The islands of the Maldives have emerged as the preferred playground among the world's rich and powerful. ©AnnWei/

The islands of the Maldives have emerged as the preferred playground among the world’s rich and powerful.

(Relaxnews) – Where do the world’s rich and powerful prefer to play? According to a recent global survey that polled consumers for whom money is no object, that place is the Maldives, which emerged as their favorite luxury travel destination.

Set in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the 105 resort islands that make up part of the Maldives squeezed past Italy and France as the preferred destination for 800 luxury holidaymakers in the survey carried out by Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a London-based outfit whose portfolio includes 520 hotels in 70 countries.

Interestingly, the results of the poll also reveal geographical divides: while the Maldives emerged as the preferred luxury destination overall, where it failed to feature as top-of-mind was in the US and Canada where respondents favored European destinations with France topping their list.

Furthermore, while globally nearly half or 42 percent of respondents said they would take a luxury holiday over a luxury car, jewelry or clothing, Canadians were the exception to the trend: 58 percent of respondents said they would opt for the car.

Canucks also bucked the trend when it came to identifying the most important elements of a luxury holiday. While globally, five-star facilities emerged as top priorities — particularly for the British — Canadians and respondents from Latin America said they value authentic experiences over luxury amenities.

Comfort and familiarity, meanwhile, are particularly important for German and Chinese travelers, who said they favor “a home away from home.”

The most popular form of luxury travel? Not surprisingly, that was a secluded beach resort, chosen by 43 percent of respondents.

Meanwhile, French, German and British travelers expressed a fondness for luxurious, country mansions and estates compared to Chinese and Russian tourists, who were particularly keen on spa and wellness resorts.

And green, eco-friendly travel was most popular among American travelers (30 percent) compared to the global average of 14 percent.

Another study that polled the travel preferences of affluent Americans, meanwhile, found that a wine tour through Bordeaux, Napa or Tuscany was the preferred form of luxury travel, followed by a cruise on a luxury liner, a Broadway show and a visit to a rare or remote landscape like Antarctica.