Everyone Deserves a Dalliance with Luxury
If you’ve been following Solo Traveler for a while you know that I cover the gamut in my travels. From hostels to luxury hotels. From street eats to Michelin Star restaurants. I love it all.
But I must admit, it would be hard to enjoy the hostel approach if I didn’t have its counter-balance now and then. A bit of luxury solo travel.
Luxury Solo Travel – what to expect, how to buy.
I’m pleased to introduce Fusion Escapes, a company that specializes in luxury travel specifically for solo travelers. They are sponsoring Solo Traveler this month and I’m taking advantage of this relationship to bring you a post on how to purchase luxury. After all, whether luxury is normal for you or a special treat for a big “0″ birthday, you want to ensure that:
- You enjoy the best experience possible.
- There are no unpleasant surprises
- You get the most luxury for your dollar.
Rachel Harvey of Fusion Escapes answered my questions with refreshing directness.
What are the hallmarks of a luxury trip?
“I think the main hallmark of any premium product is about people and service…before you even step foot inside the airport. Being able to speak to a professional, knowledgeable person about the experience (and especially a solo experience which can be daunting) is as important to the holiday as the trip itself. Going over and above and treating each guest, or even potential guest, as an individual is what makes the difference.
In terms of luxury accommodation, we favour understated elegance rather than overly extravagant surroundings – somewhere that will be a comfortable and welcoming ‘home from home’ with personable staff. We also seek out boutique hotels where possible – something of an intimate size for a small group and definitely a venue full of character, style and interesting ‘quirks’. It is all too easy to book the most lavish 5-star property in a destination but is this really the most relaxing experience for guests on a leisure trip?
Additional unexpected extras are also something that sets a luxury experience apart from a more standard package. Naturally guests expect a deluxe hotel, great quality restaurants and exclusive highlights as this is what they are paying for, but it is the little personal extras that really make it a memorable experience for people.”
What should solo travelers be looking for when they are considering a luxury tour company?
“Speaking to someone or contacting the company directly is always sound advice. It’s easy to post gorgeous landscape and hotel pictures on a website but have the team behind the business actually been there and stayed at the hotel personally? What is the ambience of the hotel? What other highlight options are there for guests?
Also, guests should thoroughly check out what is included in their package. There are operators who are happy to book solo travellers a luxury escape, but do not take into account that for many people dining alone each night in a resort surrounded by couples and families is not that much fun.”
What about accommodation and the single supplement? In a luxury context, do solo travelers have to pay a supplement fee?
“A 4-star or 5-star hotel will price their rooms for single occupancy or double occupancy and invariably single occupancy is slightly lower, however, it will never be half the price of a double occupancy room so naturally it always works out to be more expensive for the solo traveler. At Fusion Escapes we will negotiate rates and leverage the best deals with hotels as we can guarantee a certain volume of business throughout the year. There’s power in numbers so to speak.
Furthermore, it is really up to tour operators to find creative ways to add value for the customer and find ways to negotiate with suppliers on other services that will benefit guests. For example, we partner with a deluxe boutique hotel on the Greek Island of Santorini called La Mer (check out the deals page of a special offer on this trip for Solo Traveler readers). As well as negotiated room rates, they offered us a package which means our guests can enjoy additional enhancements on their holiday such as complimentary welcome Champagne and canapés, free airport transfers, complimentary wine, water and fruit in their rooms, as well as discounts in the spa and on food orders at the hotel. This hotel is part of a larger company on the island which also includes other restaurants and shops and Fusion Escapes guests can enjoy discounts across all these outlets.
A hotel room in a luxury hotel will never be half the price purely because there is only one guest in there, but operators can approach this challenge from other angles to add value to the overall package.”
What kind of people would solo travelers expect to meet on a luxury trip?
“This is a question we get asked frequently by customers – far more than questions relating to the destination and hotel, which of course is completely understandable. People want to know who they are going to be spending their well-earned holiday time with.
Typically guests are professional individuals, usually career focused and passionate about their job or business, and certainly someone who has ‘something’ about them – after all, it takes courage to make the decision to travel solo. Not everyone can take the plunge, so immediately they have this personality trait in common.
Travelers are open-minded about meeting other people, respectful and civilised, fantastic dinner companions, determined to have a great time, and we find our guests have very similar outlooks and lifestyles. In fact, one of the most repeated comments people make we have said to us is that they feel like they have known each other for years! And many people stay in touch and meet up after trips.”
Can you share one or two of the thrills that solo travelers would have on one of your luxury trips?
“Each and every Fusion Escape is handcrafted to create a programme that is varied, balanced and includes the ultimate highlights guests can enjoy in a destination, but we do like to do things with a bit of a twist. For example, on our 2-night Rome Adventure we show people all the historical sights…on a vespa! A classic way to see the city and the drivers take guests whizzing through the alleyways and piazzas so they can really get around the city and explore.
Our gastro trips are simply stuffed with food (take two wardrobes!) but it is more than fine dining and hearty cuisine. On our Sicily trip we take guests on a jeep tour to Mount Etna and host a wine tasting on one of the beautiful estates before lunch at a local farmhouse. Guests also spend the morning with the head chef from one of the most notable restaurants in Taormina at the local food market before getting some Sicilian culinary secrets in his kitchen.
We also offer some exhilarating highlights for more thrill-seeking guests (usually the guys!) such as a full sailing day off the Island of Hvar in Croatia, as well as a Dubai trip on the dates of the Rugby 7’s Tournament, and walking trips amongst some of the most stunning mountain terrain in Switzerland.
We’re already starting to come up with new highlights for 2013 and we’re thinking jungle tours in Kerala, luxury party holidays in Ibiza and spa experiences in Vietnam. 2013 is certainly going to be interesting year for the solo traveler!”