Luxury hospitality struggles to define itself

by | Jan 17, 2018 | Design

What constitutes “luxury” is constantly being redefined, so how does luxury travel communicate its true identity in these changing times?

Luxury pushback

One of the biggest challenges facing the luxury sector is the guest itself. Traditional mainstays of luxury hospitality such as concierge and turndown services are seen as less desirable and even redundant, especially due to the prevalence of social media. Whereas once the concierge was the hotel guest’s link to what was going on in that particular destination – where to dine, drink, dance etc. – now all of that is available online, and guests are able to choose restaurants and bars that are more in line with their wishes. The turndown service is also being used less, as guests are conscious of their privacy and wary of strangers being in their suites. The turndown service is optional in many hotels, but staff are seeing a decline in guests choosing to use the service.

Guest experience is where real luxury lies

Although in the past luxury might have been apparent in the brand name or the opulence of the hotel itself, more and more real luxury is being delivered in the guest experience itself. Marc Dardenne, interim CEO of Jumeirah Group elaborates on this, saying, “I think of today’s luxury traveler as a curious traveler. Before, we wanted consistency in luxury but now we want to be enriched in cultural experiences and learning, and having engagement.” Increasingly hotels are trying to cast aside the idea that luxury equates to exclusivity, and instead are trying to integrate themselves and their services more into the community, so guests can see what their particular destination has to offer from a local perspective. Take, for example, the ideas that Jumeirah Group and the Capella Hotel Group are going to launch next year – luxury tented camps in the African desert and Ubud in Bali respectively. Definitely a break from the norm.

Luxuriousness of self care

An undeniable and unchanging facet of luxury hospitality is health and wellness. Spa and wellness centres often epitomise the idea of luxury, and pampering oneself is surefire way to remind yourself that you are on holidays. However, the idea of wellness in the luxury sector goes beyond just massages and treatments, and is crossing over into more experiential territory as well. The nature of “wellness” can be just as varied and undefinable as the idea of luxury itself, and hotels are having to thinking outside the box to offer guests unique and memorable services in wellbeing that are not just limited to the day spa and fitness centre. Neil Jacobs, CEO of Six Senses Hotels, says, “People want to be with people. Dr. Oz said that loneliness contributes to ill health and that’s why creating community is so important. We want to provide experiences and content for building memories, for things that touch your heart.”


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