Redefining Luxury Travel

In Editor Picks by Alyssa Kuhlman

Between the privileged individuals with family ties steeped in old money and the heavy-spending individuals with hard-earned loads of new money, luxury travel has taken on a new significance. Luxury isn’t just about an expensive price tag, it’s about filling your life with uniquely rich experiences. As wealthy millennials join the spectrum of older generations with dollars to spend, luxury offers the elite the best that money can buy from expensive homes, VIP service, and exclusive access to four and five star hotels in exotic destinations. And with today’s global economy enveloped in a social media bubble, it’s easy to observe the lifestyle of not just the rich and famous, but the lifestyle of the rich and the fabulous.

GDM_2nd_Proofs-142smDifferences lie between old money and new money individuals, but a common desire underlines both: to experience travel like never before. A gentleman of old money is accustomed to knowing how to save his money and preserve his fortune throughout generations, selectively choosing when and where to invest his money. A new money man tends to spend more and on impulse, keeping afloat the hottest trends. How they act and how they spend their money differ but both have access to the same destinations that promise to fill the library of their life with unforgettable travel tales.

Back in the 1920’s, the money flowed abundantly for the wealthy—railroad tycoons and entrepreneurs whose new money would later grow into old money while their families transformed into American socialite royalty. Names like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Rockefeller emerged as new money and today are revered as old money. In eras of the past, the wealthy were always talked about. Now the wealthy names are no longer just the talk at the table but the regular feed of the media. While then the trend was to regale an audience with tales of your luxe life, today society lives to show the reality of the luxe life. Thanks to social media, a Gatsby-sized party isn’t just publicized by tell-all but rather a show-and-tell method.

The digital age across a global economy has transformed luxury to become accessible for all to see, opening the floodgates to a pool of resources for new money and old money individuals alike to dive into. Fashionista bloggers from Japan to Germany are united through social media, and suddenly Fashion Week in multiple countries instead of merely one is a given. Society can see what others are experiencing, and the images entice them to experience something spectacular too. They say money can’t buy happiness, but today’s elite has learned that with the travel options available today, it can at least buy incredible experiences that make for entertaining memories. Weekend trips to Ibiza, a private jet ride up to San Francisco from Los Angeles for dinner, and an African safari in South Africa are all modern adventures advertised worldwide and available with a simple click.

Affluent millennials, either the products of their own young success or else simply the inheritors of their parents’ fortune, have caused one-click shopping to expand tremendously. According to American Express, millennial spending grew by 31% in 2011, a record high in full-priced online luxury retail. Designer handbags and all-inclusive vacations are both just a click away.

The modern-day luxury traveler craves experience, and that includes the highest quality in food, wine, fashion, hotels, and activities. An expensive bottle of wine is one thing, but a tasting of the best wines from around the world creates another level of luxury. One is a simple purchase; the other is a unique experience. Luxury travel today entails not just seeing the world, but tasting it. The lens of luxury travel is filtered by the desire to be experientially oriented: in order to truly grasp the feeling of a destination, you must experience it from the local food to the foreign activities.

Whether you’re sipping French wine in a modern chateau, riding a jet ski under the rocky archways of Cancun, or dancing an Argentine tango in Buenos Aires, chances are you will not just tell your peers about your experience, you’ll show them. In a world where the old and new are constantly colliding, there’s plenty to experience outside of your life’s everyday borders. If the world is a book, be sure you read more than just one page. Luxury travel lies around the globe now, just a click away and a great story waiting to happen.