As we plough on into the 21st century, the meaning of luxury when it comes to travel is changing steadily. As society evolves and living standards become generally higher – what would have been considered luxurious by previous generations is now part of everyday life. The response to this has been a broadening of how luxury travel is interpreted.
Some hotels have chosen to increase perceptions of luxury by producing ever more lavish six and seven-star hotels. Though impressive, it is simply an extension of a long-term and some might say, old fashioned train of thought with traditional words such as ‘elegant’ and ‘sumptuous’ being prominent, conjuring images of deep carpets and fluffy pillows.
However, developing in parallel to this are reinterpretations of the luxury travel of the future. Instead of searching for comfort, younger travellers are eschewing high thread counts in return for a unique, authentic, adventurous experience.
This change is being tackled in two separate, but linked, ways. Firstly, by maintaining comfort while offering a spectacular and unique setting and secondly by forsaking comfort in favour of adventure. One good example of this is Elqui Domos which markets itself on its unique destination and authenticity.
Destinations like this and The Scarabeo Camp have a few common traits, they are in areas of stunning beauty, they are relatively untouched and they offer a completely unique experience unattainable through traditional luxury travel.
The language of description is also completely different. Instead of words indicating luxury, they use emphasise rarity (Elqui Domos is one of only seven such hotels worldwide, and the only in the southern hemisphere), authenticity (Scarabeo’s elegant, simple materials following the rhythms of the seasons) and timeless wilderness.
The final interpretation of luxury travel is the offering of true adventure. This differs again through not just offering an unforgettable experience, but through taking you out of your comfort zone and pushing the boundaries.
Once again this takes on a new set of vocabulary to sell the idea of adventure – the idea of making the inaccessible accessible. Wilderness Explorers make this abundantly clear, by stating that few would dare travel to Guyana, immediately setting all of the clients up as modern day Scotts and Amundsens as they send them off for survival training in the Guyanese jungle, while Quintessentially Escape talk of pushing boundaries going beyond the ordinary.
Not only are the latter two interpretations more unique and interesting, and a larger departure from ordinary life, they are also more sustainable as a long-term strategy of luxury travel. While it is possible to build larger and more opulent hotels each additional extravagance provides a diminishing return, uniqueness, remoteness and adventure will always be beguiling.