LUXURY RESORTS

The numbers are impressive. The global luxury hotels market was valued at USD 148.6 bn in 2014 and is expected to reach USD 195.3 bn by 2021, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.0% from 2015 to 2021. Geographically, this market is segmented into Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World, with North America holding a dominant share in the global luxury hotels market in 2014. Analysts predict that this dominance will continue in the forecast period. Despite the recent downturn in the economy, the Indian luxury market is expected to cross USD 18.3 billion by 2016 from the current USD 14.7 billion, growing at a CAGR of about 25%(Source: ASSOCHAM) due to increasing brand awareness and growing purchasing power of the upper classes in tier II and tier III cities. Luxury resorts are differentiated from their less glamorous counterparts by the single element of design and Indian luxury resorts have seen a drastic change in the design of interior spaces over the last few decades as design moves from the functional to the experiential. In terms of such large spaces, design has reach a new level where it integrates with the guest rather than simply being high-tech or incorporating elements of luxury. Design is articulated in an attempt to offer a unique and exclusive experience, and resorts have begun to incorporate amenities that offer the guest both convenience and more personalized service. Luxury resorts have also evolved in terms of safety and security, automated technology and ergonomics and made unique by utilizing local and traditional crafts. Ar. Reza Kabul says, “Hotels have come beyond opulence and high-end décor. In their attempt to offer an overall experience, hotels have begun to incorporate amenities that have gone from being simply high-tech and incorporating automation, to a newer level where it integrates with the guest. While several have already incorporated the use of room automation such as lighting, temperature, blinds, and entertainment consoles from the guests’ smart phone, there is a niche set of hotels that allow guests the ability to check in and out, select their rooms, and check maps from their smart phones. However, all the technological enhancements are there only to enhance the experience and they need a room that is luxurious, comfortable, and fits the guest’s lifestyle.” In recent times, economic necessity has forced several resorts to make an effort to attract corporate groups for business meetings and conferences (the MICE segment) as they are a major contributor to the industry at large. This market requires premium facilities and services, and planners usually want a self-contained resort with everything in house, including a multitude of recreational activities. Analysts say luxury resorts will expand their own boundaries by themselves becoming holiday destinations, offering customization on all aspects from providing amenities to specialized personal services. To thrive in an increasingly competitive market segment, luxury resorts will have to focus on amenities and services such as health spas and fitness facilities, soft adventure programs and game zones. It is expected that Indian resorts will maintain their edge withthe perfect blend of cultural heritage and modern technology in their design vocabulary. MATERIAL CHOICES& TECHNIQUES While luxury gets more and more high tech in terms of the amenities, the ease of access and things that enhance comfort, leading architects and hoteliers are incorporating more traditional wisdom into their building. Ar. Parul Jhaveri and Ar Nimish Patel have long vaunted traditional materials and techniques in building, and utilized these in several of their projects saying it is possible to offer “historical continuity without fossilization” and to combine local arts and crafts with modern amenities to offer a more complete experience of luxury. Industry doyen Aman Nath, founder of the stunning Neemrana properties has spoken with pride about using local craftsmen and artisans to restore the many historic structures he has rescued from decay.Aman Nath says, “We use traditional materials : stone, mortar, lime, cement, plus a lot of re-cycled architectural waste.” Commenting on the trends in this elite sector in his inimitable way, Aman Nath says,“They have let our architecture and design be ‘Singaporised’, as if our vast subcontinent had little to offer ! This happens to a colonized people whose psyche remains complexed even when their rulers have left. But the British left 69 years ago ! Even two generations later we are coiling backwards to impress some latent inferiority complex. It seems all too sad to me. Everyone is keen to outdo the other even at the cost of running into huge debts. I find this odd in an evolved nation as India where the nouveau rich were once looked down upon. Simplicity is a huge luxury, which not everyone understands. But, maybe, we are going through another phase of self-flagellation and introspection as we did after independence in 1947 ? We should be ashamed that over 400 million people are poor. The greatest luxury would be for all our efforts to get this burden off our conscience.”