‘Hyper-consumption’ is out, ‘unique experiences’ are in
Futurist and Love Travel Guides author
Fiona Caulfield holds forth on the future of luxury travel
The serene Amanpuri from Amanresorts
The future of luxury travel is defined by five core elements:
Time, Privacy, Involvement, Exclusivity, and Authenticity. Brands
and companies that understand these concepts, deeply and
truly, will be the ones that delight discerning customers and
succeed in the decade ahead.
As one gets older, the clock ticks louder and seemingly faster.
In this accelerated, Blackberry-fuelled world with
over-scheduled lives, it is clear that our most precious
commodity is time. The luxury traveller does not have time to
waste on bad experiences, and every minute counts.
Brands that understand the currency of time will provide real value. Anticipate exponential growth in private aviation,
helicopter shuttles, iris scanners at immigration, in-room check-ins, 24-hour concierges and personal shoppers.
Wellness experiences that deliver ‘feel younger’ as well as ‘feel better’ results will be particularly successful. Also, expect
to see a rise in anti-Jet Lag services and products. Who has time to feel anything other than great?
Swimming naked in a pool in Rajasthan for the second time in as many days, it dawned on me: Being nude in India is
the ultimate in luxury. Complete, 100 per cent privacy in a country of over a billion people is true luxury. Each hotel room
at the new Aman in Delhi has a pool, each offering complete privacy and bare bliss.
Brad and Angelina could have gone anywhere and everywhere in India; all Presidential and Royal suites opened their
doors to the Brangelina brood. Nevertheless, in lieu of everywhere, they chose to spend their personal time elsewhere.
Elsewhere, in Goa, a low key, simple cluster of bungalows, guarantees total privacy. A peak luxury experience with not a
gold tap, 1,000-thread count sheet, or Husein painting in sight.
Monacle magazine awarded the Peninsula Hotel the best room innovation for the delivery hatch: a true enabler of guest
privacy that secured a spot in the Travel Top Ten. India’s “high touch” mantra in many luxury hotels appears to me, to be
a touch too much.
Many believe that luxury is defined by things, owning more and more of the so-called right things. Wrong! This is so last
decade (or was it even the decade before?). Future Luxury will shun hyper-consumption and instead embrace unique
and involving experiences. Philanthropic Travel will become a cornerstone of luxury travel.
Owning the latest monogrammed handbag is so Posh! We wouldn’t
want to be seen with one. We would, however, want to build a clinic in
the Karakorams, research marine life in the Seychelles, learn Flamenco
in Argentina, or master Ashtanga in Mysore. In India, one may hang out
with head-hunters in Nagaland, track Bengal Tigers with the head of the
World Wild Life Fund and tour the New Delhi Railway Station with a
street kid, which raises awareness and money for the Salaam Baalak
The Gem Palace in Jaipur, where you can design
your own jewellery
At the pointy end of life, the true way to impress is not simply to do, but to
do things few others do: like shuttling into space or climbing K2. Sailing
around the world is no big deal, unless you are with Craig Venter on his
boat Sorcerer, tracing Darwin’s original voyages and discovering new life
Exclusivity and bespoke customisation are now the green fees for luxury
travel. A round with Tiger and a set with Venus would be ideal. Greaves
and Cazenove Loyd are two outstanding UK travel consultants that
consistently over deliver on accessing exclusive Indian experiences for
In India, design your own jewellery with Munnu Kasliwal, owner of the
Gem Palace, who does this for only two visitors annually. Else, play elephant polo with India’s best team, or dine with a
New luxury recognises the lust for the authentic; it is not about creating a homogenised and pasteurised bubble of
7-star sameness; we luxuriate in what makes our destination unique, the essence of the place.
Chai at Triveni in Delhi, a Paratha at Samovar in Bombay and a breakfast of Idli Vada at Brahmins in Bangalore, all make
the luxury travellers life richer, for only a few rupees.
Luxury vagabonds want authenticity, albeit in style, safety and comfort. They effortlessly mix the high and the low, the
7-star and the no star. They search for the hyper-local and when shopping, the provenance of the object will matter as
much, if not more, than the object itself. In Mumbai, they shop at Bombay Electric, Shrujan and Dhoop. In Delhi, at Intach
and Kamala, and in Bangalore at Cinnamon and The Ants.
Fiona Caulfield is the author of India’s first luxury travel guides. The series comprises Love Delhi, Love Mumbai and Love Bangalore. Love Chennai, Love Kolkata and Love Rajasthan are her upcoming titles. For details, log on to www.lovetravelguides.com