Luxury Travel

New trends in luxury travel

Isaac Mostovicz writes that about the rise of luxury holidays...

China, India and Russia will account for a progressively larger percentage of worldwide luxury travellers, according to this recent article in Travel Weekly.

As younger luxury travellers tend to favour authenticity and adventure over opulence as they reject rigid sets of planned activities – something I have written about in the past as appealing to Lambda personalities – nature-oriented destinations such as New Zealand, and culturally vibrant places such as Peru will gain popularity, alongside “traditional” accommodation such as Yurts and eco-lodges.

Destinations in Europe are proving popular too, with over 40 per cent of all luxury travellers saying that their next destination would likely be in Europe, with France and Italy high on the list – destinations which would likely appeal to more traditional Theta personalities.

A report by the International Luxury Travel Market claimed that around two-thirds of luxury travellers make at least four trips a year, lasting on average ten days. Around one per cent of the world’s hotel rooms qualify as ‘luxury’, where room rates are approximately four times that of a chain like Hilton, so it is perhaps not surprising that over half of luxury travellers are between 45 and 54 years old, and earning at least $100,000 a year.

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Palace of Versailles to open luxury hotel‎

Isaac Mostovicz writes that the world renowned Palace of Versailles is set to open a 23-room luxury hotel...

It appears the historic monument that is the Versailles Palace in France is to lease an adjacent building to a luxury hotel group. A symbol of French heritage and domination, there has been much debate around the prospect of a private entity owning such a treasured piece of French history.

Is leasing to private owners however the best way to preserve and restore such historic national gems? The deficit plagued French government has long been seeking ways to benefit from state owned buildings, and the Versailles managers admit there is not enough available cash to restore the outbuilding themselves.

Mikael Hautchamp, an assistant director of the palace commented: “This deal is saving a building.”

The 23-room hotel, with views of the palace’s Orangerie garden has an unrivalled proximity to the main palace, sure to attract Lambda personality types looking for a one-of-a-kind location.

For Thetas, however, attracted to the rich history and heritage of the palace, it will be welcome news that Chateau Fontainebleau, another famous landmark of Paris, may also open a hotel in its building.

In total, France plans to consider leases and commercial use of 20 sites in the national architectural heritage list.

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Discount Deals for Luxury Travel

Isaac Mostovicz writes that the recession has led to the luxury travel market resorting to value deals...

During the recession, many families have rain-checked luxury vacations, opting for staycations (holidaying at home) and cheaper deals, and with the economic damage that so much of the travel industry has suffered, comes the advent of substantial discounts and deals.

Kerzner International, the premiere holiday resort operator, has said that its guests are “still very attracted to value propositions” and has had to make changes to meet these demands. The company has embarked on a campaign to partner with similar high-end brands, to increase the potential of offerings for their clients. Extra value ads that have been introduced include resort credit, complimentary transfers, golf credit and even a fourth night free promotion.

For the luxury travel market, attracting, and retaining, a guest is a harder ball game to play these days. Kerzner has noticed several other changes in the behaviour of its clientele. They say their clients are booking shorter stays than before and make their booking only a couple of months in advance. Long-haul destinations are harder to market, as clients prefer to stay closer to home, and those that once flew privately, are now opting for commercial flights.

Within the niche sector of luxury travel, the economic downturn has compelled people to demand for more, for less. Now, luxury does not become “above my budget”, but rather is negotiated around the budget.

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The re-born luxury travel industry

Isaac Mostovicz writes that the luxe travel industry's return to growth could mean the start of growth in other areas...

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As the global economy begins to recover, so too is the luxury industry. Leading the way is the luxury travel industry.

In Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, Paul Jones, chairman of One and Only Resorts said:

“We still have business from families, and seasons such as Christmas are booked out. Luxury travellers are not prepared to forgo their annual family trips”.

What we have are a lot of Theta personalities who are hurting financially, however not so much that they forego a vacation, or exclude themselves from the social circle of friends and colleagues who are also going on holidays with their families.

For Lambda personalities, the re-born luxury travel industry is offering up new experiences that offer the kind of exclusivity that they would find appealing:

Given the high cost of real estate in the word’s main cities, space is today’s new luxury, according to Sonu Shivdasani, the founder and CEO of the Six Senses group, which has been a pioneer in sustainable tourism.

If you can say that you’ve got the largest villa, that gives the impression of great wealth. Since space is evidently considered a luxury, we could see more luxury vacation resorts offering fewer rooms, but the ones they do have will be significantly larger.

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Luxury travelers adopt ‘eco values’

Isaac Mostovicz writes that leisure with a conscience is the way forward for a recession hit travel industry...

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Interesting new developments in luxury travel that offer the “sophisticated” traveller sustainable options have recently surfaced. These are tagging onto the growing trend of eco tourism by combining high-end luxury and ecology.

Eco Luxury, a collaboration between a number of luxury resorts around the globe, is one example. It gives travellers the opportunity to observe and even participate in local community projects while on location. The resorts are also built in a sustainable way.

One of them, the Al Tarfa Desert Sanctuary in Egypt, was created by local masons using forgotten construction techniques, and a large number of families and societies were hired and supported to tailor-make the lodge’s building, furnishings and decoration.
99 per cent of the lodge employees are also from the local area.

Another example, with a slightly different take, is the Cacao Pearl Resort built on a private island in the Philippines. As the worlds first not-for-profit eco resort, it can truly offer visitors peace of mind because it donates a whopping 100 per cent of its operating profits to local environment protection and social improvements.

As the recession has changed luxury consumption (perhaps forever), and today’s luxury consumers don’t necessarily want to flaunt extravagant consumption, offering luxury with a clear conscience is a smart move. This should also appeal to both Theta and Lambda types; Theta’s will be attracted by the social capital that this holistic leisure retreat offers, whilst Lambdas will appreciate the combination of achievement and uniqueness entwined – both of which are part of Lambda’s ultimate life purpose.

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Luxury Beijing-Lhasa Train Meets with Indefinite Delays

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

The journey to Tibet, which has long filled the popular imagination of the Western adventurer, was made a bit easier in July 2006 when a 1956-kilometer rail line was successfully completed connecting its capital city Lhasa with neighbouring Xining, the capital of China’s Qinghai Province.

As part of this new rail link, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Corporation (QTRC) announced a new luxury train service running all the way from Beijing to Lhasa.  The train service was to cost 20 times the price of an equivalent journey on a standard service.  It would only carry 96 passengers at a time with private suites, two dining cars, and a separate sightseeing car.

The excitement of a luxury trains service allows for adventure travel without sacrificing comfort, and it elicits all of the visions of Shangri-la yet at safe arm’s distance.  It could satisfy the demand for something unique and something experiential.

The fact that the train has been postponed seems more a sign of poor execution rather than flawed concept.  We’ll just have to wait for updates.

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Island Living as the Ultimate Luxury

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

John Donne once said that no man is an island, but newly released findings from U.S.-based Coldwell Banker suggest that man still wants to buy himself a piece of one as the ultimate luxury home site.

More than 300 rich households in the U.S. were interviewed for the poll.  To be classified as such, they must own a home worth in excess of $1 million dollars and have an equal amount of liquid assets to invest.

27% responded that their dream home would be located on an island while another 22% preferred a more rustic setting and only 18% selected a suburban or foreign location.

Interesting that many of these choices seem to reflect a desire to escape — or at least get away — rather than become more connected.

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A Royal Cruise on the Queen Victoria

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

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Cunard Line has launched what it claims is the most luxurious cruise ship ever. The £300 million Queen Victoria will be officially named by the Duchess of Cornwall in Southampton before a fireworks display marks her departure on her maiden voyage around northern Europe.

Built at the Fincantieri shipyard near Venice, the ship features three swimming pools, 4,000 sq ft of shops, seven restaurants, a casino, theatre and library spread across her 18 decks. Weighing 90,000 tons Queen Victoria is capable carrying over 2,000 passengers and will meet with Cunard’s two other Queens – the QE2 and the Queen Mary 2 – in New York in January.

Cunard claim that despite not being the biggest of the Queens, Victoria is the grandest, with innovative designs and “floating firsts” such as West-End style boxes in the 830-seat theatre. The opulence is however reflected in pricing, with the cheapest rooms starting at £11,000 and grand suites complete with 24 hour butler service ranging up to £210,000.

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Luxury travel that helps reduce poverty

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

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Elite travel operators are increasingly seeking to combine the opulence of traditional safari travel with the experience of poverty more typically associated with charitable ‘gap-years’, creating a new range of range philanthropic yet luxurious holiday packages.

New York-based Artisans of Leisure have reported a 15% rise in requests to combine luxurious African trips with charitable visits to underprivileged health clinics, schools and orphanages in packages that can cost in excess of $50,000 per week.

The explicit purpose of twinning luxury with poverty is to solicit donations for the communities involved, whilst still providing the travel experience wealthy donors are accustomed to. Indeed the not-for-profit sector is increasingly seeking to muscle in on a market previously dominated by exclusive travel agents, recognising that big donations are easier to acquire from those that experience development issues first hand.

The increasing popularity of the packages has been linked to the role of celebrity campaigners such as actress Angelina Jolie and US singer Bono in raising awareness of development issues, a trend which is helping to fuel the rapid expansion of luxurious charitable travel.

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The Art of Travelling to See Art

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

What better than to combine two activities which people love: art and travel.  A recent article in the Financial Times highlights a growing trend for guided, short-stay holidays centred on visiting art fairs or workshops.

Sotheby’s and Christie’s both have established trips and representatives say that the level of interest has been high. The tours cover some of the most famous contemporary art events of the year, such as Art Basel, to more remote trips to visit the projects or studios of single artists.

As FT journalist Kathryn Tully puts it:

The tours aim to convey a better appreciation of both contemporary art and the broader art investment market. The art investment lectures include how to approach a dealer and get a good deal, and how to build a valuable collection.

These trips show how luxury providers are finding more creative ways to link wealthy people’s interests together to create bespoke offerings to them.  As the art market continues to see record prices, it will be interesting to see how demand for these trips keeps up.

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