I just returned from my trip to Santa Barbara for the Luxury Travel Summit. It’s an intensive session with presentations on trends, small group briefings, working lunches, and one on one meetings with our preferred travel suppliers. It’s a great time to learn about updates and new innovations, and also get together with my travel agent colleagues from around the country as we enjoy exchanging ideas after hours. The hotel had an outdoor fire pit and the air was cool and crisp at night, so it was the perfect gathering place.
We spent a lot of time talking about what luxury means and that it can mean different things to different people. We also talked about how luxury is evolving from the typical limo and champagne view to a more experiential type of travel, but I found that there are a few indulgences that always say luxury to me, so I wanted to share a few of those favorite features in luxury travel.
You had me at…
As we were briefed on new options and features that are offered on the variety of luxury travel alternatives, there are a few that just grab me and make me say “Oh yes, I am ready to go.” So here are my list of experiences where they totally hooked me in:
Okay, the word pretty much says it all. There are a number of luxury cruises and land resorts that offer butlers in certain categories, but very cool that Silversea has a butler for every stateroom and that Crystal River Cruises does as well. Some people have trouble figuring out what they would ask their butler to do, but quickly discover lots of advantages, as they will unpack and pack for you, serve breakfast on the veranda, make onboard dinner and spa reservations, polish shoes, and so much more.
VIP Traveling Bell Boy
This is a service included on the Abercrombie & Kent small group journeys, which are land tours on all seven continents with a focus on luxury and comfort. I love the VIP Traveling Bell Boy, where you leave your luggage in your room and then depart to go on your tour to the next city, and when you get to your next hotel, your luggage is in your room waiting for you. Closely behind this fabulous idea is the Traveling Valet, where they provide a complimentary laundry service at the midpoint of your journey so you can pack a bit lighter.
Included Business Class Seating on all Intercontinental Flights
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is a luxury cruise line that is one of the most inclusive cruise lines with select liquor and wine, gratuities, shore excursions, and airfare included; this year they upped their game even more by making the included air over the ocean business class. Oh yeah!
In-suite Stocked Refrigerator
A number of luxury cruise lines have this option and it’s so great because you get to pick your favorite beverages to enjoy in your stateroom any time you like – you select the type of liquor, wine or soft drinks and your fridge is filled with only your requests. I’m a pretty happy camper when I have a refrigerator stocked with Diet Coke, Riesling wine, and a bottle of champagne (oops, I guess I should let my husband have a little room in that fridge for his vodka).
The Late Riser’s Tour Option
I love this idea since one of my favorite things is sleep. On river cruises the shore excursions are included, but most times the excursions leave first thing in the morning, usually 8:30 or 9:00am. AMA Waterways has a late risers option, so you can experience a lovely guided tour around that quaint little European town, but you get to enjoy sleeping a little later too.