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Luxury pays well

 

Mr Varun Sharma, presenter of Inside Luxury Travel, one of the most popular shows on Travel Channel, was invited to Argolis and Amanzoe Resort by Dolphin Capital in order to do a shooting with his team, “hoping to introduce the luxury of the Peloponnese to an international TV audience that loves traveling.” However, Mr Sharma couldn’t but notice the “gap” in the luxury travel market in Greece. “8% of all travellers internationally opt for luxury travel and yet they generate 25% of the profits of the entire industry. Greece can boast some exceptional luxury hotels and resorts, unrivalled history, rich experience, amazing islands and still hardly anything has been done to promote all that. Backpackers have all the information they need, high-end travellers don’t” he remarks. Trying to define “luxury”, he realises that for him service is “king”. He would single out “only a handful of truly luxurious hotel chains in the world. Aman and Four Seasons undoubtedly belong to this group. Aman have always put forth the location factor in their resorts and this is one of the reasons behind their success” he explains. “Amanzoe is a fine example of this. The owning company, Dolphin Capital, insisted on an architectural plan that reflects the character of the country and the actual site” he notes.

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Managed by Amanresorts, the luxury resort belongs to the London-based listed company, Dolphin Capital. Their investment also includes ten independent villas, seven of which have already been sold, whereas a total of 30, designed by Amanzoe’s architect Edward Tuttle, are to be built after commissioning. “I have stayed in more than 1000 hotels around the world. Amanzoe is one of the finest resorts in Europe. It is the genuine service, exceptional facilities, friendly personnel, incredible landscapes and views, delicious food and authentic Greek aesthetics that make it a real winner!” he stresses. Talking about traveling trends, Mr Sharma notes that “it moves in circles”, as in every industry. Once there was the frenzy of the flashy restaurant, then came the exquisite spa, only to be followed by eco-friendly luxury and today it’s all about living the experience. Clients with plenty of cash and little time to spare storm the luxury resorts but the days when they would sit on the beach or around the pool enjoying a margarita are long gone.

Now they want to climb a mountain or ride an elephant, visit ancient monuments, or even go to outer space,” he describes. Emerging markets are of pivotal importance for the development of luxury travel. ”The dragons of India, China and South America have woken up at last and they have drawn along the world of travel like a storm”, admits Mr Sharma. Travellers from these countries “will, indeed, travel in groups, but eventually they will stop and start traveling individually. And they are here to stay. Some years ago, “alternative” was the word for a Japanese breakfast served in a New York hotel along with the all-time classic bacon and eggs. Now the Chinese and Indian cuisine have joined the party and everybody is always happy” he notes. Hence, in an attempt to predict the future of the hotel industry he suggests that we start looking “far away to the stars and down below in the sea! It is simply a matter of time before luxury is available in outer space and we already have some exceptional underwater resorts. High-end travellers will travel more but for less time and the business of short but amazing holidays is bound to flourish,” he insists. When asked which travel experience is on the top of his list, Mr Sharma finds it difficult to answer. “There is no Number One experience. How could there be?” he admits, while recounting some of his experiences that range from “flying in a fighter jet in Cape Town, living with elephants in Thailand and swimming with sharks in Durban.”

Text: Christina Poutetsi, Published in ‘To Vima Sunday Edition’, 18/8/2013

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