The changing face of luxury travel

One of the topics at this year’s ITB Berlin was the changing attitudes of wealthy tourists

Luxury travel is booming. According to the IPK/ITP World Travel Trends Report 2018 its market share is seven per cent and annual growth rates are in double digits. At the same time the industry is experiencing a paradigm shift in established markets, namely a rising trend towards non-material values. For discerning customers, self-discovery, simplicity and authenticity are replacing opulence and demonstrations of wealth.

This trend towards hidden luxury is having a marked effect on the hotel industry, both in cities and more remote regions. Exclusive hotels are placing an emphasis on secluded surroundings and offering customers a place to retreat. In Munich, the Beyond by Geisel on Marienplatz is a good example. Located in the city centre, it occupies only 19 rooms on the upper floors of a bookstore. The atmosphere is very private, as only its guests are allowed access. The idea is to be able to feel at home from home, as if visiting close friends, rather than being in a hotel.

The Manta Resort on the island of Pemba north of Zanzibar, where guests can book Africa’s only underwater rooms, offers what can be described as almost total seclusion on a faraway trip. The hotel suite is anchored to the seabed by cables and covers three floors. The living quarters are above sea level, while the bedroom is below the waves. At bedtime, guests can see eye to eye with rare marine creatures attracted by underwater spotlights.

In England Chewton Glen markets exclusive treehouses. Perched more than ten metres above ground, the Treehouse Hideaway Suite offers a view of surrounding woods. Features include a large terrace and outdoor whirlpool. The marble-lined bathroom also offers an exclusive view of the landscape. Guests can experience a similarly secluded atmosphere in luxury desert camps, at the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, for instance. Covering 175 square metres, the royal suites let guests enjoy their own pool as well as impressive views of the desert and its wildlife. Clear night-time skies and low pollution levels offer perfect conditions for watching the stars.

This year’s ITB Berlin also took an in-depth look at the opportunities and risks that are the result of changing attitudes among wealthy customers, for example at the new Loop Lounge @ ITB in Hall 9 which featured an exclusive network of selected exhibitors and was the place to head for buyers of luxury products.

This year’s speakers representing the luxury segment, including a butler, a paparazzo and a blogger on the subject, who all engage with the concept of hidden luxury, also offered important information and ideas for trade visitors.

At the ITB Future Day contributors presented the latest market surveys from America, China and Europe. Travelzoo had information on revolutionary forms of luxury travel in the future, while the Hospitality CEO panel discussion provided valuable insights into entirely new kinds of service and ways to attract customers. And on the Thursday of ITB, the Luxury Late Night at the new Boutique Hotel OraniaBerlin in Kreuzberg was the ideal place to network away from the show.

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