What’s trending in luxury travel this summer
With COVID in the rearview mirror, families and ultra-high-net-worth individuals are primarily seeking out two things when it comes to travel this season: isolation and immersion.
“Last year, people wanted to return to places like Paris and Positano, where they knew what to expect and who they might meet,” said Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder and CEO at Indagare, a members-only boutique travel company. “But many found places too crowded with Americans, and so this year, they are looking for more remote places where they can get away from the crowds. They are booking wonderful mountain retreats in the Alps or lodges in Scotland or yachts in Norway or Turkey.”
“And because of the chaos at airports last year, people are cutting down on multiple-stop trips and instead flying into one country and staying longer, with maybe a few nights in Rome or Paris and then a week or two-week villa rental where they can immerse themselves in country living.”
One of Biggs Bradley’s big pro tips — and a proactive way to prevent trip interruptions — is limiting airport visits to avoid lost luggage and airport strikes expected across Europe this summer.
What makes luxury travel unique is access, which is why many hospitality groups and hotel brands have shifted emphasis to curated experiences and personalization to attract wealthy travelers.
Service tops the list for travelers who are demanding more from the places they stay, said Kelly Grumbach, senior vice president of Quintessentially Travel. “Service level is also extremely important for UNHW travelers, both during the planning process in response time, proactivity, personalization and on the ground,” Grumbach said.
“Popular requests include authentic private touring experiences, access to local experts, yacht charters, ways to simplify travel, and transportation like helicopter transfers and private jet travel.”
Many luxury hotel brands and stand-alone properties have caught on with the trend by building out specialized experiences for travelers and carving out programs that incorporate wellness or the concept of eco-tourism into their offerings.
Hyatt’s luxury properties — including Park Hyatt, Alila, Thompson Hotels, and Andaz brands — have launched what they deem “exclusive experiences” in their premier global locations, everywhere from Kyoto to the Maldives.
For example, the recently opened Alila Kothaifaru Maldives has curated a program for guests looking to find the best diving sites, while Park Hyatt Milano is capitalizing on Italy’s vibrant art scene. Art lovers can take a behind-the-scenes look with a private tour of its pre-eminent museums, churches and palaces, including lesser-known gems and museum houses like Poldi Pezzoli and Bagatti Valsecchi.
“Our aim is to captivate worldly travelers who value rare experiences that are truly bespoke in nature, such as exclusive tastings with Michelin-starred chefs; private viewings with local artists; and rich, destination-inspired excursions,” said Crystal Vinisse Thomas, vice president - global brand leader, lifestyle & luxury brands for Hyatt.
Take, for instance, Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, which offers guests access to its subterranean gallery, immersing them in the vibrant art and culture of Argentina’s capital.
Meanwhile, Park Hyatt Kyoto presents a truly exclusive experience — a daily dining and tea ceremony reserved for just one pair of guests. Set within the hotel’s own Michelin-starred ryotei, this extraordinary culinary journey showcases authentic kaiseki cuisine, complemented by a mesmerizing private geisha dance performance.
Similarly, the Savoy Signature brand has been offering the Savoy Signature premium experience since the inception of the Savoy Palace in both Portugal and Madeira but has continued to enhance its offerings in the past four years because of increased demand.
“With summer quickly approaching, we have further developed the package of benefits and amenities exclusive to guests staying in room types to offer guests with even more luxurious amenities and preferred access to even more facilities, within not only Savoy Palace but also the remaining Savoy Signature hotels, restaurants and spas,” said Ricardo Madias-Farinha, chief commercial officer of Savoy Signature.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
This summer, more affluent families are embarking on multi-generational milestone and celebration trips. Quintessentially Travel’s Grumbach pointed to a notable trend of vacations aligned with significant birthdays, family gatherings and special events. To guarantee both privacy and security while enjoying upscale amenities and top-notch service, clients are increasingly opting to rent private villas within hotel resort grounds.
Because of the demand for this type of multi-generational travel, Grumbach has seen popular hotels such as the Four Seasons Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat in the French Riviera accommodate such things by building additional villas on its current grounds.
But however the well-to-do plan to savor the summertime, Indagare’s Biggs Bradley urges them to heed this, her biggest piece of advice: Don’t wait to book.
"Book it yesterday. The pandemic rewarded last-minute bookers, but those days are over. Many of the best spots have been booked since last summer."