The idea of luxury in hospitality is slowly but steadily evolving from a picture of glamour and opulence to an inspiration of comfortable class, and luxury hotel brands have taken notice, tweaking their offerings to accommodate wider groups of travelers.
Also, a number of new luxury brands that launched in the past few years are taking a different approach—focusing more on lifestyle than wealth.
It’s making the luxury hospitality experience seem approachable to a much wider group of consumers, hotel executives said.
“We raised the concept here of the mega traveler, and the idea that it's not just the wealthy and the super wealthy who are traveling and staying in high-end and luxury hotels; it's, in fact, many professionals who are spending 50, 100, 150 days a year on the road,” said Frits van Paasschen, CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which has three luxury brands under its umbrella and is considering adding a fourth.
Van Paasschen said Starwood’s W brand—which he said wasn’t launched as a luxury brand but was able to capture high enough rates to catapult into the segment—is capitalizing on a “clear trend in luxury, which is towards each individual defining what luxury means for them.”
“If there's a social change going on here, it's that today luxury has less to do with formality and what one is supposed to do and more and more to do with what I want to do,” van Paasschen said. “Because I—and I am saying I as a traveler—have the means and the desire to enjoy a luxurious experience, but I have no desire to wear a tie. I want to wear my jeans. I want to enjoy myself. I want to partake in popular culture and design.”
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