Resolutions usually involve working out more and drinking lots of green juice. That’s great and all, but after researching this year’s biggest travel trends, we’ve decided to put travel at the very top of our goals list. Think over-the-top excursion add-ons like flying in a private jet with your closest pals to ski three of the best resorts in the country, keyless smartphone hotel room entry and exciting hotel pop-ups. Without further ado, here’s what you have to look forward to this year.
Pop-ups at hotels and resorts are all the rage right now. Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa kicked off 2015 with a plethora of weekend retreats with exhale, Lululemon, Row House, Brick CrossFit, Bear Grylls and many more. Guests ennjoyed special perks like working out with top fitness instructors, getting a sneak peek at new gear and enjoying healthy culinary meals. It’s a great way to offer travelers completely new experiences at their favorite hotels.
Over-the-Top Experiential Excursions
Staying in the lap of luxury with a private butler on call is one thing, but hotels and resorts have taken it to a whole new level with experiential excursions. For instance, Montage Deer Valley is offering a new Montage to Moab add-on that will fly up to eight guests via a private charter plane to Southern Utah for the day, chef-prepared gourmet picnic included.
Or opt to chase powder in Vail, Jackson Hole and Whistler with the Four Seasons Jet Set Ski Experience (champagne in-flight included!). Guests will also enjoy resting their heads in a three-bedroom private residence for two nights at each resort, getting decked out in all of the latest ski gear, indulging in private culinary experiences and skiing with celebrity athletes. Now that’s a weekend to go down in the books.
Smartphones Take Control
Got a smartphone? Then you’re all set. Hilton Worldwide just released an app that allows guests to check in and select a room type from their phone, allowing for a more speedy check-in process. Starwood Hotels & Resorts also just launched a SPG Keyless app that lets you check in, get your room number and unlock your door. Lacking in the technology world? No worries. The Ritz-Carlton in Westchester has a resident genius that will teach you how to use cool new apps that are geared toward your interests.
And for those that live on the edge, the Hotel Tonight app will help you find last-minute lodging choices (we’re talking hours before arrival) in great locations. And if you can’t seem to keep your flight, hotel and car confirmations in one place, you guessed it, there’s an app for that! Not only will TripIt keep everything in one place, but it will also send alerts, keep track of points and miles and track fare changes.
Packaged Deals Get a Makeover
Gone are the days of booking travel packages solely for the sake of saving a few bucks. The future of packaged deals includes like-minded brands, such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Airbnb partnering together to offer discerning travelers the ability to book airfare and lodging with the click of a button. It’s more about custom travel preference versus price. “Airbnb guests and KLM travelers look for many of the same things when they travel; homey comfort, great experiences and a personal touch,” says Even Heggernes, country manager for Airbnb Nordics & Netherlands.
Icelandair also offers flight add-ons like hiking glaciers, floating in a secret lagoon and witnessing the Northern Lights. And if cruising is your mojo, Onboard relayed that customizable vacation packages will be key for the cruise industry in 2015. Princess Cruises just released a cruise personalizer portal that allows guests to add on excursions, amenities, culinary experiences and more.
The Wanderlust Woman
This is the year of solo female travel, and hotels and resorts are rolling out specific programs to cater to their needs. Jumeirah Emirates Towers now offers an exclusive Chopard ladies floor and includes tailored amenities like a cosmetic fridge, in-room yoga equipment and lavish bath products. At Teton Mountain Lodge, you can sign up for Elevate Women’s Ski Camp, which includes four days of ski instruction taught by pros, après-ski meals, dinners, Pilates classes and more. Or check out WanderTours, which offers several adventurous women-only tours. It’s a great way to meet new girlfriends along the way.
Expect to see more customized and made-to-order offerings when traveling this year. At the already luxe Elevation Resorts Solaris, you can take it a step further and have a custom board made prior to your arrival by Weston Snowboards. Rumor has it that Weston Snowboards owner Barry Clark is known to invite clients out on moonlight Sno-Cat tours from time to time, too — an experience that money can’t even buy!
And forget bath amenities that are available to the masses, what fun is that? Chill Spa at Hotel Terra allows guests to create customized salt scrubs, sugar scrubs and body creams from scratch at its Salt of the Earth Blend Bar. Or create a body polish with local Hawaiian ingredients at Laniwai Spa at Aulani Resort’s Pulu Bar, an outdoor mixology station.
Eating a burger from a room service menu and drinking mini-bar bottles is so basic. But you can step up your game at The Grand America Hotel by ordering VIP amenities, such as the build your own Bloody Mary option (olives and Tabasco are obviously included). Or better yet, check into Rancho Valencia where you’re VIP status 24/7 and enjoy fresh-squeezed OJ and green juice deliveries in the morning, and post-workout smoothies at your beck and call. It’s all about the small details!
Localized Travel Experiences
Nowadays, everyone is looking for a more local, authentic experience when traveling. From hotels like the Hampton Inn & Suites in Denver offering up a list of local hot spots and breweries to Hotel Jerome offering a walking concierge tour to learn about artsy Aspen, the options are endless.
There are also handy sites like Vayable that feature local expert tours and insider information from around the globe. Or even better, put yourself directly into a local’s shoes and stay at one of onefinestay’s properties where the owners leave personalized lists of their favorite things to do.
Economy Takes the Back Seat
It’s true; first class is definitely the best class when it comes to flying long distances. Luckily airlines are now making an effort to bring travelers more comfortable options. And according to Expedia’s latest analysis reporting, “The fare gap between premium and economy cabins appears to be shrinking, making premium-class tickets potentially more valuable on short-haul routes.”
Delta got the memo and is now offering five different classes based on routes. Choose from Delta One, First Class, Delta Comfort, Main Cabin and Basic Economy (check out the differences here). “We’re providing Delta customers with a thoughtful, well-defined spectrum of options as they make decisions about travel,” says Glen Hauenstein, executive vice president and chief revenue officer. “Whether a customer prioritizes the perks of Delta One or the value of Basic Economy, every seat comes with impeccable service and unmatched reliability.”