Transformative travel: the new reality of luxury holidays

Significant transformations in many sectors have made this clear: luxury is changing its appearance. Those who are used to treating themselves well, especially on holiday, seem to have developed new needs and desires. And luxury travel is increasingly becoming an opportunity for profound personal transformation.

From fashion to beauty and experiences, the concept of luxury lifestyle is redefining its boundaries. What was once defined primarily by economic value now has more to do with painstaking care, personalized experiences and the ability to create authentic connections.

The explanations that have been given are different, from the influence of digital models to the recent economic crisis, but one thing is clear: luxury resembles its stereotype less and less.

At first, physical products took the brunt of the blow. In its initial stages, the transformation taking place at the highest end of the market could be summarised in a simple formula: fewer products, more experiences.  But even experiences have not been exempt from change, especially the most emblematic of all: travelling.

An emerging trend in luxury holiday

By definition, luxury rhymes with exclusivity. A product, a service, an experience are luxurious if they are wanted by many, but accessible to few. Today, although the word "exclusivity" is no longer so attractive and new paradigms inspired by principles such as sustainability and inclusiveness are emerging, the most demanding consumers have not stopped wanting to experience exceptional things.
Travelling is the perfect opportunity. Daily routine stops and you can live a different life, if only for a while. And if this is the intention, "same old, same old" may not be the right approach. Then change the destination. But is this enough to make every holiday a special experience? The trend of "transformative travel" that has invested luxury tourism seems to give back a negative response.

What transformative travel is

All too similar resorts, indistinguishable offers of services and activities, trips scheduled for the simple fact that the time of year in which you usually go on holiday has arrived. There is no luxury hotel that can survive a holiday model that, to be completely honest, sounds so old. This conception crumbled over time, while an opposite one developed, the one that would have led to the most significant trend of the moment: travelling is no longer as a short moment of transition, but as a tool of personal transformation – this is the foundation of transformative travel.
Experience a unique journey, come into contact with the feeling of being part of something significant. Leaving for a transformative travel trip has a unique, imperative rule: that you return home deeply changed.

There's no doubt that it's something quite different from those clichéd days spent in total relaxation. Especially when you consider that physical activity is often part of the package.

Learning, community and fitness

There is no doubt that changing always means learning. Perhaps this is why learning is an indispensable part of a journey that wants to be called really "transformative". Whether it's learning how to cook a traditional dish, knowing and practicing a new sport or building an object by hand, the idea of going back without knowing how to do something you didn't know how to do before can't be taken into consideration.

The community element also plays a fundamental role: both services that allow you to get in touch with the local communities and those that organize group trips among strangers are experiencing great success. Someone has accused this renewed search for community to disconnection from hyper-connection, but it cannot be denied that few things like human contact and relationships are capable of transforming people.

Lastly, fitness plays a significant role. With the change in the very idea of wellness, which has led to consider wellness a real lifestyle, people no longer try to lose weight in view of a future holiday, but they want to feel good constantly, perhaps using their holiday as a time to start changing their habits. It is no coincidence that 40% of respondents to a survey conducted by Well+Good magazine said they preferred the idea of a fitness camp to a holiday in a 5-star resort.
Catalogue resorts seem to have taken note of the changes that are happening to their customers, trying to offer new travel experiences. For example, it is now almost impossible to find a 5-star resort that is not equipped with a latest generation gym and an athletic or personal trainer who is always available, or that does not propose, in addition to the classic week of relaxation by the pool or on the beach, unique packages to discover the place and the true local traditions. With the very concept of "luxury" in question, a real revolution is exploding in the luxury travel industry, and only those able to offer its customers unique, genuine and unforgettable experiences will impose themselves as the new forerunners of high-end tourism.

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