There’s nothing more disappointing than visiting an establishment that oversells its property. If you are slapping the word luxury on your travel accommodation – you better back it up with once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
I’ve checked into many 5-star properties in recent years. Some pulled out all the stops to make my stay memorable, while other well-known hotels and lodges offered nothing but a lacklustre experience.
While luxury travellers have different preferences when checking into 5-star properties, they all have one thing in common: they want an unforgettable experience with all the fancy trims.
Luxury travel expert Helen Untiedt said people splurge on these experiences and deserve everything to be top-notch.
The co-founder of Perfect Hideaways said 5-star properties need to up their game to provide travellers with an experience to remember.
“Travellers want to feel like they are on holiday. They want everything available at the click of their fingers. There shouldn’t be a need for them to ask for anything; it should be readily available,” she explained.
While travellers have preferences, she said many sought once in a lifetime experiences that boast impeccable design, architecture and privacy.
“If properties want returning guests, they need to put their best foot forward.” Untiedt recollected a recent experience at a Plettenberg Bay hotel.
“The entire experience was underwhelming – from the light bulb not working to lumpy, cold pillows.
“We had to ask for everything only to be told they didn’t have it. The lack of thought concerned me.
“The travel industry needs to work hard and over-deliver. You never know who your guests are and who they will bring next,” she said.
According to Untiedt, a night of good sleep is a priority for travellers.
“People go on holiday to rest and recharge, and having the perfect sleep is on top of their priority list.
“The bed and linen are non-negotiable. Guests want fabulous mattresses and linen with a minimum of 400 thread or more.
“They want extra-soft blankets, goose-down duvets and a soft rug by the side of the bed,” she said.
Untiedt added that travellers also seek properties that source local and ethical products.
“They want to support local – from the sourcing of products to ingredients for their meals.”
They also want to check into attractions that you cannot get anywhere else that offer incredible views, peace and tranquillity.
“It’s all about the aesthetic,” she said.
The little attention to detail is what makes a stay extra perfect. “Properties should never skimp on the amenities. Give your guests the best and go the extra mile to ensure that their stay is memorable,” Untiedt advised.
Lavish amenities could include unlimited wi-fi, top-class bathroom products, fluffy gowns, and state-of-the-art coffee and tea facilities.
Having travelled South Africa extensively, from beach villas to extravagant bush stays, Untiedt knows what ticks luxury travellers’ boxes.
“Contact the property a few days before check-in to find out what amenities and facilities are available. Knowing what is provided (and what’s not) allows guests to sufficiently prepare for their trip, especially if they’re used to the finer things in life.
“They can also make reasonable requests, so the accommodation is adequately prepared when they arrive,” she said.
Untiedt advised that travellers should pack a few creature comforts in their suitcase for emergencies.
“I always travel with soap and hair products. I don’t rely on them being provided as some places skip on these things or provide basic products.
“I pack an AeroPress coffee maker in case they don’t have a decent coffee maker. And I always travel with a small pack of fresh ground coffee. I also pack bath oils if there’s a bath, and a first aid kit,” she said.