Whether you’re looking for a couple’s getaway, or taking a mid-winter break, February is the month to plan travels worth sharing. If you’ve never experienced the romance of train travel, climb onboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman. We also invite you to explore the latest in cruising, which has hit new heights of luxury and excitement.
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
Next month our President, Erika Reategui, will make one of the most dramatic hotel entrances ever when she arrives at the Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman by paraglider. This innovative arrival method is one of the ways the travel industry is going to greater heights to meet the desires of the well traveled.
“Lifestyle is driving everything in the luxury travel market,” explains Erika. “It’s no longer enough for guests to access celebrity chef restaurants or even a private butler. The individual defines the experience now. And the experience is much more elevated.”
The landscape began changing a few years ago when two factors collided, says Carolyn Bernstein, who manages LVMH Travel at First in Service. She explains, “Ten years ago, luxury hotels were only found in top destinations. Today, no matter where you travel, there are luxury properties, making the competition to differentiate very stiff.”
She adds, “Second, the demographic of the high net worth individual also has changed. They are younger, in their 20s and 30s, and more adventurous. They’re looking for unique experiences each time they leave home. “
It’s up to the travel agent to do the delicate task of filling in the blanks, a role that increasingly combines concierge and personal assistant skills. Erika elaborates, “The right agent understands that it’s not a question of money. It’s a matter of really knowing your clients, and how to satisfy their desires to make the experience indelible. Anyone can shop for designer clothes, but how about having them custom made at your hotel?”
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong has taken a cue for the luxury retail world by arranging an exclusive shopping experience with Prada and Dior. Guests have access to private appointments, fittings, and can enter Dior directly through a VIP door from the hotel lobby.
For art lovers, Le Royal Monceau-Raffles Paris is the only hotel in Paris to offer a dedicated art concierge. Julie Eugène delights in creatively bringing Paris’ art world to life for visitors. She organizes studio visits and after hour museum access, coordinates intimate parties at Versailles and the Louvre, and will even invite artists and curators to tea.
Airlines are adjusting to the trend too. Asiana Airlines recently launched its First Suite Class on-board their A380, a private room equipped with a 32” monitor, plush amenities, as well as in-flight baristas, and even children’s activities, including cookie baking, and balloon art.
As new lifestyles emerge, so do the possibilities for innovative travel. Where would you like your lifestyle to take you next?