2021 Trends: What Will Travel Look Like?
The pandemic has impacted the world in an unprecedented way – and travel is no exception. Causing an accelerated shift in luxury consumers’ behaviours and budget allocations, the health emergency has forced the travel industry to reinvent itself and adjust to ‘a new normal’. From implementing advanced health and safety protocols to sharpening wellbeing offerings, designing meaningful travel experiences and adapting booking policies, hotels and resorts around the world are ready for 2021. Here are some of the 2021 trends to watch for.
THE YEAR OF THE MEDICAL-SPA
According to UHNW research and strategy agency Barton, the increasing desire to transform, re-energise and look after one’s wellbeing on a holistic level has steadily contributed to a spike in demand for medical retreats. Medical spas offer a fully integrated, science-based approach to wellbeing, with on-site medical departments, laboratories and high-tech machines: the post-Covid luxury consumer is no longer looking for mere relaxation, but rather at safeguarding health and improving mind and body performance.
Where to go: Unlock human potential by increasing mental and physical performance at any age, with the three signature programmes Advanced Detox, Recover and Energise or Prevention and Ageing Well at Chenot Palace Weggis in Switzerland, the newest and most advanced property within the Chenot portfolio. Going above and beyond any other existing medical spa, Chenot Palace Weggis offers guests unparalleled medical machines, the most advanced treatments and diagnosis technologies, and a team of expert doctors to meet the needs of the most wellbeing-conscious crowd.
WORKING FROM HOTEL
As remote working becomes the norm, an increasing number of destinations, including Barbados and Mauritius, are launching premium VISA programmes to encourage visitors to stay for longer: resorts around the globe are jumping on the trend and inviting digital nomads to leave their flats and flock to a tropical paradise for a workation.And although home working has its perks, Accor found that 41% of people in the UK feel that their work-life balance has worsened in 2020 and 22% feel less productive and more distracted when WFH.
Where to go: Located on a private island in the serene Shaviyani Atoll, Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi has launched a Work from Paradise package. Wealthy home-workers can benefit from complete peace and privacy in a luxurious Beach Villa, just steps from the crystal ocean, as well as access the island’s extensive wellbeing facilities and the freshest brain-boosting breakfast at Kata Restaurant.
Closer to home, COMO Metropolitan London, has designed its new Working from COMO package to inspire workers to take time out of their day to focus on both mental and physical wellbeing with a comfortable, luxurious workspace, wellbeing from COMO Shambhala and a nutritious two-course lunch from the COMO Shambhala menu, with handcrafted dishes to boost immunity and increase concentration.
As guests’ safety is the top priority for all airlines, hotels and resorts around the world, several businesses have partnered with medical associations to ensure the highest hygiene standards are met, with anti-viral arrivals – a term coined by Globetrender in a recent ‘Travel in the Age of Covid-19‘ trends report.
Where to go: The first resort to achieve the Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ certificate in the Maldives for impeccable cleaning standards, Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa promises the safest vacation on the planet. Besides offering COVID-19 testing on site, the resort has implemented procedures such as mobile sterilization UV light disinfectant and electrostatic sprayer with disinfectants and appointed a Hygiene Manager to ensure guests safety is always front of mind. Leading lifestyle brand Nobu Hotels, with 20 locations open and in development across six continents, from Ibiza and Las Vegas to the exclusive Nobu Ryokan Malibu, is also reopening its properties with adjusted measures such as temperature monitoring, UV Light Germicidal Room Sanitisers, personalised mini bar stocking, voice-controlled smart devices and the iconic Nobu in-room dining menu to limit interactions between guests.
THE ATTENBOROUGH EFFECT
Following the release of Sir David Attenborough’s latest documentary, British asset management company Hargreaves Lansdown found that the so-called ‘Attenborough effect’ is real: the majority of the people surveyed, have changed their lifestyles and are more likely to make sustainable investments. Green-minded businesses are deemed to be more resilient and have better grow prospects, therefore ‘putting your money where your morals are’ is today easier than ever before.
Where to go: Ecologically sustainable and environmentally responsible, the newest CAYO Exclusive Resort & Spa in Crete has invested in a number of technologies such as the state-of-the-art heat recovery system, where the heat produced by the air conditioning units is used for warming the water in guests’ rooms and in the main building, to minimize environmental impact. A real farm-to-table culinary experience awaits the hotel’s guests, who can taste the freshest seasonal dishes prepared with top quality ingredients from the island’s selected eco-friendly farms and CAYO’s very own organic garden.
Resting in a small fishing village between mountain and sea, Gennadi Grand Resort in Rhodes is artfully designed with eco-sensibilities in mind. A synthesis of form, function and perfectly scaled structures in a nature-showcasing landscape, Gennadi operates under a Building Management System comprising of leading innovative energy management technology. Slanted roofs simultaneously minimise sunlight reflection whilst optimising the microclimate conditions, with energy-saving glass panels, and forward-thinking recycling practices.
Whilst sustainable travel was the buzzword in 2020, next year will be about the concept of regenerative travel and it is no doubt that travellers won’t be prioritising price over ethical travel considerations. As Amanda Ho – Co-Founder of Regenerative Travel – defined it during the TTG Luxury Summit, regenerative travel goes beyond sustainability in a bid to move from scarcity to abundance, improving an environment and regenerating it via conscious human actions.
Where to go: Part of the family-owned Lindos Hotels group – including the eco-friendly Gennadi Grand Resort – Lindos Village Resort & Spa and the new Lindos Grand Resort & Spa (opening May 2021) are part of the ‘Forest Ambassador’ programme in Rhodes which aims to plant, water and protect new trees in the burned forests to restore nature and keep a healthy balance between tourism and the natural environment.
Further afield, the rich marine ecosystem around Fairmont Maldives is flourishing. Over 250 species of tropical fish, manta rays and turtles patrol a colourful coral house reef and its Coralarium – the archipelago’s first and only coral regeneration project in the form of an underwater art gallery. The Coralarium, designed by British eco-artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, acts as an artificial reef and encourages marine life to make it a home – and it’s working; since March, coral cover on the Coralarium has increased by 30%. In Thailand, many gibbons are killed and captured every year, sold as pets or used to attract tourists, and the four gibbon species native to Thailand are listed as endangered species. Guests staying at COMO Point Yamu can support the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project; a centre dedicated to saving gibbons from captivity, rehabilitating them, finding mates and setting them back into protected areas.
BLUE HEALTH BOOM
The restorative powers of water have been recognised for ages, but a renewed interest in their healing power is being studied by researchers at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter, shaping a new trend labelled Blue Health. Get ready for some invigorating swimming, adrenaline-packed surfing, and calming paddle boarding.
Where to go: In the heart of the Mediterranean, the island of Ibiza is known for being one of the world’s most magnetic points, making the surrounding sea thought to be full of healing, energising and magical energy. The sleek Amàre Hotel Ibiza, whose name is a combination of the Spanish words amare (to love) and mar (the sea) has prime access to the nearby harbour and to the rustic Cala de Bou, where guests can take a dip in the turquoise ocean to activate the body’s healing mechanisms, paddle board to re-connect with the mind and balance the emotions and attend the bi-weekly sunrise yoga classes on the rooftop overlooking the open waters.
SOCIALLY-DISTANCED ACTIVE BREAKS
The demand for golfing holidays, whether in the UK or in ‘travel corridor’ destinations, has more than doubled compared to last year, thanks to golf being one of the best outdoor activities for social distancing. With golf resorts offering guests terrific trip enhancements, like restaurants dine-around, specific Spa rituals and wine tastings, golfers are going to pursue their bucket list golf travel dreams in 2021.
Where to go: Thanks to its undulating landscape and enviable temperatures that last from early spring way into to the autumn, Mallorca is a prime destination for golfing holidays with more than twenty very different courses overlooking the island’s turquoise waters. Boasting three 5-star resorts all located minutes away from some of the best golf venues in the island, Zafiro Hotels offer impressive dedicated services for golf enthusiasts such as therapeutic massages, balanced diets, green fees and car rentals. Opening in spring 2021, the all-suite Zafiro Palace Andratx grant guests prime access to the nearby Andratx Gold Club, a 18-hole championship golf course featuring Spain’s longest hole: the ‘Green Monster’.
THE RISE OF JETCATIONS
When most air travel effectively stopped in March 2020, some private jet operators feared the worst, expecting COVID-19, along with the recession to come, would decimate their businesses. Instead, for many, the summer of 2020 has held up well, particularly as big airlines ditched first class. According to leading private aircraft seller Jetcraft, private jet sales began to ramp up since the lowest point in April, as both leisure and business travellers want to be in total control of their moves and schedules, and this is not granted when chartering. NetJets also revealed that the number of new aircraft owners tripled compared to 2019, highlighting that the ‘peace of mind’ guaranteed by flying privately is now considered unnegotiable.
Where to go: Nothing embodies luxury and privacy more than a paradisiacal private island in the Maldives, and of those, Velaa Private Island stands head and shoulders above the rest. Originally included as part of VistaJet’s ‘Safe Haven’ collection following the global pandemic, Velaa Private Island is proud to announce VistaJet as its official private aviation partner for 2021. As part of VistaJet’s Private World collection, Velaa can now offer customers the ultimate in bespoke luxury travel whilst guaranteeing a safe point-to-point journey to the paradise island from anywhere in the world. What’s more, those that use the service will also receive exclusive benefits through VistaJet, culminating in the ultimate fusion of luxury.
SECLUSION, SECLUSION, SECLUSION
To echo the ‘location, location, location’ cliché, the three most important factors in determining the desirability of a hotel are ‘seclusion, seclusion, seclusion’ during this time. Whilst home-share rentals and busy cities will all be low on the desirability scale next year, isolated villas, rural locations and resorts that offer buyouts solutions will be scoring high according to trends forecasting agency Globetrender.
Where to go: Naturally allowing social distancing thanks to its premium location on the Raa Atoll, Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa is one of top three hotels for lowest density of villas construction in the whole Indian Ocean and champions a Deluxe All-Inclusive formula that allows guests to unlimitedly order delicacies from the four à la carte restaurant directly to their villas.
On the other side of the globe, COMO Parrot Cay in Turks & Caicos represents the pinnacle of Caribbean luxury and is home to one of the region’s most exclusive rental villas – The Sanctuary. Sleeping up to 21 guests, The Sanctuary comprises a main house and two four-bedroom villas that can be rented altogether for the upmost privacy. Set on 10.5 acres and with private beach access, each villa has its own infinity pool, sun-soaked decking area and access to COMO butler service, making it the perfect destination to reconnect with the ones you love most post-lockdown.
TRAVEL LESS, BUT BETTER
Border closures and grounded airlines caused commercial air traffic to shrink 41% below 2019 levels last March, and whilst the slow resumption of flights in summer has allowed people to travel domestically or short haul, next year is expected to be the year of the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ journey. Travellers had the time to plan and research which travel brands can ensure their next trip will be a remarkable and meaningful experience. Whether it is helping local communities or learning a new skill, travellers will look for transformative experiences as they never did before.
Where to go: Rooted in Balinese culture, COMO Uma Ubud offers guests the chance to uncover the secrets of the region’s most celebrated dishes with the resort’s private cookery classes. Under the watchful eye of the award-winning Head Chef, Dewa Artana, guests head to the local market of Payangan to collect ingredients, weaving through locals buying and selling produce, before testing their skills in the kitchen with Chef Dewa.
In Cappadocia, Turkey, a new experience for 2021 by the iconic argos in Cappadocia hotel will take guests on a wine tasting and culinary journey to protect the local cuisine of the region with a chance to harvest the in-season produce themselves, taste traditional local dishes and cook alongside the hotel’s experienced chefs. Aiming to support the vinification of the country, argos will be offering a new wine tasting menu and guests can learn about the cutting-edge techniques used and the 30 different grape varieties, which are now growing healthier than ever.
UNPRECEDENTED FLEXIBILITY, BOOKING MARKET REVOLUTION
As hard as it can be to predict booking trends, it is easier when travel is restricted on a global scale. During the first lockdown in spring 2020, tour operators were observing a rise in early bookings for 2021 as customers’ confidence in short term travel was uncertain and companies like British Airways extended the lead booking period to 18 months. As countries began to open up again in summer and throughout autumn, the governments’ travel corridor regimes is now driving a very late booking market according to the independent travel agents group Advantage Travel Partnership.
Where to go: To offer guests a seamless contactless service to manage bookings, check-ins and check-outs Crete’s newest design hotel, CAYO Exclusive Resort & Spa launched an interactive app that enables guests to access their room key and find a plethora of information surrounding the new luxury resort: from the menus of the four gastronomic restaurants to nearby destinations worth exploring.
As well as this, Lindos Hotels in Rhodes launched a new guest app ‘Exclusivi’ allowing guests to book all meals, spa treatments and other activities, as well as a WhatsApp digital concierge service, ensuring a safe and seamless experience for all guests. Lindos Hotels are also currently offering early bird booking discounts for 20% off 2021 holidays with flexible rates, allowing guests to modify or cancel their reservations free-of-charge up to five-days before arrival (not applicable on non-refundable rates).