This week the ASME is asking people on Facebook to vote for their favorite cover in the “Brainiest” category. If you have a Facebook account, please help Virtuoso Life by clicking here to vote for the magazine’s September/October 2013 issue. The link will take you to the ASME’s Facebook page, and once there, please click “Like” to vote for the Virtuoso Life cover. Voting is open March 3-9 only. The most “liked” covers will compete for the Readers’ Choice Award.
The September/October 2013 issue debuted Virtuoso Life’s “How To Travel Better” theme. Packed with tips on everything from planning and packing to navigating airport security, ordering dim sum in Asia, cultural etiquette, and more, the issue offers insight tailored to the worldliest of travelers. Wildly popular with readers, the issue’s theme was effectively communicated with its type-driven, graphic cover.
To learn more about Virtuoso Life and the travel insights readers get in every issue, click here.
Do you look forward to reading Virtuoso’s flagship magazine, Virtuoso Life, every month? You can support the publication and help it win a new honor: The American Society of Magazine Editors Best Cover Contest.
If you have a Facebook account, Virtuoso would love your support. Please click here to vote for Virtuoso Life’s January 2013 issue in the Lifestyle category. The link will take you right to the ASME’s Facebook page. Please click “Like” to vote for the Virtuoso Life cover. The most “liked” covers will compete to win the ASME Best Cover Contest Readers’ Choice Award.
The cover image captured Buddhist nuns collecting alms near Mandalay. The fresh faces and vibrant colors hint at the country’s budding transformation from politically off-limits to tourism darling full of optimism – if a little uncertainty – for what the future holds.
To learn more about Virtuoso Life and the wealth of travel insights it shares in every issue, click here.
Want to know which destinations are big sellers among luxury travelers? Or which hot spots are showing the fastest growth among affluent vacationers? Virtuoso has released its first Consumer Travel Trends Report as a measure of where upscale travelers have been venturing.
The report found that European countries dominated the Top 10 Destination list, while some lesser-visited nations showed significant growth on the Virtuoso Hot List.
Each country on the list experienced double-digit growth. Mexico and the Netherlands saw the biggest improvement in their share of luxury business, up 30 percent and 29 percent respectively.
2. United Kingdom
The fastest-growing destinations worldwide based on the largest percentage of upscale tourism growth in 2013 are:
1. Malaysia (+ 107%)
2. Maldives (+ 91%)
3. Puerto Rico (+ 68%)
4. Belize (+ 51%)
5. Cambodia (+ 45%)
6. Portugal (+ 41%)
7. Tanzania (+ 41%)
8. Croatia (+ 40%)
9. Sweden (+ 34%)
10. Mexico (+ 30%)
Destinations with lower 2012 sales numbers rebounded in 2013. Portugal, which struggled as part of the European debt crisis, enjoyed a 34 percent increase in air sales and a 62 percent increase in hotel sales. Spain (air sales up 13 percent, hotel sales up 25 percent), Ireland (air sales up 13 percent, hotel sales up 28 percent), and Greece (hotel sales up 59 percent) also enjoyed significant growth.
Vietnam was the most booked country, with hotel sales doubling. Cambodia also saw its hotel sales double, plus a seven percent increase in airline sales. Malaysia hotel sales surged more than eight times its 2012 numbers.
Overall Luxury Travel Sales
Virtuoso analyzed hotel, airline, cruise, and tour sales data from member travel agencies to find growth across all categories with an overall increase of 11.25 percent, including a 24 percent increase in luxury hotel sales.
Want to explore one of the Top 10 Destinations, a place on the Virtuoso Hot List, or somewhere else? A Virtuoso travel advisor can partner with you to create a memorable vacation. Find your match at www.virtuoso.com.
Friends since high school, Ansley Thomas and Owen Gaddis two both work in travel – Thomas as a Virtuoso travel advisor in Atlanta, Georgia, and Gaddis as a manager with Virtuoso partner Absolute Travel. When Gaddis confided that he was proposing to his girlfriend, Thomas asked to plan the honeymoon.
The surprising thing wasn’t that Gaddis said yes. It was that he and his fiancée agreed to let Thomas keep everything about the honeymoon, even the location, a mystery.
“I told them a beach would be involved, that I wanted an extreme sports angle for Owen, and horseback riding for the bride,” Thomas details. The trip wound up being a three-continent, two-week journey to Istanbul, Tanzania, Dubai and Oman, with five-star accommodations at every stop.
Though a “mystery moon” is rare, it’s one example of a growing romance travel trend: surprising and unconventional itineraries. A client of Virtuoso travel advisor Sandy Staples in Folsom, California wanted to inject mystery into a romantic trip. She asked Staples to organize a surprise tour of Germany and Poland for her husband’s 50th birthday.
“He didn’t find out until two days before they left,” Staples recounts. “They started with a private tour of Auschwitz, because he was a history buff, then they went to Berlin, drove the romantic road near Heidelberg, and ended with three days at Oktoberfest.”
Other twists stem from variations on trends. Babymoons – vacations where expecting parents celebrate their final kid-free days – continue their popularity, but Staples says couples are now embarking on them before they’re with child. “Couples I planned babymoons for recently told me they were doing this because they were going to be pregnant when they went or wanted to have children very soon,” she observes.
Staples has spotted another new angle: couples are taking an entire year to commemorate milestones rather than just one vacation.
“People are saying, ‘This is our anniversary year,’ and book several trips in that year,” she explains. “One couple has done a European cruise, now they’re doing an Asia to Alaska cruise, then a U.S. national parks trip, and then they go to Mexico for three or four weeks over Christmas.”
To find a Virtuoso travel advisor who can provide you with a unique romantic travel experience, click here.
Romance is in the air with Valentine’s Day fast approaching. But you can enjoy romance all year long with distinctive offerings from Virtuoso partners in some of the world’s most desirable destinations.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico takes love so seriously that it has a director of romance – who naturally heads up the Department of Romance. Order anything from a list of “romantic resources” covering accoutrements from scented candles to a live music trio to crafting love letters. Men can partner with Las Ventanas’ chef to create a personalized gourmet meal for their beloved. The chef-for-the-night dons a uniform and completes the meal preparation tableside. Then the two dine by candlelight at a table under a palapa in the Herb Garden, with soft music in the background.
What could be more perfect than customizing your French Polynesia getaway with experiences from the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora’s Romance Menu? Pick from romantic amenities including a floating love seat in the ocean; a professional photographer or videographer to capture vacation memories; a private sunset yacht cruise while indulging in sushi and Champagne; and an island helicopter tour with tropical cocktails and fresh fruit.
Another resort featuring romance front and center is Nayara Hotel, Spa & Garden in the shadow of Costa Rica’s impressive Arenal Volcano. Indulge in a five-course dinner in the intimate Nostalgia Wine Bar, served with rose petals adorning your table. Each gourmet course is created especially to pair perfectly with the wine served alongside it. Back in your room, take a dip in the oversized hot tub on your wraparound balcony, or perhaps enjoy a refreshing outdoor dual-head rain shower in your private garden.
Spa lovers will love the couples’ suite at the Shangri-La Vancouver. The 750-square-foot private suite houses a steam shower, fireplace, double soaker tub, relaxation area, and patio overlooking the city. Experience side-by-side treatments influenced by Asian traditions in a suite beautifully furnished with Chinese and Tibetan pieces.
Bath butler service at the Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, enhances the aura of romance for diners in the hotel’s Spiced Pear restaurant. Upon returning to their room, patrons enjoy a bath with floating rose petals, surrounded by flickering candles. Guests may also enjoy bath-side champagne to help the romance continue seamlessly from dinner to the room.
If you want to inject unforgettable romance into your next vacation, contact your Virtuoso travel advisor. If you don’t have one, click here to find the perfect advisor match for you.
What motivates people to make the travel choices they do? Each year Virtuoso surveys its luxury travel advisors and compiles their feedback on the hottest travel trends and destinations in the Luxe Report.
The 2014 Virtuoso Luxe Report provides insights into not just where people are going but also how and why they’re traveling:
Why do the affluent go on vacation?
1) Exploring new destinations
2) Rest and relaxation
3) Seeking authentic experiences in new destinations
4) Rediscovering previously visited destinations
5) Personal enrichment
Exploring new destinations was a strong top choice both in 2014 and 2013, and authentic experiences in those destinations was also a major motivator.
1) The destination
2) Once‐in‐a‐lifetime experiences
3) Value for money paid
4) The activities available (tie)
5) Price (tie)
The allure of a specific destination was the clear top factor among travelers in 2014, as it also was in 2013.
What are the most influential sources of information for travel decisions?
1) Travel advisor’s advice
2) Word‐of‐mouth from friends or family
3) Travel publications
4) Travel website reviews & recommendations
5) Travel & lifestyle websites
What is the most popular type and length of vacation?
1) International trips, 8 days or longer
2) International trips, 6‐7 days
3) Domestic trips, 6‐7 days
4) Domestic trips, 3‐5 days
5) Weekend getaways to drive‐to destinations
The rise in longer trips to international destinations held steady from 2013 and is the dominant style of travel.
When necessary, where are travelers willing to compromise?
1) Lowering the room category to stay in a nicer hotel
2) Shortening the trip duration to experience a more exotic destination
3) Selecting a lower cabin category on a luxury cruise line
4) Opting for a nicer cabin on a premium cruise line
5) They do NOT compromise
While some clients will make tradeoffs, a significant number do not make any compromises on their vacations.
In what class of service are upscale travelers flying?
1) Business Class
2) Economy‐Plus or similar
3) Economy Class
4) First Class
While business class is still preferred, Economy Plus continues to gain popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this option.
Looking to book your own luxury vacation? Find a Virtuoso travel advisor to partner with at www.virtuoso.com.
Every year Virtuoso polls its travel advisors on where their clients are going now – and what styles of travel are popular. The result is the Virtuoso Luxe Report, which forecasts the latest luxury travel destinations and trends and offers insights into the patterns and decisions of the world’s wealthiest travelers.
In 2014, multigenerational family travel maintained its stronghold as the top trend. But this year’s report shows active and adventure travel as a dominant trend predicted for all travelers – families, couples, honeymooners, retirees – especially in more exotic destinations.
- Italy continues its reign as the top destination for international travel, families and romantic travel. It also took the top spot in a new category, honeymoons.
- Within the U.S., New York reclaims the top spot from Napa Valley/Sonoma, which was bumped to third place.
- The most popular cruise itinerary is the Mediterranean, with last year’s top choice, Alaska, shifting down to second place.
- While Cuba remains the emerging destination most on the rise, the Galapagos Islands’ popularity is escalating again.
- South Africa was the number-one pick as the most popular adventure travel destination, with other exotic selections such as New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands finishing in the top five.
To view a photo gallery of the top destinations and trends outlined in the 2014 Virtuoso Luxe Report, click here.
Which of these destinations would be your ideal trip?
Want some inspiration for crafting your 2014 travel resolutions? Here’s a checklist that should spark creative ideas for your vacations and travel experiences in the coming year.
- Experiment outside your comfort zone. Always go to Europe every year? Try Asia or South America instead. Think you’re not a cruise person? Try a short one – you may be pleasantly surprised.
- Consider different vacation styles. Maybe you’re in relaxing beach mode in the winter but want an educational experience in the summer and an active adventure come fall.
- Deepen a friendship through travel. How long has it been since you’ve gone away with your college roommate, or been vowing to take a trip with your favorite cousin? Share an experience with those close to you in 2014.
- Take that vacation time you’ve worked hard to earn. Americans in particular leave some of that precious time on the table: They earn about 12 days a year and forgo two of them. If you have trouble getting away from the office, pick a traditionally slow time of year and book well in advance to commit to it.
- Learn a few words in the language of your destination. Staples such as “please,” “thank you,” “hello,” and “goodbye” are always a good idea. Don’t forget useful phrases such as “where is the bathroom” and “a glass of red wine, please.”
- Combine a travel resolution with a health resolution. Select a spa resort or active vacation that will help you relax, shape up or burn calories.
- Go cold turkey on technology. Head for a remote destination where you can disconnect from your smart phone and iPad. And even if it’s not remote, pretend it is – and unplug to immerse yourself in your trip.
- Be friendly. Say hi to the people at the table beside you over lunch, or ask the couple on your city walking tour how they’re enjoying the trip. You may end up having a fun conversation – or even find new friends and possible future travel companions.
- Add something to your bucket list. Typically we focus on crossing items off. What about discovering a new region or activity in 2014, and adding a similar experience to your 2015 list?
- Share your experiences with friends and family. Social media is ideal for posting photos and recounting highlights. You may inspire them to visit the same destination – or relive memories of past travels.
- Show this list to your travel advisor so they can design vacations tailored to your preferences. Don’t have an advisor? Find one that’s right for you at www.virtuoso.com.
The 2014 edition of the definitive guide to the world’s finest luxury hotels and destinations is out. Virtuoso Best of the Best shows what you’ll experience at more than 980 Virtuoso hotels and resorts.
Each property listing provides an overview and an insider tip – either from a Virtuoso travel advisor who has experienced the property or from someone at the property itself. These tips offer valuable insight to enhance your stay, including recommendations you may not find anywhere else.
Each listing also reveals what you’ll get as a complimentary amenity for booking with a Virtuoso travel advisor, such as a resort credit or a meal. All Virtuoso hotels and resorts offer these value-added amenities, as well as preferred rates and availability, room upgrades when available and breakfast for two daily.
New this year: discover Exceptional Experiences to enhance your stay. Best of the Best features 32 pages of excursions that your Virtuoso travel advisor can arrange and customize. Here’s a sneak peek at a few:
- In Paris, the owner of one of the world’s most exquisite collections of artists’ jewelry opens her apartment to show you exceptional pieces by Picasso and other acclaimed talents.
- In New Zealand, head to the source of the country’s finest wines and produce, starting with a private tour and tasting in Marlborough Wine Country.
- Join one of the city’s famous samba schools, singing and dancing in costume to the rhythms of the world’s biggest Carnival celebration.
- Explore the area around Caraíva, a traditional fishing village, aboard a fisherman’s boat, then sample deep-fried pastries before trying stand-up paddle boarding.
- Join Greek families as they pick the vines and celebrate the annual harvest with traditional music, food and last year’s vintages – you can even stomp grapes with your bare feet.
- Hop aboard a helicopter and visit the monasteries of Meteora, with a stop at the archeological site of Delphi to explore the Temple of Apollo.
If you’re ready for an Exceptional Experience or a stay at any of Virtuoso’s hotels and resorts, a Virtuoso travel advisor can customize your next trip. Visit www.virtuoso.com and search using the Meet Your Advisor function.
Are you fantasizing about a big trip in 2014? Or a vacation with experiences customized just for you? Or perhaps you have a milestone celebration coming up and want to commemorate it away from home?
Those are just three examples of the sorts of vacations travel advisors excel at creating. If you’re looking for an advisor who’s a perfect fit for you, Virtuoso has unveiled a tool to help you find one at www.virtuoso.com.
The newly revamped website now offers an advisor catalog that helps travelers solve a big challenge: how to find a good travel advisor. The catalog allows travelers to find the best advisor in a few ways:
- Ones who are located closest to the traveler
- Ones who specialize in a particular destination or niche (in an online first, travelers can see where advisors have visited and when on a map in each profile)
- Ones who speak their language
The site takes you through a fun visual quiz to find advisors for you based on several factors. You’ll receive five advisor recommendations at the end.
Virtuoso.com also gives you added benefit of an industry first: reviews by real travelers. Only travelers who have completed trips can provide feedback on their advisors, as well as the hotels, cruise lines and tours they experienced. These travelers are verified by sales data, so reviews are only from real people who have real experiences with Virtuoso travel advisors and providers.
In addition to being the industry’s first verified review system, virtuoso.com also breaks ground by providing reviews on travel advisors as well as providers, and focusing on luxury travel experiences.
The Media Are Noticing
The new virtuoso.com is already being covered by major national media outlets including:
The New York Times -
Why Would You Not Use an Advisor?
Clients of Virtuoso travel advisors agree: their vacations have been amazing and often life-changing, as well as their collaboration with their advisor during the planning process. But some travelers don’t understand an advisor’s value and believe that booking their own travel is empowering. Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch says that time is our only non-renewable asset, and that using a travel advisor saves precious time: “Now that you know how to find a great advisor, why wouldn’t you use one?”