Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) is constantly on the road getting the first glimpse of the latest openings, game-changing hotel concepts and the most far flung destinations. Naturally, we feel we know a thing or two about hotels and destinations, not least because we’ve made it our business for the last 26 years. This year, we thought we would share some of our knowledge, so welcome to our first ever SLH Travel Trends for 2017. These trends are all grounded in current development insights, as seen first-hand by our global development team.
Destinations to watch
- Mexico - the spotlight is on Mexico for 2017, where momentum continues to grow in the luxury boutique hotel sector. Mexico is brimming with creative people wanting to indulge and share in their love of art, design and gastronomy. What better way to share than by creating your own small independent hotel? Mexico has a burgeoning trend of stylish premium properties with a truly local flair, so SLH has recently signed eight new hotels to make Mexico our biggest new hotel destination for 2017:
*Properties not yet on SLH website
The rise of the pared back hotel in Tulum signifies a demand for a more contemporary chic offering, epitomising the new luxury mind set: enrichment as opposed to materialism. “They bring a new luxury standard to the hotel landscape since almost all of them are born out of passion projects from individuals who come from various non-hospitality backgrounds but are brimming with creative aspiration” says Filip Boyen, CEO, Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Creativity flourishes in these parts, with La Zebra Beach Hotel celebrating both local and international traditions by partnering with world famous NOMA restaurant in Copenhagen for a pop up Michelin dining experience from March to May 2017. This embodies the new wave of SLH hotels that leave the competition in the dust by focusing on luxury experiences with a local twist.
- Caribbean gets a makeover - The Caribbean gets a makeover as SLH introduces five stunning new hotels: French Coco, Martinique; Le Barthélemy Hotel and Spa, St Barthélemy; The Reef By CuisinArt, Anguilla; The Manoah Boutique Hotel, Anguilla; Paradise Beach Nevis, St Kitts and Nevis; Point Grace Resort & Spa, Turks and Caicos. There’s no need for a restaurant space at Paradise Beach Nevis, with all meals cooked individually by the hotel’s chefs, using only the best local produce. Room service consists of menus from local Nevisian restaurants, allowing guests to devour dishes from all corners of the island in the comfort of their own room. On top of the exclusive dining, the hotel provides each guest with their own private butler who anticipates their every need. The Reef By CuisinArt is paving the way in Anguilla using produce from the hotel’s very own hydroponic farm – a first for a Caribbean hotel.
- Unique Island escapes - Intrepid seafront escapes are the height of luxury for 2017 with the new SLH hotel signings: Sikelia in Italy; Kokomo Island in Fiji; Naxian Collection in Greece; Yemaya Little Corn Island Resort & Spa in Nicaragua* and Le Domain Misincu in France* all bringing new meaning to island escapism. Exploring and experiencing a secluded paradise is on the bucket list of every affluent consumer, with a key focus on trailblazing with healthier, more revitalising adventures (Trendwatching 2017). Some good examples include Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa, a luxury castaway experience on a remote island with only 700 inhabitants, no cars and limited power. Perched between Tunisia and Sicily, Sikelia is located on the rugged yet picturesque black volcanic island, Pantelleria, in a UNESCO World Heritage site, known only to locals who enhance their health with the wellness properties of the unique springs and mineral rich mud. Due to open in June 2017, Le Domain Misincu will be the only 5 star rated environmentally and eco-certified luxury hotel in the region of Cap Corsica, which is nicknamed ‘the island on the island’.
- Ibiza - Having topped SLH’s list of unfulfilled destination for the last six years, SLH is proud to announce its very first Ibizan outpost – Ibiza Bay *. Opening May 2017, Ibiza Bay will be the island’s premier 5* destination, offering 152 designer rooms and suites, a spa, inspired by the healing benefits of the surrounding environment of Ibiza and four restaurants and bars. The centrally-located property is in the Talamanca region of the ever-popular island, bringing a fresh level of indulgence and serenity to Ibiza for guests seeking inspired and soulful service.
*Properties not yet on SLH website
- Smaller is bigger - Trends come and go, but independent luxury lasts forever. That’s why the one major ‘trend’ that continues into 2017 and beyond is the preference for small, independently owned boutique hotels. Of the thousands of applications we received, we offered 57 new hotels a place in our ever-evolving brand. The average number of rooms of these new signings is 28 compared to an average number of 48 for our entire portfolio of 510 hotels and demonstrate that smaller is definitely getting bigger. These sensational new additions include the eight-room Tower Suites Reykjavik, Iceland *; Mahana Villa, New Zealand, a two-bedroom luxury retreat and winery in the breath-taking South Island, and El Alma Soul Retreat, a three-bedroom luxury retreat in Costa Rica. These two latter additions join us as the two smallest hotels in the SLH portfolio.
- Experiences of a lifetime - The new consumer luxury mindset has evolved to being more about ‘who I am’ rather than ‘what I have’, therefore guests seek more bespoke, relevant and one-off experiences that speak volumes about their tastes and sensibilities. Amongst other SLH signings, Dar Ahlam, Morocco, exemplifies this with its curation of exceptional experiences which from one day to the next takes you from a picnic in the middle of an oasis to aperitifs on top of the Atlas Mountains. Celebrating its 15th anniversary next year, Dar Ahlam will be offering 15 weekends of surprises throughout 2017, comprising culinary and theatrical delights. The 34 room Hotel Santavenere, situated in Maratea, offers an array of experiences and is soon to launch paragliding sessions from Maratea’s very own Christ the Redeemer statue straight through to the hotel. The hotel also sits a stone’s throw away from Matera, voted the European capital of culture, 2019.
- Love of Local - The love affair with local has grown to fever pitch. Across design, décor, ingredients used in F&B and on-site staff, never have our hotels embraced their locality so much. This demonstrates that, despite globalisation, traditional culture still matters and our hotels are proud to serve guests with an authentic dose of local goodness. Gone are the days when hoteliers favoured international to internal – they now look to what is right on their doorstep. Sikelia serves up a unique blend of UNESCO World Heritage wine using the rare UNESCO Heritage Zibibbo grape. Yemaya Little Corn Island Resort & Spa * uses local breadfruit instead of potatoes to create their version of French fries.
- Disconnect to Reconnect - The digital era has successfully transformed our connections with strangers but, in 2017, consumers will look to new experiences to help them form deeper connections with their nearest and dearest (Trendwatching, 2017). Nowhere is this more evidential than in some of SLH’s new signings. The very foundation of Kokomo Island, Fiji, is that of a family vision to create a retreat for families and couples to completely disconnect from the modern world in order to re-connect with nature and their loved ones. Treetop paradise, El Alma Soul Retreat in Costa Rica, provides a similar offering and does away with in-room TVs and invites guests to discover “pura vida” through massages, walks and simply enjoying the tropical views.
- Sophisticated simplicity - More and more hotels are going natural with their design and mixing up materials to achieve an eclectic yet laid back ambience. Bamboo and rattan, among other natural materials are all being utilised in some way, shape or form bringing an earthy feel to the hotel décor. Sikelia, El Alma Soul Retreat and our new Tulum hotels all typify this type of décor.
*Properties not yet on SLH website