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26 Nov 2015

BY April Hutchinson


ttgluxury winter 2015

Despite turbulent events in Egypt and beyond, tourism development in other parts of the Middle East seems to continue unabated, with even Iran joining the fray.


Take a duvet day


Imagine booking your clients into somewhere that had no shower, Wi-Fi, air conditioning or a duvet – what might be their reaction?


Well, I was ecstatic. No Wi-Fi meant I wasn’t constantly looking at social media. Not having a shower didn’t stop me attempting to “glam up” for dinner and after said dinner, I returned to find a bed made with soft sheets and a blanket. And as for the air-con – well, it was winter, so who cares?


Have you guessed where I was? The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, one of the most feted luxury experiences in history. But in this instance – the no duvet, no shower instance – where is the luxury bit?


When it comes to this train, luxury is more intangible than feather duvets. It’s the chance to be a part of history. To sleep in a cabin where princes and superstars have slept. To see film director Wes Anderson onboard plotting his next film. Sampling a Guilty 12 cocktail made from secret ingredients in the Lalique bar as you speed through Lichenstein. It’s enjoying a four-course meal served by cheeky Italian waiters. It’s unmatched in the world.


But even the VSOE knows it has to adapt with the times and introducing air-conditioning is on the cards – when summer temperatures strike, things get sticky – and duvets and Wi-Fi are also rumoured; showers not so much.


The tricky thing is to preserve the essence of the experience, but make it more appropriate to modern demands, something all hospitality and travel companies are having to wrestle with I thought, as I lay hemmed in by my blankets in a darkened cabin.


Talking of dark rooms, I found myself in another one recently – slightly larger, but also full of dilemmas, this time raised by The Future Laboratory. Its latest briefing was the closest I have come to a drug-free mind-altering experience for a while. And taking time to assess how you move your business on yet retain its essence should be on everyone’s to-do list. And whether you do it on a train, in a lecture theatre, or even while taking a duvet day, please do do it, or risk going the way of blankets.


April Hutchinson
Editor, ttgluxury

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