Culture Luxury Hotels

New York – Cox & King’s – Zurich

Yesterday, from New York, Embark Beyond’s Jack Ezon and Peter Bates, Strategic Vision, hosted their latest virtual think tank, ‘The new normal’.  Virtuoso virtuoso Matthew Upchurch, who had just returned from joining 600 others at the World Tourism & Travel Council WTTC meeting in Cancun, enthused about the joy of meeting others, in reality – 94% of Virtuoso’s clients, will, he said, value real travel more than ever.  No more taking travel for granted. He predicts travel advisors will rise from intermediaries to essential partners, and just watch what will happen when travel moves on from being driven by policy.  James McBride, Nihi, berated media, the biggest enemy of, well, everything these days – as globalism diminishes, in McBride’s eyes, so nationalism benefits. Forbes Travel Guide CEO Filip Boyen must, says Girlahead, be congratulated for his prior research, and data to share from STG. Mainland Europe is, he said, held back by seemingly ever-changing lockdowns.

Overall, the 80-plus global participants in the session experienced the rare treat of a time-aware well-organised session. Takeaways include not only worries about over-tourism and under-availability of hotels’ good staff but, more importantly, the opportunities presented by a hunger for luxury travel coupled both with extra disposable income and, also, a growing number of ‘agile adults’ that could well lead to, say,  five generations travelling together in one family group. And the ESG component is no longer an add-on but an essential.

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Cox & Kings, a division of Abercrombie & Kent, sees booking lead-times jumping from an average of three months to 10 months. As a result of this, Cox & Kings has already released 2023 tour dates, and single supplements on the first three places on a select number of tour departures has been reduced to zero. Most popular destinations are Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Japan, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Greece, Malta and Portugal and The Azores.

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People are investing in joie de vire. Franck Arnold, GM of The Savoy, saw one couple last week spend £1,500 on caviar and Cristal at the hotel’s outdoor pop-up that runs through 21st June. Transport your dreams from London to high above Zurich, says Girlahead, and imagine you are back at the Dolder Resort – see a view from its indoor pool, above.  There, at the Krug Terrace, enjoy such heavenly tastes as chef Heiko Nieder’s Dolder truffle fries with Comté, and, for Sfr 42, add a 10cl glass of Krug Grand Cuvée (or splurge, on a 750ml bottle of 1998 Clos du Mesnil at Sfr 2,775).  And as the sun shines overhead, look down over Lake Zurich far below. Luxury needs a theatrical stage.

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Oh the importance of ambience to eating and drinking. One of the leading disciples of this belief is José Silva, CEO of Jumeirah.  Hear him here:

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Luxury Hotels

Glamping – Fairs – Marriott Luxury

Sharan Pasricha is one clever guy. The boss of Ennismore Capital, the owner of Gleneagles and numerous Hoxton hotels in the US, UK and Netherlands, is also co-leading the lifestyle division of his hospitality partner, Accor. Last Summer, with the pandemic already firmly established, he set up a pop-up tented place-to-stay (above) in Oxfordshire. Now, for 2021, he opens Camp Hox luxury van-stays in California, UK’s Sussex, Netherlands and France. The offer, available 27th May to 27th September, 2021, comes with a drive-yourself-van with a pair of bicycles, luxury-hotel amenities (think Roberts radios) and all include a free mini bar with beers and wines, and a night in a proper bed at a static Hoxton hotel. Girlahead applauds Pasricha and his team for such a well-thought out concept.

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Melanie Gerlis, writing in The Financial Times 1-2 May, 2021, say that the art world is seeing the mammoth art fairs of yesterday diminishing from 10,000 or so visitors to about 10% of that number. She predicts tomorrow will continue to see, overall, smaller ’boutique’ events, but achieving the same amount of sales – she points out that at this year’s Art Dubai, instead of exhibitors paying upfront for stands they showed for free, but gave an agreed percentage of sales to the organisers, who made, in total, 90% of the previous rental amount. Girlahead wonders if this new business model will be used by other industries’ mega-fairs.

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Marriott, with such luxury brands as Luxury Collection, The Ritz-Carlton, St Regis and the luxury-lifestyle offerings of Edition (a partnership with Ian Schrager) and W Hotels, is always a mega-presence at luxury hotel industry gatherings.  Time, says Girlahead, to listen once again to Marriott’s leader of its luxury space, Chris Gabaldon:

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Luxury Hotels

Paris – London – Tokyo – New York

Le Ritz Paris has been one of the world’s icons since its 1898 opening and, as such, it always keeps up to tomorrow.  Early June, it opens a street-set pastry café offering creations from champion patissier François Perret, 39, deemed the world’s best by those who know. His first US show, The Chef in the Truck, was shot in Los Angeles. He included such American desserts as s’mores, given a French touch by replacing standard plain marshmallows by puff pastry stuffed with chocolate ice cream before being dipped in molten marshmallow and then, thinking of camp fires and scouting heritage, individual scorching by blowtorch. Subsequent footage garnered such a Netflix following that, says Girlahead, it is rumoured he could well be planning to take that truck to New York.

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Luxury pundit Peter Howarth, speaking to London-based Walpole’s Daily Luxury Digest, says that in today’s world sustainability and ethical production are extremely important to consumers. These essentials therefore need to be taken on board by luxury firms in any sector – even icecream. At the same time, Howarth wants to reflect true value for money, by which he means products should not be deemed luxury just because they are expensive. If those products are expensive, they should warrant the cost because of how they are made, what they are made of and how good they are. To sum up, says Girlahead, luxury must be about being best in class.

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Nutrition, though not necessarily icecream-centric, features strongly in Aman Tokyo’s three-night Misogi Retreat: you also study bodywork, Japanese mindfulness and such purification practices as Kodo Zen incense meditation. There are tea ceremonies, sword training and public Ogoma Ritual cleansing at nearby Fukagawa Fudo temple, all to provide a deep inner transformation towards a longer, healthier life. Girlahead just hopes there is time, too, to enjoy Aman Tokyo’s memorable pool, shown above, on the 38th floor of the Otemachi Tower in Chiyoda-ku.

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This brings us to the essence of the wellness that permeates all luxury travel, and lifestyle, in tomorrow’s world. Listen again to this podcast episode starring Susie Ellis, President and CEO of the not-for-profit Global Wellness Institute, headquartered in New York:

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