Luxury in smaller doses

17 Jun 2009

Consumers still go for unique and expensive holidays but they are keeping them short during economic slowdown.

This is the consensus view of luxury travel buyers and accommodation providers, whom Business Traveller spoke to at the Asia Luxury Travel Market (ALTM), which showcases the best of Asian luxury travel and is currently taking place in Shanghai until June 18.

Some show buyers said South America and the Maldives are among the hot
destinations for luxury vacations, as well as those closer to home,
such as Bali, Hainan and Lijiang.

Up-and-coming places that
luxury travellers are eyeing include Koh Samui and Middle Eastern
destinations such as Doha and Abu Dhabi.

Soo Bee Lim, Carlson
Wagonlit Travel’s marketing and business development manager, who is
based in Kuala Lumpur, said her clients are looking for good value for
money. These holidays can include dining at Michelin-starred
restaurants and private jet transfers.

Natasha Hsiao, supervisor,
Luxury Travel Department of Taiwan-based Martin Travel, said spa and
golf still rank among the top travel options and can be packaged between four and 10 days.

“People are cutting down (on travel), not cutting out,” said Marion Walsh, group director of public relations, Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas. And these affluent travellers are not just looking for privacy but also options, she added.

“They do not want to just relax by the pool but they also want options for activities. They are looking to go home and be able to talk about their travel experiences,” Walsh said.

These activity-based experiences, she cited, can include visits to local villages to learn about making craft, which is being offered as part of the guests’ programme at the recently opened Anantara Phuket.

Simon Manning, regional vice-president sales and marketing – Asia Pacific, The Ritz-Carlton, identified the niche group of luxury travellers as SMEs, the growing affluent travellers, meeting planners and international arrivals from the US and Europe, as well as the regional markets like Singapore.

He said challenges such as the SARS crisis and the global financial crunch have better prepared corporates now than before when it comes to planning their travel. “People have to travel to do business.”

Ajoy K Misra, senior vice-president sales and marketing, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces said: “Luxury travel is about going beyond five-star treatment; it is about (getting) personalised warmth, discreet and attentive service.

“These travellers don’t compromise on their lifestyle choices. Luxury is for those who are used to that (exclusive) level of service and product offering.”

Misra pointed out safari stays are a growing trend and that India is a potential destination for holidays that allow getting up close and personal with wildlife.

Cruising is popular too, according to travel buyers, where an all-inclusive holiday experience can be had, from deluxe accommodation to dining to entertainment.

For more information on the show, visit

Julian Tan

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