Great Ex­pec­ta­tions

In spring, a trav­eler’s fancy may turn to thoughts of lux­ury

Business Traveler (USA) - - TALKING POINT -

March has come in like a lamb in my cor­ner of the world, and the bleak mid-win­ter has fi­nally be­gun to melt away. Here in the frozen East­ern US, the record-set­ting snow pack is dis­ap­pear­ing faster than a Sno-Cone in July. With the green shoots of spring comes some promis­ing green shoots in the econ­omy, and in the busi­ness of travel. Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank’s group pres­i­dent Jim Yong Kim, “The per­for­mance of ad­vanced economies is gain­ing mo­men­tum, and this should sup­port stronger growth in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in the months ahead.” And for the first time in many years, the bank is pre­dict­ing that it will be de­vel­oped economies – rather than emerg­ing ones – that will con­trib­ute much of the an­tic­i­pated uptick.

With the ris­ing tide lift­ing at least most boats, the icy aus­ter­ity that chilled busi­ness travel since the end of 2008 seems to be thaw­ing a bit. From what I’ve heard, trav­el­ers are be­gin­ning to feel that the qual­ity of their jour­neys is at least as im­por­tant as the cost. So they are look­ing for travel ex­pe­ri­ences that don’t just mea­sure up, but far ex­ceed ex­pec­ta­tions.

Ev­ery day word comes of some new prod­uct tak­ing to the skies, as air­lines duke it out to of­fer their pre­mium fliers the most com­fort­able, most con­ve­nient, co­zi­est, tasti­est, classi­est air travel ex­pe­ri­ence. Like­wise the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try has so mul­ti­plied and mag­ni­fied its of­fer­ings that trav­el­ers find them­selves awash with pos­si­bil­i­ties at ev­ery price point – and nowhere more so than at the very high­est end of the scale.

In fact, Cather­ine Col­ford of Hawkins In­ter­na­tional PR notes on the blog Lux­ury Fore­cast, “as trav­el­ers get more so­phis­ti­cated and their taste for the ex­cep­tional grows, ho­tels are go­ing above and be­yond stan­dard and hum­drum.”

She’s com­piled a list of hot trends in hos­pi­tal­ity for 2014 she calls “What’s In and What’s Out in Lux­ury.” Among her con­clu­sions: What’s Out: Drinks and a cheese plate at the bar What’s In: Drinks and a cheese plate served ta­ble­side Brunch guests at 45 Park Lane in Lon­don will find a Bloody Mary trol­ley brought to their ta­bles, while the Omni Royal Or­leans’ Mar­tini Cart serves $2 mar­ti­nis ta­ble­side.

What’s Out: Stay­ing up all night What’s In: Sleep­ing all night

Ho­tels are putting an em­pha­sis on sleep of­fer­ings. Ho­tel Ver­mont in Burling­ton has a menu of sleep-friendly ameni­ties in­clud­ing aro­mather­apy, Ver­mont teddy bears and bed­time sto­ries. The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, of­fers tem­ple balm and re­flex­ol­ogy foot treat­ment as a turn­down amenity. What’s Out: Di­al­ing “0” to reach the concierge What’s In: Us­ing your smart­phone or tablet to reach the concierge.

Three Loews Ho­tels prop­er­ties are test­ing a pi­lot pro­gram that takes guest re­quests through text mes­sages – from additional pil­lows to wake up calls – with replies guar­an­teed within four min­utes.

There was a time when lux­ury was, by def­i­ni­tion, any­thing that was so costly it was out of reach for all but the se­lect few. In fact, the word comes from the Latin term “luxus” which sig­ni­fied, “soft or ex­trav­a­gant liv­ing, ”limited to the elite.

But in to­day’s mass mar­ket, such a def­i­ni­tion is al­most use­less. The con­cept of lux­ury is chang­ing. No longer can it be de­fined and de­lim­ited by the things that sur­round us; for more and more trav­el­ers, it’s all about the ex­pe­ri­ence that en­velopes us.

So this month, we have con­cocted an is­sue that takes a se­ri­ous look at the chang­ing per­cep­tions of lux­ury. Our cover story (It’s a Great Plea­sure, page 30) ex­plores what goes into cre­at­ing an ideal lux­ury ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence. We take you from honor­ing the best vin­tages in flight (Cellars in the Sky, page 34) to dis­cov­er­ing a host of new pre­mium air­port lounges open­ing around the world (Ex­cep­tional En­claves, page 14).

One thing we can say – lux­ury is a state of mind. It’s about how it makes us feel. And for busi­ness trav­el­ers, how we feel about our jour­ney may be the most tran­scen­dent qual­ity of all. BT

— Dan Booth Ed­i­to­rial Di­rec­tor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.