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Redefining Luxury.

Experiential, exclusive and eco- friendly are the three Es that drive the luxe hospitality business today

L UXURY is at a discount today,"says Ashish Jakhanwala, managing director ( MD) and chief executive officer of SAMHI Hotels, when you ask him what is the top trend in luxury hospitality.

For luxury hospitality chains, as if battling price pressures was not enough, a host of other disruptors are conspiring to give them nightmares. Airbnb, for one. The home sharing website, which sent budget hotels in a tizzy, has now encroached into the luxury apartment space too. Now, it's the turn of the fivestar hotel chains to start worrying. Just trawl through Airbnb's luxury home stays and you will find, at least, 300 luxurious apartments in Paris. From spectacular hilltop villas in Italy to historical corner lofts in New York's happening Manhattan district, there is topnotch accommodation available for around e1/4 1,000 in Europe or $ 1,500 in the US.

Posh hotels have a reason to take fright. For, one big trend in travel today is the way the luxe consumer is increasingly experimenting with staying in private villas. Add to that, today, it is the era of the conscious traveller who wants to go eco- friendly, try new experiences and is tired of the same five- star drill.

So, what are the hospitality majors doing? Well, they have no choice but to reinvent themselves and so hotels are building private zones for their uber luxe guest in the new developments coming up. And creating some unforgettable experiences to hook the traveller. "The design of the luxury resorts is building more privacy in accommodation,"says Dilip Puri, MD, Starwood India. He describes how in Maldives the chain's top brand, St. Regis, is coming up with villas that are built completely private.

In India, he says, they are in talks with a developer in Lonavala, near Mumbai, to create branded residences for the well- heeled.

Down south, hospitality and tourism veteran Jose Dominic of the CGH Earth Group has come up with a radical new offering-- a one- key hotel in Kerala.

Chittoor Kottaram, the tiny palace that the Rajah of Cochin, Rama Verma, built for himself in order to be close to the Guruvayur Temple, is now converted into a hotel. But only for one family. Chittoor can accommodate just six people. There are lots of dos and don'ts for guests booking into the property.

They need to enter barefoot and stay that way. The menu is

citizen, design savvy, tech savvy, a foodie and constantly looking for new and unique experiences.

This segment will continue to command and drive change the world over,"says Umar Tramboo, MD of Pinnacle Resorts, which has created the rather exotic boutique hotel Khyber Himalayan Resorts and Spa in the ski town of Gulmarg.

Epicurean journeys delving into a region's heritage are also big- selling items in most fivestar hotels today in India. So, in Delhi, the luxe chains will take you on food trails to Old Delhi or curate special recipes from there.

At ITC hotels, the chain has taken enormous pains to make sure that the food served mimics the cuisine of the region. So, the Grand Chola in Chennai will go all out to serve Chettinad and other cuisines.

rather sparse-- only one item a day. And yet people book a stay in this unique hotel, where the promise is you will be treated like a Kerala king only for the sheer novelty of the experience.

"The luxury traveller is not only financially capable but is also a global Luxe consumers are increasingly experimenting with staying in private villas

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Aug 31, 2015
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