Holidaying in Iceland is expensive. Is the island therefore a luxury destination? “No”, said First Lady Eliza Jean Reid, speaking at ITB Berlin. “The island’s beauty is what makes it a luxury.” Born in Canada, the wife of the Icelandic president and United Nations Special Ambassador for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals, said what made Iceland so impressive. “Pristine nature, clean air, not many people.“
Luxury travel was the topic discussed at the Destination Day forum. Luxury is being completely redefined, said Marc Aeberhard, the proprietor of Luxury Hotel & Spa Management Ltd: “Luxury as we know it today has nothing to do with the bling of 20 years ago.“ Nowadays, it had more to do with non-material values such as space and time, custom service and feeling secure, he added. “Luxury is being able to discover oneself.“
Now Michael Edwards, chief growth officer, Intrepid Group, understood why he had been invited to the forum. “I was a bit surprised, as we aren’t a luxury tour operator.“ Intrepid’s focus is on sustainable travel in small groups and closely cooperating with familiy-run hotels and local communities. Edwards noted that for the tourists in this market the priorities have changed. They have become more attentive, take greater interest.
By contrast, the focus of Philipp Schmidt, co-proprietor of Nordisch Reisen GmbH, is on trips to the wild in the North, Alaska for instance. 20 years ago in the Yukon he had an experience he will never forget. Since then he believes that “actively experiencing nature is what luxury is really about.“ His company is in search of exclusive hotels and destinations in the wild in the North. The coordinates remain a secret, socia media activity is banned, and visitors who stay longer pay less.