Luxury is back in style according to many of the travel research bodies worldwide that release their industry forecasts for the coming 12 months at the start of every year. A new Amadeus report on travel trends until 2025 has projected that over the next seven years luxurious trips will grow at a rate of 6.2 per cent, a third faster than overall outbound travel at around four per cent.
But while this travel style is on everyone’s radar, it’s not the gilded mirrors, shiny marble and starched tablecloth kind of luxury that has won travellers over in the past. Here are our top predications for luxe travel in 2018 and beyond – with tips on how to book your next holiday.
- Individualised, customised luxury
In today’s economy, we’re used to having everything from the advertisements we see to our music playlists highly personalised. So why not our travel experiences? UK company Travel Unwrapped recently launched DNA Unwrapped, which is designed to create perhaps the most highly customised holiday itinerary imaginable.
When you sign up for the experience, you’re given a DNA kit to test your ancestral origins – once you have your results, your personalised journey is created by team of destination and cultural experts. No other person on the planet will be prescribed the same journey as you. “Uncovering our DNA origins provides us with the most intimate and personal map and the DNA journey will give you the opportunity to meet the people and immerse yourself in the cultures of the places you are from. It’s your opportunity to learn about yourself by learning more about others, becoming a true global citizen,” the company says.
While a pre-check-in questionnaire – pillow preferences, tipple of choice, favourite music – is nothing new in the luxury hotel world, many properties around the globe are upping the personalisation ante. Our favourites include:
- VIPs staying at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver get monogrammed bathrobes and pillowcases, and toiletries with their name printed on them.
- At the Milestone in London, you can pick the soaps you want in your room – a butler brings around a tray with boutique bars to choose from – and are you’re gifted customised “business” cards with your name and the hotel’s address (great for giving out to cab drivers).
- Staying at The Old Clare in Sydney, your turndown service might come with a framed photo of your pooch and a late-night snack that you just happened to mention you loved to the concierge staff.
- Long Trips
Forget weekends away, when we head off on holiday we want to be away for at least two weeks, Jacada Travel’s latest report says. Now that’s a luxury. The company found that in 2017, 40 per cent of bookings were for trips longer than a fortnight, but for those already booked for 2018, 50 per cent are more than two weeks in duration. If you’re considering an extended vacation this year, we highly recommend:
- Nova Scotia: You don’t get to the east coast of Canada in a flash (from Sydney, you’re looking at around 30 hours in transit). But when you arrive, you’ll find $10 lobsters, incredible oysters, surprisingly noteworthy New World wines and a booming brewing scene. Hire a car and spend weeks driving between them all, staying in colourful fishing villages along the way.
- Tamil Nadu: Nothing happens in a hurry in southern India. Trains often show up a day late, the maximum speed of most cars is 50km/h, crowds at temples mean that you have no chance of doing anything else but stroll. But that’s all part of the allure of this incredible pocket of the subcontinent. As long as you don’t have a set itinerary, you’ll love the pace of life.
- Spain: For centuries people have made the pilgrimage to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago or The Way of Saint James, a network of trails leading to the shrine of the apostle St James the Great in the cathedral. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the scenery and hospitality along the way – you can trek or cycle for days or weeks and gain not only an appreciation for the beauty of the Spanish countryside, but also for the generosity of other people you meet along the way.
- Slow Down, Switch Off
As our lives become busier and we’re more switched on than ever, doing nothing and being out of reach may well be the ultimate indulgence. True luxury is slowing down – that moment of decompression when you see a phenomenal view – and feeling completely unburdened. These are some of our favourite places to forget that the rest of the world exists:
- At Gwinganna in the Gold Coast hinterland, you have no choice but to disconnect and unwind. The lush wellness retreat comes sans phone and internet coverage, so your devices are useless there. Instead, make the most of the greenery, book in for spa treatments, eat vegetarian meals and watch the sun rise while you practise tai chi.
- Further afield in California, the New Camaldoli Hermitage is a working Benedictine monastery. Aside from being on one of the most epic stretches of coastline in the world – the Big Sur – the retreat offers plenty of calm, but little else. There’s no in-room TV or wi-fi, but who needs that when you have the ocean and expanses of wild countryside at your disposal?
- Villa Stephanie, part of Brenners Park Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, Germany, takes the notion of digital detox seriously – bedrooms have walls embedded with copper plates and coated in special paint to block all wi-fi signals and electricity. The hotel is part of an incredible wellness centre, where you can forget about your daily routine with spa treatments and health consultations.
- Ultra Exclusive Experiences, Rather than Things
Perhaps the ultimate in exclusivity is a private charter plane that takes you to parts of the world few others have the opportunity to experience. Whether it’s a month-long sojourn in comfort or an exhilarating day trip to a far-flung corner of the globe, these are the experiences you’ll want to save up for:
- Fancy finding your own diamond? You can do just that at South Africa’s Ellerman House, a Cape Town-based hotel. The waterside property teamed up with Benguela Diamonds to launch the world’s first “diamond safari”. Private planes take guests from the hotel to the west coast of South Africa, where they can dive with instructors and forage for diamonds. You’re treated to a gourmet lunch before picking through the day’s findings – if anything catches your eye, you can have it made up into a piece of jewellery of your choice.
- It’s one of the world’s last true travel frontiers, but you don’t have to spend weeks getting to Antarctica. Now, time-strapped travellers can explore the continent in a day thanks to White Desert Antarctica. The trip, on a private Gulfstream jet, takes you from Cape Town to Whichaway Camp. After landing on a blue ice runway, you spend eight hours exploring the continent, including a drive to one of the smallest and least visited Antarctic oases, Schirmacher Oasis.
- Aman Resorts has some of the world’s most exclusive hotels, so it comes as no surprise that its private jet journeys take travel to the next level. In 2018, the Aman Global Private Jet Tour is restricted to just 16 passengers, transporting them from Japan to Italy in the ultimate style. The ACJ319 plane comes with leather seats and lounges – when you arrive at your destination, you’re not only treated to one-of-a-kind dining and tour experiences, but get to check in to an Aman hotel at the end of the day.
- Health & Wellness
The wellness tourism industry is set to be worth $880 billion in 2017, with health and wellbeing a major focus for luxury travellers. Hotels and resorts are ramping up their spa services as a result, but a growing number of people are looking for a solution that is a lot more holistic than a body scrub and massage. Increasingly, upmarket hotel groups are offering opportunities for guests to achieve their health goals while away, whether that’s booking a meditation class or an extended week of wellbeing covering everything from food to fitness.
- Forget hotel buffets laden with calorie-dense foods. Thanks to forward-thinking companies such as Six Senses, you can order from a dedicated menu featuring low-sugar and low-sodium items, and gluten-, soy- and hormone-free meals. The company also serves detoxifying smoothies and juices, all low in fructose and designed to deliver a boost of concentrated micronutrients, and recently launched a sleep program to ease the effects of jet lag.
- It’s a philosophy also embraced by The Standard group through its Standard Cures program. In New York, guests can sign up for seminars that look at futuristic and far-out cures or join guided meditation sessions; they can also be hooked up to an IV drip for an instant hit of hydration, have a B12 shot, try infrared healing or chill out in a cryogenic spa. To round out the experience, the hotel’s boutique sells “cleansing” candles, crystals and activated almonds.
- The Workout Rooms at Westin hotels around the world are designed to be customised to your fitness needs. Opt to have a treadmill or stationary bike in your room so you can work out in privacy whenever you want, or set up a corner with a yoga mat and weights. If you forget your gym equipment or are packing light, you can also make the most of the group’s gear lending program in collaboration with New Balance.