Luxury Travel Grows a Conscience


Luxury Travel Grows a Conscience


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As jet setters strive to be more ethical and responsible in their choices, the luxury travel industry has been quick to respond, offering novel experiences that not only enrich, inspire and empower individuals and communities, but also have a positive impact on the environment, address global issues, and encourage inclusivity.

At the root of this mindful travel movement is Gen Z, the cohort of digital natives who have yet to enter the workforce, but hold a huge influence over family travel decisions. They account for 40% of consumers worldwide, are most likely to travel internationally, and choose unique, far-flung destinations where they can live like locals. Another differentiator? They genuinely care about the planet and want to make the world a better place.

Apart from Gen Z’s undeniable sway, today’s discerning travellers are also well-educated, environmentally enlightened, other-centric and hyper aware of how each of their wandering footsteps leave a deep mark that could be felt in years to come. This heightened awareness is what drives the demand for positive change, without sacrificing the traditional trappings of luxury.

Travel brands are taking notice, redefining their vision and creating a system that values the greater good. Sustainability and conservation have become top priority, as have wellness and the idea of initiating transformation from the inside out. Everything—from scouting for locations and building the property, fair hiring practices and positive work conditions, sourcing local ingredients and choosing responsible suppliers, to crafting revelatory programs and revitalising crafts and communities—is taken into consideration and woven into company culture.

Giving back is going beyond voluntourism, supporting local or trumpeting eco-friendliness. Some groups are taking it further, such as Six Senses and Leading Hotels of the World, which are considering offering their rooms to locals for a minimal price at certain times of the year, giving them an opportunity to experience something in their backyard that used to be inaccessible—not to mention highly unaffordable. In a Skift article, Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs notes, “We try really hard not to use the word ‘luxury.’ There’s this connotation of excess. I don’t want us to be about excess. I want us to be about community and connectivity.” Inclusivity, rather than exclusivity, seems to be the rallying cry.

The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, through its various properties, especially those in South Africa, is taking sustainability practices to a whole new level. Think reusable ice cubes, the smart use of rainwater and wastewater, solar farms and composters, and even giving up precious space for beehives in their London rooftop. The idea is to preserve natural habitats for generations to come, immerse oneself without making a dent, embrace the beauty of seasonality, and allow entire ecosystems to flourish in an urban setting.

Recognised as one of the most highly esteemed hotel brands in the world, Six Senses has reaped numerous awards not only for its thoughtful ways and exceptional locations, but also for its pioneering sustainability approach that is measurable, resolute and intrepid. From the use of renewable materials, preservation of the surrounding biosphere, legacy-building and knowledge transfer, smart use of energy, and ethical sourcing, to their goal of being completely plastic-free by 2022, the brand lives and breathes purpose.

And if you’ve been paying attention, purpose and meaning are exactly what today’s conscious travellers look for. Knowing they are experiencing defining moments in beautiful surroundings, while ensuring the environment and the people around them thrive, is to them the ultimate in luxury.

Virginia Ngai

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