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From helicopters to paragliders: Five hotels that offer jaw-dropping arrivals

Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, Switzerland Copyright Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne
Copyright Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne
By Ally Wybrew
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There’s nothing quite like making a grand entrance, and these luxury properties know it.

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While many five-star hotels wow visitors with luxurious lobbies decked out in opulent furnishings and obscure artworks, some don’t wait for guests to walk through the door to make their first impression.

From heady helicopter flights to mountainside funiculars, these are the James Bond-worthy arrival options for some of the world’s most decadent hotels.

Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne
Bürgenstock Resort Lake LucerneBürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne

By hybrid catamaran and classic funicular to the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne

Switzerland is no stranger to next-level luxury. Known for its boundary-pushing wellness retreats, impeccable service standards and as a favoured holiday location for the discerning celeb, the country has some of the best hotels on the continent. But when it comes to grand entrances, one stands out from the crowd: Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne.

This 60-hectare resort is not a toss-your-keys-to-the-valet kind of place. Guests can choose to arrive by car, but why would they when a much more exciting option is available?

Visitors to this historic property board the hotel’s hybrid catamaran from the banks of Lake Lucerne and embark on a picturesque 27-minute ride across the water, soaking up mountain views and crisp blue alpine skies as they go. Once across, they board the oldest funicular in Switzerland (opened in 1888) to glide smoothly up the mountainside, 500-metres into the air, before arriving in the lobby of ‘The Contemporary’ hotel and the greetings of Burgenstock staff.

The price of the catamaran and funicular are included in the resort fees, and though the general public can use the catamaran, hotel guests have their own section.

Once there, guests can indulge in the resort’s plethora of amenities, most of which feature breathtaking views across the country’s fourth largest lake. An alpine spa, ten restaurants and a nine-hole golf course await. It’s no wonder Audrey Hepburn chose the location to marry Mel Ferrer in 1954, and Sophia Loren lived there for a number of years.

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
Guests can arrive at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah by airBurj Al Arab Jumeirah

By helicopter to the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai

In the luxury hospitality world helicopter transfers are far from rare, but there’s still tough competition for the most jaw-dropping journey.

Enter the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, a hotel famed for its distinctive design, all-suite status and iconic underwater restaurant. Also for its 212-metre-high helipad, which has hosted record-breaking events including the world’s highest tennis match, a Formula 1 car doing doughnuts, the world’s highest kiteboard jump and the first ever winged aircraft landing on a helipad.

Guests can choose to arrive in superior style via helicopter, landing on the 27-metre diameter pad – set above the property’s 59th floor. They can take in views of the Arabian Gulf, downtown Dubai and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, en route.

The 15-minute journey from Al Maktoum International Airport has got to be one of the most glamorous hotel arrival routes in the world and will set guests back at least AED 27,000 (approximately €6,700). Note: transfers from Dubai Airport International Airport are currently suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority but guests can transfer between the two airports to access the helicopter ride.

Little Governors’ Camp
Crossing the river is just one part of guests' arrival at Little Governors’ Camp, Masai MaraLittle Governors’ Camp

Travel by fibreglass boat and forest stroll to Little Governors’ Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya

Chances are most transfers to a safari camp will be accompanied by some pretty amazing scenery, but there are better ways to soak it up than from the back of a Jeep.

At Little Governors’ Camp, a 17 en-suite tent escape set around a watering hole in Kenya’s lush Masai Mara, guests’ sense of adventure is engaged from the outset. Arriving at the car park on the reserve side of the river, visitors are helped on board a small fibreglass boat. They’re then hoisted across the water on a brief boat ride courtesy of boatman Bernard, who pulls the barge using a safety line.

A few steps up the bank lead to a path through the forest, through which guests are guided in the company of one of the camp’s watchmen. As the camp and the route leading up to it are entirely unfenced, chances of seeing a variety of wildlife such as warthogs, mongooses and monkeys are high.

This unique introduction becomes a mainstay for guests, who take the walk and water hop every time they go on a game drive. It provides the optimum opportunity to get to know Bernard while channelling their inner adventurer.

Six Senses Zighy Bay
Visitors to Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman can paraglide inSix Senses Zighy Bay

Paraglide into Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman

If it’s a 007-level entrance you’re after, look no further than the Six Senses Zighy Bay.

This luxury property sits ensconced in the dry rocky slopes of the Musandam Peninsula, which stretches out into the Gulf of Oman.

The region is growing in notoriety for its endless range of high-adrenaline adventure activities and there’s no better way to introduce yourself to the surroundings than with a truly dramatic arrival.

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Guests to Six Sense Zighy Bay can head directly from the airport via private transfer to a launch pad nearly 300 meters above sea level on Zighy Mountain. From here, they are strapped into a paraglider (along with a qualified professional) and launched off the mountain’s edge.

The short, swooping journey offers impeccable views of Musandam Bay, the surrounding mountains and the Arabian Sea, ending with a soft landing on the sands of Zighy Beach below. From there, your wish is the hotel’s command, from sunset picnics to Dhabab cruises and guided hikes, the unique landscapes of the peninsula are at your fingertips.

JOHN PAUL/John Paul Photography
The Torridon, ScotlandJOHN PAUL/John Paul Photography

By private guide to The Torridon, Scotland

Scottish escapes are all about hiking across the rugged Highlands, sipping whisky in a cosy corner and listening to stories from the locals.

Travellers can immerse themselves in the Scottish way of life from the get-go thanks to The Torrindon’s Highland Welcome Package which starts your holiday as soon as you hit the airport tarmac.

Donald, the hunting lodge-turned-five-star-pad’s personal driver, greets guests at Inverness Airport equipped with a hamper packed with Scottish goodies (think eye-widening tipples, decadent chocolate and tasty tea cakes from local suppliers).

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Visitors are then whisked away for a personal, hour and 40-minute tour of some of the area’s most delightful locations including Culloden Battlefield, Rogie Falls, Loch Garve, Glen Doherty and the Torridon mountains.

Donald’s local knowledge sets guests up for a three-day trip steeped in Scottish life, including whisky tasting from a range of 365 malts and fine British dining at the 1887 restaurant. The best bit?

Guests receive similar treatment on departure with a hamper full of goodies to take home alongside your unforgettable holiday memories.

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