What’s on the horizon for luxury oceanfront travel over the next few months? I polled a few experts for their take, just in time for booking that holiday trip.
*Here’s what Mollie Fitzgerald, CEO of Frontiers Elegant Journeys, says: “There is definitely pent-up demand for travel. People seem to be planning a little further ahead than last year, when the holiday calls came in during November.Â It’s as if the minute Labor Day was behind us everyone started thinking about that week between Christmas,” she said. “Also, people want something different, perceived to be more exotic and less resort-y.
“Mexico is still suffering from all the bad PR about security and occupancy levels are down, so many resorts are relaxing minimum-stay requirements over the busy holiday period,” she continues. “Certainly, the best values are in Mexico. Also, the air industry needs to catch up with the hospitality side — often we can get the hotel space we need during peak winter demand periods, but frustratingly, cannot get the air space to get people there.”
*Nagma Walker, General Manager at The Reefs Hotel & Club in Bermuda, is seeing an increased interest in the property’s hotel and private residences. “We are running a few more promotions than we have in the past, but nothing dramatically different and we still focus on value for the guest.” she says. “After two years of recession, there seems to be a pent-up demand for quality products and services. But todayÂ’s luxury travelers are more selective and expect to receive superior service, cuisine and accommodations for their dollar. While The Reefs enjoys loyal guests who return often, we have begun to see an increase in new visitors who are also younger in age.”
*Jamie Holmes, General Manager of the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club in Nevis, says this: “From what we’ve seen at Nisbet Plantation, upscale travelers seeking a luxury beach vacation are more interested in receiving a good value and service for their money than just a cheap room rate. Instead of deep discounts we continue to focus on providing great service, added-value in our packages and enhancements to our product. Just last year, we added complimentary WiFi throughout the resort, Flip digital video cameras, and Hiker GPS for guests to use during their vacation, which have been well-received by our guests. We continue to attract couples and families, but weÂ’re also seeing an increase in girlfriend getaways, a new category for our intimate resort. These days, sophisticated women want to forget Vegas and New York City and do something different.”
*A spokesperson for Royal Hideaway Playacar says the resort is witnessing the following trends: “Although Royal Hideaway Playacar still remains popular as a romantic destination, it has been attracting several culinary travelers as of lately. These travelers especially love the ChefÂ’s Table experience, where they can watch as the Chef prepares their meals and answers their questions along the way. The hotel also has more specials now than it did a year ago, in large part because flights are less expensive than they were last year and people want to nab the bookings while they can. Finally, we’re finding that exceptional service is becoming more and more important to upscale travelers in comparison to other hotel aspects.”
*Tom Roth, director of sales at The Atlantic Resort in Fort Lauderdale, says that the biggest change he’s seen is that the luxury consumer is increasing the length of their stay from two or three nights to four-plus nights as the economy and world conditions improve and stabilize. “Value will continue to be of paramount importance,” he says. “Resorts that offer Zen-like spas will grow in popularity as our 24/7 world means that finding and enjoying downtime is becoming harder and harder. We’ve seen a considerable increase in massage appointments, for example, as well as guests who just want to relax in the whirlpools or sauna.”