From audacious expeditions to suborbital joyrides in space, Globetrender editor Jenny Southan names five luxury travel trends set to shine in 2022.
Like bubbles exploding from an uncorked champagne bottle, travel is going to be back with a bang in 2022, as countries reopen borders, booster shots provide extra protection and vaccine passports allow people to travel overseas with fewer restrictions.
There will be hurdles, of course, as the “unvaxxed” are continued to be subject to lockdowns, testing and quarantines. Even those who are only partially vaccinated (double rather than triple jabbed, for example) may struggle to access restaurants and cultural attractions in certain countries, such as France. But overall, next year promises more freedom than many of us have experienced in two years.
Although wealthier people have managed to circumvent a lot of the stresses and strains of travel during the pandemic by chartering private jets, booking exclusive-use hotels and private islands, and outsourcing bureaucracy to expert advisors, the year ahead will allow for a return for conviviality rather than isolation, and serendipity rather than military-style planning.
Here are five trends shaping the future of luxury travel in 2022 and beyond.
- Resort Debutantes
The pandemic delayed many hotel openings, which means next year will yield a bumper crop of high-end debuts. Travel has always been a source of social prestige, especially among the elite, so we can expect luxury travellers to be focusing on short-term checklists, rather than bucket lists, as they tour the world’s most enviable new Resort Debutantes.
And there’s no shortage of destinations to choose from: luxury properties making their grand entrance include isolated Indian Ocean hideaways, state-of-the-art European medical spas and a future classic on Italy’s most glamorous island, Capri.
- Audacious Expeditions
Now more than ever, we want our free time to count. Bolstered by the spirit of carpe diem, luxury travellers with a taste for adventure will seek to be taken out of their comfort zone and tested to their limits – hence the rise of Audacious Expeditions. What’s more, tales of survival in the face of extreme danger always make for thrilling dinner-party conversation (no one wants to hear about a beach holiday).
From intrepid yacht charters guided by ex-Army specialists exploring secret Arabian islands to navigating the jagged peaks of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest with local tribesmen, extreme adventures are on the rise. So get out there and seize the day.
- Crypto Payments
Until recently, cryptocurrencies were an intangible commodity simply existing in the form of a digital token that was created, bought and sold in a virtual space. Today, it’s estimated that there are more than 100 million people in the world using cryptocurrencies – and they are looking for things to spend it on.
Whether consumers are holding Bitcoin or Ethereum, Tether or Binance, there are a rising number of opportunities to spend cryptocurrencies in the luxury travel sector. At the beginning of the year, PrivateFly reported that the popularity of paying for private jet charters with cryptocurrencies has soared, rising from 1-2 per cent of flights per month to 13 per cent in January 2021.
The summer saw the first international boutique hotel group accept cryptocurrency payments, with more resorts and rental companies following suit.
- VIP Voyages
There is nothing like life on the ocean waves to give people a sense of freedom. Plus, time in saltwater and lungfuls of fresh air are hugely beneficial to the body (ideal in the age of the virus). It’s with this in mind that Globetrender predicts VIP Voyages to be a defining trend in the months and years ahead, as luxury travellers not only return as guests on the world’s most lavish cruise ships but also charter – or buy – their own yachts.
At this year’s Monaco Yacht Show, Jim Evans, managing director of boutique brokerage SuperYachtsMonaco, told me that the superyacht industry is on fire, with people “going crazy” to buy boats, much in the same way that campervans have been in high demand during the pandemic.
- Suborbital Joyrides
After successful trips to the edge of space with both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin in 2021, many of the world’s elite will be queueing up to book their own Suborbital Joyride. This means that, like it or not, space tourism is now a reality, and it’s only going to grow as an industry, with civilian astronaut training camps from the likes of French company Orbite, and even space tourism travel insurance provided by Battleface.
With demand already accelerating, Virgin Galactic recently announced that it would be increasing the price of tickets from $250,000 to $450,000 [around £338,000] per person in 2022. There will also be the option for friends and family to “buy out” the whole spacecraft and go up together. Ultimately, the spaceline wants to be operating hundreds of flights a year from multiple spaceports around the world. Will you be on board?
Jenny Southan is the editor and founder of forecasting agency Globetrender. For weekly deep-dives into emerging travel trends, sign up to Globetrender’s premium newsletter VOLT: globetrender.com/volt