Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Nuances of Luxury Travel

What does Luxury mean to you?

Recently, I read a debate about the real meaning of “Luxury” which made me reflect on my own definition: I think that in today’s hectic world, luxury can best be defined as a wonderful experience that takes you away from your daily routine and all its pressures. Clearly it can include the lavish perks associated with the word in its most literal sense, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

I imagine luxury travel to be the all-encompassing voyage that allows you to discover something new and exciting about the place you are visiting which will consequently teach you something more about yourself. Exploring, enjoying and learning all belong to the luxury travel experience – whether you sleep in a five-star hotel or in a comfortable farmhouse.

Often, nature determines luxury. For example, a stunning sunset on the beach is just as luxurious while sitting on the sand as it is on a cushioned lounger, and a deluxe villa or hotel room will certainly feel more sumptuous if it offers an amazing view of some natural landscape.

Another thing that comes to mind is that for those who can afford luxury travel, as it is commonly intended, many of the material features they encounter will seem rather banal, since they already live luxuriously every day. What will set things apart will be their ability to surprise or intrigue. To satisfy this clientele, you must offer them something which is unique and original – that they cannot have every day. Yes, this could be an exotic location, historic sites, excellent local cuisine, and so forth. However, I believe that there is also something more subtle involved.

I saw proof of this a couple of years ago during my summer vacation. I was walking along a pristine beach on one of Spain’s most beautiful islands when I recognized a very famous (and wealthy) Italian. He was sitting on the sand with his two small children building a sandcastle. Everyone was smiling and they looked just like any other normal family on the strip of public beach (where you have to bring your own umbrella and towel). The fact that he was the president of Ferrari didn’t seem to matter. He was enjoying the simplicity of the moment – something I am sure doesn’t happen too often in his busy life.

Yes, he had reached the beach with his private tender, and would return to his yacht afterward. Yet I would bet that if today, two years later, he thinks back on that morning, he’ll remember the sandcastle, the smile on his (and particularly his children’s) face, and the fact that no one had recognized him – and that would be for him the luxury of that day.

What’s your definition?

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