Categories Opinion Column

The Unfamiliar Art of Crafting Outdoor Travel Experiences

Written By: Jesús Parrilla, Principal, Luxury Frontiers

A critical element in the development of new tourism destinations, itineraries, and accommodations is the crafting of successful outdoor travel experiences. While this may seem obvious, there is an unfamiliarity toward and misconception about the rigors and sensitivity of this process.

To that end, I’d like to talk about a key yet relatively unknown core function of Luxury Frontiers—experiential design. This is a practice whereby a destination’s natural, cultural, and historical environment is leveraged to shape and develop activities that are meaningful, sensible, and contextually relevant.

At Luxury Frontiers, we consider the practice of natural law, or the law of origin, when designing and developing travel products for hospitality brands, developers, and destination management agencies. We strive to craft travel concepts and transformative outdoor experiences that have a strong sense of place, are rooted in authenticity, influenced by environmental stewardship, in sync with the mysticism of nature’s elements, and draw inspiration from ancestral spirituality and wisdom.

For us, there is no one-size-fits-all methodology, or cookie-cutter approach, to developing experiences. Every inch of the destination must be understood, and every activity should tell its own story—one that’s informed by a highly individualized set of natural, cultural, and historical attributes.

To unearth the destination´s unique identity, we follow a rigorous technical process in which we first analyze the physical, geographical, and ecological aspects of the destination (among them: landform, geology, water movement, terrain conditions, stability to the flora and fauna, habitat dynamics, and pollution risks). Our process also evaluates cultural and social aspects, including history, anthropology, heritage, traditions, and archaeology, as well as potential social and economic impacts to local communities.

This thorough process allows us to precisely map the destination while programming and planning travel experiences for various skills sets and physical capabilities. This involves running technical and risk assessments for each potential activity, devising rules and procedures for managing risks, and developing evacuation and contingency plans. We also provide a variety of recommendations that take into account varying ability levels, guiding requirements, gear and equipment, and content and standard of service for each experience.

Setting aside all these important technical considerations and safety standards, we think that travel experiences should stimulate all five senses, opening travelers up to the world and allowing them to perceive newfound realities and situations without misrepresentation or filters. We believe in the transformative power of being in touch with our surroundings in a ‘pure’ and mindful state. We want travelers to be an active part of the experience, where they’re enjoying every moment of the journey, breathing deeply, and acting spontaneously—not watching from the sidelines like passive observers.

This immersion goes hand-by-hand with the ethics of ‘Leave No Trace,’ an idea about sustaining the environment for generations to come.  For us, the places we want to explore are also the places we must protect in order to ensure a responsible and sustainable future. It’s for this reason that our experiences and operational guidelines are in strict accordance with the principles of low-impact and eco-conscious travel.

From destination development to itinerary planning, the underlying principle of our philosophical approach to crafting outdoor travel experiences is that embracing our environment, heritage, and traditions and paying respect to all living things makes travelers connect to something greater than themselves. Not only does this bring richer meaning to the travel experience, but ultimately, also to travelers’ lives.