Experiential travel is rapidly gaining steam, going from a niche corner of the market to the most rapidly developing area of travel in the span of a few short years. As staunch believers in travel as experiences, Luxury Frontiers has been a pioneer in this burgeoning space since our inception in 2011. And after working with the highly-respected investment firm RobertDouglas to expand our platform through a venture capital equity raise, we look forward to continuing being the foremost innovative designer in the upmarket experiential lodging field.
Luxury Hotel Brands are Investing
Investment in experiential travel is growing across the market. Luxury hotel brands like Four Seasons and Belmond — for which Luxury Frontiers has led the redesign and rebuilding of two properties— have responded to guests’ collective desire for lodging experiences that are more culturally-, spiritually-, and environmentally-immersive. Both brands’ portfolios exhibit tented architecture, and we’re seeing a huge surge of interest and development in this architectural style. Rosewood is entering the sphere with its Luang Prabang property, a hillside resort encompassing 23 villas, suites, and tents in the namesake UNESCO World Heritage Site. Writes CNN of the luxury project, “For many travelers, the resort’s six hilltop tents are the main attraction, and “these spacious tents are what put Rosewood Luang Prabang on many a list of ‘most anticipated hotel openings’ last year.” Alila, which is consistently voted one of the world’s most luxurious hotel brands by Travel + Leisure, is also experimenting with tented accommodations. At Ventana Big Sur, one of the brand’s showpiece properties, perched on a coastal stretch hugging California’s West Side Highway, a multimillion-dollar renovation has resulted in the opening of a glamping concept in the 20-acre redwood canyon below the main resort. Reports the San Francisco Chronicle “the elegant safari-style glamping tents proved so attractive that most winter weekends sold out.”
New Experiential Lodging Types are Hitting the Market
Tents, while hugely popular, are but one type of experiential lodging currently offered by the market. At the luxurious Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort in Napa Valley, guests sleep in freestanding, cedar-shingled lodges that are nestled in the treetops, allowing for unparalleled privacy and serenity. We’re also seeing glass lodgings at properties like Kalle’s Inn, in Finland’s Gulf of Bothnia, and the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, in Lapland. And AutoCamp, the widely popular company that specializes in alternative lodgings in Airstream trailers, in locations like Sonoma and Santa Barbara, is steadily growing, with a new property set to open in Yosemite this March.
Experiential Lodgings are ‘Opening Up’ Emerging and Off-the-Beaten-Track Destinations
Beyond offering unconventional lodgings for guests with a penchant for architecture and design, experiential lodgings can also open up destinations that were previously inaccessible to travelers. In Chile, Upscape, a travel company offering bespoke itineraries for luxury travelers, recently launched Outpost, an off-the-grid, pop-up experience that allows travelers to set up camp in the country’s most remote areas— places like the shores of the Rio Jeinimeni, in Patagonia, and Aysén, a vast and barren region in the south, where glaciers, fjords, and white-peaked mountains form the spectacular backdrop. Instead of staying in lodges, travelers can now sleep in curated and logistically-supported camps in areas which lack traditional hospitality infrastructure. We don’t know about you, but we can’t help but imagine all the locations where the same principle can be applied!
Major Investors are Taking Action
With institutional funding getting in the game — major real estate investor KSL Capital Partners just purchased Under Canvas, a travel company that runs luxury camping sites in American locales like Moab and Zion National Park — the next few years promise to give rise to a surge in unique properties, in locations all over the world.
Luxury Frontiers has several such projects in the works, from expedition camps in far-flung locales to six-star architectural marvels. Stay tuned for updates on those exciting developments, and much more.