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There's an emerging generation of travelers. Michael Gross infiltrates the jet set and finds that in the hunt for exclusivity, money is no object. Beyond is the Point, a small lakeside retreat on a acre spit of land that is touted—justifiably—as the ultimate getaway. Ever since the 's, when it became a hotel, this last and most lavish of the Adirondack Great Camps, built in by a great-nephew of John D. Rockefeller, has been a haven for the wealthy, the savviest travel connoisseurs, and celebrities like John F. Kennedy Jr. The reason? The Point is perfect—particularly if you enjoy the exclusive company of people who don't faint at a four-figure-a-night hotel bill.

Its four lodges are constructed of native timber and stone, and its interiors are as palatial as they are rustic : there are mounted game watching over Hudson River school paintings; cavernous fireplaces and walk-in closets; deep soaking tubs; overstuffed antique furnishings; zebra-and bearskin rugs; and custom-made beds so plush some guests never want to leave them. But leave them they do, after they're served coffee in bed, since what's outside the huge picture windows is as awesome as what's within. Swimming, boating in a fleet of vintage wooden boats, and playing tennis in summer; cross-country skiing, skating, and snowshoeing in winter; and hiking through the majestic Adirondacks in any season are all included, along with the requisite equipment.

So are drinks and meals, although meals hardly does them justice, for the resort's kitchen churns out three gourmet feasts a day, tailored to guests' dietary preferences and served house-party style, on twig place mats at communal tables. Guests dress for dinner, and are even encouraged to don black tie on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

Sometimes, the revelry goes on all night in the Great Hall, or the Pub, with its tree trunk—legged pool table, or a carpeted and pillowed lean-to by a roaring bonfire on the lake. So does the incomparable service: the kitchen will cheerfully make you a pizza, or anything else within reason, at any hour. Room fires are kept roaring in winter by invisible elves.

Even canine guests are pampered to the ultimate degree. And did I mention that tipping and children are forbidden, and that most cell phones, BlackBerries, and televisions don't work here? So the question really isn't who stays in this most sophisticated retreat, but rather, who wouldn't, if they could?

But times have changed, and the popularity of ultraluxe travel is booming. Many people, it seems, are trading up to more refined and expensive travel. So it becomes harder [for the super-rich] to differentiate themselves, and they need to go to greater lengths to make the statement that they are successful.

They need some form of exclusivity to remind themselves that they are not you and me. The 'massification' of luxury drives them to consume even more. Spending like there's no tomorrow has become the ultimate status symbol defining this tribe of travelers.

Who pays these prices? Between nibbles of foie gras and amuse-bouches topped with truffles, the quartet cast glances around the room, trying to figure out who else was there and what they all had in common. If you're just really rich, skip the yacht, unless you're renting, but you'll still have a jet share and a villa and a chef.

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Ultraluxe is a state populated by all three strata of the rich super, really, and merely, along with those extravagant souls who want to travel like them. Its denizens demand experiences filtered by inaccessibility and extraordinary expense, experiences defined by the fact that few can have them.

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Some of these properties are all-inclusive, but others offer guests only coffee and croissants for their basic tariff. Some are lavish in every way; others provide lavish simplicity. Almost all seduce by promising getaways not just from where you live, but from other people. And that aspect of the ultraluxe phenomenon isn't limited to destinations.

It has given birth to a whole new class of travel experience.

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They have proxies approach you. Everything is mysterious. They don't want people to know what they're doing. Renting a private island accessible only by private plane or boat, for yourself and a few friends, works, too.

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These are the right places with only the right people—those you've handpicked. The latest trend to take the industry by storm is members-only vacation ownership clubs. Their customer base is just as diverse. For younger travelers, ultraluxe trips show how far in front of the pack they are.

Sanctua re's Steinle says he is always surprised at how many people rent islands to celebrate 40th birthdays: "A good-sized minority of our bookings are for self-congratulation at a very early age. For baby boomers, splurging on travel demonstrates that they are still intrepid pathfinders.

It's now about 'my life, not my assets. And for the older set, it is also a way to express continued youth and vitality. Late-blooming boomers, as well as Gen Xers, are also increasingly heading to properties with large suites, or to four-or five-bedroom villas, that allow them to vacation with their families—and ensure that every member has a great room. Steinle agrees: "Cementing relations with loved ones is something to which a price can't be attached.

What's important is having the experience of a lifetime with people close to you. The perception that life is short has raised the stakes for many of us. But it's not about money. It's about getting what you want. DYG's Hochstein has found that two trends, though contradictory on the surface, have dovetailed to drive this move toward ultraluxe travel.

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One is what she calls the what-the-hell phenomenon. The other is a need to minimize fears, including financial ones. The ultimate expression of affluence today is to be risk-free, but we all need to escape. And when you have more money, you are more inclined to believe it's okay to take risks, because you are in control.

You don't have to feel at risk. There are two clusters of customers for these top-drawer travel experiences, "and their motivations are very different," says James Chung, president of Reach Advisors, a high-end research firm that counsels developers such as Intrawest, known for its mountain resorts.

One group has earned its wealth, the other has inherited it. The earners want to maximize their free time by working while traveling, even if it means only rubbing shoulders with "people who are good to know to keep the deal flow going. That's a scary concept for the earner crowd. Ultraluxe is not only about self-affirmation—it's also seeing your success mirrored in the envy of others.

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At the Point, "it's being part of a club," says Philip Wood, president of the Garrett Hotel Group, which owns the resort. You wouldn't be there if you weren't accomplished. You're worldly. You have confidence and a sense of adventure. That's what our customers have in common. But bragging rights are taken only so far. One night at the Point, the guests included four fortysomething bond traders who'd flown in with their wives on a Learjet borrowed from a business associate.

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Over cocktails, they boasted of this good fortune to another guest. Bragging about your travels is falling out of fashion, Chung says: "It's a scary world. Do you want everyone to know what you're up to? American sentiment is no longer 'Ride 'em large. That's an understated way to brag—aling not to the world, but only to the people who matter to you. So it is that a friend who works as an investment adviser, usually a jolly soul, turned serious when I asked if I could quote his rhapsodic review of the South African game camp Singita "giraffes, leopards, lions, and zebras in verdant foliage I've already reserved for my 65th birthday Life is precious.

I work hard and I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor. But I don't want my name used.

Black's Island (Private Island) with Concierge Kristy
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