The silver lining for a lot of hotels when they were forced to shut down due to Covid, was to rethink how they could make their experience better. Because post-pandemic, luxury bedding, a spa and a nice restaurant just weren’t going to cut it anymore.
And hence, the new face of luxury travel: hotels and resorts will become less about somewhere to stay – and more about something to experience. HNWI travellers will be looking for things like character, backstories, and activities that tie into the local community, before deciding on where to travel and spend their money. Here’s a few that stand out for me.
AMANGIRI, UTAH, USA
Amangiri is an ultra-luxe desert retreat in southeastern Utah, with its clientele a glamourous and elegant cocktail of superstars and low-key billionaires. This year, it opened the Cave Peak Stairway, a wiry, 120-step “ladder”, with the higher end hovering over 100 metres above scorched earth. You can see Lake Powell in the distance and the magnificent site of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park, breaking the horizon to the right. It’s these kinds of extraordinary and unique experiences that not only get people emerging from their cocoon-like suites but also truly appreciate the environment that they’re in.aman.com
TORTILIS CAMP, AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK, KENYA
I recently went on a Kenyan safari for the first time. It was a spiritual experience. The trip was organised by Elewana Collection and Micato Safaris, which has just been named #1 World’s Best Safari Outfitter by Travel+Leisure for the tenth time. I saw why: everything was on point at every step of the way. Thankfully, tourists and travel operators are now waking up to the idea of making a difference when we go to impoverished parts of the world, and philanthropy is a key part of their philosophy. For every guest who goes on safari, Micato gets a child into school.elewanacollection.com
FARI ISLANDS, MALDIVES
The pandemic also prompted the industry to think ‘how can we contribute for the betterment of earth, and for our local community’, instead of contributing to its demise. And because of that, we’re seeing more ways in which hotels are educating its patrons. At the Ritz-Carlton, Fari islands, for example, you can take your kids or spouse to the marine biology centre and learn about the environment. Elsewhere, Patina Maldives has a commitment to tackling marine plastic pollution; among other initiatives, it’s working with the Olive Ridley Project to rehabilitate injured turtles, who are prone to mistaking plastic waste for food. Ultimately, hotels and resorts are responding to people’s need for more meaning in life. Post-pandemic, it’s no surprise to find the big drivers are now: ‘where are we going’ and ‘what can we experience.’ritzcarlton.com
Read more in the Walpole Luxury Trend Report. Download an e-copy below.