How luxury travel is changing

What is luxury? To us, it’s all about exclusivity. It’s about those special moments that make you go ‘wow’ with a massive smile painted across your face. There has been a great deal of development in recent years in the way the travel industry has been evolving to cater to the affluent traveller. Twenty or even ten years ago, it was about the hotel, chosen from a glossy brochure, offering them the high life with golden taps and waiters, dressed to the nines, holding a bottle of Krug. Take a pick of your exclusive hotel located beside a picture-perfect beach that looked amazing in the brochure, and that was luxury travel. But many found it all quite stale. When you did it once, what was so different from a similar experience in the Maldives to that in the Caribbean? Guests no longer smiled as much. They wanted something more.

There has been a great deal of development in recent years in the way the travel industry has been evolving to cater to the affluent traveller.

We possess so many individual senses, and the way things developed was in how to tickle those senses and offer something new each time. Many guests already have their luxury bathrooms, visiting masseuse, outdoor swimming pools and manicured lawns already at home; transporting this level of luxury with the added benefit of heat and a beach simply wasn’t enough. What was needed was truly experiential travel, where you came back with memories and events that had a deep impact on your life. This didn’t mean a cheap, bumpy overland adventure trip, far from it. What was needed was to blend the expectations of comfort, with a dash of exuberant style and the chance to get truly away from it all with the bragging rights to boot.

 What was needed was truly experiential travel, where you came back with memories and events that had a deep impact on your life.

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New destinations opened up, and a general wanderlust for luxury travelling adventures came to the fore. For instance, helicopters could take you to a privately erected exclusive camp in the far hidden depths of the Himalayas, where you sat under cashmere rugs looking out at the sunrise, champagne in hand, probably hundreds of miles from other tourists. Creativity was the buzz word; how a travel expert would take on an impossible dream and make it a reality, probably for the first time, specifically for that guest. Throw in a team of the finest guides, luxury vehicles and a growing collection of luxury off-the-beaten track boutique hotels, and you had the ultimate mix. It was these hotels that became the true 6* hotels that people were craving, far better than anything Dubai could offer. Even if the budget didn’t stretch to a helicopter, you could still create fantastic, unique experiences that were truly tailor-made on a private basis.

 Creativity was the buzz word; how a travel expert would take on an impossible dream and make it a reality, probably for the first time, specifically for that guest.

Luxury Holidays

Then there was a growing sense that travel comes with responsibility. Too much of the world has been blighted by spoiling these amazing virgin destinations as soon as they opened up to tourism. True conservation and sustainability came to the fore. You simply don’t smile as much when you realise that the wrong form of tourism is not great in the long term to those communities you have grown to love seeing when travelling. Guests wanted to give back, but overall those concepts that left the visitor numbers low, more exclusive and totally sustainable were the ones that the luxury traveller liked most of all.

Guests wanted to give back, but overall those concepts that left the visitor numbers low, more exclusive and totally sustainable were the ones that the luxury traveller liked most.

Guests love to learn to cook the finest curry, be taken around by the very best Egyptologist around Luxor, to bring the history to life, or be introduced to high-society by opening closed doors. The best tour operators became almost like ultra-specialised concierge services; nothing was too much trouble. Each experience was carefully curated to each guest. They had to be absolute experts on the patch they covered, having seen everything first-hand with the creativity to use that to come up with something remarkable. The days of providing ‘off the page’ itineraries were over as guests were armed with far more basic information provided by the internet and a growing network of well-travelled friends and online bloggers. They were able to opt for more specialised operators who truly offered something different and unique to them. The ‘generalist’ operators could no longer retain these guests after the secret was out. Either you offered the remarkable, or the guest would make a quick internet search which instantly provided a better, more creative alternative.

The day’s of providing ‘off the page’ itineraries were over as guests were armed with far more basic information provided by the internet and a growing network of well-travelled friends and online bloggers.

Tea Trails Sri Lanka 2014

Of course, the old-fashioned beach holidays still have their place, and they generally fell into a yearly cycle of different trips, quite often fought over fiercely by the less creative tour operators who weren’t able to evolve. Guests might like a leisurely retreat back to the Maldives, but increasingly guests sought more exclusive locations such as Nihwatu in Sumba Island in Indonesia, or the more remote islands in the Seychelles for instance. They favoured smaller, and slightly chic, barefoot options that reflected the destination, rather than an international resort that could be found anywhere. They also found different specialists to do different trips, using one for their business travel, one for skiing, maybe a simple hotel booking site for European forays and a true specialist long-haul operator for their yearly adventure. Choice and flexibility is now truly here.

They favoured smaller, and slightly chic, barefoot options that reflected the destination, rather than an international resort that could be found anywhere.

Where is luxury travel going? We think this trend will continue. Specialised, curated immersive experiences that tickle the senses and offer something new and amazing each time. This could mean adding the mystery back into travel; the serendipity and magic that comes with travelling to a destination for the first time.

 

 

Six Senses Laamu, Maldives | Luxury Hotels and Resorts in the Maldives | Millis Potter Travel
Six Senses Laamu, Maldives

I have always been somewhat of a traveller. When I was 17, I set off for a month to Bolivia, climbing mountains, exploring the Amazon and working in an orphanage. This continued before university where I worked as a teacher in Nepal, living with a local family and learning the language. This allowed me to …

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