Although the recent financial crisis has certainly much affected the travel industry, the luxury traveler is alive and well. But according to the initial findings of a current global research project for the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), their tastes are changing. Based on the predictions and identified trends in “The Future of Luxury Travel, A Global Trends Report” (June 2011), the private luxury holiday rental looks set to rise in prominence with the new luxury traveler.
Some rising trends identified:
• more privacy / less ostentation
• culturally enriching destinations
• off-the-beaten-track destinations
• open-range excursions
• simplicity and seamless service
• destinations appealing to the environmentally concerned
A rising number of exclusive property owners offer private luxury with the services of a five star hotel, but in a culturally authentic locale; an exciting emergence in the industry for those who love the attention and convenience of upscale hotels, but long for the privacy and seclusion of the private villa away from the crowds. Why stay in a hotel when you can have top quality luxury and services in a genuine setting without sharing your space with additional guests and staff?
Some corporate hotels have tapped into this concept with so-called private villas on the grounds of a resort, but these too can feel formulaic, impersonal and unauthentic to the discerning luxury traveler. The future of luxury travel may lie in independent, privately owned homes located off the beaten track, where visitors enjoy the unique feeling of being well positioned locals with inside access.
The ILTM study indicates “increasing demand for authenticity, new experiences and exclusivity,” that will “boost interest in places reflecting the culture and traditions of local communities.” The endless series of traditional festivals all across Andalusia, for example, provide perfect opportunities for very local, very authentic experiences. Often times, the smaller and more remote the village, the more culturally authentic and interesting the celebration will be – and you won’t find a luxury hotel anywhere nearby.
This kind of privately owned rental also encourages exploration of the area; living along side locals, any venture into the local community or countryside will inevitably be an authentic experience. It’s possible to get a sense of belonging, like a newly arrived resident rather than a passing tourist. Travelers gain opportunities at sights and experiences that the masses in their hotels will never get. This matches well with other trends identified by the ILTM report: rising interest in “open-range excursions” for “spectacular landscapes” and “large natural spaces and / or regional cultural experiences,” all encompassed within this trend for “off-the-beaten-track destinations”.
Additional and related current trends:
• Simplicity and seamless service – The luxury traveler increasingly seeks total ease of facilitation from start to finish with custom and personalized services. The private host, as a single point of contact, delivers a bespoke experience for every guest and never for more than one party at a time.
• A desire to be stimulated and entertained rather than just pampered – “Bling” and “flash” are on the wane and people seek more personal and cerebral stimulation over purely physical pampering.
But will the luxury traveler forsake five star hotels for private rentals? The ILTM study repeatedly describes a trend for “more privacy / less ostentation,” and “a quieter, more discreet style of luxury,” which suggests a move from opulent or decadent hotels toward tasteful, private luxury villas or country estates. The study also explains a rising trend for family and multi-generational travel, which together with the increasing demand for privacy “has boosted the demand for serviced villa properties” and led to a focus on “expanded space…in villa design.”
Consider some further comparisons:
• Where are you more likely to find more authentic engagement with local culture, at the hotel bar where you may not even be able to judge what country you are in for all of the international travelers, or amongst the locals outside of your rental property door and at the village bar?
• Who will be more informed, committed and concerned about your experience, a hotel concierge and other staff working for tips and an hourly wage, or the owner-host of the private rental, focused on only one client and immersed in the local culture with a network of local contacts?
• Where can you get more exclusive service, at a hotel where you select from a rigid list along with everyone else at the hotel and eat the same dinner as the strangers around you, or in the private villa where you are the only client and the providers come to you, the chef consults with you before planning your gourmet meal and serves you in the privacy of your own luxurious rental? How many hotels offer private poolside paella cooking courses or hosted poolside happy hours? How many hotel chefs will give you a personal tour of a local winery or fish market and cook for you the goods you selected?
What better way to enjoy current travel trends than from an independent, private holiday rental with boutique services to rival the five star hotels? As the ILTM study concludes, “time is the most precious commodity.” With all comforts in place, bespoke arrangements organized in advance and a knowledgeable insider host at your disposal, you have more free time to enjoy. Imagine staying in a boutique hotel where you’re the only guest…
Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.