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Showing posts with label Luxury Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luxury Travel. Show all posts

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Good Vibrations: Sound Healing Makes Waves in the Wellness Industry

   If you have been noticing more spas offering treatments that incorporate Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, or gongs, you aren’t alone. Sound therapies are starting to make waves in the spa industry.

In the ultra-competitive world of luxury wellness travel, companies need to do more than just offer gorgeous views, great-tasting food, and aromatic gardens. They need to think about sound too.

Increasingly, properties including Hyatt’s Miraval Arizona are employing sound therapy to pull in wellness-oriented customers. The idea is that people’s ears offer a path to relaxation and healing every bit as powerful as eyeballs, nostrils, and fingertips. And companies are citing ancient wisdom known to groups as disparate as Australia’s aborigines (think didgeridoos), Tibetan monks (think singing bowls), and Native Americans (flutes, drums, and rains sticks) as part of healing practices.

“Sound can signal the body to release its own tension and negativity, dropping the brainwave into a meditative state quickly and effectively,” said Pamela Lancaster, a widely regarded guru in the field and “master healer” at Miraval Arizona.

What Miraval Arizona and others are realizing is that sound is a powerful tool in reducing clients’ stress levels, improving their moods, and alleviating pain. And given the hectic, anxiety-ridden world of 2020, more and more travelers are seeking out such restorative treatments.


Proponents of sound therapy call it “vibrational medicine,” arguing that certain systems in our bodies vibrate at different frequencies. If these frequencies get disrupted by ailments like emotional distress or illness, our well-being could be affected.

While efforts to heal through sound therapy is as old as ancient Egypt, scientists have only recently begun to explore its efficacy. The wellness community, however, has been providing sound therapies for more than a decade, with some treatments growing more and more into standard offers.

The offerings include massages that are synchronized to music, listening to the peaceful sounds of “deep nature” and taking in the beauty of Tibetan singing bowl sessions. Tuning forks of varying pitches are thought by some to be a way to “unblock” people’s “stagnant energy,” And so-called “sound baths” — an ancient form of deep meditation — create relaxing, repetitive sounds using musical bowls, cymbals, and gongs.

“An immersion in sound frequency cleanses the soul,” said Robert Lee, a leader at  Eaton DC, a hotel and wellness center in Washington, D.C. “It allows for a recalibration to a deep stillness that we can all access within ourselves.”

In fact, sound can be used to create a sense of stillness that people crave, he added. “While trying to quiet the mind in a quiet room is nearly impossible, sound actually makes meditating easier.”


At Miraval Arizona, Lancaster has seen firsthand how much sound can help visitors leave behind their stresses and negativity and settle into a meditative state. The resort offers Vasudhara, a water treatment combining Thai massages with pulsating sounds emanating from underwater speakers. “The body brings itself back into a place of homeostasis,” Lancaster said, about the treatment. “And things have a propensity to begin to heal.”

Vasudhara at Miraval Arizona

Michelle Pirret, a “sonic alchemist” at the Four Seasons New York Downtown, suggested this type of therapy is powerful because the human body is comprised mostly of water. “When frequency is played on the body, cellular water is vibrating,” she said. “This escalates hormonal release and relaxation.”

The Lodge at Woodloch in northeastern Pennsylvania offers a vibrational treatment that uses the sound waves of singing bowls to create a relaxed, meditative state. Its “Gong with the Wind” selection combines yoga and meditation with holistic sound immersion. The acoustics come courtesy of conch shells, bronze gongs, and singing bowls.

Sound Healing Instruments
at The Lodge at Woodloch

Primordial sound meditation is also on the menu at the Chopra Center for Well-Being in California. Guests receive personal mantras, specific sounds or vibrations that help them achieve quieter, more peaceful states of mind.

In Wisconsin, Kohler Waters Spa at The American Club has wet treatment rooms featuring VibraAcoustic bath technology. There, a big bathtub is tricked out with transducers that send vibrations through the water and aimed at opening up lymphatic pathways, said Nikki Miller, director of Kohler Waters Spas.

For companies looking to add sound therapy to their offerings, here is one piece of counterintuitive advice. Rather than just focusing on the noise, resort operators also need to focus on designing spaces for, well, blissful silence. “Creating a soundproof space significantly enhances the effectiveness of the experience,” Lee, of Eaton in Washington, D.C., explained.

“Silence,” he added, “must be given the honor it deserves.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Going With the Floe: How a Canadian Province Uses Icebergs to Attract Visitors

Prize-winning marketing campaigns can put distant destinations on the map.  In the case of Newfoundland and Labrador, the easternmost province in Canada, “Find Yourself,” an umbrella marketing theme in existence since 2006, has been a launchpad for creative promotions that have won more than 300 domestic and international awards during the past 12 years.
“Find Yourself is about creating an emotional connection. It’s designed to tap into the heart and ultimately the wallets of the people we are going after,” said Dave Sullivan, part of the creative team behind Find Yourself.
Just this year, the province received six awards at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s Adrian Awards. Top prizes went to iceberg tracking website IcebergFinder.com,  the Symphony of Sound integrated campaign, and a television spot entitled Conductor.

“Tourism as a travel and trade industry is so globally competitive. Award-winning campaigns making waves around the world [can lead] to success…and a competitive edge,” said Catherine Kelly, director of account management at Target Marketing and Communications, which helped create the campaign.
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Fogo Island Inn
Isolation be the newest thing in luxury travel. Still, gaining a competitive edge is not easy for a destination called one of the four corners of the earth by the Flat Earth Society, noted Christopher Mitchelmore, Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of tourism, culture, industry and innovation.
"We face an exceptional challenge because of our location…the most easterly point in North America in the middle of the ocean,” he said. “It takes a determined effort to come here, in terms of distance, time and cost.”
That said, when visitors arrive, they find a destination “as far away from Disneyland as possible. It’s not a contrived destination. We have whales, icebergs, four UNESCO heritage sites, and unique cultures.”
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Highlighting the province’s attributes in original ways is key to the success of the award-winning campaigns, and by extension, to tourism growth.
“Our biggest opportunity group is curious people looking for the unexpected and intriguing. We looked at the marketing landscape and found a lot of the work is so similar and linear, covering places to go and things to do. That created a big opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves,” said Sullivan.
“We look at the province’s inherent creativity from a tourism perspective–its people, its culture, its natural landscape.”
Ah, that landscape. Wild, ancient, craggy coastlines filled with icebergs, which are a top travel motivator.

“Every spring, there’s a parade of 10,000-year-old icebergs waltzing along our 18,000 miles of coastline. But visitors need to know where to look for them. Our solution was launching Iceberg Finder. It was a responsive and interactive way to connect people by plotting icebergs on a live interactive map. Visitors could also upload photos. Iceberg Finder became a unique way to help people hear about the experience,” said Sullivan.
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In fact, the site was chiefly designed “to facilitate the visitor experience while icebergs are here,” said Kelly. “The publicity was secondary.”
One of the other elements making the province’s experiences sing is sound.
“Experience here is felt through sounds. For example, there are the creaks and groans and fissures of the icebergs, which tell the story of their journey through the North Atlantic,” said Sullivan.
He adds that natural instruments, like the wind and waves crashing against the shore, along with man-made sounds–from music to the voice of storytellers, “demonstrate how we hear things very differently here.”
Thus, Symphony of Sound, an integrated campaign focusing on sound – both man-made and natural. Among the elements is Sounds from the Edge, a website allowing visitors to scroll through radio frequencies of both natural sounds and the region’s 200 dialects. The site includes a Play It by Ear contest. Visitors to the website were asked to build their own soundtrack, based on indigenous sounds. One composer won an all-expenses-paid trip to the province. The integrated campaign also incorporated a literal symphony inspired by natural sound. The symphony serves as the soundtrack of a seven-minute video.
This year, the focus is on storytelling. “The digital prong will be a website campaign page, a space where people can come and travel through the stories that exist here. There’s also a 90-second TV spot in the form of a long-form poem highlighting the oral traditions that exist here. It all goes back to the emotional connection with place and people, and where they can reconnect with themselves,” said Sullivan.
Will the new campaign win more awards? According to Kelly, that’s not really the point. “Awards won is not the measure. Success comes from visitors and spend and awareness and potential for future visits. Specifically, our job as the destination agency is to get it on the radar and create interest and drive visits to the trip-planning tool. We measure interest and intent to visit. The industry then has to convert interest to action.”
Apparently, it’s working. “Tourism spending is at an all-time high. Moreover, there are now 2,800 tourism-related businesses employing 20,000 people (making tourism the largest non-government employer in the province). Every region is seeing a benefit,” said Mitchelmore.

This article originally appeared on Skift,a publication for which I am the luxury correspondent.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Ooh, La, La: A Tasty Luxury Hotel Arrives in Paris

Courtesy: Fauchon

Fauchon has long been in fashion among epicureans. The Paris-based gourmet food purveyor has been around since 1886, and has outlets in 20 countries around the world. And now, it has a hotel.
Last fall, the company opened Fauchon L’hôtel Paris by  Place de la Madeleine. There are plans for 19 more openings around the world in the next decade. Next up is Kyoto in 2020.
We know…ho-hum, another new luxury brand. Except that, after speaking with Jacques-Olivier Chauvin, president and CEO of Fauchon Hospitality, it does appear that this one is actually fashioning itself in ways that might differentiate it from the competition. The idea is to win guest hearts through their stomachs.
Fauchon L’hôtel Paris has a certain je ne sais quoi 
“Fauchon has deep roots in French culture and French gastronomy,” said Anders Justenlund, a hospitality consultant and lecturer at University College Northern Denmark. “When you are talking about branding today, you are talking about engaging with the product, which in the case of Fauchon is food and beverage products. Fauchon Hospitality offers them a new way to market their main business.”
Indeed, in creating the new hotel, Chauvin said the idea was to enhance customer engagement by “finding the essence of what Fauchon is about and capitalizing on that. We asked ourselves what can we bring to this industry? Since everything we do is about glamour and gourmet experiences,” the answer was to create a hotel brand with an emphasis on French food and beverage, “from street level to the top floor.”
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At street level, guests find Grand Cafe Fauchon, naturally a gourmand affair. But the in-room food and beverage offerings are what distinguishes Fauchon from its competitors.
“To us,” said Chauvin “room service is the future of a different hotel experience.”
Reinventing in-room dining starts with the choice of furniture. Instead of wall-facing desks, rooms come with a table and chairs oriented toward windows. In other words, Fauchon guests will be using their dining tables for work, instead of using work spaces for dining.
Rooms come stocked with a tablecloth and Limoges tableware. So, transforming into an in-room restaurant is as simple as unfurling the linens, setting the table, ordering from the complete restaurant menu via tablet voice technology, and then awaiting the meal, brought to the room in individual courses.
Each room also sports a customized gourmet bar, designed by Sacha Lakic for Roche Bobois. It’s packed with Fauchon treats, from truffles and foie gras to macarons and champagne. And what guests don’t eat, they can take home with them, gratis, a smart move, said Justenlund, for extending the brand experience beyond the hotel stay.
Image result for fauchon hotelThese in-room food offerings might be considered part of Fauchon’s X factor, as in the desire to appeal to Generation X (aka The Forgotten Generation among travel marketers). Chauvin says Xers are Fauchon’s sweet spot, with their interest in “elegant comfort, food and their interest in learning about other cultures.”
Unlike many so-called millennial brands, where room space is sacrificed in the name of creating cool lobby hang-outs, Fauchon wants guests to luxuriate in their rooms.
“A room is where you want to enjoy the city where you are,” said Chauvin. “We are providing more than a place to sleep. We want the room to be spacious. To provide a view to the city. To allow guests to have a proper dinner experience.”
Fauchon is smart to distinguish itself through food, said Justenlund: “What is making the difference is that this is not a hotel company; it’s an F & B company opening a hotel to lift the entire brand.”
Naturally, Chauvin, a veteran of both Louis Vuitton and Relais & Chateaux, agrees.“We are capitalizing the Fauchon name, providing a thorough brand experience, and putting an umbrella over the brand…from food to cafes to hotels,” he said.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Little-Known California Surf Town Looking to Become the West Coast's Newest Luxury Destination

Dana Point, the starting position of California’s Pacific Coast Highway, is currently known, among outsiders as that place just south of Laguna Beach. But Dana Pointers think their community, which they consider the surfing capital of California and the whale watching capital of the West, deserves greater accolades.
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Courtesy Dana Point Chamber
For now, though, while Orange County neighbors like Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and Laguna Niguel revel in the reputation of the California luxe life, Dana Point is largely anonymous.
The area’s recently-formed destination marketing organization, Visit Dana Point, is looking to change that. The goal, according to executive director Jonny Westom, is to position Dana Point as a competitor to its OC neighbors, along with other upscale California destinations like Palm Springs, Monterey and Santa Barbara.
In the crowded California luxury marketplace, Dana Point has a chance to exploit its under-the-radar status.
“In markets that are oversaturated,” said Daniella Middleton, vice president of destination marketing consulting firm Development Counsellors International, “people are looking for lesser-known nooks and crannies. Luxury travelers are looking for off-the-beaten path destinations, not wanting to go where everyone else goes. An elusive destination that is down to earth is luxurious in itself.”
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Courtesy Dana Point Chamber
Dana Point isn’t starting its efforts entirely from the ground up. After all, the town incorporates four major hotel properties: The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, The Monarch Beach Resort, the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, and the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach. In some ways, these hotels have contributed to Dana Point’s anonymity over the years, although they are now a big part of the solution.
According to Westom, when he started in his position a year ago, he assessed the reasons why Dana Point was not well-known. He observed that “none of the hotels here have ‘Dana Point’ in their name.”
Since “the hotel mega-budgets promoting the area don’t have the name of the destination in their marketing presentations,” there is a gap in consumer recognition of the actual destination.
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Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point
But the quartet of hotels has stepped up to the marketing challenge. Back in 2009, they formed a tourism business improvement district in order to create a unified marketing voice. By mid-2016, the TBID had transitioned into a destination marketing organization, funded by a flat fee room tax.
In 2018, after Westom came on board, MMGY Global was hired to identify the area’s key assets, and to assess the perception of Dana Point among potential consumers. It was the beginning of “a rebranding exercise,” according to Westom, “that would help us identify what separates us from other destinations.”
Stewart Colovin is chief creative officer for MMGY Global and has been the lead on the rebranding project.
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“You have to understand the waters in which you are swimming,” he said. “To find the essence of a place, we first go and talk to everybody we can in a destination. That’s because the brand has to start at home, so that visitors can ultimately connect with locals.”
After speaking with locals, a study of visitors — actual and potential — found that while Dana Point evoked images of beauty and friendliness, some of the descriptors which it scored high on were local and proud, active and healthy, natural and picturesque, and homegrown and distinctive–the area was not necessarily seen as luxurious nor cool.
Compared to its competitors, Westom said, Dana Point rated low on descriptors like “surf-centric and soulful: stylish and chic; artsy and eclectic: and cool and trendy.”
In looking at these perceptions, Colovin said the survey suggested Dana Point could capitalize on offering a more relaxed experience than its competitive set.
“It’s an approachable place. People dress more casually; it’s not pretentious, it’s easy to get around. People here aren’t doing things because they are trying to impress everybody else; they are doing things because it’s what they love to do.”
After sifting through the studies, MMGY developed a brand architecture for Dana Point around brand essence; brand values; brand experiences; and brand voice.
The overall brand promise, which will be conveyed in everything from a new tagline and logo — currently a work in progress — to advertising and marketing campaigns. The promise: “In Dana Point, you are one of us. We make it easy to connect with the ocean and others around you.”
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Dana Point's Harbor is Undergoing a Major Overhaul
Branding aside, there has to be some real-life architecture in place to draw tourists. To that end, quite a bit of luxury development is already in progress. The harbor and marina are undergoing a five-year, $400 million renovation. The facelift will incorporate new restaurants and shops, plus a 126-room upscale boutique hotel and a 100-room luxury property (the latter owned by the group behind Newport Beach’s Lido House). 
Westom sees the development as the anchor in plans to become Southern California’s next great luxury destination. In fact, he is hopeful that within a few years, Laguna Beach will be seen as that place just north of Dana Point.

A longer version of this story ran in Skift's New Luxury Newsletter, for which I am a correspondent.