While the travel and hospitality industries all but ground to a halt last year, there are promising signs of life and new growth potential. With news of the COVID vaccine came a resurgence in both the travel and hospitality sectors. Along with that came the predictions of what we can expect next. People used to traveling for business or pleasure seem starved for vacations as a means of escaping their work from home/live from home combo. Add to that those used to being pampered while they travel, and there are many exciting predictions for the year(s) ahead in luxury travel.
What’s next in luxury resort travel?
Last fall HTF Market Intelligence released a robust industry report focusing on the luxury resort market. The information shared and data predictions laser-focused on everything from the different types of luxury resorts, which include: seaside resort, forest resort, hot spring resort, water view resort, and mountain rock valley resort. There’s also a breakdown of the types of products offered by luxury resorts, including tourist resorts, casino resorts, small luxury resorts, villa resorts, and theme resorts. The global luxury resort market also focused on some of the industry heavy hitters, including Kerzner International Resorts and ITC Hotels Limited, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott International, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, Four Seasons Holdings Inc., Mandarin Oriental International Limited, Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd. & Jumeirah International LLC.
We analyzed some of these top brands and asked industry experts for their thoughts on some of the best-kept secrets of luxury resort operation. More than that, we distilled some universal messaging and themes from these industry titans to inspire you in your own hospitality business.
Luxury goes digital: “Luxury resorts are elevating themselves by going as digital as possible,” shared Cynika Drake, President, Lavish Lifestyles Concierge. Drake explained that this includes everything from digital check-in or checkout via the hotel’s app to “allowing guests to communicate with hotel staff without touching the phone in the room or in-person contact.” Other extras include the ability to “adjust room temperature remotely from the front desk, again limiting guest interaction.” And, of course, many of us are already fans of keyless room entry or wristbands that act as a room key.
Elevated amenities: Drake also said that “some top resorts are even offering guests transfers via private planes.” More than that, “Many resorts are spreading bookings out and alerting guests of this new safety measure.” And they’re adding another layer of care. According to Drake, some luxury hotels allow 48-72 hours between guests to ensure thorough cleaning and sanitizing. And resorts in the Caribbean on islands such as St Lucia and St Maarten” are no longer allowing non-guests to dine at their restaurants.” Drake believes these actions are meant to keep both staff and guests safe. “This also allows effective contact tracing, should an outbreak happen on property.”
COVID compliance: And, of course, we have to be realistic. While waiting for travel restrictions to be fully lifted, we still all have to be vigilant, and to that end, many luxury resorts are adding in testing options. “Many resorts and hotels now are offering onsite complimentary Covid PCR testing for guests,” Drake said. And even when not complimentary, she noted that fees range between $150-$250 USD. “Either option offers travelers peace of mind versus having to find a medical facility (in a country) they are not familiar with.”
Widely available panic buttons: While we all wait for the new mandates to be fully integrated, many top luxury resorts have already outfitted their staff with panic buttons. “I think the panic button for employees working in isolated areas of a hotel and even housekeeping in guest rooms is necessary for employee’s safety,” Drake said. “You are interfacing with the public,” she added, and “we always advise our clients to err on the side of caution.”
At Relay, we’re proud that our devices connect workers and empower them through the use of a panic button and a completely connected cellular network. Contact us to find out how to empower your staff through connectivity with a device that alerts anyone to potential danger.
Not one-size-fits-all: On the Kerzner website, the brand is described as “A leading global developer and operator of destination resorts, ultra-luxury hotels and residences and innovative entertainment and gaming experiences, we operate three distinctive brands.” The Kerzner group understands that not all luxury travelers are the same and creates 3-branded experiences to provide the best experience no matter your preference.
Continually innovating: On his bio on Kerzner International, Philippe Zuber, Chief Executive Officer of Kerzner, is described as someone who “builds continuous guest innovation to fulfill the company’s core vision of creating amazing experiences and everlasting memories for each and every guest.” Our takeaway from this was that no matter how many awards the brands receive and no matter how many individual raves a destination is known for, they still keep evolving to create memorable experiences on an individual basis.
Treat your guests like royalty: On the Marriott International website, they offer a hint to the purpose of aspirational luxury travel, “You don’t have to be a movie star or a mogul to feel like one.” The brand takes it a step further, adding, “No matter what your definition of ‘luxury’ is, from theaters to beaches, sun and surf to sophistication, there’s a Marriott destination for you.” Luxury travelers are diverse, and Marriott understands that every guest wants an experience that elevates their every day to something almost magical.
They let you live the dream (and take it home with you): In addition to luxury resorts, luxury branded residences create the pampered life at home and during extended business travel. An article on Bloomberg.com in 2019 explained the way that luxury branded residences manage to meld “the perks that come from being intimately affiliated with names that cater to the wealthy.” Four Seasons Holdings Inc. was one of the industry innovators opening private residences in Boston back in 1985. Can’t afford one of these posh residences? Well, you can at least take Four Seasons magazine home with you and dream/drool a little. Want to share the experience with someone you love? Posh hotels often create a branded product for the holidays. The Kiss Bomb from Boxwood Restaurant at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills is a decadent dessert made up of strawberry meringue kisses, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a rose chocolate sphere filled with treats. For only $18.00 plus shipping, the hotel manages to share the luxury resort experience deliciously.