AccorHotels Global Luxury & Upscale Brand management releases a report underlining the fact that travellers are following their hearts to find “meaningful luxury”.

Chris Cahill, Accor, à Issy-les-Moulineaux.

Chris Cahill, CEO AccorHotels Luxury Brands

Chris Cahill, AccorHotels’ Chief Executive Officer, Luxury Brands

What’s ahead for luxury travel in 2017? According to Chris Cahill, AccorHotels’ Chief Executive Officer, Luxury Brands, the definition of luxury is evolving among sophisticated and worldly travelers, and what they increasingly want, is meaning. “It’s all about recognition & fulfilment.”

“Guests no longer perceive a luxurious experience merely on the basis of their surroundings or how much it may cost, but on how it enriches their life and the way it makes them feel,” says Cahill. “Luxury provides the opportunity for a guest to be amazed, perhaps by wonder, delight or a sense of belonging. True luxury is experienced when one is welcomed as a desired guest whose unique inclinations are anticipated and met. Ultimately, the heart wants what the heart wants.”

Personal connections, family experiences and private moments are just a few examples of the meaningfully luxurious trends that global travelers are increasingly seeking. The following is a guide to the Top 7 Luxury Trends of 2017, courtesy of Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman and Swissôtel, the luxury brands of AccorHotels Group.

1 – Life affirming experiences – A recent survey of affluence and wealth among global consumers, conducted by YouGov, found that 75 percent of 5-star travelers say “capturing the local culture of the destination” is extremely or very important. These are the rare opportunities to experience a moment in time when the stars align and a traveler has a truly authentic cultural experience, finding joy amid foreign surroundings – these are the moments one writes home about. At Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, a magical day begins with a horseback ride through the forest at dawn. Zebra, buffalo and elephants emerge and guests are joined by the chef for a sumptuous, farm-to-table Slopes Breakfast, with a view of the sun rising over the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya. Meanwhile in Japan, guests of Swissôtel Nankai Osaka are invited to experience a twilight adventure through Ura-Namba, aka, the backstreets of Namba, a fascinating and mysterious neighborhood that begins to wake up just as the sun sets over Osaka. The Namba Evening Walk leads guests through a maze of alleyways and secret storefronts to discover a treasure trove of cozy restaurants, quaint shops, illicit bars and a whirl of sensory pleasures. MGallery by Sofitel hotels are for engaged explorers and adventurous travelers. Clued into travel, they instinctively seek out the unbeaten path and all of the rich experiences that go along with discovery. The “Memorable Moment” is a unique experience that MGallery by Sofitel offers to its guests in each of its hotels. Exclusive experiences, moments of rare delight – each hotel offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a special activity that will be transformed into an unforgettable memory. Whatever the destination, guests will have the opportunity to discover an experience as unique as it is unexpected. For example, MGallery Hotel Rotary in Geneva offers a full immersion in the kingdom of time, where guests can spend half the day creating and constructing their own Swiss watch with a qualified watchmaker.

2 – Family vacations go luxe – No longer relegated to the camper van, family vacations are becoming more adventurous and sophisticated as parents encourage their children to see the world and experience different cultures. As part of its Magnifique Family promotion, Sofitel’s partnership with “Le Petit Prince”– an icon of French literature – is an opportunity to celebrate children’s poetic imagination. Upon arrival at the Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa in Morocco, the Magnifique Family offer provides children with Little Prince inspired travel diaries outlining a series of fun adventures that await them. Kids are encouraged to write about their discoveries and illustrate their diaries with drawings and photos, as the Little Prince did in the famous Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book. The Plaza, a Fairmont Managed Hotel in New York City sets the scene for romping parent and child adventures with the Eloise Suite experience and the Knights of the Plaza experience in the Tower Room. At Raffles Istanbul, a Kids Membership club offers delightful treats to young guests on recurring visits, such as bathrobes with embroidered initials on their third stays. All little guests enrolled into the program receive their very own, grown-up style personalized membership cards. In China, family cooking classes are on the menu at Raffles Hainan, along with yoga classes for all ages on the beach. Not to be outdone, Raffles Seychelles has developed an exclusive program that brings eco-tourism to life with the country’s very own custodian and nature protector – the park ranger. Ranger for a Day and Junior Ranger for a Day provides budding conservationists with ‘behind the scenes’ access to inaccessible areas on Curieuse Island, home to a nature and wildlife reserve.

3 – A sense of belonging – In a world of proliferating apps and constant technological upgrades, guests are increasingly grateful for customized services and making personal connections along their journeys. According to research compiled for Fairmont’s recent Luxury Insights Report, long-lasting impressions made by hotel colleagues are the most important factor in guests’ overall travel experiences and strongly influence their return visits. Every guest is met with a VIP Arrival Welcome at the Fairmont The Palm. The Dubai hotel’s cultural ambassador welcomes guests in traditional ‘Emarati’ style, with hot Arabic coffee and dates. At Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, guests of Fairmont Gold have the opportunity to choose the pillow of their dreams. Soft down, medium down, special neck support, an organic spelt pillow, and for the ultimate bliss: a Swiss Stone Pine pillow, exuding the calming scent of a pine forest to inspire the sweetest dreams. Upon entering through the lobby door, guests immediately begin to discover the true sense and story of MGallery by Sofitel. Everything – from the layout of the different areas to the decoration, the scents and the services on offer – is in keeping with the character of the individual property. This spirit of the place is the hallmark of the brand, and is fully part of the guest experience.

acclaimed chef Christian Constant at Sofitel Paris Arc de Triomphe. Sofitel Wine Days is an international and annual program during which Sofitel hotels celebrate French wine and art-de-vivre. The festivities are in late September and October, during the traditional wine harvest period in France, and offer guests a wide array of extraordinary wine experiences such as wine tastings and wine pairings.

5 – The joy of seclusion – For the most affluent travelers, the ultimate luxury often means privacy. Like Greta Garbo, they crave the desire to stop the world for a while and be with a loved one, or a few special people, or even alone with only their thoughts. At the Harbour Rocks Hotel – MGallery in Sydney, a secluded table-for-two is perched on the balcony of the Harbour View Suite, providing a stunning vista of Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House. Privileged pairs enjoy a private dinner al fresco while being serenaded by the sweet sounds of a classical string quartet. For the ultimate spa retreat, guests of Swissôtel Dresden Am Schloss may book the entire Pürovel Spa & Sport area for a Private Spa Night. Built within an original vault from the 15th century, the spa offers an extraordinary setting where guests may enjoy private access to the saunas and baths while noshing on prosecco and fruit. In Vancouver, the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim provides the idyllic Beauty Sleep package, offering the perfect hideout for regenerating tired moms or inspiring girlfriend getaways.

6 – Wellness & fitness that never quits – As Gandhi declared, “It is health that is the real wealth”. Luxury travelers refuse to let little things like time zones or flights get in the way of their commitment to feeling good and staying fit. As the act of travel can be dehydrating and exhausting, quality spa and fitness amenities, along with healthful menu options are increasingly becoming essential luxuries. “Wellness tourism” is in fact projected to grow by more than nine percent through 2017, nearly 50 percent faster than overall global tourism, according to the Global Spa and Wellness Economy Monitor. Swissôtel Zurich has introduced The Vitality Room, a holistic concept room designed to help guests “live it well” with circadian light features, ergonomic furniture, hydrating beverages, superfood snacks and a fitness wall for a private workout; while guests of Swissôtel Berlin will find the rest they need with DeepSleep – a scientific program to achieve better sleep through light therapy, power-napping, aromatherapy, nutritional supplements and a sound pillow. With its coveted beachfront position, runners love the Hotel Pullman Barcelona Skipper. The hotel designs custom running circuits for its guests, away from car traffic and with the glorious Mediterranean as a jogging mate. Health conscious guests will be delighted to discover De-Light by Sofitel, a tantalizing array of well-balanced, low-calorie and portion-controlled meals designed with fresh, vibrant flavors reflecting the regional cuisine available at Sofitel restaurants worldwide, from Sofitel Quiberon Dietetique where the concept was created, to Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverley Hills.

7 – The world as a classroom – No longer content to rest on the beach for an entire vacation, luxury travelers today love to expand their minds and get to know the authentic heart of a destination. Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris is the only hotel in Paris with an art concierge, providing guests with access to cultural and artistic news, Parisian exhibitions, auctions, live performances, concerts, artist workshops and activities for children as well as personalized tours of the hotel’s private collection of more than 350 distinct works of art. Fairmont Mayakoba offers guided tours through the property’s water canals and ecosystems of the Yucatan Peninsula, led by the hotel’s Ecology Manager. The tour includes a visit to the Burródromo cenote with ancient stalactites and crystal clear water emerging from the depths of the earth. Fairmont Southampton, in picturesque Bermuda, offers complimentary photo safaris to hotel guests. An experienced guide provides tips and tricks for getting the best shots and establishing ideal natural lighting conditions. The secrets to creating the finest dishes of Cambodian cuisine are taught to guests of the Royal Khmer Cooking Classes offered at Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh or Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. Hotel MGallery Burdigala in Bordeaux, one of the world’s most famous wine regions, offers guests an exclusive tour of the Château Pape Clément, a Pessac-Léognan Grand

4 – Dishing up the destination – The quickest way to the hearts of many guests is through their bellies. According to recent findings from the World Tourism Organization, these “food tourists” are travelers who seek the authenticity of the places they visit through food. Cocktail connoisseurs and travelers with a food fetish rely on ‘inside sources’ to track down the hottest chefs, the favorite local cuisine and one-of-a-kind tasting moments. The Kilted Kittock is a Scottish ale and a cult favorite found only at Fairmont St Andrews; home-made honey beer is being brewed at Fairmont properties bearing their own honeybee apiaries, such as Fairmont San Francisco and Fairmont Royal York in Toronto; Gosling Rum is made in-house at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, a Fairmont Managed Hotel in Bermuda; Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston offers house-made bourbon; while Raffles 1915 Gin is a bespoke gin exclusive to the fine bars of Raffles hotels globally. Meanwhile, some of the world’s most famous chefs are quietly building a presence in the kitchens of AccorHotels. The acclaimed Nobu Matsuhisa has opened his first Paris restaurant at Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris. Chef Marco Pierre White opened a spot at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi, Chef Marcus Samuelsson may be spotted at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club in Bermuda and Chef Richard Sandoval oversees four dining venues at Fairmont Mayakoba in Mexico. At Hotel MGallery Baraquda in Pattaya, guests are invited to a day of culinary adventure, beginning with a fishing expedition and later an exclusive opportunity to prepare their catch of the day alongside the hotel’s chef. French culinary treasures and bistro-style dishes are rediscovered inside Les Cocottes by Cru Classé. Hotel MGallery Veranda Chiang Mai in Thailand invites guests to an odyssey into the heart of the Kingdom of Lanna, to discover and explore the holy temples of the northern capital. Pullman Hotels & Resorts has an incredible commitment to design, art, photography and local culture and collaborates with artists and designers around the world to help bring its design vision to life. The “Artist Playground” program has been created as a new initiative intended to add elements of local interest, cultural intrigue and visual ingenuity to the hotel’s communal spaces. Pullman Shanghai Skyway, Pullman Jakarta Central Park and Pullman Brussels Centre Midi are proudly announcing this project to commence in 2017. The Private Room at BUNK Lobby Lounge has been chosen to be the designated area which will be named the “Pullman Jakarta Central Park Artist Playground.” This space will be continuously met with different sources of art from local artists working in a wide range of contemporary disciplines.