By Justin McLean
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From the Great North to the sunny climes South of the Border, North America offers well-to-do vacationers some of the most attractive and exciting trips imaginable. High-end travel agencies have teamed up with vacation operators to create travel clubs that combine luxury expertise with serious know-how. The clubs function like personal shoppers, tallying their clients' tastes, then customizing a menu of travel packages from which their members can choose.
These groups also pool their resources to ensure that members can secure the choicest accomodations, land a last-minute reservation, or get access to limited-capacity events and destinations. This works out especially well for folks who love to travel, but lack the time and energy to put together a sophisticated itinerary on their own.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. Take CouTour Travel, a $500-per-year club jointly operated by luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and Virtuoso Travel. Its members are invited to attend exclusive fashion shows, get the best seats at the Kentucky Derby, or secure lift tickets at many of North America's preeminent ski resorts.
Of course, an unforgettable vacation can be had simply by booking a well-appointed abode -- and there's no shortage of luxury accommodations in North America. The Altamer Resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, for example, features a cluster of opulent seaside villas, each with a seemingly endless list of amenities, such as a snorkling pond, home theaters, skywalks, and facilities to entertain dozens of friends, relatives, and business associates.
EVERY WHICH WAY. For a more subdued experience, the rustic-but-luxe Bluffview lodge in Telluride, Colo., offers guests a quiet Rocky Mountain retreat, with hiking and fishing readily available.
North America is a big continent. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, there's something for everyone. Take a look. McLean is a producer for BusinessWeek Online in New York