Golden days and fashion-forward nights
GOLD prices might have tanked in the past 10 days, but that has not stopped Abu Dhabi’s opulent 390-room Emirates Palace Hotel displaying one of the world’s first gold-vending machines within its grand lobbies.
The German-built Gold to Go vending machine dispenses pieces such as a 5g gold heart necklace for AED1425 ($377), while a large gold watch known as the Fat Boy costs a cool $8753. Another machine offers magnums of Luxor champagne with 24ct gold specks floating in the bubbles.
Is such extravagant purchasing likely to be a new trend among travellers? Probably not, but the popularity of multi-generational holidays is definitely increasing, particularly in the cruise market, with its range of mega-liners and expeditionary vessels and diversity of destinations, according to Matthew Upchurch, chairman and chief executive of Virtuoso, a specialist travel company offering high-end experiences. Upchurch was among 1000 delegates in Abu Dhabi to attend the World Travel & Tourism Council’s recent annual knees-up.
‘‘The power of multi-generation travel is increasing,’’ Upchurch said. He added that cashed-up Americans, in particular, were becoming more strategic about travel and making long-term family holiday plans and bucket lists. These veteran travellers say they aim to turn their children into experienced globetrotters by the age of 18.
Family trips to the world’s great capitals, such as London, Paris and New York, are de rigueur, followed by African safaris and jaunts to Asia, including emerging destinations such as Myanmar and the lesser-visited regions of Indochina.
Soft adventure — also known as ‘‘trekking with a Four Seasons hotel at the end of it’’ — is also making a comeback, according to Upchurch, who cited the example of Ananda in the Himalayas, a spa resort amid the mountainous terrain of the Rishikesh Valley, near the famous Hindu pilgrimage site of Haridwar at the source of the Ganges. Upchurch added that the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan should also feature on the itineraries of soft adventurers this year and next.
Another continuing trend is the rollout of hotels and resorts connected with famous families or highprofile fashion brands such as Armani, Bulgari, Missoni and the Ferragamo family, known for their designer shoes and handbags and who opened a 14-suite hotel, Portrait Suites, five years ago on via Bocca di Leone, near Rome’s fashion boulevard of via Condotti. ‘‘There’s more of this kind of [fashion brand] product coming up,’’ said Upchurch.