The Top 10 Luxury Travel Stories of the Year

It’s been quite a year in the luxury travel industry. Luxury Travel Advisor has brought you the news about hotel openings, rumored hotel openings, industry awards and we’ve profiled you, the advisor, in our 10th anniversary issue. We want to thank you, our readers, for a sucsessful and exciting year. Here are our top 10 stories of 2015.

1. Our top story of the year circled around the resort development, Baha Mar, as it tried to enter the luxury scene. The development, which Joe Pike covered for Luxury Travel Advisor, captivated everyone’s attention, as it was constructed in The Bahamas. However, the resort has yet to open after numerous delays. We hear that the fate of the mega-resort will drag into 2016 after the courts delayed hearings until February.

Read more from the top story of 2015 here

Esprit

2. Next, our readers couldn't stop talking about Crystal Cruises' major expansion project, which includes three new polar-ice rated ships, 48 owned residences, two new river vessels in Europe and a luxury Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet. And let's not forget that in 2016 and 2017, and early 2018, Crystal Esprit, the new luxury yacht, will sail to the Seychelles Islands, Dubai and Adriatic Coast. Details include: 

- Seychelles Islands – Mahé, Victoria; St. Anne Island, La Passe, la Digue; Baie Ste. Anne, Praslin; Laraie Bay, Curieuse Island; Anse Saint Jose, - Curieuse Island; Cousin Island; Aride; Big Sister Island; and Desroches Island
- Dubai - Khasab and Muscat, Oman; Doha, Qatar; Sir Bani Yas Island and Abu Dhabi, UAB)
- Venice, Italy/Dubrovnik, Croatia - Rovinj, Sibenik, Trogir, Vis, Hvar, and Korcula, Croatia
- Dubrovnik, Croatia/Venice, Italy - Kotor, Montenegro; Split, Zadar, and Opatija, Croatia; and Piran, Slovenia
- Dubrovnik, Croatia/ Athens, Greece - Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Parga, Itea, Hydra, and Navplion, Greece)

Check out our popular photo tour of the new Crystal yacht and more information here

3. Morocco has seen major developments this year. Ritz-Carlton, Sofitel and Banyan Tree all announced their plans to build along Tamouda Bay in 2015. This prime location is less than a 45-minute drive from Tangier and gives guests the opportunity to walk on white beaches on the Mediterranean coast. We can't forget to mention, that Morocco continued to impress this year, as the Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca officially opened. 

Read more from Mary Winston Nicklin's popular piece here

4. We always take pride in seeing articles about advisors top our annual list. Royal Travel & Tours is highlighted this year thanks to Kendra Thornton, the president, and her ability to use her skills and know-how to create success in her agency. She did so by embracing her generation, X, by bringing new talent into the business, updating the website and logo and providing a range of travel services, including family travel. 

Read more about Royal Travel & Tours' sucsess in 2015 here.  

5. Number five brings us back to Morocco and the news about Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. Throughout 2015 we anticipated the opening of the new Mandarin. We weren't disappointed when it recently opened with details like 50 acres of landscaped gardens, 54 private villas with swimming pools and hot tubs and eateries, including Le Salon Berbère complete with scenic views of the Atlas Mountains.

Read more about this trending story here

Marriott

6. Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide made us all turn our heads this year when Marriott said it planned to acquire the company. But way before that news, we were all excited when Starwood announced plans to grow the luxury brands. One such expansion was covered by Luxury Travel Advisor's Michelle Krol. The St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, which is part of Starwood's Luxury Collection received a lot of buzz from the advisor community when it recently opened. We hope to see more properties like this bloom in 2016.  

Read more about Starwood's plans here

7.  In 2015, we enjoyed talking to the CEO of SmartFlyer, Michael Holtz and Erina Pindar, the managing director. We spoke to them about their and SmartFlyer's success in our 10th Anniversary issue, which is when we caught up with our past cover stars to talk about their business today. Check out how SmartFlyer’s agency has changed and grown substantially since they were last on our cover in 2013. Hint: SmartFlyer has doubled its number of advisors. 

Read more here

8. This year we held Luxury Travel Advisor's ULTRA Luxury Summit at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World. ULTRA Luxury Summit brings the world’s most elite travel advisors and suppliers together for an exclusive discussion about the latest research and trends in ultra-luxury travel. During the summit Luxury Travel Advisor presented the prestigious Awards of Excellence, which honors suppliers that make clients’ travel experiences special. Take a look at the winners of 2015 and look for the winners of 2016, coming soon.

Read the full list of 2015's winners here

Paris

9. Recently, we all stood with Paris after November's terrorist attacks struck The City of Light. We will continue to support Paris into the New Year, and help the tourism market to rebound by celebrating hotel openings like the Ritz Paris. The famed hotel has been enduring extensive renovations, and we hear from our Paris correspondent, Mary Winston Nicklin, that the buzzed about improvements may be finished in March, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it in 2016.

Read more about the revamp here. 

10. We finish off our top stories of 2015 with major news from the Oetker Collection. This year, the collection named Jean-Pierre Soutric the senior vice president of sales and marketing. With this promotion, he replaced Didier Le Calvez, who was promoted to the position of chief operating officer. The move came during a three-year period of expansion at the luxury hotel company, including the recent addition of The Lanesborough London and Villa Stéphanie

Read more about this industry development here