The New Face of Luxury TravelAugust 3, 2020 | By Nafeesah Allen
What a difference a year makes! This time last year, some of us were in the middle of summer vacations or planning some luxe getaway for the holidays. In the wake of the current health crisis, there have been unprecedented changes in the world of travel, particularly among high-end excursions. Here are a few trends we’re seeing in luxury travel aimed at keeping travelers safe and those hefty coins rolling in.
High-end closer to home
With border closures and international flights grounded, many people are looking for destinations with secure travel routes and privacy. This means looking for locations within 2-3 hours driving distance from major cities. In the U.S., travel is shifting away from the crowds of destinations like New York City and Los Angeles, towards nature-focused destinations like the Catskills and Lake Arrowhead. Resorts like Mohonk Mountainhouse still have limited dining and overnight reservations, but the nature trails and the golf courses are in full swing. It is best to confirm with your accommodations to ensure that all the indoor 5-star amenities are open, as many hotels have limited spa and fitness services.
With many public beaches closed or limiting capacity, luxury travelers are seeking increasingly more remote beach destinations that easily allow social distancing. Though resorts still require masks in public spaces, so long as guests and staff are over 6 feet apart most do not require masks at pools and beaches. Within the U.S., sites like Sea Island in Georgia boast 5 miles of secluded beach are becoming harder and harder to book. And Mexico’s top resort, Cala del Mar reminds guests that their hotel spaces favor social distancing by virtue of their seaside location, which all have natural ventilation and most spaces are open-air. Croatia and Greece also recently opened their borders to tourists, and they have no shortage of luxe beach options to choose from.
While everyone is getting used to servers with plastic gloves, visitors to the Kempinski line of hotels should get used to the company’s White Glove service. The hotels are offering private transfers to ensure that the traveling party stays distant from others while riding in style. They, like Taj Hotels, also offer concierge service to clean and disinfect guests’ luggage. Etihad Airlines has upgraded its staff to Wellness Ambassadors, who provide in-cabin sanitization and spacing enforcement between passengers. They even distribute Wellness Kits equipped with face masks, hand sanitizer, and – of course – gloves.
Many restaurants are back in business with outdoor dining, but limited seating Michelin star restaurants have had to make some adjustments. While private dining is still on the table for some of the more spacious spots, fine take out is the wave of the future. Dishes that were once always well-plated indoors are now made to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. Even the Brooklyn wine bar Four Horsemen has taken to delivering its booze in squeezable pouches, and Aquavit now has a “summer picnic basket” available for your next fête champêtre. For travelers to resorts, hotels, and BnBs, even the most intricate meals are now being served in-suite.
Why Cruise When you can Yacht?
With most cruise ships still anchored for the foreseeable future, private yachts are the preferred luxury alternative. B&B Yacht charters has released videos explaining why their socially distant protocols are perfect for families and groups. Boat Bookings even offers “bareboating” for avid boaters who need the boat, but not the crew. Sea travel offers lots of flexibility to stop at ports, if they are open, or to keep sailing to private coves. Luxury yachters are also encouraged to pair up with private jet charters, to ensure that the entire roundtrip transportation experience is as top-notch as the destination itself.