Already at the end of July, if you haven’t already packed your bags and stuck your ‘out-of-office’ on and headed off for some well-earned R&R, here are the latest slow travel innovations from the luxury sector for you to look on enviously. More than that, these are the consumer trends in travel that are tapping on the 40% of global consumers who agree that going on holiday for quiet and relaxation is their primary motivation for booking a trip.
We’ve spotted an emerging niche of luxury travel and hospitality brands that are taking those coveted elements of peaceful and mindful a step further, redefining holidays as a holistic journey that aids in personal wellbeing and where the process of travel holds more significance than the destination. But unlike gruelling pilgrimages to self-discovery, these slow travel innovations combine an expedition for authenticity with the utmost in luxurious comfort and high-end design.
1. Train Cruises
Train cruises are an enriching way to travel through a destination, experiencing countryside and culture onboard while having the freedom to explore places of interest at stops that are perhaps removed from the road well-travelled. Two luxury sleeper trains launched in Japan in 2017. First, the Train Suite Shiki-shima equipped with private suites, Michelin starred chefs and floor-to-ceiling windows in observation cars stand in contrast to the famed bullet trains with speeds of up to 110kph. This train company embodies the ultimate in comfort and harks back to a nostalgic time where train travel was the pinnacle of luxury. Second, the Twilight Express Mizukaze is designed to blend in with the Japanese countryside as it passes through. Guests are treated to luxury design, food and interiors and have exclusive access to locations along the way, such as botanical gardens and galleries not usually open to the public.
2. Boutique cruises
Lying somewhere between a cruise and a private chartered yacht, boutique cruises bring high end hospitality to the high seas. Rather than the monstrous cruise liners, these smaller vessels can also visit smaller out-of-the-way ports when touring an area. Ritz-Carlton, famed for its hotels plans to enter the luxury cruise market and debut its yachts in 2019. The hotel brand claims that its voyages will be inspired by the ports of call, assimilating on-and-off-board experiences.
3. The Luxepedition
Bespoke travel agent Brown + Husdon are organising impossible adventures for their high-octane, high-end clientele. Their Luxepedition trips claim to make even the harshest of expeditions achievable by removing barriers for their customers, allowing them to explore terrain and complete physical challenges. High standards of luxury are maintained with heated tents, fresh socks, chilled champagne, Michelin starred cuisine… and the occasional helicopter to make those exploration dreams a reality.
The excursion into the desert for the Burning Man festival is an iconic symbol of modern hedonism. In comparison, Restival suggests disconnecting from the outside world and immersing yourself in healing, restorative activities; although, our trend The Indulgence Equation reports on how consumers offset their need for full control with bursts of spontaneity, suggesting that the two travel events may indeed appeal to the same individual. Located in the Navajo reservation of Arizona, Restival claims to be a transformational retreat that connects festival goers with nature and themselves. This festival is also about discovering the culture of the indigenous Navajo tribe and as guests are led onto the land by guides, over a weekend they will live in eco tents, attend artist’s workshops and eat 100% organic.
Will we see more developments in slow luxury travel where digital detox is an underlying thread in these innovations? Or will we see the rise of staycations as the economy tightens and millennials in particular look closer to home for inspiration and respite?
Download our report on millennial travel for an insight on what’s driving this demographic’s holiday plans.