Featured Post

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Luxury Destinations Making a Big Impact in 2018

NEW FOR 2018

What’s the best way of predicting the up-and-coming luxury destinations of 2018?
At Skift, we like to look at where new products are coming online, as well as chatting with travel agents and tour operators working exclusively with the affluent.
Based on these criteria, there are four markets we are keeping an eye on this year.


While Tokyo and Kyoto have long been favorite destinations for luxury travelers, the hinterlands of Japan are now getting their turn in the sun. Virtuoso, a network of luxury travel agents, named Japan as one of its top five international destinations for 2018, largely because of new tourism developments outside of the country’s major cities.
“Travelers are now exploring beyond Tokyo, finding value in Japan’s time-honored traditions and rural areas that offer traditional slices of Japanese life,” says Keiko Matsuura, a spokesperson for the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).
To spread high-end tourism around the country, two luxury cruise trains were introduced in Japan in 2017. The Mizukaze Express, launched in June, runs through western Japan, past the scenic Sea of Japan, Mount Daisen and the Seto Inland Sea islands. The Train Suite Shikishima, which hit the tracks in May, goes through the northern regions of the country. According to Matsuura, “These luxury trains were launched this year in response to the demand of the American traveler wanting to explore beyond Tokyo.”
Beyond the rails, Matsuura says Japan is targeting high-end travelers through their stomachs, “Food serves as a gateway to the country’s culture and is a common language we can use to promote Japan.” JNTO is raising recognition of lesser-known places through collaborations with top chefs like Eric Ripert and Dale Talde.
In another effort to beef up Japan’s luxury street cred, five areas sporting high-quality tourism infrastructure formed the Japan Luxury Travel Alliance in 2016. The members are Kyoto, Sapporo, Ishikawa Prefecture, Wakayama and Nara.
The idea is to join together to strategically attract international luxury travelers to outlying areas beyond Tokyo.


Virtuoso has also named Portugal to its list of international hotspots. The southern European country has emerged from Spain’s shadow in the past couple of years, having shown up on several 2017 hot lists.
But 2018 will see Portugal’s arrival as a luxury destination beyond Lisbon, due to its burgeoning food scene, the international recognition of Douro DOC wines, and a spurt of luxury hotels opening in the countryside and on the coast. In fact, several well-known international luxury brands are using Portugal as a launchpad into the European market.
Image result for six senses douro valley
Six Senses opened its first European property in the Douro Valley in 2015, and in the spring of 2017, Anantara debuted its first branded resort on the continent in the Algarve. The coastal resort town of Cascais, often called Portugal’s Riviera, is also booming as it attracts high-end travelers in search of a second or third or fourth home.
According to upscale experiential travel veteran Richard Bangs, Oman seems to be the new smart destination among those who have experienced the world.
Image result for oman sobek
A trek through Oman
“Part of its appeal,” says the founder of Mountain Travel Sobek, “is that it is an island of peace in an unsettled sea, as it borders Yemen, Saudi Arabia and is just a skip across the Persian Gulf (or Arabian Gulf, depending upon whose map you reference) from Iran. I think we all quest for understanding… and this is one place where we can safely venture to get a bead on the swirling currents and the cultures, and experience the beauty and traditions of a world apart.”
Oman has seen a year-over-year 22.1 percent in visitors in 2017, according to statistics from the country’s National Centre for Statistics and Information. The 2018 reintroduction of a classic Ritz-Carlton property, along with the Omani debut of the W and Kempinski brands, will likely lead to more increases.
The Kempinski Muscat is slated to open in the first quarter of 2018. Although in the city, it will very much have the feel of a resort, with more than a mile of white sandy beaches, a Greg Norman-designed golf course, and multiple food and beverage outlets. The W Muscat will open in the fourth quarter of 2018 and will focus on design, fashion and music, bringing a new vibe to the hotel landscape in Oman.
Meantime, Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel is undergoing an extensive restoration process, which is expected to be finished by April 2018.
Image result for al bustan palace
A pool at Al Bustan Palace, Oman
Owned by The Ministry of Tourism, Al Bustan Palace is one of Muscat’s most prominent landmarks and a symbol of the nation’s emergence as a destination for global travelers since it was built in 1985. The renovation builds on the luxury resort’s positioning as the premier destination for affluent travelers, including royalty and heads of state in Muscat. The property also houses a Six Senses Spa. Six Senses also runs a resort and spa on  Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, which is celebrating ten years in business in 2018.


Is this the year Tunisia makes a comeback? According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, tourism growth in 2017 (through October) has been particularly high in North Africa, led by rebounding numbers in Egypt and Tunisia.
Image result for Anantara Tozeur Resort
An oasis in Tunisia
Those numbers may get a boost in 2018 thanks to a trio of new luxury hotels. Four Seasons Hotel Tunis opened in December. The location in the affluent Gammarth neighborhood provides privacy and exclusivity, yet is close to the central business district. Most of the 203 rooms and suites have views of the sea. Ritz Carlton will be opening in the same general area at some point (yet to be announced) in 2018. Also on the grand opening calendar is a new Anantara.
According to Dillip Rajakarier, the chief executive of parent company Minor Hotels, “Capitalizing on Tunisia’s renaissance as a hot travel destination, Anantara Tozeur Resort will open in mid-2018, offering a rich gateway to the southwest area of Tozeur.” The region is a hub for Saharan adventures, renowned for its ancient history and otherworldly landscape.

This article originally appeared in the Skift New Luxury Newsletter, for which I am the correpondent.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hotels Use Technology and Design to Evolve the Healthy Room

This article originally appeared in the Skift New Luxury Newsletter, for which I am the chief correspondent.
Can a hotel room make you healthier? The jury is still out, but judging from some recent experiments, there may be more than a nugget of truth to the idea.
A Wellness Room at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Delos, which pioneered the term “wellness real estate”, introduced the concept of an uber-healthy hotel room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada back in 2012. It is now bringing its Wellness Rooms to the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. At the same time, Swissôtel is expanding its own version of a healthy room.
In all cases, the idea is to incorporate health-boosting technologies and ambient design elements to improve wellness. We are talking about things like special lighting to counter jet lag, aromatherapy, dawn simulator alarm clocks, special air purification systems and wisdom from Deepak Chopra. Okay, only Delos has Chopra on board. His knowledge, along with that of the Cleveland Clinic, has been incorporated into the programs offered at MGM and Four Seasons.
The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills launched its partnership with Delos at the end of November 2017. Located on the hotel’s spa level, five wellness-themed guest rooms and two suites combine the latest technology from Delos, along with a stylish room aesthetic and the eco-chic features you would expect in L.A.
According to Michael Newcombe, general manager and chair of the company’s Global Spa and Wellness Task Force, the concept has potential to become ubiquitous.  Having a “room product dedicated to supporting a wellness-based lifestyle while on the road… is a choice that hoteliers will have to get used to.”  The concept will be tested through July 1, 2018, at which time guest feedback will be assessed. If guests give the thumbs up, the plan is to add more such rooms at the Beverly Hills property and beyond.
The Vitality Suite at Swissôtel Zurich 
Meanwhile, in Switzerland, a new wellness room concept is taking shape at Swissôtel. The Swissôtel Zurich is still tinkering with its Vitality Suite, which it introduced at the end of 2016. It’s an evolution of the company’s ongoing Vitality program aimed at “inspiring travelers to maintain an active and energized body and mind while on the road.” Until last year, that program had been focused on food and fitness offerings. But according to Lilian Roten, vice president of brand management for Swissôtel and Pullman,  “We realized that we had to bring this vitality focus into the guestroom… to package it up and build a room that would be the embodiment of vitality.”
And so, Swissôtel has reconfigured one of its conventional suites into a hardcore wellness sanctuary. Design elements include hardwood floors, soft color palettes, ergonomically-functional furniture, black-out blinds and bathrooms with spa features like aromatherapy and chromatherapy tubs.
There’s also a great deal of attention paid to allowing guests to personalize their experience. For example, company literature says, “In a first for the hotel industry, circadian light is accommodated on demand. Circadian light features allow light color to change, influencing the secretion of melatonin in the brain, helping travelers overcome jet-lag or lack of sunlight,” along with enhancing the quality of sleep.
The Wellbeing Wall in the Swissôtel Zurich's Vitality Suite 
Meantime, the built-in Wellbeing Wall offers guests a variety of training options, as it contains dumbbells, horizontal bars and cable-pull systems.  A multilingual cyber-trainer via a touch-screen monitor displays exercises geared towards strengthening, stretching, meditation and breathing.
There are plans to develop Vitality Rooms in North America and Asia. The Swissôtel Chicago is slated to be the first hotel outside of Switzerland to introduce the concept, most likely next year. In Asia, the company’s Singapore property will be the first to get an update.
“What we are looking into is evaluating what regional adaptations would be necessary to make rooms relevant for various markets,” said Roten.
At the same time, she notes, certain features will always be mandatory. Among them are floors uncovered by carpet; work areas with adjustable desks with options for standing or sitting; bathroom spa experiences; and a Wellbeing Wall. Inclusion of an air purification system will only be required in cities with air quality indexes above 50 (that’s you, Beijing).
While the Vitality Room per se will be exclusive to Swissotel, Roten says that other AccorHotels brands are likely to incorporate aspects of the concept over time.
Meantime, back in the United States, Delos Stay Well rooms have been introduced to half a dozen Marriott properties on the East Coast during the past year. Should Marriott and AccorHotels fully buy in, healthy rooms may prove to have legs beyond luxury brands.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Deluxe Travel Experiences at Bargain Prices

This story, written by moi, was initially published by Kiplinger's Content Studio.
When it comes to planning for the year ahead, travel to well-known, iconic destinations often tops the agenda. Sometimes, however, lesser-known places can deliver more affordable and more authentic (the current travel marketing buzzword) experiences. In fact, according to LearnVest, 73 percent of Americans say they’d prefer a longer vacation in an inexpensive location than a shorter vacation in an expensive place.
If your travel budget is limited, consider sidestepping some of the more popular destinations. By embracing a few “second” cities, you’ll stretch your travel budget without sacrificing enjoyment.

Arts and Culture

Broadway bound? Instead of the Great White Way, consider the Great White North. Toronto claims North America’s second-largest theater scene. Most of the top Broadway shows make their way here, and ticket prices are often lower for touring performances in other cities than in New York. Americans also automatically get a 25 percent discount, thanks to the favorable exchange rate in this Canadian city. That means hotel rooms, restaurants, and transportation will cost less, too.

Like New York, Toronto hosts world-class cultural offerings. The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, for example, is home to the National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company. The Toronto International Film Festival draws stars and movie buffs from around the world. Other attractions include The Royal Ontario Museum, The Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Aga Khan Museum.

Toronto’s distinct neighborhoods are just as interesting as New York’s for shopping, dining, and exploring. For a Brooklyn vibe, head to The Junction. For those in search of Boho Chic as experienced in Greenwich Village, opt for West Queen West. And if Fifth or Madison Avenues are your style, visit Bloor-Yorkville instead.

Wine and Waves

Dreaming of California wine country? Head to San Luis Obispo County.

Downtown  San Luis Obispo
Located along Highway 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, SLO (as SLOcals call it) is home to more than 200 wineries. While sampling wine often costs $20 and up in pricier viticulture areas, in SLO the average charge for a tasting flight is less than $10. And about two dozen wineries offer free tastings, a perk unheard of in other top California wine regions.

In addition to a welcoming wine culture, SLO has a range of beach towns offering reasonably-priced, independent hotels from two to four stars (the average daily rate is for less than Napa). San Luis Obispo itself, a town of about 40,000, hosts a weekly farmer’s market, and many small boutiques and restaurants serve up the California dream for less.

Mother Nature and Mountains

Denver may be known as the Mile-High City, but at 2,730 feet, the title of Half-Mile-High City belongs to Boise, Idaho.

Besides being an easier altitude adjustment, Boise shares a similar Mountain West vibe and serves as a gateway to many outdoor adventure experiences and ski resorts. A major difference: while hotel prices have risen along with Denver’s urban development, four-star accommodations are still available at moderate rates in Boise.

Within the “City of Trees” lies the 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt – a tree-lined scenic pathway with access to wildlife habitats and popular parks. The state-of-the-art Boise Whitewater Park caters to rafters and kayakers of all levels. And Bogus Basin, 45 minutes from downtown, is Boise’s local skiing playground. Within a three-hour drive is Sun Valley, the Aspen of Idaho, which provides the same level of first-rate skiing, shopping, and dining options as its Colorado cousin.

History and Walkability

Craving an American history experience on a budget? Try Providence, Rhode Island.

Given its 17th-century roots, the city is rich in history. Revolutionary-era churches and museums overlook the city's historic waterfront. Benefit Street is a “museum mile” of original Colonial homes. There’s no Freedom Trail, but there are many self-guided walking tours.

Providence boasts hotel prices that are far lower than Boston’s. And the city can be explored on foot, so there’s no need for a rental car. Contributing to the city’s much-lauded food scene is Johnson & Wales, an internationally-recognized culinary academy.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

In the Limelight: Consolidation is Reshaping the North American Ski Market

This article originally appeared in Skift's New Luxury Newsletter, for which I am the luxury correspondent.
Ski season is going to be a bit different in North America this year. Two ski industry giants, Vail Resorts and Aspen Skiing Company, have been picking off notable ski areaslike pawns on a snow-covered chessboard. Vail acquired Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia toward the end of 2016 and then grabbed Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont this summer. This year, Aspen Skiing Company, in a venture with KSL Capital Partners, also made moves, acquiring Mammoth Mountain in California and the assets of Intrawest, which include Mount Tremblant in Quebec and Steamboat in Colorado. Aspen Skiing Company independently operates four ski areas around Aspen/Snowmass.
On another front, Aspen Skiing Company, or Skico as it is familiarly called, is growing its hotel business. The storied Little Nell has been part of its portfolio since the 1980s. However, in 2010, Skico purchased an existing property in Aspen and named it the Limelight Hotel. The second hotel under the moniker was built from scratch by Skico and opened earlier this year in Ketchum, Idaho. The move raised some eyebrows, as Ketchum is a mere mile down the road from the privately-held Sun Valley Resort. Could a move into the greater Sun Valley real estate market be a harbinger of things to come?

As family-owned resorts, Sun Valley and Aspen Skiing Company are rarities in the ski industry. The Crown family of Chicago owns Skico, while Sun Valley is owned by the Holding family, which also owns Sinclair Oil and Little America Hotels & Resorts. Both are also part of the Mountain Collective, a multi-property ski pass allowing purchasers two free days of skiing (and other benefits) at each of the 16 participating resorts. (The Mountain Collective competes with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, which includes unlimited skiing at 45 resorts worldwide).
Bald Mountain in Sun Valley
While speculation abounds, for now, Sun Valley is not for sale, nor is Aspen Skiing Company setting its sights on it. Kelli Lusk, Sun Valley’s public relations and communications manager, says the Holding family is holding onto ownership and has no plans to sell. All Alinio Azevedo, chief operating officer for Aspen Skiing Company’s hospitality division, will say is that “we have a great relationship with Sun Valley at corporate levels–and the families are good friends.”
In the Limelight
Azevedo then pivoted to focus the discussion on the Limelight brand. After Skico acquired what became The Limelight Hotel in Aspen in 2010, the company considered how to grow a brand out of a single property. “We saw an opportunity gap — a gap in resort markets between the high-end and the next level down in terms of accomodations,” says Azevedo. Additionally, “there are people who want to stay in luxury quarters, but they are not willing to pay for the extra service. From a physical standpoint, we are four-to-four-and-a-half star properties with high-quality rooms, but without the full-service hotel experience.”
The Limelight Ketchum
Brand concept in hand, the next step, says Azevedo, was deciding “where can we replicate this type of environment, a hotel which becomes a living room for the community….a place to connect guests with the locals and vice versa….and a base for adventure.”  Skico found the environment suitable in both Ketchum and in Snowmass (where a Limelight will open in the fall of 2018).
After Snowmass, Azevedo says, “Our goal is to have eight to ten hotels in the next five years.” Where will Limelight enter the spotlight? “We are looking in communities that center around adventure (all likely in North America) — whether it’s skiing or nature or trekking or surfing.” The expectation is that most of the hotels will be new builds, but “we are not shutting down from existing opportunities that may present themselves if they align with our brand strategy.”

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pass the Avocado Toast: Updating the Spa Experience for a New Generation

What do millennials want out of a luxury wellness experience? Apparently, avocado toast. That’s just one of the findings lifestyle publication Well+Good discovered after surveying 4,600 of its readers.
Unlike days of yore, when the only way to discover wellness concepts was by going to iconic high-end destination spas like Canyon Ranch and Miraval, today, wellness is accessible nearly everywhere.
You can take a high-intensity interval training class or sip on a matcha latte anywhere from Boise, Idaho to Baltimore, Maryland. There’s the entire urban landscape extending to second-tier and tertiary cities supporting what were once fringe wellness practices and pabulums confined to the likes of Los Angeles or New York.
Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula co-founded Well+Good in 2010. They presented the findings of the company’s Wellness Travel Survey at the Global Wellness Summit in October.
The ubiquity of wellness is a big part of the reason, says Brue, that millennials aren’t impressed with the iconic spa brands, many of which have traditionally appealed to clientele getting the wellness light switched on for the first time.
But another reason, she says, is simply that this generation doesn’t know these brands. “Starting in the late 1990s through the early aughts,” says Brue, “the iconic spa has not been a part of the cultural currency.”  In pre-Internet days, seekers would discover these retreats thanks to fawning articles and splashy advertising in glossy travel magazines.  But this generation gets its information online, and as Brue notes, “These brands haven’t been part of the social media conversation.”  That’s part of the reason the millennial wellness getaway mindset has traveled elsewhere.

In a game of “would you rather,” the Well+Good survey discovered that a slim majority of the respondents would opt to go to an iconic spa (55 percent) over a guru-led retreat (40 percent). However, Gelula calls the results “shocking,” given that they were expecting an 80/20 differential in favor of the old-school spa.
According to the Well+Good co-founders, the spa attendees in the audience at The Global Wellness Summit were surprised, too. “The spas don’t even realize that their biggest competition isn’t other spas,” says Brue. “Fitness and lifestyle instructors leading retreats are the competition,” says Brue. Indeed, it’s increasingly common for self-branded wellness gurus with large social media followings to organize their own wellness retreats to exotic destinations around the world.
Cambodia is one of the exotic destinations popular for guru-led wellness retreats.

For spa resort executives who might be comforting themselves by thinking it’s all about the price tag, they are wrong, according to Gelula. “They are convincing themselves that if they are not attracting millennials, it’s because millennials aren’t taking luxury trips.” But that’s not true. Millennials do have disposable income (although not necessarily as much free time. According to to the survey, younger wellness seekers are more likely to take a three-day getaway rather than the traditional one-week spa stay). When it comes to retreats versus spas, she says, “it’s important to point out that we aren’t seeing much of a price point difference. Retreat leaders often charge between $700 and $1000 a day.
Brue also believes that some of the iconic spas, instead of trying to appeal to millennials today, are just waiting until they start getting aches and pains. The problem with that approach, says Brue, is that “millennials don’t have a ‘fix me now’ mentality when they go to a spa.” Because they are already incorporating wellness in their everyday life, when they go on a wellness getaway, they want an elevated experience that builds on their daily practices, but doesn’t replicate them.

Gelula says, “Spas are simply are out of the loop in terms of what travelers expect from a wellness retreat.” So, what do today’s wellness warriors want? The number one priority, according to the survey, is food. Ninety-nine percent of the respondents said the quality of the food was a key factor in their decision-making process.
Ninety-seven percent of the survey respondents wanted cultural offerings to be part of the package. That doesn’t necessarily mean experiencing a Lomi Lomi massage in Hawaii, but rather going to a destination where the surroundings themselves provide a broadening experience. That’s part of the reason guru-led retreats are starting to get a leg up. They can roam from place to place from year to year, plunking down in up-and-coming destinations in order to incorporate a greater cultural component into the programming mix.
The Well+Good survey also found the nature experiences (96 percent) and high quality fitness offerings (94 percent) were important, with spa services (93 percent) rounding out the top five.

So, how can the iconic spa bring offerings up to date? Gelula recommends starting with the menu. “Focus on food,” she says. “Provide cool wellness food offerings. After all, consumers are used to eating avocado toast, avocado smoothies and cauliflower rice at home…or seeing them on Instagram.” In addition to menu updates, Brue says spas need to hire higher-quality fitness instructors, and to add more personalization to the spa programming.
All in all, the co-founders of Well+Good suggest spas need to change now or risk becoming dinosaurs. As Gelula notes, “The value proposition has to keep pace with this sophisticated group of travelers. One thing we confirmed with the survey results: Spa experiences for millennials should focus on deepening already-existing wellness practices.”

This story originally appeared in the Skift New Luxury Newsletter.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Wharf Turns Washington into a Waterfront City

This story originally appeared in the Skift New Luxury Newsletter, for which I am the luxury correspondent.

Image result for the wharf dc
Washington, D.C. is sporting a new tourism destination that is allowing travelers to get off the National Mall and a world away from politics. But The Wharf doesn’t only serve to transport visitors (including locals) to new reaches of the city. It also may become a role model for 21st century tourism developments. 

The Wharf, which opened last month, is turning Washington, D.C. as a waterfront city. Yes, a river runs through it, but in the past, most of D.C.’s waterfront areas were undeveloped and somewhat seedy. But a new $2.5 billion mixed-use development including hotels, entertainment venues, restaurants, retail, residential and office space is what many  in the city’s political, tourism and business communities are calling a game-changer.
Phase 1 opened on October 12. Together with Phase 2, to be finished by the end of 2021, The Wharf will comprise 24 acres of land, 50 acres of water, marinas, piers and waterfront parks, scores of restaurant and retail outlets, and at least four hotels (the InterContinental, Hyatt House and Canopy by Hilton are open as part of Phase 1).

The Wharf is being developed by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront, a partnership of PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette. PN Hoffman is one of Washington’s premier developers of urban residential and mixed-use neighborhood transformation projects, while Madison Marquette is a private investment and operating company focused on mixed-use developments throughout the U.S. The land on which the project stands is owned by the District of Columbia, but leased by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront under a 99-year lease.
The mile-long area along the Potomac River is transforming a previously-neglected D.C. neighborhood into a tourism hub. But just as importantly, it may serve as a model for other mixed-used developments going forward.
Image result for wharf dc
Photo courtesy MadisonMarquette.com 

Shawn Seaman is the aptly-named project director who has been there since the beginning of the development. A principal and executive vice president at PN Hoffman, Seaman notes that in its request for proposal, the city emphasized that the redevelopment spur job creation, with 50 percent of all jobs set aside for DC residents, and provide affordable housing. Improving the quality of the environment was another key demand in the RFP, which was issued and awarded in 2006.

The approach of the master planners at Hoffman-Madison Waterfront was to understand how the water side of the equation was going to work before erecting buildings, according to Seaman. “We looked at certain world cities that do a good job of being connected to the water,” he says, noting that Nordic ports like Copenhagen, Denmark and the Aker Brygge district in Oslo, Norway were key inspirations. The planners also drew inspiration from Cape Town, South Africa, Vancouver’s Granville Island and Pike Place Market in Seattle.
Image result for wharf dc
Photo courtesy of washington.org
Given the generic and sterile nature of so many mixed-used developments, Monty Hoffman, founder and chief executive officer of PN Hoffman, aimed for something completely different. “We wanted a waterfront that is not a typical ‘lifestyle’ center. In fact, The Wharf is a bit messy,” he says. “Messiness” was achieved by having different architects designing the buildings (albeit under a master architectural plan). As a result, instead of a cookie-cutter look, The Wharf sports a mix of shapes, building materials and unique design. Then there’s woonerf, a Dutch concept of using the street as a shared social space for pedestrians, cyclists, dog-walkers and others. Seaman points out that having a mix of users descending upon the same space for different purposes creates a dynamic environment “resulting in a street theater that lacks when everything is perfectly polished.”


While there are ample parking spaces, public transportation is a major component of the development. The facility is within easy walking access of the DC Metro, although there is also a free shuttle bus that goes to one of the nearby stations (and to the National Mall). There are bike rental facilities and 1,750 bike parking spaces. There are marinas which can house everything from houseboats to multi-million dollar yachts. There is a free water jitney that takes outdoor types from the Recreation Pier across to East Potomac Park, where they can play golf or tennis, go for a run, or ride a bike. 

Inline image 1

But the highlight of The Wharf’s transportation system is a regional water taxi run by Entertainment Cruises that connects the Potomac waterfront from Old Town Alexandria to Georgetown (and, by next spring, National Harbor). The high-speed 150-passenger boats, inspired by European ferries, are GPS-tracked, so awaiting passengers can know exactly arrival times. The water taxis are designed not only to accommodate tourists, but also locals commuting downtown from the neighborhoods it serves (an annual pass costs $175).
Everything in travel these days is about keeping it local and authentic. And The Wharf is both. The first port of entry is DC’s iconic Municipal Fish Market, which has continuously been in operation since 1805. The re-imagined market includes long-time tenants, along with a restoration of the historic oyster shed, a new distillery and a market hall inspired by San Francisco’s Ferry Building. The fish market is open now; the rest of the work will be done by next summer.
The bulk of restaurants and retail at The Wharf have local roots. Chefs who are already established in the community—like Top Chef contestants Mike Isabellaand Kwame Onwuachi – have opened eateries, and local entertainment impresario Seth Hurwitz runs The Anthem, a 6,000-seat concert venue designed by David Rockwell. Retail follows the same pattern, with nary a national chain store to be found. The highlight of the retail tenant list is Politics and Prose, a DC institution that opened its second bookstore here
According to Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s non-voting representative in Congress,  “We’ve added a new destination to the District of Columbia. We have transformed a neighborhood, giving tourists new areas to visit This is so important because we are a tourist economy.” Amer Hammour, chairman of Madison Marquette, says, “All around us the whole area is changing. There will be new museums nearby—the International Spy Museum (which is moving from another location) and the Museum of the Bible. Plus, a new soccer stadium is being built. The Wharf made it all possible.”
But it’s not just about tourism. The Wharf will provide 6000 permanent jobs and a million-dollar job workforce training program. Up to 30 percent of the apartment units will be set aside for affordable housing. And, according to Seaman, the city will garner an estimated $50 million in annual tax revenue. Most importantly he says, “We built a real neighborhood, which makes The Wharf a more interesting and authentic place to be because real people live and work there.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Key Demographic That Travel Marketers Are Forgetting About

This story originally appeared on Skift.com, for which I am the luxury correspondent.

Despite often being ignored by marketers, who tend to focus their attention on the millennials, older baby boomers and the so-called matures, mid-lifers (ages 45 to 59) form a vast and relatively affluent legion, representing 16 percent of the world's population.

Global Mid-Lifers at a Crossroads: Lifestyles and Market Impact, a new report from Euromonitor International, examines the lifestyles and spending habits of members of this group, whose relatively high incomes make them an important market for luxury goods and premium products and services of all types, including, of course, travel.

This Mid-lifer subset comprises baby boomers born in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Younger baby boomers were the first to coin the term, "40 is the new 30." Different from their generational cohorts born right after World War II, later boomers embrace the idea of staying active and continually evolving, no matter their age. Even though they may be in their 50s, many are embarking on new careers or new relationships.

According to the report, "Mid-lifers do not want to be ignored by businesses, but nor do they want to be singled out, stereotyped or treated in a patronizing manner." That said, marketers cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach with this group, given the fact that some may be empty nesters, while others are raising younger children; or that some are married and others singles. That's why the report notes, "Mid-lifers should be targeted in terms of life stage as much as age." For example "for those harried parents squeezed between bringing up children and looking after aging parents, convenience and price will be key factors in purchasing decisions."

What are the advantages are marketing to Mid-lifers? According to the report, overall, Mid-lifers have the highest spending power among all age groups. Many are at the peak of their careers, while others may have received inheritances or made money on real estate, or a combination of wealth thereof. This makes the group a logical target market for luxury and indulgence items.

The report also notes that wellness and relationships are the key to Mid-lifer's sense of happiness. They are seeking a better work-life balance, and are choosing to slow down, change direction or fulfill lifelong dreams.

That may be one reason why divorce is becoming more common at this stage in life. Another is because divorce has lost its stigma in more traditional countries, such as Italy. The country's 2015 divorzio veloce (quick divorce) procedure reportedly received 50,000 request within two months of being introduced.

Euromonitor cites a study by UK-based QualitySolicitors finding that "over- 45s who get divorced report feeling "relieved", "excited" and "more confident. Some 17 percent of respondents said hitting middle age highlighted what they were missing in life, with divorce one of the first steps to nding happiness for 40 percent. That's a huge opportunity to travel marketers, with an appeal to divorced spouses feeling the need for freedom and adventure at this particular juncture.

Another opportunity for travel marketers is this group's intense emphasis on health and fitness. "Mid-lifers are focusing on improving their health and appearance through diet, exercise and lifestyle. Energetic pursuits have become popular among this age group the world over."

According to Tim Simons, the founder of Build Coaching, an Australian business consulting company, who is quoted in the report, "Fitness is the new mid-life crisis. The old-school, traditional mid-life crisis has been about buying things and feeding the ego, and while fitness is also ego-related, this time it's a physical thing, and a transformational thing."

Growth in this segment isn't slowing down anytime soon. The report notes, "Mid-life consumers will continue to represent a huge and lucrative market, with population numbers expected to expand by 10 percent globally." Growth will stem largely from the Middle East and Africa (17 percent) and the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions (both 11 percent), although incomes will continue to be much higher in North America and Europe.

Separating China from the pack, Euromonitor International reports the massive country accounts for 26 percent of the world's 45-59-year-olds. Incomes of those between the ages of 45-49 and 55-59 increased by 49 percent in constant value terms between 2010 and 2015. Given that China has the biggest and the fastest growing Mid-lifer demographic, one with a strong penchant for purchasing luxury, this is an extremely important market for the travel industry to pursue with alacrity.