Above: Santorini, Greece - LEVENTE BODO / GETTY IMAGES

Last Word: The Secret Shoppers of Travel

Evening view of the sea, Santorini - Levente Bodo / Getty Images

Traveling anonymously and paying full price for everything has been at the core of the Andrew Harper ethos since the company’s founding in 1979. Our long history is a great asset, but it can lead us to regard certain traditions as sacred cows, whether they still serve our membership or not. Recently, our dearth of in-depth cruise coverage led us to reassess our inflexibly incognito reviews.

Harper members have long encouraged us to write more about cruises. Unfortunately, a week or more on board yields just a page or two of copy. After vigorous debate, we decided that the best way to bring more of this important content to members was to accept complimentary cruises, with the caveat that we would pull no punches in the reviews. You can read the resulting articles about Gohagan & Co. and Ponant in this issue. Let us know how you think they turned out.

We otherwise remain the secret shoppers of luxury travel. Our recent member survey affirmed the value of our unbiased assessments, with 87 percent of respondents saying it is “very important” that our editors “are not identified to the management of the properties they are reviewing.” Rest assured, we’ll continue to write gloves-off critical assessments based on anonymous hotel stays. We at Andrew Harper simply have too much fun performing international luxury espionage to give it up.

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Above: Santorini, Greece - LEVENTE BODO / GETTY IMAGES