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.
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.
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.
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: