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Top hoteliers predict 2017 travel trends

Find out more about luxury travel trends and what travellers want when they go on vacation.

Hedonism will take a backseat, while travellers seek authentic and more mindful travel experiences. These three prolific hoteliers tell us more about the future of luxury travel.

Loh Lik Peng, Founder and Director of Unlisted Collection

What do you think are some of the potential travel trends for 2017?
I think 2017 will continue to see the rise of independent travellers who are seeking experiences rather just pure luxury. Issues like environment, authenticity, heritage, social issues, interest this group of traveller much more and they consider themselves global citizens. They arrive at a destination and they want to do what locals do and eat and shop where locals gather. They are more interested in the local scene than they are in tourist attractions. Of course the era of mass tourism isn’t over and that market will always remain really important for all destinations but in places like Singapore where perhaps we are reaching the limits of mass tourism soon (much like places like Hong Kong) we have to increasingly market ourselves to niches that bring value to all the stakeholders, including crucially locals and travellers.

What’s your prediction for the future of luxury travel? And what do you wish to see happen?
I think the future luxury traveller will be much more engaged with the world and the environment they live in and travel to. Luxury travel in the sense of splendid isolation from the cares of the world (often in third world countries) is increasingly unsustainable. All over the world we see a greater divide on wealth, social standing, class, and politics. In most places now locals are not content to be second class citizens in their own homes who look on in envy at travellers who come in briefly and lead lives they cannot imagine for themselves and their children. The wanton wastage and mass consumption that this type of tourism creates is going away in favour of travellers who need to be sensitive to the world around them. Frankly travel and tourism and hospitality has no future if we do not move down this path.

 

What kind of experiences do you think the next generation of luxury travellers are looking for these days?
I think the next generation of luxury travellers will be increasingly well informed, sophisticated and well-travelled. They don’t want just luxury accommodation any more they also want to feel they have added something to their lives. A sense of enrichment and perhaps accomplishment. We are in an age where amateurs attempt to climb Mt Everest and we can shoot ourselves to the very edge of space. We can eat at the best restaurants and also travel to places like Mexico to attend a pop up by Noma. We can go on submarines and we can fly on fighter jets. Money can buy you much more than luxury. It can now buy you that proverbial bucket list. You have to be very rich indeed but wealth and its rewards are also much more accessible than at any time in history.

James McBride, Managing Partner of Nihiwatu

What do you think are some of the travel trends for 2017?
I think that the travel trends in 2017 will continue toward an inclination for experiential travel. People will gravitate towards authentic travel where they can learn and their children grow according to the experiences. For instance, our returning guests at Nihiwatu very much enjoy volunteering at the Sumba Foundation where they spend time in the clinics and interacting with the Sumbanese. A hot destination for 2017 – from Singapore, in my opinion, will be New Zealand. It is really coming of age and a truly amazing place to discover raw beauty, wonderful people paired with incredible experiences.

What’s your prediction for the future of luxury travel? And what do you wish to see happen?
The affluent travellers who have experienced it all are going to continue on the road to find the undiscovered. The generic branded experiences will no longer hold the appeal that it once did. I wish to see people take the time out of their hectic lifestyles to fulfil their dreams and travel.

Mark Wong, Vice President Asia Pacific, Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) of the World

What are some of the hottest destinations for SLH in 2017?
In terms of hot destination trends for luxury travellers, we are putting the spotlight on Mexico in 2017. Mexico is seeing huge growth of stylish premium properties with a truly local flair, all started by creatives wanting to indulge and share in their passion for art, design and gastronomy. SLH introduced eight new Mexican hotels in 2016 and now has 14 beautiful hotels in Mexico, all showcasing a different side of the rich Mexican culture.,The Caribbean is also one to watch.  In our opinion, the Caribbean has had a real makeover recently with some of the new openings which SLH has signed, giving it greater appeal for 2017. Ibiza has also topped SLH’s list of unfulfilled destination for the last six years, and is always a huge destination trend.  We’re delighted to announce SLH’s very first Ibizan outpost – Ibiza Bay – which will open in May 2017.

What kind of experiences do you think the next generation of luxury travel consumers are looking for these days?
There is a general fatigue with globalisation, mass production and uniformity –  the new consumer luxury mindset has evolved to being more about ‘who I am’ rather than ‘what I have’, therefore guests seek more bespoke, relevant and one-off experiences that speak volumes about their tastes and sensibilities. They are looking for a sense of place and an immersion of local culture, instead of guidebook itineraries. Guests come to SLH because they seek authenticity, community and more emotional connections across all areas of their life, particularly with their travels. That’s why our new loyalty programme is so key for us, since it will really help us and our hotels to truly personalise experiences for our guests.  A number of our hotels already do this brilliantly such as Magna Pars Suites in Milan, an ex-perfume factory, where guests get to choose their favourite scent on arrival in the hotel’s perfume lab, LabSolue, from a selection of 24 and thereafter the hotel assigns suites according to the guest’s favourite smell.

Which travel destinations do you think are currently most popular for Singaporean luxury travellers? And why?
Asia (especially China and Thailand) remains the most popular among Singapore luxury travellers who prefer to travel more often on shorter trips that requires less and shorter planning time. A favourable currency exchange has also made Japan, Australia and South Korea attractive to Singaporean travellers who now have a stronger spending power. Indo-China is also getting to be a hot destination. For long haul, our guests are booking trips to United Kingdom, Italy and France. In response to the demand, we are introducing more hotels in the most popular destinations. This year, we have introduced hotels in South Korea (Hotel28 Myeongdong), Japan (ABBA Resorts), Halcyon House (Australia), Pale Hall (UK), Althoff Villa Belrose (France) and many more. Come 2017, we will launch 137 Pillars Suites (Bangkok), The President by Akaryn (Laos) and many more character-filled hotels.

(Look out for more travel trends in Gourmet & Travel’s February 2017 issue)