Let’s Talk Luxury

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Isram’s Elite Travel Collection offers an 11-day itinerary in Spain.
Isram’s Elite Travel Collection offers an 11-day itinerary in Spain.

the isramworld portfolio of brands
“We define luxury travel as a program which combines the finest available services to enhance a superbly crafted experience meeting the travelers’ specific desires,” says Richard Krieger, president, The Isramworld Portfolio of Brands. “Luxury to one person could be a long weekend at The Connaught in London, to another a private tent safari in Africa, and yet another a cruise on the Amazon.”

When it comes to luxury travel trends, Krieger points to “culinary, wine, art and cultural tours. There is no question that The Isramworld Portfolio of Brands share [this] trend across all companies. To meet this demand, we have doubled our current offerings adding a walking history and food tour in Athens; Australia on a Platter; Castles; Palaces & Wines of Rioja in Spain; and in Peru, Peru: Food, Wine & Chocolate.”

“Luxury travel for me,” says Maria G. Tuttocuore, sr. executive, sales & marketing, leisure, Monaco Government Tourist Office, “and our mission at this tourist office, is to meet the expectations of savvy, discriminating travelers, and when it comes to Monaco, it has branded itself as a luxury destination, and knows how to deliver. Monaco is probably the first destination to embrace what a luxury destination should be.”

According to Tuttocuore, culture is a big component of a visit to Monaco. “Our opera house has just 500 seats, and every year, some of the most important opera singers from around the world come here. Can you imagine the feeling when you sit there in such a small opera house and listen to these opera singers? It’s a special feeling that not too many destinations can replicate. I would argue that Monaco can be unique in this sense.”

For 2014, the North American market was the third most important market for Monaco, but “I think in 2015,” notes Tuttocuore, “if the numbers keep going in this direction, the North American market could become the second most important market [for Monaco].” And because, as Tuttocuore says, “the target market we go after is tired of going on websites and trying to find something that meets their needs,” travel advisors are going to be an important component of bookings to the destination. “The travel agents we work with are some of the best in the industry; they are travel advisors who build relationships with clients, and I believe that the [trend of using travel advisors] is going to continue.”

Silver Explorer, one of Silversea’s expedition cruise ships.
Silver Explorer, one of Silversea’s expedition cruise ships.

silversea cruises
“True luxury travel is choice. Our philosophy is all about choice,” says Silversea Cruises spokesperson Brad Ball. “On Silversea, there are a million choices. We have a choice of mattresses on board, pillows (nine kinds), bath amenities (Bvlgari, Ferragamo, hypoallergenic) and even scents in the suites. There are many dining choices, too, from the casual hot rock cooking at The Grill to Relais & Chateaux’s elegant Le Champagne. On board Silversea, you have the choices to do what you want to do and when you want to do it.”

Ball notes that one of the trends that is on the rise and one the line has fully embraced is “expedition travel. Our Expedition guests are adventure-seeking travelers constantly looking for new, unique and enriching experiences and are drawn to the farthest corners of the globe. They also seek out and demand travel options that offer them a high level of comfort and service. With Silver Expeditions, guests now have a choice of three purpose-built expedition ships that allow them to explore much of the unknown world, while still enjoying the signature distinctions that have made Silversea a leader in luxury travel.”

Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna.
Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna.

starwood hotels & resorts
“The past two years, we have seen a seismic shift in the luxury landscape, what Frits van Paasschen, Starwood’s CEO has called ‘a new golden age of luxury travel,’ as technology and globalization converged with new trade routes, capital flows and wealth creation,” says Chris Austin, v.p., global leisure & luxury sales, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “Now in 2015, this is the new normal; and we continue to cater to an ever-more global generation of luxury travelers, who move across our luxury portfolio for business and leisure and who demand personalized service at every turn. With this understanding of the growing cadre, we have identified Generation LuXurY, a younger, highly engaged, techno savvy and more female-oriented affluent traveler. Starwood’s three luxury brands cater to this new luxury traveler.

“We invite travelers to step into the bespoke world of St. Regis; explore an indigenous experience with The Luxury Collection; or escape to where iconic design and contemporary luxury set the stage for exclusive and extraordinary experiences at W Hotels Worldwide.”

Regarding hotel openings that speak to this, Austin points to the “highly anticipated St. Regis Istanbul, opening in March in the chic Nishantashi neighborhood on the Bosphorus.” He adds that Amsterdam will be high on his list in 2015 “as we open the W in this forward-thinking capital city. This will, in my opinion, become the W brand flagship in Europe.” Meanwhile, in Greater China, “we are set to double our luxury footprint in the next two years, with the opening of two Luxury Collection hotels, The Castle Hotel in Dalian and The Azure Qiantang in Hangzhou, as well as the W Beijing and The St. Regis Chengdu.”

When asked about luxury travel trends in terms of hotel stays, Austin highlights two factors: “The first trend is for luxury travelers to be seeking even more authentic and unexpected experiential ‘moments’ during their travels. The second, that technology will continue to become even more critical. I would recommend today’s travel professional download and become familiar with our SPG app and all the new enhancements.”

What travel agents are saying…
“With many of my clients, luxury represents the life they take for granted,” says Susan Farewell, founder & CEO, Farewell Travels LLC. “They don’t have to travel to sleep on 800 thread count sheets or have a jacuzzi in the bathroom. Many have that at home. Luxury has an entirely different meaning for them and it comes down to unique experiences such as having tea and biscuits served on the hood of a safari vehicle in the Serengeti; having a traditional Turkish shave in the open air in Cappadocia; or indulging in a Sound Therapy Treatment at a German spa. That’s luxury.

“Luxury is also private travel—with car and driver—highly customized to their interests. They do not want the canned tourist trips. And my clients are seeking out unique and locally owned/managed accommodations. For example, they want to stay in five-star riads in Morocco and ryokans in Japan.”

According to Farewell, her luxury clients—she works mostly with FIT clients—are seeking out wine or culinary tours, although “it may not be the focus of the entire trip, but a good part of the trip. For example, we send lots of people to Southern Africa. We find many of them love combining a multi-day visit to the winelands of South Africa with a multi-day safari.” That said, “I can tell you that most of our clients are foodies. A big part of what we do is identify/book the restaurants they should have meals in. Some will request cooking tours, classes and market visits as part of their itineraries but again, it doesn’t usually make up the entire itinerary for our clients.”