5 of the hottest luxury travel destinations this year
I’ve been asked by our friends at Adelto to talk about the hottest luxury travel destinations for 2014. As part of my role at Luxury Link, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many luxury resorts across the world, all offering different ideas about what is “luxury”.
The definition of luxury is constantly developing and therefore the perception of luxury travel is ever changing. Luxury travel is becoming a diverse market and modern-day luxury travellers are savvy and discerning – what is driving this new age of luxury travel? Global connectivity! An individual’s definition of luxury travel might not be someone else’s. It depends who they speak to, what blogs and online forums they read, who they follow on social media, and individual tastes and preferences. The new generation of luxury travellers are now experts and vocal about their expectations thanks to global awareness and connectivity – reaching and satisfying these key influencers is becoming a top priority for the luxury travel market.
With this in mind, last December we conducted a 2014 luxury travel trends survey, in which over 1,600 high-end travellers (those with household incomes £60,000 and higher) told us where they’re planning to visit this year, how many trips they’ll take, what interests they pursue while on holiday and what destinations they consider up-and-coming. When queried about “trending” luxury travel destinations for 2014, it became clear that holidaymakers still want their Europe, but they want it served warm The preferred destination with 27.2 per cent of respondents was Croatia; that sun-kissed country with 2,000 miles of coastline along the Adriatic Sea, purported to be the “bluest” body of water on earth. Better yet, it’s less than three hours away from the UK.
With today’s switched-on traveller, wanting more access to the people and places that represent a destination, Croatia offers connection to ingrained yachting culture (thanks to over a thousand islands dotting the coast) and Medieval cities perched above dramatic green cliffs. It’s no surprise that luxury travel brands are clamouring for a piece of the Croatian pie. There are tour operators that invite you to Dalmatian island-hop in style, and five-star resorts aplenty from Split in the north, to the lively island of Hvar to the crown jewel of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik.
One of Croatia’ the top-rated hotels, according to Trip Advisor users, Hotel Monte Mulini can be found in the picturesque northern Adriatic port town of Rovinj. This is a resort for design connoisseurs, and I especially love the four free-form swimming lagoons that seem to blend effortlessly with the bay beneath.
From Eastern Europe to its far Western outpost, survey participants also tabbed Portugal as a still-under-the-radar destination for 2014. You’d be wrong if you stereotyped this incredibly diverse country as Spain’s little cousin. The capital of Lisbon is Portugal’s beating heart, and often draws comparisons to San Francisco with its many hills and huge red suspension bridge. Then there are the fantastic beaches of the Algarve or Madiera, and more wine tasting opportunities than you could possibly imagine in the Douro Valley.
Among Portugal’s key selling points – and there are many – is its compact nature. You could easily start in the Algarve’s capital Faro and work your way north, toasting your final night in the northern city of Porto with its namesake libation, port wine.
Most of our customers have some experience touring by car, bus or boat. Well, add another feather to your globetrotting cap with Bike Tours Portugal, and see the country by pedal-power. Have no fear, you won’t be challenging for the yellow jersey each day. Envision a leisurely eight-mile ride per day past historical castles and country houses, rewarding yourself with fresh seafood and gourmet fare each night in luxury surroundings.
Speaking of diverse countries where wine is beloved and a Romance language is spoken, Argentina also made the “trending” destinations list. If you’re a couple with divergent travel interests, head to Argentina. For the urbanite in the relationship, Buenos Aires is a feast for the senses, with 24-hour street life, incredible shopping and a rapidly expanding dining scene (although do bring an appetite for steak). For the outdoor explorer, head south to the glaciers of Patagonia or north to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Iguazu Falls. Of course, every great compromise involves meeting in the middle, and both parties will almost certainly agree on sharing an excellent bottle of Malbec in Mendoza’s wine region, in the shadow of the towering Andes.
The final two trending destinations revealed by our survey were equal parts (beach) Indian Ocean and (culture) Vietnam, although the latter certainly boasts its share of sensational shores, too. The Maldives and Seychelles have long been destinations for sun-seeking European, Australian and Asian tourists – especially honeymooners – but an increase in flight options has recently made these jaw-dropping archipelagos more accessible for those further afield.
The Indian Ocean has all of the luxury destination essentials; pristine white sand, turquoise waters, warm sunshine, exotic fresh cuisine, fashionable five-star resorts with the highest of standards in service and a colourful underwater environment just waiting to be explored. Each element pieced together makes this a once-in-a-lifetime luxury holiday destination. Many Indian Ocean resorts are the stuff of travel brochure legend: romantic over water bungalows, candle-lit dinners at the shore, heavenly spas and arrival James-Bond style by sea plane. One property that truly excels at delivering this five-star island experience is One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives.
Meanwhile, Southeast Asia’s “it” destination seems to have shifted from Thailand to Bali and now onto Vietnam. Clinging to the easternmost tip of the Indochina Peninsula, Vietnam boasts miles of pristine white coastline and some of the most extraordinary landscapes on Earth. The country is rapidly developing its luxury tourism infrastructure, and this means you can combine a stay in one of the bustling urban centres – Hanoi in the north or Ho Chi Minh City in the south – this is a kingdom that will put your mind in frenzy.
Recently, there have been a number of five-star hotel and resort openings across the country that has helped to position Vietnam as a luxury holiday destination. Unlike neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam’s beaches are endless and are not congested with wall-to-wall hotels and resorts so visitors have the added luxury of privacy to enjoy. The super deluxe resorts are not the only reason Vietnam is a must-visit destination, the country’s breathtaking surroundings, history and cultural diversity also add to the beauty of this place, giving savvy travellers more in their quest to experience a luxury travel destination. Today’s luxury traveller seeks more depth of understanding and immersion into local culture than ever before and in Vietnam, you can’t help but embrace your surroundings and interact with one of the friendliest communities on the planet!
It’s almost too difficult to keep up with the high-end resort development in and around Da Nang, but one new property that shines above the others is The Nam Hai Hoi An, part of the GHM collection. You will want to spend every minute of your time exploring every corner of your enormous 860 square-foot villa and private garden with outdoor shower, day bed and ocean view.
I hope I’ve achieved my goal in writing this blog; to inspire your next trip, and make sure you get to one of these up-and-coming destinations before their secret is completely out.
Scott Morrow is CEO at Luxury Link and joined the Luxury Link Travel Group (LLTG) in 2012, bringing over 15 years of executive experience in interactive media, lead-generation and e-commerce. Morrow has previously served as co-CEO of Oversee.net and CEO of ThisNext, has advised on several start-ups and is an active angel investor.
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