LONDON—Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) has released its annual Luxury Travel Trends Report, looking ahead at what will be shaping the luxury boutique experience in the coming year. From bio-architecture and conscience-free cuisine to dispersed hotels and ultimate relaxation methods, the report has been crafted from the creative, inspiring and novel elements introduced by the luxury brand’s more than 520 independent hotels that together reflect the emergence of a movement or burgeoning trend. For 2020, these small, nimble and progressive hotels continue to set the standard for luxury in the ever-changing travel landscape. The full report is available to view and download at http://www.SLH.com.
Jean-Francois Ferret, CEO at Small Luxury Hotels of the World says: “SLH has been the trailblazer for small independent hotels and we champion the imaginative and diverse voices that help shape our collective and bring inspiration to the world of wanderlust. As we celebrate three decades as the pioneer of boutique in 2020, we are delighted to share these insights and in doing so praise our hotels that continue to bring the most individual, intimate and intense travel experiences to our discerning guests.”
The full report outlines six specific overarching themes reinforced by the idea of uncomplicated and honest luxury. Travelers are looking to embrace pared back extravagance by interacting with local cultures, respecting nature and participating in something that feels bigger than themselves.
Examples of bio-architecture, conservation projects, widespread plastic-free initiatives and of hotels striving for carbon neutrality are highlighted. 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 its member hotels, however, many of its hotels have long been operating with a conscience. Aleenta Resort and Spa Hua Hin in Thailand champions carbon-free cooking. 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. Lefay Resorts in Lake Garda and the Dolomites have been offsetting CO2 emissions since 2013 and akaryn Hotel Group will become a single-use plastic free hotel group in 2020.
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, 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”. Domaine des Etangs may look like a typical chateau, but with rooms scattered around the entire estate in separate farmhouse buildings, guests can create their own bespoke experience.
Upskilling Escapes offer real once-in-a-lifetime experiences, granting travelers VIP access to specialists in an effort to learn new skills, or become experts themselves. Guests at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay can learn about the island’s precious Neptune grass with a National Geographic presenter. 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, N.Y. Recently opened in November 2019, The 121 Hotel in Nashville curates private songwriter sessions for guests to listen to songwriters talk about hit songs they penned for legendary country singers.
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 program 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, United Kingdom, 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 utilize Chikutan Sticks made from sustainably derived white charcoal for cocktails at their bars to purify and elevate the taste. 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 travelers 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. 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. Tel Aviv, Israel sees new flight routes from American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways World Club Suite and The Norman Tel Aviv—a longstanding SLH member—is the city’s only luxury boutique hotel.