2013’s Top Luxury Travel Trends And Destinations

Want to know where to go and what to do in 2013? Leading luxury travel network Virtuoso has released their 2013 Luxe Report, revealing the top travel trends and destinations for 2013, as chosen by their travel advisers.

We’re seeing a number of new destinations emerge as must-visits, including Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile, lesser-developed destinations that give a more immersive experience than a traditional luxury vacation. Cuba and Vietnam are also high on the list of emerging areas.

Cruising, both ocean and river, as well as multi-generational travel remain strong trends as well.

In terms of destinations, Italy remains a top international spot, as well as South Africa, France, Australia and Argentina.

Domestically, Napa Valley /Sonoma claim the top spot as the most sought after U.S. destination, bumping both Maui and New York from their touted positions. While Las Vegas remains on the list, the city now shares an unlikely fourth place juxtaposed with the state of Alaska. Families will visit Italy, Costa Rica, England and Mexico, the study finds, while couples will consider Italy, French Polynesia, France, Bali and Fiji.

As in past reports, the motivation behind high-end travel continues to be: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; personal enrichment; seeking adventure; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – again, supporting the emerging destinations as well as emphasizing multigenerational travel as one of the biggest trends for 2013.

The 2013 Report also predicts there will be a rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations and suggests that when necessary, travelers are willing to book lower room categories in order to stay in nicer hotels.

Travel advisors still continue to be the lead influencer in determining their clients’ travel decisions, followed closely by input from friends and family, which shows that crowd-sourcing will continue to factor into the travel planning process. Meanwhile, Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus gaining popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this on-board product.

What do you think? Will you be visiting any of these destinations in 2013?

[Image Credit: eGuide Travel]

Virtuoso’s Travel Week Highlights New Luxury Travel Trends

Earlier this month in Las Vegas, leading luxury travel agency Virtuoso conducted the largest meeting of luxury brands in the travel industry, Virtuoso Travel Week.

While we sadly were stuck on the East Coast for this event, we kept close tabs on the “meetings of the minds” out West and were intrigued by what emerged as conference trends.

Bhutan: A Bucket List Destination
Closed to outsiders for centuries, the Kingdom of Bhutan recently emerged as a “must” on savvy travelers’ bucket lists. The first country in the world to measure its success by the “Gross National Happiness” of its citizens, Bhutan attracts travelers with a social conscience and those seeking a spiritual journey like none other.

Cruising: Not Just For Oceans
River cruising is poised to continue growth in the luxury travel market, particularly as disasters and discontent with larger ocean-going cruise lines continue to make waves in national headlines. These typically smaller ships are able to offer a higher-level of service and see areas that big ships can’t reach.

Ecuador: A Hot Spot In South America
Offering something for everyone, Ecuador boasts a beach culture along the Pacific Ocean, the mountainous Andes, exotic Amazon and, of course, the gateway to the Galapagos Islands (a short 1 hour, 35 minute-flight). Announcing its new tourism concept called “Conscious Tourism,” Ecuador is the first nation in the world to include the Rights of Nature in its constitution, and the country will forgo some 846 million barrels of heavy crude reserves to protect the biological diversity and indigenous people of the Yasuni National Park, in turn becoming the first developing country to propose an effective, quantifiable and verifiable carbon abatement model. Now it will be easier to visit Ecuador, as the country is the first in South America to use the U.S. Dollar as its national currency, it shares a time zone with the U.S. minimizing jetlag, and soon will open a state-of-the-art international airport to welcome visitors from around the world.

Luxury Travel Thrives: Travelers Help Market Bounce Back
Virtuoso says an outcome of the financial crisis is the changing consumer mindset, where uncertainty has created a greater desire for stronger personal connections and enriching experiences, both of which can be achieved through travel. Virtuoso points to its network’s 51 percent increase in production since 2009 at the height of the U.S., and subsequent global, economic recession as proof that the industry is thriving. Since early 2010, the travel community has contributed to 7.2 percent of overall job growth, outpacing the growth of the rest of the economy in employment recovery.

Family Travel, England And Cuba Top Topics In Virtuoso’s ‘2012 Luxe Report’

Luxury travel agent network Virtuoso has released their annual “luxe” report. Generally, we’re fans of anything luxurious and travel related, so this was one we couldn’t wait to get our hot little hands on.

The network’s database of luxury travel agents and clients are generally seen as some of the industry’s best predictors in upcoming luxury travel trends.

So … what are luxury travelers doing?

Despite high fuel and hotel costs, affluent travelers are still traveling, particularly to international destinations like Italy and France, with England joining the top five on this prestigious list for the first time. They have a strong desire to explore new, undiscovered destinations with Cuba, for the first time ever, topping the polls as the most popular emerging destination.

Travelers are searching for new experiences in off-the-beaten-path locations. Cambodia and Belize made their debut in the “undiscovered destinations” category this year.

While we’ve read much about cruise disasters of late, the idea of traveling via boat hasn’t died a swift death. High-end river cruises were named as the second of five biggest emerging travel trends, just behind family and multi-generational travel.

Family travel was a huge trend studied in the survey. Families were most likely to visit destinations including Italy, England, Turks & Caicos, South Africa, Hawaii and Costa Rica.
Within the U.S., Miami and predominantly South Beach joined the list of top five destinations, coming in at number five on the list after Maui, New York City, Napa Valley and Sonoma and Las Vegas.

The most popular destinations for romantic travel continue to be Italy, French Polynesia and France; however, the 2012 report saw both Bali and the Seychelles join the top five. Apparently love can survive a 20-plus-hour flight – these travelers must be in first class.

We’re not super surprised by the results or the addition of England into many of the categories, given the recent Royal Wedding and Olympics-related media attention. What about you? Do these results surprise you?

[Flickr image of Cuba via citronate]

Travel Dreams survey ranks cruise vacations tops

Virtuoso Life magazine readers, some of the world’s most sophisticated travelers, voted for travel options on their “wish list” for the 2011 Travel Dreams survey and the results are in. Spending time on the high seas emerged as a common theme. Taking a world cruise and sailing the Mediterranean by private yacht were the top two “Trips of a Lifetime,” while cruising was selected as the “Most Desired Travel Experience.”

“Virtuoso clients are some of the most sought-after travelers because of their strong desire for authentic experiences and their propensity to vacation longer and more frequently, and spend more,” says Elaine Srnka, editorial director for Virtuoso Life.

During the fifth annual survey, in addition to cruise vacations, the Virtuoso Life reader votes revealed other desirable trips and destinations ranging from blasting off into space to renting a private island and chose destinations from French Polynesia to Greece.

Top 10 trips of a lifetime

1. Setting sail for a world cruise
2. Sailing the Mediterranean on a private yacht
3. Calling on all seven continents
4. Renting a European villa
5. Visiting all seven New Wonders of the World
6. Photographing the “big five” on an African safari
7. Renting a private island
8. Blasting off into suborbital space
9. Chartering a private jet
10. Dining my way through Paris’ best restaurants

Top 10 dream destinations

1. Australia
2. Italy
3. South Africa
4. New Zealand
5. Greece
6. Antarctica
7. France
8. French Polynesia
9. China
10. Ireland

The “Travel Dreams” survey released this week and conducted between January 1 and March 31, 2011 yielded nearly 14,000 responses. Sixty percent plan to take three or more short vacations this year, while 63 percent will take an additional one-to-two longer vacations and 33 percent will take more than three longer vacations this year.

For complete survey results, visit VirtuosoLife.com

Flickr photo by spaceodissey