We've been responsible for making small luxury boutique hotels a phenomenon for almost thirty years now and with that we've been become a beacon of boutique hope, identifying trends in the earliest of stages.
As we've grown so have the calls for us to uncover some of our magic. What is coming next? How is luxury travel evolving? Where are the jet set heading next? We hear the calls, and we answer.
Welcome to our third annual the SLH Luxury Trends Report 2019, using our owner-operator hoteliers and our INVITED members to capture emerging trend. And don't forget, we don't follow trends at SLH – we make them!
DESTINATIONS TO WATCH IN 2019
There are 195 countries in the world today yet each year only a select few take centre stage and make it on the tips of everyone's tongues. This year we took to our independently minded INVITED members to get a sense of which destinations they're longing to travel to in 2019 and Japan came on top followed by 2) Italy, 3) The Maldives, 4) New Zealand, 5) Australia, 6) Iceland, 7) South Africa, 8) France, 9) Greece and 10) Thailand.
Emerging touristic destinations such as Bhutan, Hawaii, Fiji, Alaska, Namibia, Oman, Finland, Mongolia, Costa Rica and The Galapagos Islands also scored highly on the list and are expected to grow in popularity in the years to come.
• Kyoto (Japan) – Thanks to new direct BA flights from London to Osaka, launching in March 2019 and the Rugby World Cup starting from 20th September 2019, Kyoto is primed to steal Tokyo´s spotlight with its geisha district, zen gardens, Cherry Blossom and tea houses. SLH has just welcomed a new property in Kyoto called Enso Ango Fuya which is also Japan´s first dispersed hotel with zen-inspired rooms and amenities scattered a few roads apart.
• Brisbane (Australia) – Brisbane is reinventing itself as Australia's must-see city with a host of new developments including the launch of Howard Smith Wharves – a new 1100m2 riverfront event space featuring a parkland, a 1500 sqm exhibition centre and restaurants overlooking the iconic Story Bridge. SLH's newest addition Ovolo The Valley is equally trendy with a slick rooftop pool and a mix of contemporary art and custom wallpaper throughout the rooms.
• Miami (USA) – Norwegian Airlines' new daily flights from London Gatwick to Miami International Airport from 31st March 2019 will make travelling to the Big Orange much easier and affordable. Launching also in spring 2019, The Celino South Beach will bring a new lifestyle of indulgence to South Beach, mixing Latin charisma, local Floridian elements with art deco design. The city will also be hosting the Ultra Music Festival (the world's premier electronic festival) in March 2019.
• Santa Teresa de Cobano (Costa Rica) – Once a sleepy fishing village, Santa Teresa is now an increasingly luxurious surfer's haven hailed as the new Tulum after attracting a crowd of celebrities such as Salma Hayek, Gisele Bunchden, Matt Damon and Leonardo Di Caprio. SLH will be welcoming the beautiful Hotel Nantipa in February 2019 set to redefine barefoot luxury in the area with every design element inspired by the ocean and the sky.
In 2019, as more and more 'woke' consumers connect the dots between wellness and spirituality, water will become more celebrated for its neurological, spiritual and physiological benefits. With over 75% of the human body comprised of water, 'the call of nature' takes on new meaning as consumers want to feel at one with themselves and seek the healing vibration of water by flocking to the revitalising energy of hot springs, secluded lakes and calming lagoons for some much-needed restorative water therapy. This trend evolves on the revitalising nature of a spa weekend and escalates it, allowing luxury travellers to experience the physical and emotional benefits of restorative water to well and truly reconnect with inner calm.
• Castle Hot Springs – Deep rock waters with healing energy
Originally built in the late 1890's, Castle Hot Springs in Arizona is reopening in February 2019 with the same natural hot springs that have for centuries lent their restorative waters to prominent families including the Roosevelts and the Kennedys. Deep beneath the desert surface, the heated waters mingle with a unique combination of minerals that pour over patina-covered rocks, filling the hotel's cistern-fed pools with healing properties that help relax the muscles and clear the mind.
• Grand Hotel Toplice – Alpine Water with medicinal powers
Grand Hotel Toplice in Bled, Slovenia, was built around a thermal spring with fresh, natural water deriving straight from the Julian Alps. Guests are encouraged to drink the water first thing in the morning to soothe their stomach and other internal organs. The hotel's thermal pool is never heated to preserve the purity of the water and is thought to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular and nervous system when visitors bathe in it.
• Elite Spring Villas – Tea-infused hot springs with slimming properties
Guests at Elite Spring Villas in Quanzhou, China, can immerse themselves in the peaceful gardens and teas of the Anxi Mountains thanks to different tea infused hot springs sourced from mineral water located one thousand meters underground. Each of the six tea infused hot springs comes with its own wellness properties including the black tea spa aimed at lowering blood pressure or the Oolong tea spa which is thought to enhance weight loss.
A LITTLE MORE LANDSCAPE
Iconic landscapes are what typically make a holiday instantly recognisable, be it the rolling hills of Tuscany, the Rocky Mountains of Queenstown or a cactus in the sand in Mexico but in 2019 we're seeing a multitude of luxury hotels popping up in areas that are famed for nothing but their unique, specific, couldn't-be-anywhere-else landscapes.
Experiencing a new destination now starts at your hotel, with an increasing number of luxury resorts opting for unique, quirky and authentic architecture that offers unobstructed views of the revered landscape that surrounds it. This is creating a modern, contemporary experience amongst the chic, sleek and otherwise untouched nature that is open for you to discover without the intrusion of crowds, travel and eyesore buildings.
• Terra Dominicata – A medieval monastery set among the Montsant foothills of Catalonia
Located in Spain's vertiginous, vineyard-covered Priorat region, where Catalonian Mountains loom over near-endless grape terraces, Terra Dominicata's terracotta buildings are thoughtfully in tune with the sun-soaked valleys of Montsant Natural Park. Originally part of a Dominican monastery, the newly opened hotel includes its own winery, olive grove and vegetable farm set within 140 hectares of parkland as well as a mountain-flanked pool which was once a watering hole for wild hogs.
• Quinta da Comporta - A wellness retreat wrapped in rice fields in Comporta, Portugal
Nestled on a stunning 17 hectare estate, encircled by undulating umbrella pines, cork trees and vibrant rice fields, Quinta da Comporta in Portugal will open in February 2019 with whitewashed walls and sun-bleached woods that merge seamlessly with the hotel's natural surroundings. Rising out of the rice fields, Oriza Spa uses rice as the core element of inspiration whilst the restaurant serves organic produce that is locally sourced from the hotel's Bio Garden.
• The Fish Hotel - Luxury treehouses in the middle of the Cotswold countryside
Set in 400-acres of beautiful Cotswold countryside and endless woodland, The Fish Hotel offers a selection of cosy hotel houses, huts and treehouses decked in timber cladding to resemble real trees. The treehouses are located in the middle of the woods so guests can really immerse themselves in nature whilst the hilly huts feature outdoor hot tubs with stunning views of wide green fields and rolling hills.
• Mangala Resort & Spa – Nature-inspired villas enhanced by tropical landscaping
Once an abandoned barren mining land, the newly opened Mangala Resort & Spa has been rehabilitated into a tropical oasis of nature close to Kuantan, Malaysia, with a palm plantation, fruit trees and 100 species of birds. From the private villas built on stilts over the lake, to those beside lily-dotted wetlands, the resort was consciously designed to bring guests closer to nature with an on-site naturalist that conducts daily nature walks.
• Hotel Three Sixty – Eco-friendly hotel set in the lush Costa Rican rainforest
Set 300 metres above the Pacific Ocean, Hotel Three Sixty was built on a 58- acre private rainforest reserve, with mist-shrouded hills to one side, and endless seas to the other. The structure of the hotel imitates the fractal geometry of the jungle canopy with all-encompassing views intensified by an open architecture, natural floral walls and a rotating infinity pool curving around the edges of the building.
THE RISE OF THE ART HOTEL
Art has traditionally been confined to galleries and museums, but in recent years we've seen more and more hotels invest in bespoke curated artworks, custom wallpaper, sculptures and illustrations throughout their rooms and public areas creating a space full of character where guests can play, indulge and be free. Increasingly, discerning travellers are seeking out luxury not only in products but also in experiences, from the walls of their chosen hotel to outside.
In 2019, we expect more hotels to take in-room artwork to the next level including pieces of art where guests can sleep in as well as personalised artwork inspired by guests.
• Art Paradiso – A hybrid between art gallery and boutique hotel
Art Paradiso Hotel in Incheon, South Korea, is filled with modern and contemporary artworks, marble floors, mirrored ceilings and statement lightning, much like an art gallery. The first floor lobby features a piece of art created by artist Paik Nam-June and inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film "The Birds" whereas the elevators have been decorated by Xeva, a Korean graffiti artist, with artwork depicting the day and night of a city.
• Ovolo The Valley – Playful art that radiates with personality
Ovolo The Valley in Brisbane, Australia, serves up a frenzy of rich colour, commissioned art pieces, vivid wallpaper and playful furniture that radiates with personality – bringing art to the hotel in all forms beyond just the traditional. Commissioned works from emerging artists including Lisa Madigan, Daniel R. Watkins, Gerwyn Davis, Barbara Kitallides, Geoff Maccormack and Arnaud Nazare-Aga have been selected to augment the playful, eclectic, immersive and wonderful nature of the property.
• The Merchant House – Graphic walls and screens in the rooms
At The Merchant House in Manama, Bahrain (opening in January 2019), Nasser Alzayani, a Bahraini/American architect, has worked his intricate, detailed magic to create graphic screens and walls in all of the rooms. With Nasser's artwork typically consisting of moments of time recorded in a travel sketchbook that display a recurring sense of place, his illustrations at The Merchant House reflect the city's seafaring past as well as the hotel's unique physical environment.
• Hotel Gajoen Tokyo – New Art tour inside the hotel
Hotel Gajoen Tokyo has recently introduced a new art tour for guests to visit the many special rooms and art displays inside the hotel including the Gyokujo, a striking Japanese style banquet room with beautiful mother-of-pearl inlays and artwork by Japanese painter Gyokujo Masuda and the Hyakudan Kaidan, or 100 steps staircase, which was registered by the Tokyo Prefecture as a Tangible Cultural Property.
AGE OF POWER
As political landscapes and interests continue to evolve, many travellers are actively choosing to conduct business with organisations whose principles align with their own, giving more economic power to companies that care about people and planet over profit. In fact, a recent poll of SLH INVITED members found that 72% either prefer to or exclusively stay in hotels that practice some form of responsible tourism or cater to a diverse group of guests.
Travellers want to see the world in luxury while also supporting local businesses, protecting the local environment and ensuring all guests feel welcome and safe – it's not just a trend but a fundamental shift in how we choose to travel.
• Aleenta Resort & Spa Hua Hin – Hotel launches Thailand's first sustainable wedding
Aleenta Hua Hin Resort & Spa is now offering the chance for newlyweds to celebrate their wedding in a sustainable way in order to offset all carbon emissions from their flights. This includes a mangrove planting ceremony along with a trip to the local wildlife centre all aligned with the organic and green ethos that has been the cornerstone of the resort's philosophy for the past 15 years. Food served at the wedding reception is also directly sourced from the hotel's organic farm.
• Ka´ana Resort – Resort supports victims of domestic violence in Belize
Ka´ana Resort in Belize is committed to assisting local charity Mary Open Doors, a resource centre and temporary shelter for battered women and children that also provides domestic education for them through different fundraising initiatives. The resort is also one of the main sponsors of the youth cadet and community police summer camp that protects and supports abused women and their children and guides them towards a brighter future.
• Stein Eriksen Residences – Sponsorship of winter sports programs for children
Stein Eriksen Residences in Deer Valley, Utah annually donates funds and hours to the Youth Sports Alliance (YSA), established as a legacy to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games sponsoring seven competitive winter sports teams, after school programs including Get Out & Play, and scholarships for junior athletes aspiring to Olympic competition. Through these programs, they support 2,200 youth achieve their dreams each year and help increase the number of children participating in winter sports programs from the local area.
• DUKES London – Duchess rooms for solo female travellers
DUKES London is spearheading the solo traveller trend with the introduction of the Duchess Rooms, a discreet service tailored to the solo, female business and leisure guest that now represent 30% of the hotel´s customers. Duchess Room facilities include a female member of staff to escort guests to their rooms and handle all room service, fresh flowers, female amenities, heathy snacks and a complimentary in-room blow dry by a Dyson hair stylist.