A luxurious travel guide to navigate the new normal

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Twenty-five hundred dollars for a standard room, no room service and daily cleaning on request, but not guaranteed. The good news for luxury travelers is that the world is opening up. Five star hotels and resorts are ready to receive high-ranking guests. However, the best travel consultants suggest that those of you who want to get back out there need a bold wallet, moderated expectations and the help of professionals to guide you through what could be the norm in the foreseeable future. Forget about flawless service and decide where to eat at that moment. Welcome to the new reality of luxury travel.

And yes, you read that right. The same hotel room on Miami Beach that in 2019 sold for $ 500 per night. Night, now goes for $ 2,500 – without room service and daily cleaning. Despite sky-high prices and fewer amenities, luxury properties sell, travel consultants say.

Stacy Small, CEO of Maui-based Elite Travel International, wrote recently in his blog, “What is not fun is when some of these hotels behave as if they do not need the business because they are so busy right now. I believe that when the world opens up, starting later this year and into 2022, the ultra-high rates that many charge will level off or come back closer to pre-covid levels. ”

That’s not a sure thing. Jack Ezon, managing partner of New York-based Go out besides, predicts that next year will be the same. Speaking from Mykonos, where he is planning a party trip for 50 customers next month, he expects demand will exceed supply for at least the next 18 months. “2022 will have three or four years with groups gathered from 2020, 2021 and next year – weddings, family events – all the people who earned incentive trips in 2019 and last year. It is difficult to find group space in 2022. ”

Small, a former journalist, became a consultant, reporting that a client who paid $ 4,000 per year. Night at an all inclusive price, was told on arrival, dinners and activities were already booked up. “Another client showed up, and the locations we had guaranteed suddenly changed at the last minute, without any of us being notified. Again, not earthquake or unfixable, but stressful at a high price, ”she writes.

Another type of luxury experience

It goes to a crucial point. Get ready for another type of luxury travel experience. And most of all, make sure you have a travel agency with know-how and strong relationships to solve problems if they arise.

Agents with inside knowledge are more valuable than ever. Jack Bloch, owner of New York-based JB’s World Travel Consultants, says you will not find room service or daily housekeeping information on hotel websites. While some variations are based on geography, places like Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles, it differs from block to block. He arranged room service from a hotel that did not offer it by talking to the manager in advance and orchestrating it to his clients as a special service provided by the hotel restaurant. In other cases, Holtz says hotels just can’t hire enough housekeeping staff. A good advisor can give you heads up before ordering.

Ezon says you can no longer show up and expect to decide what you want to do. Some hotels have restrictions on how many people can be in the gym at one time. “It simply came to our notice then. We ask customers what they want to do minute by minute. Then we call the hotel and make sure it happens. Yes, in some cases, it means reserving a time in the gym. ”

The planning extends to secure both lunch and dinner reservations before you go, as well as poolside chairs. Social distance requirements mean fewer places. Advisors say the arrangements they make are not necessarily available if you have booked the hotel directly. This is because, despite your plutonium card status earned by staying across the group’s thousands of properties, advisors have influence over that hotel based on regular booking of customers there. In many cases, they have the daily manager’s mobile number on their cell phone.

Plan B

So how do you find out? Michael Holtz, CEO of New York-based SmartFlyer, says, “If anyone wanted to travel to Italy two years ago, they went to Italy. Now you need a backup plan. “It means more work. At the same time, your advisor writes an itinerary for the Amalfi Coast; they are investigating the availability of dude ranches in Wyoming, just in case. “Plan B is Plan A 1.1. You need one, ”says Ezon.

If you decide to go, make sure you pack your patience. Ezon and Holtz say some full-occupancy luxury hotels have half staff and they are struggling to hire workers fired during the pandemic. “I know a manager (from a hotel) who is now a supervisor at an Amazon warehouse,” says Holtz. While the travel industry remains attractive due to its discounts and other benefits for employees, it takes time to train new hires. “The world has changed. It’s just different. It does not go back to where it was. People need to adapt, ”says Holtz. Still, with the right attitude, he says, clients enjoy their rides.

Find value

In terms of finding value, an advocate for Virtuos, a network of agencies specializing in luxury travel, says capacity is “a significant factor, especially on the airline side.” She continues, “The airlines have pulled hundreds of aging planes out of their fleet and will not be able to fully replace them for several years. Over 40 airlines also went out of business, mostly regional but still influential. ”

In addition to having the conditions to ensure you are well looked after, counselors say they can help you find out where the great deals are located. For example, Ezon recently booked a client for a long weekend at a five-star resort in Italy’s Lake District. One bedroom suite was $ 200 less per room. Night than a similar property in Turks & Caicos. What’s more, the international business class flatbed suites across the Atlantic were half the price of the domestic first class space for the shorter flights to Providenciales.

It is now a must to book the airport meeting and greeting services, say both Block and Ezon. “If you don’t, you could end up spending hours standing in a talking line,” Bloch says. Ezon made a 40-minute connection in Athens using a VIP service.

Not all hotels charge astronomical rates, advisors say. European hotels will attract Americans because they spend more once they are there. To do so, they keep a lid on room rates.

Despite the obstacles, an advantage of traveling this summer is that tourist attractions are less likely to be crowded. “Without the big cruise ships, this could be the best year to go to Venice,” says Ezon. Bloch points to Athens and Croatia, where many of the sights are outdoors.

Still came with the expectations for a different experience. Places like Greece where outdoor summer stays are a way of life are likely to be more normal. Still, Ezon says don’t expect the wild club scene that usually exists in places like Ibiza. “It just does not happen, or right now it does not look like it will happen,” he says.

Most of all, book your trip knowing that it may not be what you expected. “Everything changes day by day,” says Holtz. “A good travel consultant will keep an eye on it for you.”

As for whether or not to go, Bloch says, “Personally, I would not rush with my clients unless they feel completely comfortable. It will not be the smooth luxury experience you are thinking of. If they have traveled all their lives, if they do not travel this year, it is not the end of the world. They have homes in the Aspen and Hamptons. ”

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