Luxury Hotels


You’ve got to hand it to Virtuoso. The company has secured 50 of the recious seats on Virgin Galactic, above – although how those passports-to-paradise will be distributed to Virtuoso’s 20,000-plus travel advisors has to be determined. Perhaps, like VIRgin and VIRtuoso, anyone called VIRginia?

The over-4,000 Virtuoso-ers who are in Las Vegas for the 34th Virtuoso Travel Week VTW listened in awe as the supersonic flight was explained on Sunday (and on Tuesday some tried out a seat in the travel advisors’ lounge). Matthew Upchurch, among their number, so admires the Virgin Galactic community: it now has a 400-person camp in Idaho, it is building another in Mexico, and its partners include Under Armor. Also on Sunday, a riveting presentation by white fingernailed fashionista Alison Levine, who finally conquered Everest at her second attempt, was a reminder that no-one can present so professionally as a well-schooled American with a good story to tell.

Monday saw the important Under One Sky lunch, sponsored by United. Virtuoso’s sustainability initiatives, led by Jessica Hall Upchurch, include carbon-offsetting staff travel. Doing well and doing good go hand in hand, she said, and announced that in 2023 certification for ESG logos will go on relevant properties’ listings on the main Virtuoso site. She also said that post-pandemic 81% of surveyed consumers are more receptive to sustainability than before and 74% will pay more if they know what the ESG contribution actually goes to. Under One Sky is already partnering with Ted Turner’s Reserves (represented on stage by the giant’s daughter, Laura Turner Seydel), The Brando,  Tourism Australia (whose sustainability head is Penny Rafferty, chief of Australia’s Luxury Lodges White Desert Antarctic trips.  Working with other South Pole operators, White Desert has agreed a collaborative pledge, which, it is now hoped, will expand to the North Pole.

Elsewhere on Monday, travel advisors from Australia (Anthony Goldman), Canada (Susan Bowman) and UK (James Turner) joined an enthusiastic Gen-Z colleague, Beth Washington, from Washington DC.  The panel agreed that the current traffic-flood of luxury travel will remain for about another 18 months and, honestly, no-one knows what will happen then. Travel, however, is the norm for young, but for all there are longer and slower-travel trips. No more rushing in a frenzy. There is no obvious switch from traditional tried and tested hotels, which means new properties have to start networking with a really fast. Somehow, by the way, such hotspots as airports must be managed.

And in between doing her 20-minute commute, rushing from ARIA, where she was staying, through VDARA to BELLAGIO, where most of her meetings took place, Girlahead always smiled at Bellagio’s indoor garden.  See below: