Holiday Habits and Trends by The Luxury Editor

When we were asked by Business Insider to contribute a few thoughts for an article about where and how HNWI spend their summer holidays it promoted us to explore this sector and the trends we’re observing in a little more detail. From travel designers, first-factor and self-development – read on to see whether you agree with the concepts and priorities we’ve highlighted from our own research.

Destinations and their Appeal.

Europe’s Boutique Villa Scene: Tuscany and South of France are popular choices for private villas with expansive grounds that become mini (but majestic) resorts in their own right. They offer the perfection of a home-away-from-home stay but each with their expert teams of staff, individual charm and unique offering means that the desired touch of exclusivity is inherent. Some of our personal favourites include; the Borgo Santo Pietro five-star boutique hotel set on a stunning 200-acre estate in Tuscany. Guests can immerse themselves in several activities ranging from exclusive private truffle hunts led by a professional truffle hunter, Vespa excursions and Bolgheri wine-tasting tours to breath-taking helicopter rides over the sunlit Tuscan countryside.

The Villa Marie Saint Tropez is just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of the buzzing hub of Saint-Tropez. The villa sits on the hillside of Ramatuelle, in a 7-acre parasol pine forest looking out over the azure sea and the Pampelonne’s beaches.  Lush gardens, natural rock plunge pools, tasteful antiques, airy designer fabrics, open salons and terraces offers guests a chic and bohemian Riviera ambience.

South Pacific Escape: Tahiti’s most famous island, Bora Bora is unrivalled in its beauty and romance. Access is by seaplane only which makes this tropical escape seem almost otherworldly and undoubtedly one of the most attractive features of this South Pacific island is the unbelievably crystal clear sea that is irresistibly inviting. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this exclusive island is that most of the resorts here are built on their own tiny islands or motu, adding to the seclusion and sheer escapism desired by the wealthy. Our favourites are The St Regis Bora Bora and the Conrad by Hilton. Both offer stylish overwater villas with incredible sea and mountain views in addition to all the luxury seclusion and isolation.

Safari in South Africa: The seclusion, sense of adventure and unique experiences all encountered on a luxurious safari holiday are greatly appealing to those who with insurmountable disposable income. Champagne picnics close to wild elephants, private game viewing decks and unrivalled views provide an all-out ‘at one with nature’ sense of intoxication. Our favourites include: Tswalu Kalahari, which is listed as National Geographic Unique Lodges of The World, is set in a 110,000-hectare reserve which encompasses its own topography and climate and for this reason a diverse species of wildlife. Its first-class gastronomic experiences and award winning spa add to its luxury wow factor.

Dithaba Lodge at Madikwe Game Reserve is perched further up the mountainside and boasts the most stunning views. With just four suites it is a popular choice for an entirely exclusive safari experience for a larger group of family or friends. A private butler, plunge pool, private chef, ranger and safari vehicle are all at the beckon call of guests.

What are the key priorities for holiday makers?

Independence and differentiation. There is a growing trend of travel designers (aka travel agents for the more affluent) to research and book independent establishments as opposed to the well-known chain resorts. These types of places can differentiate themselves through unique experiences and combining this with privacy delivered through space and discretion they will remain firm favourites with the rich and famous.

Many ultra-wealthy travellers also value the ‘first-factor’ – to experience something new, not only to them but to the entire travel scene. Ten years ago, we worked with one of the UK’s leading luxury holiday providers and they were one of, if not, the only operator in the UK to offer the most unusual limited number of POA experience lead holidays. This proposition is certainly more prominent in the sector meaning travel designers having to be increasingly creative in their offering; gastro tour of Spain’s secret restaurants by private jet anyone?

Service level is another top priority for this demographic. This extends beyond onsite services such as a private chef, nanny, chauffeur and masseuse. Experts who can give one to one attention or tuition are in high demand. For those embarking upon a luxury safari holiday then the most experienced trackers and guides who know when and where to see the rarest wildlife sightings, photographers who can introduce vantage points unknown to the rest of the world or the guru of the yoga world are all part of the HNWI holiday shopping list.

What does a HNWI do on holiday?

Same. But different. I think there are some similarities between high net worth individuals and those less affluent whilst on holiday; escaping the daily grind of routines instilled by jobs and home life is the foremost reason anyone takes a holiday at whatever level the individual operates. The appreciation and discovery of new things in new settings is also a common element enjoyed by the masses whilst on holiday. However, the differences lie in the type of activities, experiences and service level that money can buy. For example, the more affluent among us are likely to charter a private yacht for a day – or if they’re enjoying it extend that day to a week….to a month! In comparison, those that work to budgets are likely to join a day cruise and sit alongside twenty other holiday makers until the vessel moors back in the resort harbour.

Self-development. With the population becoming more self-aware a holiday can be the perfect opportunity for self-reflection and self-improvement, particularly one where an expert is employed to deliver some of the experiences we have previously noted. This demographic can afford the time and the money to really invest and immerse themselves in their chosen experience and work with / sample the very best of the best.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This rings true through every walk of life and is highly applicable for luxury holidays too, often resulting in holiday experiences that money simply cannot buy. How many times do you see a weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix, a pit pass, walking the grid or joining the after party advertised in a travel agent window? It’s all about the connections.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

The duration of a holiday for those within this demographic varies considerably. For those that are still working shorter but more frequent breaks are preferred so European destinations and closer to home UK luxury manor houses are frequented.

For those who no longer have work commitments or can work whilst away many book a one-way ticket and have the freedom and cash flow to act on a whim or a weather report.

Money, money, money!  

Based on some of the places we’ve highlighted as our favourites rates start from £375pppn through to £2,000pppn. This doesn’t include flights.  A first class return ticket from London to South Africa is in the region of £5k or a business class ticket for a 37-hour flight to Bora Bora is a nice round £10k. Spending money on exclusive experiences and fine wine and gourmet meals can cost as much as one is willing to spend so is highly variable.

This all said and done we must remember that there are still things in life that money simply cannot buy!

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