Welcome to our February Spa & Luxury issue, our semi-annual collection of high-end product, all selected from destinations around the world. Our timing is good on this one, particularly since Virtuoso—the leading luxury travel network—released its 2011 Virtuoso Luxe Report just prior to press time. The results lend a very positive note to travel sales forecasting for the upcoming year, citing the fact their clientele increased their travel purchases by 36 percent from 2009 to 2010, with luxury international leisure trips being the dominant choice. Even better, this year’s report shows international travel is slated to be the most popular type of trip in 2011, with 57 percent of respondents reporting clients reserving international trips of eight days or longer. By the way, more than 90 percent of Virtuoso’s membership lent their insight to the annual survey, which tracks trends in travel destinations, comparisons to travel in 2010, and above all, forecasts the travel decisions and motivating factors of some of the most upscale travelers in the United States and Canada.
Italy, France and South Africa look like they’re set to be the most popular international destinations in 2011, followed by Australia and Mexico, despite their climatic and in the case of Mexico, bad press woes. Vietnam took the front-running spot as the most popular emerging destination—no doubt due to the expansion of Mekong River cruising there—followed by India, China, the Galapagos Islands and Morocco. On the family travel front, Europe looks to be the most popular destination, reinforcing the idea that international travel is on the increase again, with Italy and England slated to be the two most popular family travel destinations for this year. Surprisingly, the survey also found that more and more travelers are including infants and toddlers in their trip planning, which would indicate that the age demographics are dropping, or at the very least, that multi-generational travel is increasing. Not so surprising is the fact that those booking travel said their choices for choosing included: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones—further supporting the increase of family travel. On the domestic front, the top five U.S. destinations Virtuoso agents expect to send travelers in 2011 are Maui, New York City, Las Vegas, Napa Valley/Sonoma, and Orlando. The best news for agents, however, the Luxe Report affirms the value high-end travelers place on working with a professional travel advisor. When booking vacations, the Virtuoso survey found, the largest influences on consumers’ travel decisions are their travel consultant’s advice, word of mouth and travel publications.
new features This month, you’ll find two new information sources we’ve included in this issue. The first, because it is our Spa & Luxury issue, is a list of “some of our favorite spas” per region and why we think they’re so divine. The second is a list of related articles that we’ve tacked on at the end of each of our feature articles and which you can access in our archive section on recommend.com. All you have to do is go to the website, select the “Explore Magazine” button and then select “Archive” on the drop-down menu. This is a feature we’ll continue to use in future issues to help you source even more information for your clients. This is also a good time to tell you to watch out for our brand-new website—it’s an all-new look with loads of information and it will be coming soon.
You won’t want to miss our brand-new 2011 Latin America Guide, a year-long resource guide for you. You’re also going to enjoy our in-depth look at Disney’s new Disney Dream, new Rail Europe product in the U.K., where to book and send clients in Japan, plus a whole lot more. In the meantime, have a great read.