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Say hello to the new luxury

Luxury has traditionally been the out-of-reach domain of the rich and famous, but that’s no longer the case. Luxury is being redefined.

Luxury has traditionally been the out-of-reach domain of the rich and famous, but that’s no longer the case. Luxury is being redefined.

Now everyone can have a taste of the high life thanks to a range of new offerings designed to cater to an evolving breed of traveller who have immersive, authentic experiences and being made to feel special at the top of their agendas. We’re talking luxury for less.

But that’s just one element of the new luxury.

“Luxury travel is subjective,” a recent Amadeus report stated. For one traveller, it could be a personal butler serving up free-flowing champagne, while for another it could be as simple as a smile and a handshake at reception.

The possibilities are endless. But with luxury travel growing at a faster rate than overall travel, companies need to tap in on the trend now. But it can be daunting. So how can travel companies ensure they are delivering luxury to their customers?

“Curating something that appeals to them on a specific, personal level that goes above a traveller’s norms is key to the next chapter of luxury travel,” the report said.

But it warned brands to stay on top of their customers’ ever-changing demands.

“A traveller’s perception of luxury not only changes throughout their lifetime – it can change throughout the duration of a single holiday,” it said.

“Circumstances along their journey will alter their perceptions and their norms – and the new era of luxury travel requires brands to constantly monitor their expectations, and adapt accordingly.”

We take a look at the new luxury…


Way up high


A revolution is taking place up in the skies and it’s not just at the pointy end of the plane.

More and more airlines are spurning first class in favour of premium economy allowing those who previously couldn’t stretch to the cost of a business class fare to travel in style. OK, so you aren’t going to get a lie-flat bed or a pair of pyjamas, but you will get better food, more leg room and more booze – a recipe for a decent snooze.

Food is improving across the board too – think celebrity chefs like Neil Perry for Qantas and Lance Seeto for Fiji Airways, a focus on seasonal, fresh produce and bigger portions. You can even order your meal in advance.

Don’t forget onboard WiFi – once considered a luxury touch, this is now an essential, with more and more airlines rolling it out across all classes.


A bed like no other


Mammoth five-star hotels still have their starchy allure, but luxury hungry travellers these days are in search of the unique.

As a result, next generation boutique hotels are becoming more and more popular – the rooms are quirkier, the service is personalised and there’s often a heavier emphasis on food. Let’s face it, the way to anyone’s heart these days seems to be through their stomachs.

And it doesn’t have to cost a bomb – we could be talking a beach hut on a powder sugar beach, or a refitted train carriage. Once again, sites like Airbnb is providing us with better access to an exciting range of options.

WiFi plays a part here too – more properties are rolling the service out free of charge, and improving the quality. Welcome to the 21st century.


Getting stuck in


Sightseeing is no longer enough for today’s travellers. We want immersive, authentic experiences that allow us to become a part of a destination even if just for a moment in time.

Take the rise of voluntourism for example. Although the benefits of this type of holiday are a matter of hot debate with some claiming they do more harm than good, the trend shows that we are looking for something more from our holidays.

Buses that ferry travellers from one spot to another to snap a quick pick before moving on still have a role, but change is definitely afoot. We don’t just want to eat pasta in Italy, we want to make it. We don’t just want to watch the Carnaval parade in Rio, we want to be in it. We don’t just want to stare at animals in a zoo, we want to see them in their natural habitats.

Operators have been quick to jump in on the trend – and we’re not just talking smaller or adventure-focused operators. The offerings are offered by some of the largest cruise lines and coach tour operators.


Top notch service

Service Shutterstock

A mint on the pillow was once considered a luxurious touch. But not so much anymore. Now travellers want personalised service that pre-empts their every need and desire. Hotel staff are expected to know the names of each guest, minibars are expected to be stocked with their favourite drinks, even if that is a Tooheys New.

The same is true onboard cruise ships too – your preferences are logged beforehand to ensure seamless service tailored specifically to you.

Hotel and airline loyalty programs mean operators know your name and your preferences before you even leave home. The possibilities are endless.

What does ‘luxury travel’ mean to you?