Upskilling escapes, dispersed hotels and conscience-free cuisine have been named top luxury travel trends to look out for in 2020 by Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH).
In its annual Luxury Travel Trends Report, SLH outlines the following six themes it believes will shape the luxury boutique experience in the coming year…
Examples of bio-architecture, conservation projects, widespread plastic-free initiatives and of course those hotels striving for carbon neutrality are the highlight. As a global company, SLH will be launching a Sustainability Manifesto in 2020 laying out commitments for SLH as a business as well as guidance for member hotels, however, many of the hotels have long been operating with a conscience. For example, Aleenta Resort and Spa Hua Hin in Thailand champions carbon-free cooking, while Harbour Village Beach Club in Bonaire, allows guests who dive to learn how to hang and maintain corals and become PADI certified in coral restoration.
Dispersed Hotels offer a new way to experience a hotel and a destination by spreading the areas out across buildings in one small town or village, naturally creating a unique micro-community for guests and locals. Enzo Ango Fuya II in Kyoto is Japan’s first ever dispersed hotel. Blending in with the rhythm of the city, each of the five buildings, dotted around one street, has its own particular style, features and functionality. San Canzian Village & Hotel in Buje, Croatia (main image), opened in June 2019 and has been created on the ruins of an ancient medieval village providing an authentic experience of the lesser-known Istrian countryside and Le Refuge de la Traye in Meribel, France, opened in December with eco-luxury chalets creating a ‘hotel hamlet’.
Upskilling Escapes offer real once-in-a-lifetime experiences, granting travellers VIP access to specialists in an effort to learn new skills, or become experts themselves. For example, guests at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay can learn about the island’s precious Neptune grass with a National Geographic presenter, while Olympic skier Andrew Weibrecht is available as an exclusive ski guide to hotel guests down the slopes of Whiteface Mountain at Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa in the 1980 Winter Olympic resort of Lake Placid, New York.
Wellness from Ahh to Zzz
Indigenous spa practices and rituals such as hay baths, volcanic mud and Ayurvedic therapies are on the rise, while the importance of sleep and innovative solutions to achieve optimum rest continue to be key for overall health and wellbeing. Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa in California is the first hotel to introduce a sleep fitness programme leveraging innovative technology, Le Grand Bellevue in Gstaad, Switzerland, will host an overnight ‘Bamford B Silent Sleep Retreat’ combining guided wellness techniques with targeted treatments while Mind Therapy at Rockliffe Hall, UK, provides the ultimate power nap using foundational Spa.Wave therapy.
The Root Back to Real Food
For foodies, the emergence of Unexpected Herbivores, plant-based restaurants in surprising places, and the ongoing benefits of ‘going herbal’ are rising in popularity. In addition, white charcoal, or binchotan, is being incorporated into food and drink across menus worldwide to absorb impurities and release vital minerals. The Prince Akatoki London and Mykonos Riviera Hotel & Spa both utilise Chikutan Sticks made from sustainably derived white charcoal for cocktails at their bars to purify and elevate the taste, while Hotel de la Ville in Monza, Italy, includes white charcoal in a variety of fusion dishes in the Derby Grill restaurant to aid digestion.
Destinations to Watch
New destinations for SLH guests in 2020 include several new members opening their doors for the very first time. Gangtey Lodge in Bhutan, one of the only carbon-negative countries in the world, lures active travellers while cultural enthusiasts appreciate its traditions unhindered by outside influences. Nepal is gearing up to celebrate ‘Visit Nepal’ in 2020 and in December the Lost Horizon Resort & Spa Begnas is scheduled to open near Pokhara. Azerbaijan is a perfect combination of European, Asian and Middle Eastern influences that make The Land of Fire a fascinating place to explore from Dinamo Hotel Baku. Tel Aviv, Israel sees new flight routes from American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways World Club Suite and The Norman Tel Aviv is the city’s only luxury boutique hotel. Despite the country’s small size, Montenegro is full of hidden treasures and a new destination for SLH in 2020 with Villa Geba joining the brand.