10 BEST Luxury Hotels


Belmond’s CEO Roeland Vos, above, brought his own travelling office with him to International Luxury Travel Market ILTM. An actual carriage of the world-famous Venice-Simplon Orient Express train, meticulously restored in every detail, was brought to Cannes on an outsized truck. It’s parked, week-long, outside the show.

Altiant’s data on luxury travel, as commissioned by American Express Travel and ILTM, makes fascinating reading. The company has, for instance, honed in on some national characteristics. For Singapore, to take one example, the predictions include the fact these are prolific travellers: all respondents said they plan to holiday next year. This is the most likely of APAC countries to spend much more on travel next year (27%). They do prefer to visit nearer countries such as Australia and Japan. It’s the most likely country to cite distance from home/time zone difference as a holiday deterrent • Expect Travel Advisors to monitor latest Government advice on Covid status at destinations.

Girlahead did her own idiosyncratic research at ILTM on Wednesday. Walking the main ‘road’ of the show, one passes stands for Explore France, Experience Abu Dhabi, Visit Rwanda, Japan: Where luxury comes to life, Tuscany: Never-ending Renaissance, All you want is Greece. Winners? Greece, followed by, shared, Japan and Tuscany.  Taken away from geography, Preferred’s Believe in travel rates highly too.

Interestingly, hardly any of the 6,000 delegates here at ILTM has mentioned China. It’s as if an entire nation has been wiped off the map. Wednesday’s Financial Times has two adjacent headlines, ‘Elderly jab refuseniks threaten zero Covid exit’ and ‘Beijing risks 1mn virus deaths in winter wave’. Underneath, a spokesman for Wigram Capital Advisors says a slow re-opening, to lower deaths, would last until August 2023. THE PENINSULA PARIS GM Vincent Pimont says he has not included China at all when assessing his 2023 forecasts.

By the way one ILTM regular says it’s impressive how top-people are staying on this year. No mass fly-in and fly-out but stay over, at least until tomorrow. Another, new to ILTM, says it is even more impressive than expected. RAFFLES SINGAPORE GM Christian Westbeld has escaped a self-appointed VIP by being here. One of UK’s former Prime Ministers, Boris Johnson, stayed with him as keynote for a Blockchain conference. Again using the FT as reference, he said he could not comment on Blockchain until he had further details and the UK will become even more attractive.  Good for the terrier-like journalist who persisted, unfortunately in vain, trying to find out how much he was being paid.

Champagne houses are raking in megabucks this week. At least by 5 p.m. many stands break open bottles chilled, until then, out of sight. Frankly it was not good for the masterpiece that is Oetker to be entertaining on the stand, admittedly one of the most chic in style, and with a sizeable adjacent private terrace. Normally – but then what is normal, now? – normally Le Cheval Blanc’s party in the Majestic Suite of Barrière’s HOTEL MAJESTIC would warrant top billing on the party stakes but this year competition was too tight. Marriott Luxury’s breakfast, in the beach ‘palace’ across the road from J.W. MARRIOTT. Was memorable for it abundance of fresh flowers and a fruitful lemon tree, an table cloths etc in a subtle pale pink and light grey patterned Provencal print, for individual pots of Petrossian and well-rehearsed no-words-wasted presentations. Equally good marks go to Four Seasons. Meticulous transport arrangements took guests up to a stunning private villa, where the top floor had been transformed to a garden, grass carpet, ceiling high tree, living foliage everywhere, risotto and finger food, no less than 68 GMs mingling. This, for those not in Cannes this week, is luxury, ILTM style.

And oh, to quote Michaela Guzy – here at ILTM, of course – every time you walk five metres at ILTM you are guaranteed to run into yet another top person. Who? How about THE CARLYLE’s MD, Marlene Poynder, coincidentally the star of the latest PODCAST. Hear her here: