So what is luxury travel?

So what is luxury?  How would you define luxury or luxury travel? This evening I spotted the following tweet come up on my Twitter mentions: In my mind, gorilla & trekking doesn’t = luxury. RT @luxurytravel Insights into gorilla trekking in #Uganda https://t.co/f2TWsuSe If you haven’t already seen it, the tweet was in response to a recent guest blog post on A Luxury Travel Blog, ‘Insights into gorilla trekking in Uganda‘, by Justin Wateridge, MD at Steppes Travel, but it could equally have been aimed at other recent posts on the blog such as ‘3 top tips for spotting the Bengal tiger in Ranthambhore, India‘ or ‘The world’s most dangerous bridge?‘. To be honest, I think the comment is a fair one – particularly since it is preceded with “In my mind…”.  It’s an opinion and everyone is entitled to one! But for me luxury travel isn’t just about lavish hotels, beautiful spas and exquisite restaurants. Whilst it may be just that to some people, for me luxury travel is about more than that – it’s as much about service and experiences – and with this blog I try to encompass all aspects of luxury travel. I replied back with the following tweet… That depends upon your definition of luxury. For me, unique experiences are a luxury also. …and was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t find myself embroiled in a debate but was instead told (by the same person) that that was “so true and well-put”. What does luxury travel mean to you?

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Hi Paul. Reading your post made me realize that we have exactly the same perspective about what luxury means! I think that in today’s hectic world, “luxury” can best be defined as an experience that takes you away from your daily routine and all its pressures. Clearly it can include all the lavish perks associated with the word in its most literal sense, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.
    I imagine luxury travel to be the all-encompassing voyage that allows you to discover something new and exciting about the place you are visiting which will consequently teach you something more about yourself. Exploring, enjoying and learning all belong to the luxury travel experience – whether you sleep in a five-star hotel or in a rustic farmhouse.

  2. When I traveled to Costa Rica I stayed at a luxurious Palms Costa Rica Private Residence vacation rental at Flamingo Beach. During my trip in Costa Rica, I also trekked through the tropical rainforest at Corcovado National Park and saw wildlife like monkeys, sloths, anteaters and crocodiles. A similar expedition to the gorilla trekking.
    The “luxury” part of my trip was my stay at Palms Costa Rica beachfront villa. The trekking part of my trip is adventure. Trekking through the jungle isn’t ‘luxury’, I believe the more accurate word to use for that is ‘adventure’. In reverse, relaxing at a lavish resort also won’t be considered as an ‘adventure’ vacation.

  3. That all depends on how you define ‘luxury’, Jack. If you go to dictionary.com and enter the word, you get the following definitions:

    lux·u·ry [luhk-shuh-ree, luhg-zhuh-] Show IPA noun, plural lux·u·ries, adjective.
    a material object, service, etc., conducive to sumptuous living, usually a delicacy, elegance, or refinement of living rather than a necessity: Gold cufflinks were a luxury not allowed for in his budget.
    free or habitual indulgence in or enjoyment of comforts and pleasures in addition to those necessary for a reasonable standard of well-being: a life of luxury on the French Riviera.
    a means of ministering to such indulgence or enjoyment: This travel plan gives you the luxury of choosing which countries you can visit.
    a pleasure out of the ordinary allowed to oneself: the luxury of an extra piece of the cake.
    a foolish or worthless form of self-indulgence: the luxury of self-pity.

    The things you are describing as an adventure (and I don’t disagree with that description) could – particularly if using the fourth definition – also be described as a luxury.

  4. It is nice to see different opinions as definitely everyone perceive luxury differently! For some it is gold plated taps and presidential suits, for others it is freedom to travel and experience new places making new discoveries, and for some it is a kettle and TV in the room.
    We changed our hectic lifestyle to what we personally think luxury is. For us it is open space of a country side instead of confines of a city house, bird song in the morning instead of traffic noise, watching sunrise coming out of the ocean instead of watching the world from inside our cars sitting in a morning jam.
    For our guests luxury means not having an air conditioning but listening to the roar of the ocean and breathing fresh sea air instead, not having a mini fridge in the room making noise but picking up the phone and getting your drink brought in, being cut off from the never ending stream of news, emails, deadlines surrounding them in “normal” life and just escaping the world for a few days to sit still and get in touch with your inner self.
    A lot depends on a lifestyle and we often miss what we do not have hence we all percieve luxury differently!

  5. I would agree with all the points made so far. Having arranged travel for clients under the banner of ‘luxury travel’ for 25 years, in my mind there is no specific definition of ‘luxury travel’ – it is more of a ‘mindset’.

    Working on the basis that when embarking on a ‘luxury trip/holiday’ one is hoping to, at the very least, encounter a higher standard of facilities to you home environment, the ‘˜wow factor’ is as important as the ‘luxury tag’. Whether the wow factor means a delicious cocktail, remote sunrise, ancient pyramid, giraffe running at pace or simple a break from the kids – it will depend on the individual.

    The wow factor is most stark when entering a room/lodge/tent that has been tastefully designed and set up. If that facility is located in the Midlands on a wet day – fine. However, if the room is located with views over Venice even better. Better still is if you are in the middle of the Okavango Delta, perched high in the Himalayas or daggling your toes above the South Pacific.

    Similarly an immaculately presented sushi snack may feel like luxury in Nobu – in my mind it will feel double luxury, enjoyed barefoot on a quiet beach off the Indian Ocean .. or floating in a hammock in the Amazon.

    To quote Peter Sellers (aka Chauncey Gardiner) in the film Being There “Life is a state of mind”.

    The trick is reading a customer’s mind and then giving them their idea of luxury (with-in the parameters of their budget).

  6. I was so interested to read these thought-provoking replies.

    We describe the experience at our lodge as Barefoot Luxury. When we were creating Geckoes Lodge we realised that for many people living in the 24/7 world, Luxury is having the time to unwind, unplug and remember what it’s all about!

    Our guests have essentially simple but very comfortable accommodation …no TV, no airco, no gold plated taps :)
    But what they do have is the beauty and tranquillity of the rainforest with monkeys, toucans and sloths in the trees and spectacular beaches a few minutes away. Lying in a plunge pool, no schedule, no watch and watching a hummingbird inches away while the barbecue cooks dinner is a luxury for many: myself included!

    When we sold up and moved to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, life became simpler materially, but far richer in quality of life. Getting off the beaten path was the best decision we ever made.
    When I look back to life ‘lived around the office’, material goods were scant compensation for a life lived at breakneck speed and full of obligations.
    So for us, and obviously for our guests, luxury is time to enjoy your surroundings, to discover the new, to live life at your own pace and re-discover the beauty of the natural world.

  7. Interesting discussion, Paul.

    I think ‘luxury’ can be different things to different people. Luxury can be as simple as simply paying exorbitant sums, or experiencing something you never have before.

    Therefore, luxury is not confined to any price (though it CAN be) but is merely what one experiences that one would otherwise not.

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