In the US, total spending on luxury travel grew 39% from $1.8 billion in 2019 to more than $2.5 billion in 2022.
As luxury travel surges, hotels and resorts are finding creative ways to lure guests in with one-of-a-kind experiences like never before, spending a day with native grey wolves in Yellowstone Park or scaling a 400-foot-tall peak to see breathtaking views of the desert.
Resonance Consulting monitors the preferences of the country's wealthiest 1% of US households – those with incomes of $500K + and net worth of USD 11 million or more – to better understand the intentions of the most affluent travelers.
Their study finds that almost all affluent travelers plan to travel at least 75 miles away within the next 12 months, and 41% plan to travel internationally.
The study also reveals that the needs of travelers have changed since the restricted days of the pandemic. Personalized travel experiences have become more important, including those that provide a sense of well-being or personal growth. This is spurring many luxury resorts to create high-quality, one-of-a-kind experiences for their guests.
Luxury travel is not what it used to be and is changing and evolving as it grows. The term luxury used to mean getting pampered, and while excellent service is still a key component, travelers also want to get outside the confines of their accommodations to explore and interact with the destination's cuisine, culture, landscapes, and people through new activities.
Experts from Virtuoso, the leading global network specializing in luxury and experiential travel, share that “Travelers seek more authenticity, more local experiences. Storytelling is a significant component of what travelers want: experiences to take home with them, return to their offices, dinner tables, social networks, friend groups, and share.”
Traveling to a new area can be exciting, especially with a robust culinary scene. Travelers enjoy seeking out new cuisines and eating whatever is fresh and local to a location to immerse themselves in the culture. It isn't always about having a fancy dinner out. Sometimes, it just means eating like a local.
Stephen King, CEO & Founder of The Loren Hotels, says, “As luxury travel returns, we are seeing an increased demand for unique and personalized experiences, specifically at The Loren at Pink Beach in Bermuda. Our annual Guest Chef Series will return next month, a culinary program that brings a celebrity lineup of Chefs to the island and menus that highlight ingredients and traditions from our surroundings.
“These limited-attendee weekends, which are quickly starting to sell out, also work to benefit our Loren Roots initiative, The Loren Hotel Group's non-profit created to help offset the carbon footprint of development. We know today's luxury traveler is also looking for ways to give back and do good while traveling.”
Is a visit to the spa for a massage and facial crucial to a good luxury vacation? Think again because luxury resorts are upping the ante on your spa time.
New one-of-a-kind experiences wow guests, like The Hypnotherapy Wellness Experience at The Ritz-Carlton, New York Central Park. You will feel relaxed and grounded after a 90-minute Hypnotherapy session with certified hypnotherapist Ginger Gibson, all from a luxurious suite overlooking Central Park.
If an intuitive massage sounds more up your alley, head to Oil Nut Bay in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Experience Reiki to guide your body's energy systems back into a healthy flow which can assist in relieving tension, stress, and anxiety while promoting the body's ability to heal itself. This is a truly unique experience.
Along the same lines as personal growth and enrichment, many luxury travelers want to do activities that take them out of their comfort zone while interacting with the local landscapes. They prefer to seek places not overrun with people and those off the beaten path. This can mean ocean diving, backcountry hiking, ATV tours, rafting, and even hang gliding.
Agents from Virtuoso report, “For those seeking even more adrenaline, there are notable trends in activities that require more mental and physical exertion. While 37% of high-net-worth individuals are traveling for cultural reasons, 34% are looking for adventure, and 16% are seeking expedition-style travel.”
Castle Hot Springs, in Arizona, offers guests a chance to channel their inner Indiana Jones with access to exclusive horseback riding, hiking trails, desert e-bikes, and ATV razor tours. Those not afraid of heights can try the Via Ferrata course, an unmatched mountaineering experience.
Adventurers can walk across a 200-foot-long aerial walkway and scale a 400-foot-tall peak to find breathtaking views of the desert. Don't fret; you will be in good hands with the tour guides, who are happy to move at your pace.
If nature is your thing, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole has created a fantastic experience called the Day with the Wolves, where guests can look for native grey wolves in their natural habitat.
After a private flight over scenic Yellowstone Park, travelers meet up with an expert naturalist guide who leads them through the park on foot and a luxury safari vehicle to try to catch a glimpse of the grey wolves, bison, moose, elk, and bears.
If you like the idea of getting up close and personal with nature, check out the Ambergris Cay whale-watching tour in Turks & Caicos. Ambergris Cay is an exclusive private island resort that sits 600 miles south of Miami.
Turks and Caicos happens to be the perfect whale-watching destination as the islands are in direct line with the whale's migration pattern. Guests will head out to sea with a marine biologist for an interactive and educational experience they will not soon forget. Imagine seeing the moms frolicking with their newborn calves or listening to the male's humpback songs.
More travelers seek authentic cultural experiences as close to the real deal as possible. Experiences like the Mayan cleansing rituals in the lush jungles of Mexico's Yucatan or stays in local temples in South Korea are becoming increasingly popular.
At Cottar's Safaris in Maasai Mara, Kenya, they have launched a brand new Entomology Safari for families where bug-mad little ones embark on a brand new 4-night Children's Entomology Safari, in addition to thrilling game-rich wildlife drives. This exciting safari includes an afternoon at the Maasai Warrior School, where kids learn spear-throwing, archery, and fire-making.
Gone are the days of laying on the beach all day with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other. Tourists are more active and involved than ever, and luxury resorts are meeting the new demands of their clientele with gusto.
This article was produced by Seasonal Cravings and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Karen Kelly is the gluten free food blogger and health coach over at Seasonal Cravings. She is a busy wife and mother to three teenagers who loves creating gluten free recipes in her kitchen outside of Washington, D.C. She has a wealth of resources on how to manage a gluten free diet.