What’s Hot in the 2014 Luxe Report?

LuxeReport_FINALEvery 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 Luxe Report shows active and adventure travel as a dominant trend predicted for all travelers – families, couples, honeymooners, retirees – especially in more exotic destinations.



Other Luxe Report highlights:

  • 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?



Find an Advisor Who’s Right for You at Virtuoso.com

virtuoso.com home page


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.


Meet Your Advisorvirtuoso.com meet your advisor tool

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 advisor reviewsThe Virtuoso.com Difference

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 –



Forbes.com –


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?”



Growing Interest in Green Travel

green travel - glacierToday’s travelers are increasingly savvy about their environmental impact on destinations.  In fact, according to the Center for Responsible Travel, green travel is expected to rise to 25% of the world’s travel market.


“Consumers are demanding higher environmental standards in all parts of their lives, including travel,” says Emily Deemer, marketing and sustainability manager at Virtuoso tour operator Natural Habitat Adventures in Boulder, Colorado.  “Ecotourism makes business sense because it helps to preserve a travel company’s greatest assets: the environment, the culture, and the livelihood of host communities.”


Natural Habitat became a 100% carbon-neutral company in 2006. It uses alternative fuel vehicles, reusable water bottles (saving 20,000 plastic bottles annually), and local sourcing. “Ten years ago, most travelers didn’t know what the word ecotourism meant; now clients ask what our policy is on plastic water bottles or whether our food is locally sourced and organic,” comments Deemer.


Another green travel star, Virtuoso property Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Wolgan Valley, Australia, has maintained carbon-neutral status since opening in 2009. Building awareness among guests is a key part of the Emirates Wolgan Valley experience. “Our guests are constantly exposed to the conservation work we do, during wildlife safari tours, nature walks, mountain biking and horse trail rides,” explains general manager Joost Heymeijer.


green travel - hiking

Ange Wallace, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Amelia Island, Florida, notes that more cruise lines are designing itineraries to match the tastes of green travelers: “Expedition-style cruising is very much at the forefront with the addition of Silver Expedition ships, National Geographic Explorer and Orion, Un-Cruise, Compagnie du Ponant and others adding more beds to the luxury expedition market.”


Jean Pickard, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Atlanta, Georgia, launched her business catering to adventure travelers, and has observed more luxury brands integrating ecotourism practices. She finds great joy in sharing eco-friendly destinations. “I’m working on a trip to Malaysia for a couple in their early eighties,” she says, with jungle hikes and a visit to a tea plantation on the itinerary. “The client appreciates that I’ve taken the next step to learn what a company is doing in terms of ecotourism.”


Interested in a vacation that’s great for both you and the environment?  Contact your Virtuoso travel advisor for help – or find an advisor at www.virtuoso.com.


Now’s The Time to Book Virgin Galactic Space Travel

Space travel: Virgin Galactic's Richard BransonExcitement and momentum are building for Virgin Galactic’s first commercial space travel.  Just announced: that first flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will be broadcast live on NBC News and a host of other NBCUniversal platforms, including CNBC, MSNBC, NBCNews.com, Syfy and The Weather Channel.


Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson and his adult children, Holly and Sam, will be on that flight.  “Virgin Galactic is thrilled that NBCUniversal will join us on our exciting first journey to space,” said Sir Richard. “In this first chapter of commercial space travel, we will help make space accessible and inspire countless more people to join us in the pursuit of space exploration and science innovation.”


To watch the announcement on the Today show, click here.


The live broadcast isn’t the only TV venture in Virgin Galactic’s future.  The company will soon be the focus of a reality show from the creator of popular programs such as Survivor and The Voice.


NBC, Virgin Galactic, and Mark Burnett’s One Three Media will create an unscripted series entitled “Space Race.” “Space Race” is an elimination competition series where everyday people compete for the ultimate prize – a trip for the winner into space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo for a life-changing experience – all captured on camera.


Space travel: SpaceShipTwo

Further evidence of Virgin Galactic’s star power?  Celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher and Stephen Hawking are among those who have already signed up for Virgin Galactic space flights.


Virgin Galactic is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. So far about 640 people have put down nearly $80 million in deposits for a trip that costs $250,000.  That’s about 10% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space.


Only Accredited Space Agents can book Virgin Galactic space travel.  Virtuoso travel advisors have the exclusive rights to sell Virgin Galactic in North, Central and South America.  To find an advisor who can make your space travel dreams a reality, click here.


Shopping Tourism: Retail Therapy on Vacation

Tourists love to shop. Studies by the U.S. Travel Association and the Department of Commerce show that shopping and dining are the top two activities of travelers. In fact, travelers spend one-third of their total travel funds on retail purchases.

Shopping tourism: couple on vacation

Shopping tourism is appealing to all kinds of travelers


Shopping Tourism On the Rise

According to Ian Stazicker, tourism director – global marketing at Virtuoso partner Value Retail, shopping tourism account for 40 percent of global luxury spending. Value Retail operates nine Chic Outlet Shopping open-air designer villages outside European hubs such as Paris and Madrid, as well as one in China.


Retail tourism is growing so fast, says Stazicker, that “between 2008 and 2012 we have seen an increase in visitors of more than 43 percent to 30 million.”


What’s New with Shopping Tourism?

Distinct trends in shopping tourism are emerging:

  • Shoppers are favoring smaller items like jewelry and purses because of airline luggage restrictions, notes Shelley Greenan, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Business travelers are taking time to shop, sometimes booking shopping tours on their trips, says Stazicker.
  • For designer duds, New York, Miami and Beverly Hills are tops, says Katie Cherico, a Virtuoso travel advisor in New York City.

Customized Experiences

shopping tourism - a woman visits Paris

Paris is always a favorite shopping tourism destination

Cherico creates luxury shopping experiences tailored to her clients’ interests.  “For clients who are interested in antiques, we have a personal guide and shopper with over 15 years of experience in the Paris antique market who will lead them through the markets and help negotiate fair pricing,” she describes. “We have personal shoppers in Florence to help clients navigate the leather markets and explore private designer boutiques that they otherwise would not have access to.”


Hot Stuff

Cherico continues: “Whether that is coral from Croatia or gold from Greece, clients are looking for statement pieces with a history and a story of their own.”  She adds that exotic locales such as India, Istanbul, Morocco, and Thailand are favored for unique purchases.


The Après-Shop

Debbie Collins, a Virtuoso travel specialist in Edgecliff, Australia, makes sure the shopping tours she arranges include a healthy dose of pampering: “In Shanghai, the first day is always the Scientific and Technology museum markets for bags, shoes, pashminas, etcetera. We use a particular hotel because of its convenience to shops. After a long day, they offer complimentary foot massages in the spa, a must for the hard shopper!”


A Virtuoso travel advisor can design the shopping tourism experience of your dreams.  Don’t have an advisor?  Visit www.virtuoso.com to be matched with one.


The Latest Trends in Active & Specialty Travel

Active travel: bicyclingWhat travel niche is growing at a rate of 65 percent a year?  If you guessed active travel, you’re right.  A study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and The George Washington University also found that last year consumers spent upwards of $345 billion on active itineraries.


Customized Experiences

Virtuoso travel advisors and suppliers excel at customizing specialty travel experiences to the exact tastes of their travelers. “For art lovers, we can arrange visits to private galleries and artists’ showrooms along with one-on-one meetings with some of Africa’s foremost art authorities and artists,” explains Anna Pinto, executive director of Micato Safaris in New York, New York.


“A guest with epicurean interests might spend time in Kerala, India fishing for fresh Pearlspot from a private riverboat, then learn from a private chef how to cook the fish with traditional Kerala spices,” Pinto elaborates.  “A traveler who enjoys running marathons might spend time at the elite marathon training camps of Kenya with some of the world’s best competitive runners.”


Active Travel in Less-Visited Locales

Another luxury trend in the active travel segment is seeking out territory far off the beaten path. “One couple started with a Micato safari, then added gorilla trekking in Rwanda,” recounts Virtuoso travel advisor Honey Mistry.  “They are now planning a trip to Antarctica for 2015.”


Mistry says that small safari-style land-based trips into the Arctic are particularly hot, as well as small-ship river cruises to destinations such as Southeast Asia.


Active travel: hikingHow Virtuoso Can Help

Virtuoso’s large network of travel advisors and suppliers ensures that travelers will enjoy an adventure tailored for them by experts.


“If you haven’t been to the destination, you can be confident you have a partner who knows it in depth,” says Michelle Bemis, a Virtuoso travel consultant in McLean, Virginia. If you get a request, you have a partner who can help you.”


Looking to go on an active or specialty trip?  Visit www.virtuoso.com to find an advisor who will be happy to help plan your dream adventure.


The Inside Track on the World’s Hottest New Hotels


Virtuoso Preview property Rosewood Beijing, China (opening March 2014)

Rosewood Beijing, China (open March 2014)

Do you enjoy staying at buzzworthy new hotels?  How would you like to have access to a list of the world’s most-talked-about new properties – and enjoy special amenities while staying at them such as complimentary breakfasts and hotel credits?

Virtuoso Preview allows clients of Virtuoso travel advisors to stay in these emerging luxury hotels before the rest of the world discovers them.  You’ll be in the forefront of the hottest trends in global hospitality when you stay at one of the memorable Preview properties.

Current Virtuoso Preview properties include these stellar up-and-coming hotels:

Virtuoso Preview property Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach, Florida (opening January 2014)

Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach, Florida (open January 2014)

– Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa, Montevideo, Uruguay (opened June 2013)
– Rosewood London, United Kingdom (opening October 2013)
– L’Apogee Courchevel, Courchevel, France (opening December 2013)
– Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach, Florida (opening January 2014)
– Rosewood Beijing, China (opening March 2014)
– Portrait Firenze, Florence, Italy (opening May 2014)
– Park Hyatt New York, New York (opening mid-2014)

Want to be ahead of the curve with your next vacation?  Contact your Virtuoso travel advisor today and ask about these new Preview hotels.  Or find an advisor by visiting www.virtuoso.com.

Cruising Perfect for Multigenerational Family Vacations

family vacations: multigenerational travelTalk about a family trip to remember.

Marcella Rappoport, a Virtuoso travel advisor in New York, recently planned a Caribbean cruise for a family celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary. “They chartered a ship and invited the people who married them, and the people who were at their wedding,” she recalls. “There were 420 people on board. They brought a rock band and a couple of singers they liked, and a chef from their hometown of Chicago. The mother wore her wedding dress and they had vow renewals.”

Family Vacations: A Growing Trend

The 2013 Virtuoso Luxe Report found that family and multigenerational travel are big trends, with river and luxury cruises taking the next two spots. The report also found that spending time and reconnecting with loved ones were among the top reasons motivating travel. Not surprisingly, Virtuoso travel advisors have seen a lot of crossover in these trends, with more people booking multigenerational cruises over the past three years.

Kimberly Wilson Wetty, a Virtuoso travel advisor in New York, notes that cruise lines have been quick to cater to this growing audience. “New builds that have come out in the last five years have more family suites and connecting rooms than ever before,” she says. “If we look at the luxury market, they have all created more children’s programs, which allows for multigenerational travel.”

Family Vacations Perfect for Diverse Interests

Cruising lends itself well to family vacations that need to take a range of ages and interests into consideration. “It’s the convenience of being able to travel together, of only having to unpack once, and experiencing a variety of destinations together as a family,” says Vanessa Bloy, director of public relations for Paul Gauguin Cruises.

“Imagine the challenge and cost of going to multiple destinations by train or plane with the whole family,” adds Camille Olivere, vice president of sales for Norwegian Cruise Line. “Guests can go off for the day, onboard or ashore, and do what they like. Then they can get together for dinner and talk about their day. They don’t have to be together every minute.”

Family vacations: a mother and daughter on board a cruise shipLuxury cruises also give families the authentic experiences they seek from trips, the second most cited reason Virtuoso Travelers are vacationing, according to the Luxe Report.

“My family did a cruise in Alaska where we landed on a glacier and did dog-sledding, but the musher was part of the Iditarod,” explains Wetty. “He walked us through on a map how far they have to go, and really made the story come to life for us.”

The lesson stuck. “We did that trip four years ago,” Wetty recounted. “My daughter is now in third grade. They were studying the Iditarod, and she remembered. She brought in our photo album and talked about it.”

Book Family Vacations with a Virtuoso Expert

Contact your Virtuoso travel advisor for more information on booking the cruise of a lifetime, including special values for family vacations available only to clients of Virtuoso agencies.  To find a Virtuoso advisor, visit www.virtuoso.com.

What are Your Virtuoso Travel Moments?


Virtuoso is now accepting entries for the 2013 Virtuoso Traveler Photography Contest. (As seen in the May issue of Virtuoso Life® magazine)

As some of the most well-traveled people on the planet, our clients, we invite and encourage you to submit your original travel photographs that best reflect the contest theme – Your Virtuoso Travel Moments. So, round up your photographs from your worldwide travels, and submit them today. Four lucky Virtuoso travelers will earn cash prizes and may even have their photo featured in Virtuoso Life magazine or other Virtuoso materials.

The deadline to enter is Sunday, June 16, 2013. ENTER HERE

Judges will be looking for images that show you, your family, and/or your friends enjoying moments captured during vacations planned by your professional travel advisor. You’ll have a chance to title each image, to indicate where and when it was taken, and to tell us a little about what made it a special Virtuoso moment for you.

Virtuoso will award cash prizes to four lucky Virtuoso Travelers – one Grand Prize (US$1,000), one first prize (US$500), one second prize (US$300), and one third prize (US$200). In addition, you might just have one of your vacation photos published in an award-winning travel magazine. Submit your entry, and you’re one step closer to fame, fortune, and cash.

The contest entry form is available exclusively online. To enter (and for complete image requirements, contest details, and official rules), visit the Virtuoso Traveler Photography Contest website today. Good luck!

Email us at clientphotocontest@virtuoso.com



Virtuoso Opposes the Immediate Ratification of IATA Resolution 787 by DOT

Today is the deadline to join Virtuoso and over 200 travel industry professionals worldwide who have already signed a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood stating opposition to IATA Resolution 787. To add your signature, go to http://btcnews.co/YoB3yJ. It will be filed on the docket tomorrow, the DOT’s deadline for industry comment. If passed, this resolution would negatively impact airline competition, and increase airline prices for consumers.  For more information, visit http://businesstravelcoalition.com.