Experiences and exclusivity

By Jeri Clausing
*INSIGHTLOGO200x115 With the summer travel season quickly approaching, luxury companies are rolling out their newest ideas for meeting the growing demand for real experiences for all generations.

Four Seasons, for instance, has put together a list of “summer school” classes that offer everything from bat viewing in Austin, Texas, to Thai boxing classes at its resort on Ko Samui and lessons on the legend of Dracula in Budapest.

The latest packages build upon already-popular experiences at luxury resorts around the world, such as cooking classes or programs on elephant research and sea turtle protection. They also underscore the increasing innovation that travel companies are putting into their efforts to compete in the market for travel experiences.

It’s a trend that took off during the great recession. And it’s showing no signs of letting up, according to James Dean, senior vice president of WealthEngine, a prospecting service and market insight database that focuses on the wealth and spending habits of affluent Americans.JeriClausing

Luxury travel, he says, is leading all other luxury consumer business segments in general because of this new emphasis on experience.

For the affluent, he says, “their lifestyle has become about them having the right experience more than ever. … The recession taught many people they have to look at family, life, experiences.”

One of the newest products for the summer is a seven-day wine and bike trip through the Dolomites in the northern Italian Alps. Dolomite Mountain Ltd. is offering the guided trips through the vineyards and towns in the area, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Another unique offering: Indus Travels is running a 12-night Nelson Mandela tour in July, which takes travelers to landmark sites like his birthplace, his final resting place, and Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 18 years. It also includes must-see attractions including Cape Town, a game safari and the spectacular Garden Route. The tour runs July 14 to 26 over Mandela’s birthday and is led by a local guide with deep knowledge of the country’s history and Mandela’s contribution in the battle against apartheid.
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