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What defines a luxury holiday experience?

Tailor-made travel specialist Audley Travel has conducted research* into what defines a luxury holiday experience and has concluded that a ‘5-star feeling’ is indeed a more measured personal preference, with almost a third of people explaining that spending time in nature provoked a feeling of opulence (29%), and 38% saying time spent with family on holiday was the luxurious gift they crave.

For many Brits (60%) the classic combination of indulging their taste buds and relaxing by the pool (43%) whilst on a break was front of mind when thinking about what luxury means to them during holidays taken in the past (in the UK or abroad). Almost half (46%) explained visiting ‘new places and cultures’ was important, and for almost a fifth of people asked, indulging in a good book and meeting local people (18%) felt lavish to them. Being away from the crowds is a luxury for more than 3 in 10 (31%) with 14% going further to say spending time completely alone is a holiday luxury.

The findings showed however that when trying to please others when planning a trip that luxury feeling can be lost. Unsurprisingly deciding where to go on holiday can be a stressful experience when trying to please a group with 35% of those asked struggling to fulfil everyone’s wishes. The findings showed that 21% explained the cause of family and friends wanting to do different things was to blame, with 20% mentioning it is difficult to identify a destination that will meet everyone’s needs. To help combat this, more than a third (34%) of people said they would like to seek the advice of someone who had visited the destination before so they could plan better and avoid friction amongst the group (13% said wanting to do different things leads to arguments).

Audley Travel CEO, Nick Longman said: “As a nation, we’re on a journey to become more mindful in everything we do, and our findings show that travel is no different. What makes a holiday feel luxurious is actually a very personal preference. It’s the seemingly simple moments that are most appreciated, from a stunning sunset to a meaningful exchange with a new person.

“Designing a trip with an Audley expert means individual or group tastes can be taken into account. There are multiple ways of experiencing the same place, for example in Cape Town some people prefer to walk up Table Mountain, others take the cable car and some happily enjoy the view from the base. All preferences are catered for and everyone has their wow moment.”


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When it comes to deciding where to go on holiday the majority of people surveyed (43%) said they searched online for inspiration, whereas 35% preferred the familiarity of destinations they have been to before and liked. Friends and family recommendations were cited as a trusted source when planning a trip with 31% of people answering this impacted their decision making, and nearly a fifth of respondents (19%) were enticed by far flung, exotic locations or chose ‘unusual destinations’ (18%) with the same number choosing to stay within a short flight of the UK.

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. I think there as many answers to that question as there are people in the world. We all have our own definition of luxury.

  2. Unfortunately for most of us our days of annual leave are a tiny percentage of the year. Unless of course you are lucky enough to be retired.

    We also spend a high percentage of our income on holidays and I’ve always had a feeling that we ought to take more care over planning our holidays. It makes sense to have an expert helping us.

  3. Yes, trying to agree on where to go and what to do for a group of friends or a multigenerational holiday can be very stressful. Too often you end up with the lowest common denominator as a compromise that doesn’t give anyone what they really want.

  4. Having the advice of someone who has visited the place before is a biggie. When you’re going somewhere new you don’t always get it right. The first time I ever went to Budapest I didn’t even know that Heroes Square existed. It’s good to have some help.

  5. Do you think that the relax by pool percentage is dropping? I’m surprised that it’s as high as 43%. I get the impression that people are wanting to do a lot more with their precious annual leave.

  6. What defines a luxury holiday experience? There must be a thousand different answers to that one. From the number of questionnaires that I’m get in my inbox there are a lot of companies investing a lot of money on market research to find out exactly what us consumers think of as luxury. To me it seems that the luxury travel industry is being divided into more and more market segments, forever becoming more fragmented, as travel businesses search for that killer niche that no one else has found.

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