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Simply Sunday – what IS new luxury, when it comes to hotels?

Memorable pool-side umbrellas at The Beverly Hills Hotel

Memorable pool-side umbrellas at The Beverly Hills Hotel

The gal was asked this question, by a friend who had a speech to give on new luxury.  What is it all about?According to Luxury Society, new luxury is – Engaging with luxury consumers at the right time with the right message, with an understanding of cultural differences, is key – Social media is accelerating luxury ecommerce, with more and more brands making purchasing via the likes of Instagram and Facebook easier for its consumers through the introduction of shoppable imagery – A number of luxury brands have developed experiential exhibitions to celebrate heritage and create engaging experiences and stories surrounding their brand.

For me, engagement from the consumers’ side must be targetted, just what I wanted but I did not know – and not too often. I want to think any engagement is for me, and me alone. Sorry, but luxury is ME, me alone or with a few around me (the importance of club lounges is paramount, here).

Luxury is a room that is large enough, but not too large (not everyone wants presidential suites). Every room fitting must be good brand, thughtful (magnifyer wall set and swivel rather than shelf-standing, easy-work TV, plenty of light, and the simplest light switches in the world). And on the bathroom side, big sizes of easy-open good brand please. Luxury is a fixed telescope, with clear, labelled skyline plan, of what you can see – so valuable in London, New York, Paris, Rome, Sydney. New luxury is a take-home gift that is really needed (The Pulitzer, a newly deflagged Preferred hotel in Amsterdam, gives out thin-linen, stylish shopping sacks, essential in today’s no-plastic grocery bags)

Luxury is everything when I want. If I want a massage at 2 a.m., that should be possible. There must be a 24/7 gym (with easy-work televisions, clearly marked channels), lots of fruit there, a simple Nespresso machine. Music, make it good, good quality tone and classic rather than MTV, whose addicts will have their own devices anyway. Luxury is audible, the sounds everywhere, corridors, elevators (Steve Wynn chooses all his elevator music, which rises as the cabin rises). Luxury is aroma, the fragrance in The Westin at Costa Navarino, it is choose-your-own pillow spray for night turndown when you check in at Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. Luxury is visual, flowers that are in perfect condition, fried eggs that have not spluttered on the plate. Luxury is taste, real organic eggs, as at Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, with sensational tastes-homemade real bread, designer butter (preferably Bordier, as at Negresco in Nice) and coffee that is as good as the Nespresso I now have at home.

Luxury is experiences, getting into the Vatican, or Victoria Beckham, after hours. It is sitting under an umbrella poolside at The Beverly Hills Hotel and looking up to see a palm pattern that complements the luxury hotel’s amazing corridor wallpapers.  And luxury for some is a physical thrill, like cycling between mangrove canals at Fairmont Mayakoba – though it was a bit silly to do it in the rain, in the dark – and, definitely, what I experienced in Douro Valley this week, serious rock-style tree climbing to be able, from a height of 31 feet, to be able to survey vineyards through 360 degrees.

As I leave, luxury is being asked personally, before I exit, if there is anything that could be improved, for the next visit (luxury is NOT having a followup questionnaire), and before that next visit luxury is a simple, personalised email from a named staff member asking if I have any special requests (luxury is NOT having a detailed pre-arrival form). Above all else, luxury is TIME.