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Colombia named the world’s most luxurious destination

Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena

A recent study put public perception up against five star ratings to discover just where the most luxurious destinations in the world are – and the results were vastly different.

The study, undertaken by luxury holiday specialist Sovereign, researched hotel data taken directly from a leading booking site in over 225 countries and territories to determine which was the most luxurious based on the percentage of five-star hotels found there.

In addition to data results, Sovereign also surveyed 2,000 adults – aged 35 and under or 65 and over – to establish exactly where the British public consider a luxury holiday.

The data concluded that Colombia came out on top with 860 five-star hotels out of the 4143 hotels listed on the site – a 21 per cent luxury rating.

The Maldives came out second, with a luxury rating of 16 per cent; Singapore third; United Arab Emirates fourth, and New Zealand fifth.

The Maldives

However, the public rating showed different results with the Maldives being ranked the highest with 65 percent of the votes, Barbados second with 56 percent, Seychelles third, Mauritius fourth and Bali fifth.

A spokesperson for Sovereign said, “Clearly, there is an obvious difference in what data and public perceptions tell us here. It’s no surprise to us that the public rated The Maldives as the most luxurious destination in the world; it’s an incredibly beautiful destination with its white sugary sand and tranquil blue surrounds.”

However, data presents destinations that aren’t first-to-mind when thinking luxury holidays.

Colombia has seen a substantial 290 percent increase over the past decade and a 12 percent rise between 2015 and 2016; in that same period the increase of tourism in The Maldives stands at just 2 percent.

Sovereign’s spokesperson said“The rating of a hotel is clearly something people look for in a luxury holiday, but there is a lot more to also think about when considering the perfect getaway, including location, facilities and those special luxuries that stand out from the norm.

Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic

“Therefore, we created ‘Lead me to Luxury’, a site that shows those rated luxury by data, but more importantly real-life perceptions and experiences that are considered luxury and make it so special.”

Sovereign also considered perceptions of luxury travel and luxury in general. The study found 94 percent of people believe the idea of luxury has evolved over time, with 96 percent believing things once considered a treat or rarity are now seen as normal and essential.

20 per cent of under 35s consider a holiday within the UK as a necessity rather than something to enjoy if they have the money, while more than one in ten say this about a holiday abroad.

Researchers also found that when it comes to holidays, first or business class travel is an essential element to consider a trip luxurious, along with an all-inclusive food and drinks package, a bed which is at least king-size and free dressing gowns and slippers in the room.

Sovereign added, “Times have changed over the last few decades and things which were once seen as out of reach for many people are now very much part of normal life for most.

“Many have more disposable income than they did in previous generations, and technology has evolved so much that access to these things is much easier than it used to be.

“The same can be said for holidays – there was a time when a holiday abroad was something most people could only dream of, but now many view one as an essential way to relax and unwind each year.”


Top ten most luxurious destinations based on percentage of 5* hotels to number of hotels in destination using’s data
1. Colombia – 20.76%
2. Maldives – 15.93%
3. Singapore – 15.74%
4. United Arab Emirates – 15.16%
5. New Zealand – 9.86%
6. Dominican Republic – 9.59%
7. Mexico 9.46%
8. Panama – 7.48%
9. Hong Kong – 7.47%
10. Mauritius – 7.28%

Top ten most luxurious destinations as voted by public
1. Maldives – 65.15%
2. Barbados – 56%
3. Seychelles – 55.25%
4. Mauritius – 47.60%
5. Bali – 39.75%
6. Monaco – 38.35%
7. Fiji – 32.50%
8. New York – 29.25%
9. Los Angeles – 23.35%
10. Australia – 20.05%

Top 20 essential elements for a luxury holiday:
1. First or business class air travel
2. An all-inclusive food and drinks package
3. A king size bed or above
4. Free dressing gowns and slippers
5. A free mini bar
6. Air conditioning in the room
7. A free spa
8. Your own sauna
9. Your own plunge pool
10. Butler service
11. Temperature above 25 degrees
12. Porters or bell hops
13. A swim up bar
14. Valet parking
15. A long-haul flight
16. TVs in the bathroom
17. Palm trees
18. A gym
19. iPod/docking station in the room
20. Games console in the bedroom

Main image at the very top of the article: Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena