The UK might have gone into lockdown, but Elegant Resorts is pinning hopes of future bookings on client confidence being boosted by the vaccination roll-out, pent-up holiday demand and a slew of new hotel openings.
Managing director Lisa Fitzell said there was “strong demand for easy-to-reach beach destinations, where clients will feel safe and able to relax”.
“We are very hopeful that 2021 will mark the start of the travel industry’s recovery,” Fitzell said. “With the roll-out of the vaccine, our clients are feeling more confident and are very keen to travel and enjoy new experiences.”
She said spending on holidays and their length appear to remain unaffected, with bookings having increased in duration by two days on average. Private jets, luxury villas and tailor-made experiences are increasing in popularity as clients seek to make “luxury holidays feel extra safe and extra special”.
Holidays remain something of a last-minute decision, with the majority of Elegant Resorts’ latest bookings for departures up to Easter, influenced by government announcements and news developments.
Fitzell said some people are also thinking differently about what they want to achieve from their time away, wanting to ensure they’re looking after themselves and the planet. “In 2021, we want to live better and travel better,” Fitzell said.
“This is why we are growing our wellness portfolio and also offering a wealth of sustainable options, including hotels with minimal environmental impact and projects that give back to their local communities.”
With increased demand for wellbeing-focused luxury holidays, Elegant Resorts plans to add more key properties and wellness programmes to its portfolio, including Six Senses Ibiza, a wellness resort opening later this year, and Hacienda Alta Gracia, due to open in the autumn.
Hotels that will be added to the portfolio from a sustainable travel perspective include Borgo Pignano, a 750-acre estate in Tuscany, which is 70% self-sufficient and heated entirely by renewable energy.
New villas added in Barbados, Anguilla, Antigua and the Grenadines will allow for the anticipated demand for multi-generational travel and 2021 reunions, Fitzell added.
Meanwhile, Elegant’s family focus will also be heightened with inclusions such as the new Ritz-Carlton Maldives with its top-notch kids’ club featuring this year and the new Ikos Andalusia with children’s facilities overseen by UK-based Worldwide Kids.
The operator will ramp up presence of Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti in its programme and said it will also now feature Dominica in the Caribbean.
The operator also suggests new cruise ship arrivals this year could spark interest, such as Silversea’s Silver Moon set to launch in April, Seabourn’s first expedition ship, Venture – launching in late 2021 – and Crystal Endeavor, which is supposed to be setting sail from May.
And among the new hotel and resort additions into the 2021 programme will be newcomers such as Villa Igiea by Rocco Forte in Sicily; One&Only Portonovi, Montenegro; Six Senses Ibiza; and Ikos Andalusia in Europe.
In the Caribbean and the Americas, new hotels in the programme will include Rosewood Le Guanahani, St Barths; Six Senses New York; Aman New York; and Four Seasons Napa Valley. New direct flights to St Vincent from London with Virgin Atlantic starting on 23 June will make it easier to access the islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines such as Mustique and Canouan.
In the Indian Ocean, newcomers include Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands opening in May, and Ozen Reserve Bolifushi also in the Maldives.
Over in Asia, new inclusions for 2021 are Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River and Capella Bangkok, as well as Banyan Tree Krabi on the Thai island.
In Africa, the arrival of Xigera Safari Lodge with just 12 suites, overlooking the floodplains of the Okavango Delta, makes it into the 2021 hotlist of new hotels to be featured by Elegant Resorts.