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Luca Franco: Thought Leadership Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis

With the effects of COVID-19 on the travel and hospitality space, Luxury Frontiers’ CEO & Founder, Luca Franco, has been asked to join many key industry webinars and digital panels. Here, we share excerpts and highlights from various discussions and interviews since April 2020—hosted from regions spanning from South America to Southeast Asia—with the industry’s top global thought leaders.

Eco Hotel Summit – A Talk with Luca Franco: Development of Experiential Travel

(Watch the entire video here.)

Q: Tell us a little bit about Luxury Frontiers. (asked by Stephanie Curtis-Raleigh)

A: Luxury Frontiers was founded with the single objective in mind: to create truly experiential hospitality structures that are sensitive to the natural environment and which encourage transformational guest experiences. All our projects are authentic, with a sense of place, responsible with a purpose, viable, and focus on a triple bottom line. The projects are high-yield, low-impact, high-touch, and with high social impact as well. At Luxury Frontiers, we have an unmatched experience developing alternative, light structures and travel concepts. We have a holistic approach across all the stages of the travel and hospitality design and development lifecycle.

BLLA Panel Discussion: The Unfamiliar Shift of Adventure Boutique

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Q: Location is central to your values and your commitment to sustainability. What is behind the places you choose and why? (asked by Amy Jakubowski)

A: Nature is very important, as well as lack of visual or noise contamination, spirit of place, authenticity, and creating something that is so special and so unique to that specific environment. Guests want an authentic, intimate experience or affair with nature. Remoteness is important, but also accessibility… There are tremendous opportunities for places which are immersed in nature, within 30 minutes to 2.5 hours away from cities. That was Luxury Frontiers’ focus before and will be even more so in the future.

Q: It’s really nice to breathe in fresh air right now. We are all going a bit stir crazy. Something as simple as fresh air, people don’t realize they miss it until it’s gone. People are starting to look for outdoor experiences; not only because they want it, but because they need it. Do you have thoughts on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in this regard? (asked by Ariela Kiradjian)

A: I think these are very crazy times with a sad humanitarian crisis in the pandemic, but this is another way for nature to say, “Hey guys, this doesn’t work. You are abusing me; you are abusing the planet on an ongoing basis, and it’s not sustainable.” As a company, we look at it as a wake-up call for all of us. Now is about rebalancing ourselves. If we connect with nature in a respectful way and let nature inspire us, that’s the way for us to recalibrate.

TL Talks Global Panel: It’s Time to Innovate!

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Q: It’s good to be disconnected right now with COVID-19, focusing on health and wellness. Luca, what’s on your mind? (asked by Tina Lyra)

A: Despite everything going on, I’m optimistic. I see a clear path of optimism and appreciation for nature and being closer to nature. I see this as an acceleration towards nature; towards having a meaningful, positive impact towards our planet. Everybody has had a chance to really think through what’s meaningful. It’s about health, first of all. It’s about family; we’ve all had a lot of family time. It’s about income because you need to sustain your family. But it’s also really about the planet.

SAHIC E-Meeting: Luxury Experiences in the Era of COVID-19

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Q: You create very special experiences where people are more isolated. What will be the next steps in recovering from the effects of COVID-19 to the luxury travel market? (asked by Arturo García Rosa)

A: What is going to recover first are the road trips—domestic and regional trips—before air trips. And I see the leisure segment will recover first; I don’t think the business and convention segments will recover until there is a proper vaccine, especially the convention market. But just to give you some optimism, I was speaking with Six Senses in Vietnam. The property opened last May and they’ve had 90% occupancy, and from just the domestic market whereas usually it’s the international market. Our project at Amangiri (Camp Sarika) opened a few weeks ago in Utah, and they have 90% in bookings for the next few months despite it being summertime. Ted Turner Expeditions has 60-70% bookings, especially from loyal guests, and all are domestic guests. So there is a confidence in domestic travel, and this confidence is growing every week.

Eco Hotel Summit – Panel Discussion: The Competitive Edge

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Q: Do you have any comments on the idea of integrating the community into the design and ethos of eco hotel projects? (asked by Laura Powell)

A: It’s really important to have all the stakeholders of a project fully aligned, and the community is one of the stakeholders. Nature, the environment, and biodiversity are another stakeholder. It’s really important to embrace the local communities—the traditions, the heritage—and have high respect towards them in the genesis of a project—from the very early stages of the thinking, planning, visioning, and research, and throughout the whole project plan…The philanthropic way to embrace local communities is essential in order to make a sustainable project….We need to embrace the community from day one—understanding the true essence of the project and the spirit of the place. That’s the only way to do a sustainable project with purpose.