Adventure and comfort go hand-in-hand for top-end travellers
Luxury travel is getting an overhaul. No longer is it about the thread count and silver service, it’s now defined by unique experiences.
“While it still incorporates the best accommodation, service and amenities, luxury travel in 2018 is also about unique experiences which can’t be easily replicated elsewhere,” says Lucy Jackson from Lightfoot Travel. “It’s less about facilities, and more about the authenticity of the experience.”
Chris Austin, Seabourn’s senior vice-president, global sales and marketing, says luxury travellers are moving away from ostentatious luxury toward more refined offerings.
“Trends come and go but luxury travellers will never tire of personalised service and travelling to unique destinations around the world,” he says.
Here’s what luxury travellers need to get excited about in 2018.
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
Not sure which destination, tour or resort to choose for 2018? You may get the opportunity to experience it before you make the big decision.
“Technology (such as virtual reality) will enable customers to get an even greater opportunity to connect with the holiday that suits them best,” says GET LUXE founder Randall Deer.
According to Lucy Jackson from Lightfoot Travel, technological developments will continue to play a pivotal role in reshaping the travel industry. “Artificial intelligence will at some point take over. I’m not sure whether the industry will have advanced so much next year that clients can see their hotel room through a VR headset before booking it, but it’s certainly coming!”
Safaris have always been popular with those seeking a unique experience and 2018 will see more choice, and more destinations.
Sabi Sabi in South Africa is renowned for the philosophy of welcoming guests to their luxury home in the bush. “Australians love the relaxed environment we offer and really get stuck into the safari experience,” says Jacques Smit, marketing director for Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve in South Africa. They are upgrading their seven-suite Selati Camp and have finished revamping the Bush Lodge.
Meanwhile, and Beyond will be reopening the new Bateleur Camp in the Masai Mara in 2018.
“We expect Kenya to be fully on the travel radar in the coming year. After a few years of hardship, the future looks bright as the home of classical safari reinvents itself,” says Joss Kent, CEO of and Beyond.
Others to note include the Hala Sunset Desert Drive & BBQ in Abu Dhabi as well as the new Etihad Desert Camp featuring catering from Etihad Airways with grill-to-plate proteins and a bar with wine and beer. No portaloos here; bathrooms are modern with airconditioning.
There are even more five-star offerings in our region with the recent opening of Sofitel Darling Harbour and next year’s grand opening of Sofitel Adelaide and Sofitel SO Auckland. Sofitel is now the largest luxury hotel brand in the Pacific. And Fairmont fans take note, there are plans to grow the Fairmont brand in Australia.
Farther afield, it’s all about adding a dash of experiential luxury to resorts. “Many of the adventurous backpackers from the seventies (to the) nineties are still looking for that ultimate travel adventure, but they also want to come home at night and stay somewhere luxurious,” says Mark Thomson, communications director for Minor Hotels, which includes Anantara and Avani.
“Five-star ultimate adventures now go hand in hand with five-star accommodation and, of course, environmental concerns.”
Expect two new One & Only Nature Resorts to open in Rwanda. “Our new One & Only Nyungwe House is set in a working tea plantation, on the edge of the Nyungwe National Park, one of the oldest forests in Africa, with over 13 different species of primates,” says James Wyndham, general manager of Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley. “And our next Nature Resort, One & Only Gorilla’s Nest is not too far away.”
Expect new destinations on luxury tours in 2018. “Following extensive research, our 2018 collection now includes nine new luxury journeys, including Japan, Costa Rica, Croatia and Montenegro and South Africa,” says Ulla Hefel Böhler, Luxury Gold CEO.
Sri Lanka will also be a popular choice, especially with new direct flights from Melbourne to Colombo on SriLankan Airlines.
“We’re finding that the popularity of Sri Lanka is increasing year on year, with a growth this year of 95 per cent,” says Lucy Jackson from Lightfoot Travel.
Meanwhile, Canada will continue to appear highly on the luxury radar next year. “With seven Relais & Chateaux properties in Western Canada these travel offerings in a safe and healthy environment provide many options for the luxury traveller in 2018; all with their very own unique experiences,” says Charles McDiarmid, general manager of the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino on Vancouver Island.
THE FINEST AT SEA
On ocean or river cruises, luxury is about bespoke experiences.
“We’ve found them to be very important, which is why we introduced our personal experience concept for our river cruise and touring products,” says Liz Glover, Scenic national marketing manager. “With Scenic Freechoice and our GPS self-guided tool, Scenic Tailormade, our guests can customise their excursions to suit their interests, energy levels and pace.” They’ll launch the new Scenic
Eclipse – the world’s first discovery yacht, in the Mediterranean on August 31, 2018. “The cruise industry has never seen such luxury, discovery and engineering innovation,” says Glover. Azamara will introduce the
Azamara Pursuit in March 2018. “We’re also excited about next year’s new World Journey cruise – an epic voyage of 102 days, which begins in Sydney on March 7 and ends in London, calling at 60 ports along the way – the definition of luxury travel,” says Adam Armstrong, Azamara Club Cruises managing director.
Seabourn will introduce the fifth in their fleet, Seabourn Ovation, in May 2018. Silversea’s Silver Cloud refurbishment has just been completed and Silver Wind and
Silver Whisper will both undergo refurbishment in December 2017.
Meanwhile, Ponant will deliver two new ships in 2018, Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain. Each will feature a world-first underwater lounge, called Blue Eye. Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Mariner is scheduled to complete an extensive refurbishment in April.
LUXURY IN THE SKY
When first class is simply not enough, you can choose to charter your own flight. “We’re seeing a rising popularity in travellers looking for the bucket list ideas, such as private jet charters,” says Mark Thomson.
“Minor Hotels has its own private jet company, MJets, where guests can hire a private jet to fly themselves and their family and friends to exotic locations for holidays.”
Captain’s Choice has a 21-day Equatorial Exploration by private jet departing London July 7, traversing untamed jungles, colonial towns as well as a tropical paradise.
Constellation Journeys is offering a 21-day expedition as well. Their journeys take guests to explore seven destinations flying by privately chartered 747 from Australia to Hanoi, India, The Serengeti, Marrakech, New York, Havana and Tahiti, says managing director Dan Kotzmann.
GUESTS CAN HIRE A PRIVATE JET TO FLY TO EXOTIC LOCATIONS FOR HOLIDAYS
Interest in exotic destinations such as Morocco (main picture) and Sri Lanka is increasing.