Five-Star Trendsetters

“Give me the luxuries and I can dispense with the necessities” Oscar Wilde

If we give the matter some thought, we may conclude that whilst society has changed down through the centuries, the concept of luxury has not undergone a radical transformation, particularly now that times are hard. Despite the austerity now in vogue, society continues to treat itself to up-market, expensively priced goods: but then the desire for luxury has always prevailed, even in the past, when the sumptuary laws of Ancient Rome attempted to make its citizens’ lifestyle more sober and austere.

To sum it up with a trite saying: there’s nothing new under the sun. And the tourist trade is yet a further confirmation of this trend: the most prestigious hospitality structures do not seem to feel the pinch, since those people with the purchasing power to do so continue to frequent élite hotel establishments and to seek out the latest they have to offer in terms of refinement, in an all-out exclusive luxury experience where service and customer-orientation reign supreme. It can be no coincidence that the last two years have confirmed record-making double-figure growth for luxury hotels, which jumped 15% in 2011, and registered a further increase of 18% in 2012, conferring supremacy to this niche sector of the tourist industry.

Spa

While being the privilege of a happy few, luxury nevertheless generates a positive cascade effect on the economy in general, owing to the fact that other purchasers down the scale tend to imitate the behaviour patterns of the rich, who in their turn act as authentic market trendsetters. So, in actual fact, luxury influences the market. Even though this type of behaviour is the subject of in-depth study today, it is certainly not a recent phenomenon: the fashions launched by aristocrats have always decreed the trends of their times, destined to be copied by all those aspiring to be like them.

Albeit unthinkable today, in Ancient Greece such forms of emulation were forbidden by law. Indeed, the luxury segment offers us a preview of what tomorrow will bring. So, for instance, among the hotel services being offered by five star establishments, the most noteworthy are those associated with wellness, which comprise a complete and integrated offer on the themes of relaxation, beauty and fitness, all dispensed by qualified staff. These services are becoming increasingly widespread, so much so that hotels of lower categories are also including them in their hospitality package, since they view them as key customer attractions, precisely because one of today’s unquestionable trends is that of engaging guests, satisfying their expectations and anticipating their needs.

If a spa is an absolute must, the latest innovations of five-star establishments contemplate  up-grades on the technological and artistic fronts, such as the embellishment of congress halls with works of art, so as to encourage a dialogue with professionals of the art world.  Who knows if this too will become a trend of the hotel business: what cannot be disputed is that luxury always represents an area of experimentation in the strive for uniqueness and prestige, which contrasts its image in the collective unconscious as a kind of gilded and immobile Olympus, an eternal reflection of itself. An undeniable effect of the crisis, the higher quality standard of services and the highlight on excellence which necessarily lead to highlighting the human factor in general, whether as a client of as a  staff member. Because today’s guests want to feel like true protagonists.

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