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Please Don't Tell... The Pursuit of Unique Experiences

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So often we find ourselves facing the dilemma of not wanting to be an out-and-out tourist, yet not wanting to miss visiting the ‘must-do’ sites on the tourist trail. For some, no trip to New York, however long, is complete without experiencing the view from the observatory deck at the top of the Empire State Building, or taking the ferry to Liberty Island to gaze up at the iconic Statue of Liberty. Are these places tourist traps or is their popularity due to the genuine quality or impact of the experience they deliver?

We can’t blame ourselves for wanting to capture and share arguably one of the best views of Manhattan, or for wanting to see for ourselves the world’s largest statue and famous symbol of freedom. These sites are usually experienced en mass alongside hundreds of others jostling for the best photo to share on social media, but for some people provide a sense of internal satisfaction and achievement in the moment.

The internal satisfaction craved by the luxury traveler is often delivered through unique, authentic, invitation-only experiences. Whether it’s craft cocktails in a tiny speakeasy hidden behind a psychic’s booth in the West Village, or an immersive theatre performance in a disused hotel in Brooklyn, we are finding ourselves craving the experiences that few tourists enjoy, and only those with local knowledge can access.

But in our pursuit of these insider spots, the ones only frequented by locals and neighborhood characters, are we destroying the very charm and authenticity we seek? That hip rooftop bar in the heart of Gramercy with the perfect loungey table in the corner is now too busy to breathe; and good luck finding a seat, so on to the next secret spot.

There is a deep internal satisfaction that occurs when you visit a new place and experience it in a way that very few visitors can. It might be said that luxury travel is no longer defined by service, but about access. To authentic, money-can’t-buy experiences that are truly ‘local’ and only available to those in the know.

Contributed by Alex Roy