbled into a pool formed by naturally occurring springs they were healed, Bladud himself entered the pool and was healed of his leprosy. For this reason, he founded a spa at the site of the miracle and dedicated the land which is present day Bath, England to the Celtic goddess of healing and fertility, Sul.
Around 43 A.D., Roman conquerors took over the settlement and re-named it Aquae Sulis, translated waters of Sul. Romans also celebrated the purportedly miraculous nature of the waters and erected bathhouses with towering columns, to their own goddess of healing and wisdom, Minerva. Rediscovered in 1755 the structures and history contributed to the 1987 designation of the destination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The renown of Bath was widespread, with Bladud referenced as the father of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Two hospitals for the poor were constructed in Bath, The Royal United Hospital and Bellott’s Hospital resulting in pilgrimages by those suffering a wide range of maladies.
For modern day sojourners dealing with a range of illnesses, from gout (aches and pains relates to arthritis) to skin conditions, to infertility, there is one luxury hotel in Bath with direct access to the thermal waters, occupying the two former hospitals.
After years of renovations, The Gainsborough Bath Spa opened to the public in September of 2015. The hotel’s water source is directly supplied from one of three famous hot springs in the center of Bath, the Hertling Spring. Believed to find its source in rain which fell 10,000 years ago, seeped over a mile beneath the Earth’s surface, it now bubbles to the surface with mineral rich healing properties.
Out of Africa
Released in December 1985, the Sydney Pollack classic film starring Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen and Robert Redford as Denys Finch Hatton was based on a true story of romance, drama and a love for the Kenyan wilderness. This same story was the inspiration behind the creation of Finch Hattons, a luxury safari camp.
Mahali Mzuri is offering an eight-day “I Had a Farm in Africa” Flying Safari, along with Finch Hattons to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the multiple Academy Award-winning film.
The experience will take guests on a whirlwind experience and showcase two of Kenya’s top safari camps. The golden age of safari rustic charm at Finch Hattons will be contrasted with the sleek, modern vibe at Mahali Mzuri. Couples can indulge in their own film-inspired romance at this intriguing escape within Kenya.
Malaysia’s Robinson Crusoe
In April of 1719, the first edition of Daniel Defoe’s iconic work of literature, Robinson Crusoe was published. Weaving the tale of a man shipwrecked and left to survive on a wild island, the novel caught fire and became beloved worldwide. Countless readers believed the tale to be a true adventure travel account, and it is often attributed as the origin of realistic fiction.
Since that time, the book has been recreated into stage, screen, and various other adaptations and similar storylines exist in other literature around the world.
In May of 2016, Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia introduced the first-annual Chapman’s Challenge. The aquathlon consists of a 6.2km run around the private island and through its two million-year-old rain forest as well as a 1km swim at the award-winning Emerald Bay. Unlike Robinson Crusoe, this is based off the experiences of a real life accidental adventurer.
The experience mirrors that of Colonel Chapman, who after spending three and a half years in hiding from the occupying Japanese army during WWII, made his escape from Emerald Bay to the Royal Navy submarine, HMS Statesman hidden under cover of inky waves offshore in the dark of night.
The Sword in the Stone
Over 40,000 temples are found in Thailand. On the island of Phuket lies what is purportedly one of the oldest in the south, Wat Phra Thong. Within its hallowed halls sits half-buried golden Buddha, Luang Poh Phra Thong.
As the legend goes, a kindly old farmer was dismayed to find his son and cow had passed away in a field for no discernible reason.
Upon revisiting the site, the half-buried Buddha relic was discovered. Although countless community members attempted to unearth the golden rendering of the god in its entirety, none were successful and upon each who touched it befell a curse. To protect the artifact and those who came to cast their eyes upon its gleam, a temple was erected around it.
No worthy visitor has unearthed it since the discovery centuries ago. For those who deem themselves a modern-day King Arthur, the sole soul able to lift the curse, there are ample accommodations nearby.
One option is the Akyra Beach Club Phuket set to open in December 2016 or the exclusive private residences at the Aleenta Phuket.
Finally, the Aleenta Phuket manages exclusive, hillside and beachfront villas. These villas are owned by billionaires and feature entirely original artworks and design.
About the author
Rachel Peace is a young professional engaged in the world of luxury travel. From destination-specific challenges and opportunities, to big brand-oriented needs, boutique offerings, or niche specialties, each day offers new opportunities and insights to learn best practices in the world of luxury accommodations. Regardless of the maturity of a hotel or brand, Rachel feels the mark of any true, luxury property and its staff is the ability to provide guests with exceptional, unforgettable experiences.