How luxurious journey will emerge after the pandemic

Words from Mark Hodson

What will luxury travel look like after the pandemic? While many of us at home dream of our next vacation or try to understand the government’s latest traffic light system, specialist tour operators for high net worth individuals are working hard to create exciting – and safe – new travel experiences. They say their customers are determined to travel again asap and they are ready to spend more than ever to do it in style. Mark Hodson, editor of 101 Holidays, learns more.

The rise – and rise – of private jet travel

Over the past two decades, the introduction of charter tariffs and shared ownership programs has made it accessible to thousands

Private jet travel was once reserved for billionaires, but over the past two decades the introduction of charter tariffs and participation models have made thousands more wealthy people accessible. The pandemic has accelerated this trend as more and more people are willing to dig deep to avoid crowded airports and commercial flights.

Ben Briggs, Marketing Manager at luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent, said: “More and more of our guests are choosing to travel by private aircraft. They want space and privacy – their own bubble – be it their own household, extended family or a group of friends. “

Abercrombie & Kent has unveiled a number of private jet trips that are already sold out for 2021 and 2022. Highlights include a unique wildlife safari for a maximum of 48 guests, including snow monkeys in Japan, whale sharks in the Philippines, orangutans in Borneo and the elusive Bengal tiger in India. The 24-day expedition costs a whopping 120,265 pounds per person.

Other guests? no thanks

More and more customers are chartering luxury boats, especially on canals and rivers in France

Luxury hotels make every effort to meet the demands of those who enjoy spending time. But penthouse suites and private pools are not enough for some who want to book the entire hotel – or a private wing of the hotel – for their entourage. Briggs said: “We have had requests for vacation trips to Egypt, Greece and Costa Rica recently, all over £ 100,000. Customers upgrade to the best suites and in some cases book the entire hotel. “

Ted Wake, director of Kirker Holidays, says more and more customers are chartering luxury boats, especially on canals and rivers in France. “These are perfect for multigenerational families who want to relax in their own luxury bubble. These vacations aren’t cheap – between £ 25,000 and £ 35,000 full board including food and wine – but they’re priceless family get-togethers, often funded by generous grandparents. “

The time is running

All luxury tour operators agree that their older, wealthy customers are impatient to make up for lost time and not sacrifice anything

All luxury tour operators agree that their older, wealthy customers are impatient to make up for lost time and not to compromise. “Many are double-vaccinated and feel they deserve a vacation,” said Wake. “They’re staying longer, spending more, and getting more adventurous.” One customer whose Orient Express vacation was postponed last year decided to upgrade from a cabin to a grand suite, adding £ 8,000 to the cost. “It’s a priceless experience – I want to enjoy it,” he told Kirker Holidays.

Pete Brudenell, Marketing Director at CV Villas, agrees that many grandparents will pay the bill for a multi-generational booking in the five- or six-digit range. “Our average order value has increased by 46% since 2019, the average length of stay by only 12%,” he said.

The company offers a range of luxury full-staffed villas that come with a private chef, concierge, and private travel options, but many customers want more. “We had a guest who asked for new Egyptian cotton sheets for his two week stay and charged over £ 3,000,” Brudenell said.

Island escapes

According to Grace Wright, Marketing Manager at The Turquoise Holiday Company, tropical islands are more attractive than ever

Tropical islands are more attractive than ever, says Grace Wright, marketing manager at The Turquoise Holiday Company. “The Maldives are our most popular travel destination,” she says. “Many customers want to fly and flop in a luxury island resort without having to move. They spend more, stay longer, and travel in larger groups. Customers asked about helicopters, private jet trips and booking entire hotel areas. “

With some luxury hotels now offering ‘Work from Paradise’ packages, including fast broadband and daily laundry, Wright says many customers are extending their stays to a month or more, especially in the Caribbean, where the five-hour time difference is manageable for some remote workers is. Average vacation spending is now £ 11,000, 20% more than the year before the pandemic.

Honeymoon in paradise

Turquoise Holiday Company has honeymoon bookings for 2022 and 2023, with Africa and the South Pacific being the most popular destinations

An estimated 240,000 weddings have been postponed in the UK since the pandemic began, and with savings in the bank, many couples are planning to grow their honeymoon plans. The Turquoise Holiday Company offers honeymoon bookings for 2022 and 2023, with Africa and the South Pacific being the most popular destinations.

Liane Goldring from Mahlatini, the Africa specialist, says honeymoons are now making up the majority of her bookings. “Couples whose wedding has been postponed or just had a small ceremony are determined to celebrate with an unforgettable trip. Most want a luxurious safari followed by a time on a tropical beach. The big difference now is that they stay in the same country – for example in the Masai Mara, followed by the Kenyan coast, instead of combining Kenya with Mauritius. ”

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition offers exclusive bush weddings and intimate honeymoons in his two game reserves Ulusaba in South Africa and Mahali Mzuri in Kenya. “The focus has shifted,” said press officer Caroline Sheffield. “Today’s safari is not just about the thrill of a game drive, it’s also about education, learning about long-term conservation projects, immersing yourself in local culture and sharing meaningful experiences with local communities.”

New styles of travel

“People are booking big tickets like private Indonesian cruises and high-end resorts like Shinta Mani Wild in Cambodia,” said director Nick Pulley

Although traveling to Asia is currently riddled with obstacles, specialist tour operator Selective Asia says loyal customers book in advance for 2022 and 2023. “People book big tickets like private Indonesian cruises and high-end resorts like Shinta Mani Wild in Cambodia,” said director Nick Pulley.

The company also introduced a concept called Low Touch Travel, where customers stay in fewer places and take day trips in private cars instead of moving from hotel to hotel every few days.

Experience Travel Group, which also specializes in Asia, says their customers want longer, more relaxing, and immersive trips that go deep under the skin of a destination rather than just ticking off iconic landmarks. The company has launched a new range of private tours that combine adventure and luxury under the Revitalize banner, including a leopard-watching safari in Madhya Pradesh that takes you from remote Satpura to a small lodge in Kanha, the park that inspired the Jungle Book.

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