Nine luxury travel trends

Song Saa private island, Cambodia

A study by My Travel Research has identified the emergence of nine key travel trends:

Trend #1: Rise of the millennials

What: There has been a demographic shift. While the 40-60 year age group still dominate the luxury market, young professionals have taken a large slice of the pie. The hospitality industry has responded in kind, with numerous brands springing up to target this tech-savvy, work-hard, play-hard group.

Examples: Starwood’s Aloft brand is “designed for the next generation of traveller” with robot butlers (see the September issue “High-tech hotels”, social spaces and recently unveiled voice-activated rooms!  Other brands have followed suit; with CitizenM launching in 2008, and Shangri-La introducing us to our cool, young friend ‘Jen’ (of Hotel Jen). Read more about millennial hotel brands.

Trend #2: Experiential travel

What: Increasingly, people are ditching material things in search of that “money-can’t-buy-experience”, (that they’re, er, willing to pay for). From trekking through gorilla territory in the Rwandan mountains to tracing the steps of Shackleton’s adventure to the Antarctic, it’s no longer just about five-star accommodation and Michelin-starred fare.

Examples: Check our recent round up of five luxurious “experiential” tours in Asia

Trend #3 Mindfulness and wellbeing

What: Luxury travellers are also frequent business travellers, with demanding jobs and long hours. Taking time out to recharge mind, body and soul is increasingly being recognised as a positive balance to gruelling work schedules. In turn, there has been an explosion of resorts providing the antithesis of an urban jungle and covering everything from spa cuisine and detoxes to yoga retreats and physical rehabilitation.

Examples: This year saw the opening of the Atmantan in Pune, combining yoga, “locavorian” cuisine (locally grown seasonal produce) and holistic wellness programmes. One of Thailand’s best known wellness destinations, the award-winning Chiva Som International Health Resort and Destination Spa, has an onsite doctor who can help tailor individualised programmes for guests. Meanwhile Nihiwatu in Indonesia has partnered with renowned wellness coach and author Simone Baldwin to host an “Exclusive Mind, Body, Soul and Palate” wellness retreat in November.

Trend #4 Ephemeral events

What: If rare experiences are the name of the game, then what’s better than something that will never happen again. Events ranging from solar eclipses to music festivals are increasingly becoming the centre point of travel itineraries.

Trend #5 Bettering oneself

What: There’s a new commitment to learning and enrichment such as studying photography or combining cerebral workouts with surfing, skiing and diving,

Examples: Cooking classes are a great way to exercise your creativity, learn new skills and is fun for you and your taste buds. Don’t miss our guide to the hottest cooking classes in our upcoming October issue!

Trend #6: Responsibility

What: CSR (corporate social responsibility) has been a buzzword for ages, but the focus is shifting to personal responsibility, with luxury travellers seeking to combine their experience with activities that support economic, social or environmental sustainability.

Examples: El Nido Resort in the Philippines prides itself on green practices, from sustainable menus to renewable construction materials and nature-based activities. Meanwhile, founders of the Song Saa private island resort in Cambodia (whose motto is “luxury that treads lightly”) run a foundation dedicated to marine conservation and improving lives of local communities.

Trend #7 Family holidays

What: Rich baby boomers are starting to recompense for working hard much of their life by spending more time with children and grandchildren. This has led to a rise in multi-generational cruising and luxury private holiday rentals together.

Examples: At the top end of the market is The Sanchaya resort in Indonesia, which recently priced its best suite, The Vanda Villa, at a cool US$10,000 per night. The four-bedroom beachfront palace comes with a 24-hour butler, infinity pool and luxurious everything.

Trend #8 Retro-chic
What: Younger luxury travellers are being targeted with updated traditions, like golfing at the legendary St Andrews course in Scotland or staying in heritage hotels.

Examples: From Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel to the Strand in Yangon, there are plenty of amazing heritage properties dotted throughout Asia. And why not take the train while you’re at it, Belmond’s signature “Fables of the Peninsula” journey starts at Raffles Hotel in Singapore and on through Malaysia.

Trend #9 Cruising
What: Travellers are ditching the land altogether to embark upon exciting expeditions across oceans and down great rivers, while others are hiring a skipper on board a private yacht.

Example: Don’t miss our upcoming October issue for a rundown of Asia’s best river cruises.

Four new amenity kits

American Airlines amenity kits 2016

AMERICAN AIRLINES

INTRODUCED March 2016

CABIN CLASS First and business class

AVAILABILITY International first and business class, as well as domestic transcontinental first class

SKINCARE PRODUCTS PARTNER(S) 3LAB Skincare, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries and Clark’s Botanicals

INFO Multiple kits have been produced with each of the skincare brands differentiated by cabin and class of service. The international first class kit for example comes with 3LAB skincare products, while the international business class one contains those by C.O. Bigelow. Meanwhile, the domestic first class kit is stocked with Clark’s Botanicals products. Click here for a more detailed list. All kits however feature a custom bag designed by Cole Haan, as well as toothbrush, toothpaste, eyeshade, socks, and earplugs.

aa.com

 

ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS

INTRODUCED June 2016

CABIN CLASS Business class

AVAILABILITY Long-haul services between Japan and Europe, North America (excluding Honolulu) and Sydney

SKINCARE PRODUCTS PARTNER(S) Neal’s Yard Remedies

INFO ANA’s new kit, a pale-coloured pouch, is made of natural canvas and features the Neal’s Yard Remedies branding on the face. Inside, users will find the British retailer’s Bee Lovely Hand Cream (10ml), a White Tea Facial Mist (10ml), Sheau Nut (4g) and Orange Organic Lip Formula. This is complemented by ANA’s own brand toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask and earplugs.

ana.co.jp

 

DELTA AIR LINES

INTRODUCED July 2016

CABIN CLASS Delta One

AVAILABILITY All Delta One flights, which includes international flights as well as domestic services between New York JFK and Los Angeles/San Francisco

SKINCARE PRODUCTS PARTNER(S) Kiehl

INFO Delta continues its successful partnership with luggage manufacturer Tumi to develop multiple amenity kits that differ based on the flight traveled. Delta One passengers flying domestic will receive either hard- or soft-cased Tumi bags, while those on international flights will receive a navy hard-sided kit when flying out of the US, and a soft-sided black amenity kit on inbound US flights. All kits also feature Kiehl skincare products, which include Lip Balm #1 and grapefruit-scented hand and body lotion infused with aloe vera and oatmeal.

delta.com

 

EMIRATES

INTRODUCED July 2016

CABIN CLASS Economy class

AVAILABILITY All long-haul routes

SKINCARE PRODUCTS PARTNER(S) N/A

INFO Gulf carrier Emirates has introduced the world’s first interactive amenity kits in economy class. The new kits features Blippar augmented reality technology, which enables passengers to “unlock immersive content on mobile devices”. Using the Blippar app, travellers can scan their amenity bags to unlock content including activities and health tips that are refreshed every six moths. The kits come in six different designs (based on the six regions of Emirates’ network), with each stocked with an eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste, and socks.

emirates.com

Five airports with major new retail offerings

Emporio-Armani-store-opens-at-Sydney-Airport's-T1-International-terminal

Sydney Kingsford Airport

A new luxury precinct in Terminal 1 has just opened its doors, with brands such as Max Mara and Tiffany & Co. having already set up shop. Another 11 global designer brands – many of them debuting in an Australian airport for the first time – are scheduled to open at the airport this year, including Hugo BOSS, Emporio Armani, TUMI, Fendi, Kate Spade New York and Michael Kors.

Meanwhile, Sydney Airport’s duty free partner HEINEMANN Tax & Duty Free unveiled the final section of the world’s largest standalone airport duty free store back in May. The company now boasts five stores in T1, with a sixth due to open later this year.

sydneyairport.com

Singapore Changi Airport

Last May saw Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 open a one-of-a-kind, duplex wines and spirit store. The 1050 sqm space – the largest by the DFS Group – features individually-designed mini boutiques that showcase products by nine notable brands: Absolut, Dom Pérignon, Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s, Hennessy, Johnnie Walker, The Macallan, Martell, and Penfolds. Rounding things up is a long bar experience by Raffles Hotel, where travellers can sample the famous Singapore Sling cocktail.

changi-airport.com

Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport celebrated the opening of the Midfield Concourse (MFC) earlier this year – a 105,000 sqm space spread across five levels. While the number of retail outlets here may pale in comparison to those located at Terminal 1, high-profile brands such as Pandora, Longines and Bossini.

hongkongairport.com

Dubai International Airport

Among the most recent developments at Dubai International Airport was the opening of Concourse D in February, which is capable of serving up to 100 international airlines and 18 million passengers annually. The new concourse features a spacious retail space that is centrally located, and situated close to a range of restaurants and departure gates.

Another highlight is the launch of two Apple stores, which are located at Terminal 3 near B15 and A12. Covering a space of 86 and 70 sqm respectively, the two stores are the largest Apple outlets in travel retail, and offer the complete Apple ecosystem and services.

dubaiairports.ae

Seoul Incheon Airport

Renovation of the shops at Terminal 1 has nearly completed, with only a few boutique stores left – these will be completed by the end of the year. As a second passenger terminal is scheduled to open in 2017, Incheon Airport is planning on developing a full suite of concessions at Terminal 2, which will cater to Korean Air as well as its fellow Skyteam partners.

airport.kr

Five of the latest headphone models

Bose QC35

BOSE QUIET COMFORT 35

PRICE US$350

BATTERY LIFE 20 hours

INFO The follow up to Bose’s highly successful Quiet Comfort (QC) 25 headphones has a lot to prove, and it delivers in spades. Frequent travellers will be pleased to know that not only does the QC 35 retains the excellent audio performance of its predecessor but it also offers a number of eye-catching upgrades. The headphone is entirely wireless, which would be a massive time saver. Bose has also decided to move away from the AAA battery configuration, and instead install an integrated rechargeable battery – allowing travellers to recharge their headphones on the go.

bose.com

 

CREATIVE AURVANA ANC

PRICE US$130

BATTERY LIFE 40 hours

INFO At only US$130, the new Aurvana Anc headphones represents incredible value. To compare, the cheapest over-ear headphones by Bose costs US$171 but lacks the noise-cancelling capabilities offered by the Creative device. Battery life is also an impressive 40 hours, while the plush leatherette ear cushion makes it extremely comfortable to wear. An inline mic is also provided and this comes with a remote to help users conveniently Play/Pause/Skip tracks and Answer/End calls. Click here for a full Tried & Tested review.

creative.com

 

BEATS PRO

PRICE From US$400

BATTERY LIFE N/A

INFO The Beats Pro justifies its high price by marketing its outstanding sound quality, which is identical to those heard by professional artists in studios. While it may lack noise-cancelling technology that its rival may have, the heavily padded, pivoting ear cups is able to produce the effect without the need for power switches or batteries. Built quality is top of the line, with the headphones made with a lightweight yet durable aluminium gunmetal frame. For an added touch of luxury, the headphones are available in eight colours – seven of which feature the use of Fendi Selleria leather. These Beats-Fendi co-branded headphones cost a princely US$1,200.

beatsbydre.com

 

SONY H.EAR ON WIRELESS NC 

PRICE US$350

BATTERY LIFE 20 hours

INFO Sony’s latest offering competes directly with Bose’s QC 15 headphones, which is no easy task. Luckily, the H.ear On Wireless NC offers all the features that make an outstanding pair of travel headphone. The “Automatic AI Noise Cancelling” function in particular impresses, as it is capable of analysing the ambient sound from different environment settings and automatically selects the appropriate noise-cancellation mode. Bluetooh and One-touch NFC functionality enables users to pair the headphones to their mobile devices wirelessly, while the Titanium-coated diaphragm domes help to minimise distortion at loud volumes.

sony.com

 

SENNHEISER PXC 550 WIRELESS

PRICE US$400

BATTERY LIFE 30 hours

INFO Like Sony’s H.ear On Wireless NC, the PXC550 Wireless by Sennheiser offers adaptive noise cancelling on the fly. The device is also fully compatible with CapTune – Sennheiser’s music player app, which also includes powerful sound tuning capabilities, giving users the freedom to adjust the feel of their music. Rounding things off is the touch sensitive trackpads that have been integrated into the earcups. A simple swipe of a finger can allow you to control the volume, skip a track or answer a call.

sennheiser.com

Clement Huang

Five luxurious “experiential” tours in Asia

Mt. Fuji tour, credit: DoctorJoeE, cc4.0, wikipedia

Five of the most luxurious experiential tours in Asia

Tour and activities agency, Viator, has unveiled their top five experiential tours to help travellers find unique and culturally immersive experiences in the region.

 

TOKYO, JAPAN

COST From US$350

TOUR A fully guided tour of the iconic Mount Fuji. Travellers will have the opportunity to experience the mountain’s snow-covered peak and capture panoramic photos of the surroundings. This tour package also comes with a visit to a sacred Shinto shrine, lunch at a traditional Japanese village, and a trip to Mouth Fuji’s 5th station – where a small observatory is located. The observatory delivers views of Yamanaka – one of five lakes that lie at the foot of the mountain.

 

CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

COST From US$342

TOUR The northern Thailand city is well known for its lush green rainforests as well as its hilly mountains and colourful tribes. However, instead of combing through the forest, why not take a more scenic route through the skies. A private one-hour hot air balloon ride will see travellers drift above the countryside, just as the sun is beginning to rise. Rounding the morning off is a picnic-style breakfast that is accompanied with a glass of champagne – there’s nothing classier than to drink some bubbly while taking in the beautiful sights.

 

LANGAWI, MALAYSIA

COST From US$164

TOUR Affectionately known as the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is made up of 99 islands and is listed as a UNESCO Global Geopark. With its impressive rock formations, powder-white beaches and cascading waterfalls, Langkawi is a great spot for travellers to island hop. A luxury yacht excursion around the archipelago allows travellers to explore the outlying islands and beaches, while enjoying a barbecues lunch from the comfort of their mini ship, complete with unlimited drinks.

 

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

COST US$591

TOUR As an UNESCO World Heritage listed site, Angkor Wat is one of the most popular and busiest attractions in Cambodia. However, travellers can choose to beat the crowd by experiencing the beauty of this landmark from the air. A helicopter ride around the area comes with an informative guide that will provide commentary about the historic attraction. While the experience does not come cheap, it does include a traditional dance performance and a Cambodian dinner.

 

SRI LANKA

COST US$375

TOUR This tour takes travellers to Yala National Park – the second largest wildlife park in Sri Lanka. Home to the world’s highest density of leopards, the experience will see two guides take guests through the wilderness in search of the cats. Expect to see other animals such as elephants, crocodiles, sloth bears and deer during the ride. To top it all off, guests will enjoy a starlit dinner outdoors as well as comfortable accommodation in a private tent.

Five A350 services that you may not be aware of

Thai Airways A350

BANGKOK–PHUKET 

OPERATING CARRIER Thai Airways

FREQUENCY Daily

DATE SERVED Until September 15

FLIGHT NUMBER TG221/222

INFO As Thai Airways’ looks forward to the highly anticipated delivery of its first A350 later this month, most people believe that the earliest that they’d get to fly on the new aircraft is on September 16 (Bangkok–Melbourne). However, the A350 will actually be serving a number of domestic services as part of the crew familiarisation process. Travellers looking to fly on the airplane early can do so from September 4 on the Bangkok–Phuket route.

thaiairways.com

 

SINGAPORE–HONG KONG

OPERATING CARRIER Singapore Airlines

FREQUENCY Daily

DATE SERVED Until October 21, but may become a permanent fixture on the route

FLIGHT NUMBER SQ890/891

INFO Singapore Airlines’ is currently operating flights to Amsterdam and Dusseldorf, with Melbourne and San Francisco to begin later this year. However, the Star Alliance member is also using its new aircraft on daily flights to and from Hong Kong. The Singapore–Hong Kong trunk route generates plenty of demand, meaning that SIA is still able to operate long-haul aircraft such as the A380 and A350 on the route profitably.

singaporeair.com

 

TAIPEI–OSAKA

OPERATING CARRIER China Airlines

FREQUENCY Daily

DATE SERVED From December 5

FLIGHT NUMBER CI152/153

INFO There is no shortage in the number of airlines that operate flights between Taipei and Osaka. Along with the usual Taiwan and Japan-based full-service carriers, the route is also operated by a number of regional low-cost carriers as well as a fifth freedom service by Cathay Pacific. It is therefore no surprise that China Airlines has decided to offer its newest aircraft on this ultra competitive route.

china-airlines.com

 

HO CHI MIHN CITY–SHANGHAI

OPERATING CARRIER Vietnam Airlines

FREQUENCY Daily

DATE SERVED From September 1

FLIGHT NUMBER VN522/523

INFO While Vietnam Airlines does operate long-haul A350 flights to Paris, the fuel-efficient Airbus aircraft is also operating flights to important regional destinations such as Seoul. The Skyteam member will also begin offering A350 services to Shanghai next month, as the aircraft replaces the ageing B777-200ER.

vietnamairlines.com

 

HONG KONG–AUCKLAND

OPERATING CARRIER Cathay Pacific

FREQUENCY Daily

DATE SERVED From October 30

FLIGHT NUMBER CX117/118

INFO Cathay Pacific currently operates the highly inefficient A340 on its Hong Kong–Auckland route. The four-engine gas-guzzler features the airline’s last generation cabin products, including the controversial old “coffin” business class seats. The introduction of the A350 will provide travellers with much improved hard products – something the 11-hour long flights desperately need.

cathaypacific.com

Clement Huang

Five important new routes

China Southern Airlines Airbus 380

Taipei–Amsterdam

OPERATING CARRIER China Airlines

FREQUENCY Four-times weekly

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? China Airlines currently operates daily flights between Taipei and Amsterdam via Bangkok. However, the Skyteam member will be reducing the route’s frequency to a four-times weekly service from September 5, following a decline in travel demand for Europe. Luckily, the gas guzzling A340-300 currently serving the route will be replaced by the newer and more fuel-efficient A350-900 from December 2, thereby allowing China Airlines to finally operate the route non-stop.

 china-airlines.com

 

Singapore–Manchester–Houston

OPERATING CARRIER Singapore Airlines

FREQUENCY Five-times weekly

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Singapore Airlines currently serves Houston via Moscow, but the Moscow–Houston leg will be cut in favour of flights to the US city being routed through Manchester instead from October 30. The Star Alliance member is working hard to establish Manchester as a prominent UK base, as seen from the recent interline agreement with Flybe. Travellers flying with the European carrier out of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness can connect onto SIA flights to Singapore or Houston.

singaporeair.com

 

Guangzhou–Adelaide

OPERATING CARRIER China Southern

FREQUENCY Three-times weekly

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? When China Southern begins operating flights to Adelaide this December, it will be the first carrier to serve the Australian city from the mainland. Currently, the easiest connection point for Chinese travellers to Adelaide is to travel via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. China Southern has been gradually expanding its presence in Australia, with services to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney from Guangzhou. The Skyteam member also began operating a Shenzhen–Sydney service back in January.

csair.com/en

 

Los Angeles–Auckland

OPERATING CARRIER American Airlines

FREQUENCY Daily

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Non-stop connectivity between Auckland and Los Angeles is limited, with Air New Zealand and Air Tahiti Nui (anybody heard of this one) being the only carriers aside from American Airlines to operate the route. American’s LA–Auckland service also means that the Oneworld alliance can finally offer a non-stop link between New Zealand and the US, rather than routing most flights through Qantas’ base in Australia.

aa.com

 

Bangkok–Tokyo

OPERATING CARRIER Scoot

FREQUENCY Daily

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? The new fifth freedom service by Scoot that links Bangkok Don Mueang with Tokyo Narita began on July 20. The non-stop service is noteworthy as it allows Scoot to benefit from feeder traffic generated by joint venture carrier NokScoot. As both are members of the Value Alliance, customers that are connecting from one carrier to the other will be able to book flights through either Scoot or NokScoot, and select a full range of service options in a single transaction.

flyscoot.com

Clement Huang

Five airline partnerships with celebrity chefs

Celebrity chef neil perry

CATHAY PACIFIC

CELEBRITY CHEF Daniel Green

MENU AVAILABILITY From August 1

INFO As part of its “Life Well Travelled” brand promise, Cathay Pacific partnership with Daniel Green, will see the celebrity chef introduce new “high-quality, low carbohydrate” dishes to first and business class customers flying to and from North America from August 2016. Noteworthy dishes include a spicy Thai vegetable curry that is served in a pumpkin; seared ahi tuna with sesame soy ginger vinaigrette; and Gnocchi with basil and sun-dried tomato sauce.

cathaypacific.com

 

QANTAS

CELEBRITY CHEF Neil Perry

MENU AVAILABILITY Ongoing

INFO Qantas’ highly successful partnership with Neil Perry has lasted nearly two decades, with the Aussie chef having taken a pro-active role in the entire meal development process for the airline’s premium cabin classes and lounges. Passengers in economy class also get “Rockpool-inspired” dishes – meals inspired by Perry’s restaurant in Australia. It’s impossible to sum up our favourite Qantas dishes (there’s simply too many to choose from), but some of Perry’s most popular creations include a classic steak sandwich, salt and pepper calamari, and Pavlova that changes seasonally.

qantas.com.au

 

UNITED

CELEBRITY CHEF Art Smith

MENU AVAILABILITY End of 2016

INFO The debut of United’s upcoming international business class experience, Polaris, will also see the Star Alliance member undergo a new US$100 million lounge transformation programme. The airline has therefore employed the services of Art Smith, former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and owner of the Blue Door Kitchen restaurant in Chicago, as its culinary ambassador. Smith will contribute to the menu planning, design and food presentation offered at United Polaris lounges. The first of these will open in Chicago on December 1, and this will be followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow in 2017.

united.com

 

AMERICAN AIRLINES

CELEBRITY CHEF Maneet Chauhan

MENU AVAILABILITY June 1

INFO Renowned Indian chef, Maneet Chauhan, well known to her role as one of the judges on Food Network’s reality cooking game show Chopped, is partnering with American Airlines to create a new in-flight menu that is now being served in its premium cabins on flights between Chicago and Delhi. With the aim of delivering the vibrant and bold flavours of Indian cuisine to customers, Chauhan has created dishes such as Chicken Chettinad (diced chicken accented with coriander, fresh tomatoes and garlic, served with lemon basmati rice and carrot and peas poriyal), Ka Khagina Paneer (mashed paneer cooked with coconut milk, cashew paste and coriander served with saffron dill basmati rice) and Kalonji Aloo (diced potatoes seasoned with coriander served with a light ginger-garlic sauce, sauteed onions and tomatoes).

aa.com

 

AIR FRANCE

CELEBRITY CHEF Daniel Boulud

MENU AVAILABILITY From March 1 (available for a period of one year)

INFO La Premiere and business class passengers flying with Air France on flights out of North America are currently able to sample dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. These include Atlantic Lobster, Curried Coconut Sauce, Black Rice and Bok Choy; Tomato Braised Chicken, Four Bean Medley and Basil; and Seabass in Vine Leaves, Za’atar, Farro and Grape for those seated in La Premiere, while business class customers can choose from dishes such as Salmon with Fennel, Chickpea and Sumac; Moroccan Chicken Tagine, with Lemon, Cauliflower and Couscous; and Braised Lamb with Spring Root Vegetables and Edamame.

airfrance.com

Clement Huang