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CONTENTS


WHAT’S INSIDE SEPTEMBER 2017


EDITOR’S LETTER


TRAVEL’S SPECIAL FEELING 45 COVER STORY 6 THE CLUB


ASPIRE AWARDS Top luxury agents celebrate at a glittering occasion


8 NEWS


LATEST Commission increases, Raffles, Carrier, Cox & Kings and more


24 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY


INTERVIEW Texan actor shares his love of learning about cultures and destinations


26 LEADERS OF LUXURY


CONFERENCE Social media, wellness and sustainability in the spotlight


FRONT COVER IMAGE: OKUJAPAN.COM aspire september 2017 — 3


FOREST THERAPY: FEEL RESTED AND REVIVED IN JAPAN’S RURAL AND SPIRITUAL HEARTLAND


ELSEWHERE IN ASPIRE


BRUNCH CLUB (P34) Expedition and exploration was the topic at latest panel


EDITOR’S PICK (P40) CastaDiva is the crown jewel of Lake Como


MALDIVES (P54)


Island-hopping shows diversity of Indian Ocean paradise


CHINA (P61)


Chaotic cities paired with the serenity of the Yangtze


CHICAGO (P66)


Explore the city’s increasingly luxurious offering


REVIEWS (P94)


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Four Seasons, Refinery Hotel, Betsy South Beach and more


HOLLIE-RAE BRADER EDITOR, ASPIRE


Some destinations have a profound effect on us. The people, the culture and the feel of a place can change us for the better. This may be because we learn more about the world or, as my colleague Flora Ioannou discovered on a trip to rural Japan, it can also be because we learn more about ourselves. You can read all about Flora’s zen-fuelled journey on page 45. The impact of travel on us as keen explorers is obvious, but I was inspired by Abercrombie & Kent founder Geoffrey Kent’s presentation at the first Aspire Leaders of Luxury conference (pages 26-29). Yes, he admitted he is always after high yields – and who can blame him? But he also declared it vitally important that the experiences his company’s holidays provide have a “low impact” on destinations and cultures, and spoke passionately about the problems of overtourism. In a similar vein, broadcaster Mariella Frostrup urged travel firms to ensure sustainability remains a top priority. In fact, we’ve all got to do our bit to ensure the effects of tourism are positive for visitors and locals alike. That way we’ll always have that special feeling when venturing somewhere new.


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