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”. From trekking through gorilla territory in the Rwandan mountains to tracing the steps of Shackleton’s adventure to the Antarctic, luxury travel is 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, 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 capturing a fleeting moment in time. 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 growing commitment to learning new skills and enrichment while on vacation, 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 satisfy 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 a while, 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, the 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 the 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 Hotel 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 continues on through Malaysia.
Trend #9 Cruising
What: Some 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.