Surveys show that travelers are willing to pay more for great experiences. // © 2014 Thinkstock
Feature image (above): Four Seasons Orlando is seeing more multigenerational luxury guests. // © 2014 Four Seasons
When describing travelers’ attitudes toward luxury, the 2014 MMGY Global Portrait of American Travelers survey shows that nearly 30 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “Luxury is an integral part of the life I want to live.” These luxury travelers are looking for an experience that is not tied to any particular destination. Because of that, determining a “portrait” of the luxury traveler is not a paint-by-numbers task for agents.
Multigenerational Family Travel
According to the 2014 Virtuoso Luxe Report, one of the biggest trends for luxury travelers is multigenerational travel. Similarly, the 2014 MMGY Global Portrait of American Travelers reports that three out of 10 grandparents traveled with their grandchildren during the last year, and eight out of 10 took the parents along. Capitalizing on that trend, Four Seasons recently opened a new resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
“Four Seasons Orlando is the first luxury resort located within a family-friendly destination,” says Thomas Steinhauer, general manager of Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.
The crown jewel at this AAA Five-Diamond resort is the Royal Suite on the top level — it’s the first nine-bedroom suite in Four Season’s global hotel collection.
Another popular trend heading into 2015 is culinary travel, and since luxury travelers are also looking for authentic experiences, where they want to go will vary greatly depending on the culture and cuisine they’re interested in experiencing.
Karen Herbst, owner and president of culinary travel operator The International Kitchen, notes that culinary tours at Relais and Chateau properties have always attracted high-end travelers, but just as popular is the company’s bucket list-worthy trip to South Africa, which includes stays at a deluxe Cape Town vineyard and deluxe safari lodges in Namibia. To keep up with the diversity travelers want next year, International Kitchen has added a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, with an optional add-on to Thailand.
Many luxury travelers are moving away from traditional hotel rooms in favor of private residences or villas. As a result of this trend, some upscale hotels are adding villas to their inventory. One such property is the iconic Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, where the Del Beach Village’s cottages and villas provide guests with elevated service and exclusive access to bucket-list experiences. Options include aerial tours of San Diego in a 1942 Naval fighter plane or sailing on the Stars & Stripes America’s Cup racing yacht.
For travelers looking for even more of a posh travel experience, Villas of Distinction offers a portfolio of thousands of privately owned villas around the world, including new properties in Cote D’Azur and Provence, France.
“The villa market continues to explode as luxury clients look for the experiences a villa vacation provides,” says Steve Lassman, vice president and general manager for Villas of Distinction. “In 2015, we expect to continue to see the trend of families looking for a villa experience [and] more travel agents discovering how these experiences create customers for life, as villas enjoy one of the highest repeat rates in the industry.”
Companies such as CIE Tours offer tours of private residences as well.
“Americans are fascinated with castles, and the opportunity to stay in one is on top of most people’s bucket list,” says Brian Stack, CIE Tours’ president. “Several years ago, we introduced our Irish Supreme escorted tour featuring Ashford Castle and Dromoland Castle, [and] this year, we introduced a Scotland and Ireland Supreme tour featuring luxury properties.”