Luxury is a loaded word. Excess, a privileged existence, snobbery, elitism and superficiality are usually associated with luxury. By association, luxury seems to have been redefined by public perception. Strained and slightly contorted expressions on the faces of people telling me, (almost defensively), a room is just a place to “crash for the night”, or state, “it’s a waste of money”, (often leads me thinking whose money, mine or yours?). I have no qualms with how others choose to travel, be it budget, luxury and anything in between, (each to their own). Why are people so bothered at the mention of luxury travel?
Luxury travel creates a unique experience. It allows one to customise and tailor their dream, enabling one to capitalise on the best a country has to offer. Waking up over azure Tahitian waters, uninterrupted 360 degrees of ocean views. Room service at 3am whilst in bed because you’re wide awake, hungry and jet lagged. Access to prime real-estate, perched atop a mountain overlooking pastured green valleys with the Alps visible from your room.
The desire for an iconic experience, reflective of my romanticised perception of that country, leads me to what is labelled as ‘Luxury Travel’. So I book accommodation and tours that will capture this experience. Tours that mean I haven’t waited in a queue for three hours, hot, hungry, and distracted by the time I reach the top of the Eiffel Tower. I’m not stressed and cross with my husband for getting us lost, and walking miles with blistered feet. I’m not irritated and upset because we deliberately choose to outsource foreseeable and potential stress to a guide. It’s not snobbery, it’s about positioning ourselves, free of what may detract from having the ultimate experience, and ensuring that our focus is exactly where it should be. On the foreign sights, sounds and smells that are all around us.
Similarly, why does the room matter? Simply stated, because that too can be a distraction. A severing of the reverie which develops from a day spent site-seeing amazing wonders of the world, only to return to a clinical abode- it’s almost like turning the lights on half way through a movie. I don’t want my travel experience to stop the moment I step off the street or leave a monument or museum. Returning to a non-descript room, that doesn’t reverberate with it’s surroundings breaks the reverie. Four walls and a clean bed and I could be anywhere in the world. I could be at home in my everyday life, (or as hubby describes it, he could be living in a box).
There is nothing more thrilling than extending the outside environment in, opening the windows in the heart of central Paris and hearing the unfamiliar sounds of police sirens and honking horns. Ornate filigree balconies visible from my bed and the flash of a twinkling Eiffel Tower in the background. Or opening a balcony window and seeing Diamond Head Volcano in the distance. Hearing the ocean lap the shore at night as a balmy breeze wafts in. I sound like a commercial or travel brochure, but that’s what it’s actually like. To lie in bed and hear the bells of Venice chiming, or to stand at the bedroom window which offers a canal view and watch gondoliers paddle passed. There is no mistaking where I am. Not because my mind knows I am abroad, but because every single sense is still activated with foreign environmental stimuli. Sight, sounds, smell that seems to come hand in hand with that luxe level of accommodation. It is the ultimate sensory enhancer to fulfilling and delivering that iconic and unique experience. So, it is not a ‘luxury’ experience that I seek. I seek an alternative experience. You may call it luxury. I call it iconic.