The word “luxury” is often associated with images of private jets, expensive cars and exotic locations. And while those elements are still important, a new generation of wealthy travellers is looking for something more meaningful with their vacations. Whether that means taking an immersive experience like the one in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, channelling the sweeping romance of Out of Africa on a Kenyan game reserve or creating a personalized wedding retreat in Mexico, these new luxury travelers seek a sense of enrichment from their getaways.
To cater to this emerging luxury demographic, tour operators are increasingly offering experiences with a touch of whimsy. Emma de Vadder, U.K PR director at Black Tomato, points to a growing number of clients who ask for bucket-list experiences rather than a glamorous hotel stay. For example, the company offers a “Jungle Book”-inspired family holiday to India; a 12-night adventure inspired by Agatha Christie’s novels (complete with movie connections); and an array of low carbon footprint “slow travel” trips on trains, horses, boats or hot air balloons.
It’s not easy to define what makes a hotel, tour operator or cruise ship the best in luxury, however. That’s where the industry’s Gold List Awards comes in, allowing readers to vote for operators that have over-delivered on their promises and created memorable experiences. To make the cut, a company must have a deep understanding of its audience and deliver it with an exceptional level of service, a personal touch and a sense of escapism.