|Ruthanne Terrero with Mark Wilson, director of sales and marketing, The Roosevelt, New Orleans, at the hotel's grand opening.|
Luxury travel is wrapping up one of the most challenging years ever, yet when I speak to people in the industry, they say it really hasn’t been all bad. For some luxury travel advisors, business picked up dramatically mid-year, as clients with pent-up demand took off on trips of a lifetime that were priced too attractively to pass up. Some luxury suppliers ended up with more volume than they had last year, with revenue coming in just slightly down or flat (which we now know is the new up!).
What’s interesting is that the cycle of building and renovating hotels and ships often continues during a recession because the work began before the downturn kicked in. That is exactly what’s been going on in 2009. Here are just a few luxury products that have just come back into the market.
The Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans: $160 million and an ambitious repositioning brought the former Fairmont into the Waldorf Astoria Collection. The bottom line? New Orleans has its grande dame hotel back, meaning locals will be able to frequent its Sazerac lobby bar and Domenica, the Italian restaurant launched by John Besch. Those clients who haven’t been to New Orleans since Katrina need to return. They’ll find a thriving French Quarter and be able to set up home in this re-polished, glistening gem, which now has larger rooms and suites.
The Pierre, New York needed a huge re-do and it got one from Taj Hotels, its new owners. This Manhattan icon has enjoyed a $100 million makeover and it looks splendid.
The Surrey, New York: If you haven’t seen the new Surrey, which reopened in October, you need to take a look. It’s had a $60 million investment and it shows. We found it to be quite chic, with lots of black-and-white motifs and beautifully tiled floors. It’s extremely private, on East 76th Street between Madison and Fifth avenues. (That’s Carlyle Hotel country and this certainly provides a nice alternative.) The spa is excellent and you’ll find that Ellen Gerchik is the new director of luxury sales; you’ll know her from Park Hyatt and Rosewood.
On my radar are two resorts that are about to reopen, closed for renovations at a time when it was probably a good thing to be off the market. Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, reopens in Antigua December 1 with a complete redesign and 28 new suites (see page 52), plus a new pampering spa, which will certainly attract a fresh clientele.
Cheeca Lodge & Spa reopens in the Florida Keys on December 15, significantly upgraded since it was closed last December 31. Designed for “barefoot elegance,” the resort’s refreshened public spaces are complemented by 62 new Premier Oceanfront and Island View Suites.
The luxury cruise industry is also bursting with new and refreshened product. The Crystal Symphony after a $25 million refurbishment looks fabulous and Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator is about to complete a total refurbishment of its own. As I write this, Seabourn’s new Odyssey arrived in Fort Lauderdale to venture into the Caribbean before her first world cruise. The ship has been declared a triumphant success and there’s more to come; Seabourn debuts the Soujourn next June. Silversea’s new Spirit is ready to roll this month; the ship has 26 of the popular Silver Suites and 222 Verandah Suites. Oceania launches the Marina late next year with 147 suites out of an overall inventory of 629 staterooms. Its six restaurants include a bistro by Jacques Pepin, the chef’s first shot at a dining establishment.
How can you have a bad year with all of this going on? Use these new luxury products to entice your existing clientele to travel, but even moreso, to lure in new clients who will want to test out the latest, greatest thing.
We know that for most of your clients, money is no object, however, we also know they enjoy a good deal when they can. For that reason, we upload lots and lots of luxury offerings to our fabulous website, LuxuryTA.com daily, so take a look! Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter, at www.twitter.com/LuxuryTAMag, where we also post luxury news daily. We’re also on Facebook, under Luxury Travel Advisor. All of these online resources provide different types of luxury information, so be sure to look for us on all three resources.
|Ruthanne Terrero enjoying the reopening party for The Pierre in New York with Deepa Misra Harris, vice president, marketing for Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces.|