4 Top Luxury Travel Trends

Forbes March 12, 2024

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4 Top Luxury Travel Trends

Many travel trends have proved fleeting, like revenge travel or buddymoons. But some evolve and help shape the future of travel.

At Forbes Travel Guide’s recent 2024 Summit, the premier gathering of the luxury travel and hospitality industry, top leaders revealed the hot trends that are taking hold right now.

There’s an increasing demand for luxury travel experiences, said Rafat Ali, CEO and founder of travel news website Skift, at the Summit. “This isn’t just about more people being able to afford luxury,” he said. “It’s about more people choosing travel as a form of self-expression and personal growth. Millennials and Gen Zers are driving this change, putting experiences over things.”

“The luxury hospitality industry has never been more strongly positioned to satisfy the growing appetite for elevated and distinctive travel experiences,” said Amanda Frasier, president of Standards & Ratings at Forbes Travel Guide. “With a continued hyperfocus on quality of health as a key ingredient to the definition of luxury for today’s traveler, we are excited for the years ahead and where this cultural shift will move the industry.”

 
Well-Being Is Here to Stay

There’s been a great emphasis on wellness in travel since the pandemic, but it’s more than just a fad —it’s permanently changed how people think about travel. “What started out as spas, fitness and outdoor recreation in travel has exploded into full-blown branded hotels, health resorts, wellness retreats and travel partners all promoting wellness as a core brand value, if not their entire raison d’être,” said wellness and hospitality expert Mia Kyricos, president and “Chief Love Officer” of Kyricos & Associates LLC, at the Summit.

But what’s next in the wellness space is longevity — Kyricos called it “the wellness buzzword of 2024.”

“Longevity travel is a coming trend,” affirmed Chip Conley, founder and CEO of Modern Elder Academy (a self-described midlife wisdom school) and Airbnb’s former head of global hospitality and strategy. Conley said interest in achieving a longer lifespan made MEA faculty member Dan Buettner found Blue Zones, a leader in longevity research based on where people live extraordinarily long or happy lives. “Part of the reason it’s become so successful and has a Netflix documentary is because we’re all curious about how to live a longer, healthier, happier, deeper life,” Conley said at the Summit.

One place incorporating longevity into its lineup is Four-Star Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, which consistently offers innovative wellness offerings. Carillon leads two retreats focused on longevity in partnership with The Biostation, a South Florida anti-aging and wellness center. “Get Healthy Together” provides comprehensive services aimed at rejuvenation and takes its cues from developments in longevity research. In-depth diagnostic testing and restorative treatments help guests improve their energy, achieve a better hormone balance and find lasting anti-aging benefits. During the “Optimal Health Together” retreat, friends or partners have over 100 biomarker assessments, IV nutrient therapy, daily group fitness, spa treatments and more.

“Wellness retreats provide a focused and immersive experience aimed at promoting health, vitality and longevity through personalized care and holistic approaches to well-being,” said Tammy Pahel, vice president of spa and wellness operations at Carillon.

 
A Rise in Solo Travel

“Loneliness is one of the biggest, fastest-growing crises in the world,” Ali said at the Summit. He pointed to 2023 U.S. Census data that says more than a quarter of all U.S. households have one person — the highest number in the country’s history. What this means for luxury travel is that we will see an increase in solo travel as a means to connect with people, Ali said.

Cruises are seizing this opportunity and creating offerings for single travelers. Crystal is promoting “Sail Solo in Style,” where Abercrombie & Kent-curated shore excursions are tailored to solitary adventurers, single staterooms and suites are available, and ambassador hosts can dine or dance with women cruising on their own. Celebrity is also wooing the solo set with single staterooms on Silhouette and all Edge-series ships, including the new Ascent, and a new hosted gathering and dinner for solo travelers.

Hotels are jumping on the trend as well. Grand Velas Riviera Maya, a Four-Star all-inclusive resort in Mexico, debuted the Solo Travelers Experience. The package for one features a Mexican spirit tasting, a honey tasting from the hotel’s bee sanctuary and a Bacal Massage (a locally inspired treatment that uses corn cobs). It also includes a Tulum day trip to visit a cenote and swim with sea turtles.

The need for connection is giving rise to a new form of social clubs. Six Senses plans to debut a new brand, Six Senses Place, that will be a membership-based social club akin to Soho House but with a wellness focus. The clubs will reside within Six Senses hotels.

 
Business Travel Finally Rebounds

Business travel is booming, and it doesn’t look like it will stop any time soon. Global business travel spending is expected to reach its pre-pandemic total of $1.4 trillion in 2024 and grow to nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027, according to a report from the Global Business Travel Association.

“In 2024, we forecast that business/group travelers will represent a significant market segment,” said Jerelle Gordan, director of sales and special events at Resorts World Las Vegas, a property with more than 250,000 square feet of event space. Gordan said that business travelers have continued to increase year over year and that RWLV is booked through 2029 for conferences.

Another trend among those hitting the road for work is bleisure travel (a blend of business and leisure). The GBTA reports that 62% of business travelers say they are doing more bleisure travel than in 2019, with 42% adding additional personal days to their business trips. And 79% of these travelers are staying at the same hotel for the business and vacation portions of their trip.

“RWLV, and Las Vegas as a whole, continues to witness bleisure as business travel continues to grow, and guests extending stays for leisure purposes is becoming a more common travel theme amongst those visiting,” Gordan said. “The RWLV property has a lot to offer, from incredible entertainment to state-of-the-art spa and wellness services, plus gaming, to name a few. It’s hard not to fit some personal time in when here on business.”

Each year RWLV — which comprises Conrad Las Vegas at Resorts World, Crockfords Las Vegas, LXR Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Las Vegas — has been in operation, it’s created new meeting spaces to accommodate how its events continue to grow. But the mega-resort goes beyond adding space to cater to business travelers. There’s a VIP Luxury Services department that finds creative ways to anticipate guest needs. High-end Crockfords’ daily turndown service includes bottled water, chamomile milk, dark chocolates, Awana Spa face masks and Theraguns for recovery. But any room on the property can order special amenities, like floral arrangements grown in-house and sleep kits with a pillow mist, ear plugs and eye cream.

 
Demand Drives Smaller City Growth

After the pandemic, travelers flocked to the faraway destinations they dreamed of during lockdown. About 1.3 billion million tourists traveled internationally in 2023, up significantly from about 960 million in 2022, which was more than double the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

For 2024, they will likely stay closer to home. In the U.S., there’s been a rise in travel in smaller cities, which have been working to accommodate the influx. Tampa is undergoing a resurgence with its revamped Water Street district, which features new hotels like The Tampa EDITION, a chic spot with one of the city’s most buzzed-about restaurants, Lilac from chef John Fraser, and JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, a 27-story waterfront getaway with the city’s highest rooftop bar. Plus, the Tampa Convention Center wrapped up its most extensive renovation to date in June, and Tampa International Airport, which has been steadily updating since 2012, will break ground on a new 16-gate international and domestic terminal this year.

While Nashville has always been a destination for music fans and foodies, it’s also established itself as a city for luxury travelers. In 2022, the city saw a spurt of new openings with eco-friendly 1 Hotel Nashville, contemporary Conrad Nashville and the riverfront Four Seasons Hotel Nashville joining established properties like art-focused The Joseph, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Nashville and 1910 landmark The Hermitage Hotel (which unveiled a restoration and redesign in 2022). And more are on the way: a Ritz-Carlton will open in 2026 and an EDITION will follow in 2027.


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