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4 new luxury travel trends

From triathlon training in Thailand to upscale cruise ship amenities

Between August 12th and 18th, 5,670 travel industry executives and insiders assembled in Las Vegas for Virtuoso Travel Week. During the annual invite-only conference, the leading luxury travel network announced news and rising trends based on data culled from their agencies in 47countries. Here, the most exciting headlines from the week.

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  • Travelers are seeking spiritual and healing experiences.

    Travelers are seeking spiritual and healing experiences.

    Virtuoso advisor Gabriel Donida says that wellness travel has been, and is still, on the rise. In fact, travelers are booking longer journeys than ever before, up from an average of 10 to 14 days. “When clients come home, they are shining and they are changed,” he says. What’s more, instead of spa-cations, many clients are looking for more transformative travel opportunties, wanting their trips to have a spiritual, moving, or holistic impact on their lives afterwards. Two popular resorts Donida recommends for such an experience: Ananda in the Himalayas and Chable in Mexico. 

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  • Cruise ships are stepping up their game.

    Cruise ships are stepping up their game.

    The average age of cruisers is dropping every year. “Gen-exers are actually cruising now [these are people in their 30s and 40s, compared to those in their 60s who used to dominate this mode of travel],” says Ana Villaca, a Virtuoso advisor who specializes in cruising. To cater to them, cruises are offering more experiences for younger folks. Norwegian, for example, boasts The Haven, an exclusive luxury section on board, as well as edgier programming, like For The Record, an immersive theater experience. Ama Waterways, a high-end river cruise company, offers an iMac in every cabin and free 4G wifi. (This is a big deal because internet connections are notoriously slow and expensive on cruise ships, no matter the company.) Other cruises are offering more adventurous activities, like biking and rafting, than ever before along with access to hard-to-reach destinations such as authentic villages or waterfalls. 

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  • Travel agencies are getting makeovers.

    Travel agencies are getting makeovers.

    Organized tours are on the rise and with them, the model of the old-school travel agency has changed and evolved. Offices are starkly different from the traditional travel agency of decades past, many that are hip and contemporary in design. A Virtuoso agency in Stockholm has a spa; an agency in Omaha has a bar. More companies are thinking outside the box with innovations to have a more fun and enjoyable visit for clients. 

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  • Sport-centric travel is the next big thing in Thailand.

    Sport-centric travel is the next big thing in Thailand.

    Thailand has always been known for wellness travel, thanks to spa resorts like Chiva Som, but it has recently started attracting athletes. Thanya Pura is the first sport-centric hotel in the country, where guests can participate in triathlon training, among other high-endurance programs. IRONMAN is back in Thailand this November after a three-year hiatus, diving has become more popular, there are numerous jungle and mountain hikes and most resorts, like Four Seasons Chiang Mai, now offer kickboxing classes from a Muay Thai master

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