By Paul Kerr, CEO, Small Luxury Hotels of the World
The breakfast room at Paris’ Relais Christine
Traveling is about creating unique and memorable experiences, no matter where in the world you travel to – and I believe it is incredibly difficult to place a price tag on that. Despite the deepening global recession, I think travel will continue to be an important part of many people’s lives – if nothing else, to provide an escape from the doom and gloom that surrounds us. However, over the course of the next 12 months I anticipate that we will see a change in travel patterns, with people cutting back on the number of holidays that they take or perhaps opting for a number of shorter breaks rather than one or two longer holidays.
One of the key strengths of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) brand is the ability of its hotels to deliver unique experiences. This will remain core to the success of the brand over the next 12 months as luxury travelers look for much more than just a hotel room. While a romantic evening stroll along the River Seine or a culture-filled day at the Louvre followed by a tour of the Eiffel Tower will undoubtedly contribute to a memorable stay in Paris, the opportunity to stay in a 13th century abbey, which is now home to Relais Christine, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Paris’ Left Bank, is what will help transform your holiday into a truly unique experience.
An added bonus is of course the current strength of the U.S. dollar
against sterling. This makes it a perfect time to travel to the United Kingdom where SLH has more than 40 of the finest small independent hotels. In fact, when you compare the current exchange rate with a year ago you can gain savings of up to 25 percent!
In addition, a number of SLH hotels are offering incentives to encourage guests to extend their stay. Envisage having the opportunity to escape to the serenity of a Hawaiian island, where the pace is slow and Hawaiian heritage is evident. Now imagine being enticed by one of Maui’s finest hotels to extend your visit by giving a free night’s stay. This past fall, guests of Hotel Hana-Maui and Honua Spa experienced just that – a complimentary fourth night when three were purchased. Similar offers are available at varying times of year at many different SLH hotels.
The Anantara Resort Golden Triangle of Thailand
A number of SLH hotels are also offering attractive offers if you are able to book well in advance. At Anantara Resort Golden Triangle in Thailand for example, if you book a two-day stay 50 days in advance you get the third night free with an additional 25 percent discount on food, drink (non-alcoholic) and spa treatments. Offers such as these are available via http://www.slh.com.
No matter where in the world you travel, there will always be peak travel periods where room rates will be that little bit higher. For example, availability and price may limit your opportunity to stay at Hotel El Convento, a former convent in Puerto Rico, in February, or Hotel Splendide Royal, a classic 19th century palazzo in Italy, in the height of the summer. However, if you’re willing to alter your travel dates to avoid a hotel’s peak season, experiences like these are much easier to come by – and quite often, more enjoyable as you avoid the crowds.
At Small Luxury Hotels of the World we have recognized that as time becomes more precious, an increasing number of people are looking for shorter breaks. In line with this, we have recently launched a series of two and three-night packages which focus on city breaks, Mediterranean escapes, gourmet experiences, as well as country-specific breaks such as Mexico and the Caribbean, India and the Indian Ocean and Thailand. This is the ideal solution if you are looking to take a series of shorter vacations rather than a long one.
Paul Kerr, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Utilizing the services of a travel agent can also provide value-for-money, plus there’s the added benefit of working with a trusted advisor who is personally well-traveled. Travel agents also have additional resources which often allow them to negotiate rates on their clients’ behalf that are not always available to the general public. Working with an agent that is part of a travel network can sometimes get you extras such as spa treatments or dinners.
There are also benefits of being a member of The Club of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the brand’s guest recognition programme. As a member of The Club, every stay at an SLH hotel will be personalized and tailored to your individual tastes – perhaps there is a special cocktail that you like or you prefer foam pillows to feather. Whatever the preference, this will be noted by every SLH hotel that you stay in when you book through http://www.slh.com/club. As a Club member you will also be extended special privileges and benefits that will make your stay even more memorable – from complimentary upgrades (subject to availability) to access to an attractive range of exclusive offers.
So, despite the current economic downturn, the savvy traveler still has the chance to experience some amazing vacations. I would encourage you to look for the enticing value-for-money opportunities that are available, because some of those really are priceless.