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The rise of the bespoke holiday

scuba diving

Words by Rebecca Moore

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and so is luxury (in my humble opinion of course.)

For a long time now, we have been sold a picture perfect idea of luxury; especially when it comes to holidays. When we are sold one image of a luxury holiday by a travel company we are immediately presented with white sand, clear waters and palm trees. Not to forget the perfect ombré sky during sunset and an endless supply of exotic looking cocktails.

I’m not denying that there will be a time in our lives when this serene dream, dripping with peace and serenity is exactly what we crave, especially during our pitiful British ‘summer time’. However, I think that because of the ‘one size fits all’ approach to luxury we have been bombarded with for so long, many of us have chosen go it alone and design our travels around our individual idea of luxury.

Let these words hang in the air for a second or two – Generation Y. This generation have not fared well when it comes to media representation, often being referred to as narcissistic and self-entitled, however being a millennial I feel that I have a duty to intervene at this point. Millennials make up around one third of the UK work force, career focused and hardworking they are fully aware that the world is there to be explored. Unlike their generational predecessors, they are not afraid to spend money on travelling the world and fulfilling their idea of luxury.

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Experts say people are now looking for a lot more than just relaxation from their holiday. Image credit:

Oundle Travel give their take on industry trends: “We cater for a wide range of tastes and needs. It appears that people don’t let their personal or family commitments hold them back when it comes to holidays. People are becoming more adventurous, dismissing the classic package holiday. We offer our clients bespoke and tailored travel experiences and that could be for couples, families and even singles, from whom we recently launched a ‘single holidays’ programme. We aim to offer clients an unforgettable experience, be that indulgent, thrilling, exploring or cultural – we can make it happen. There has been a rise in city breaks in the industry in recent years, with around 42% people opting for a short cultural break, and why not? These cities have so much to offer!”

It is now widely accepted that the idea of luxury isn’t so much about the destination, its more about the experience that is gained. For instance, for some the idea of luxury is connecting with nature on an Arizona ranch with horses, early morning mist and big skies; for others the heady, crowded atmosphere of Marrakech, getting lost on cobbled city streets or even trekking in the jungles of Borneo.

Whatever the individual idea of luxury is, I think we can all agree that’s its far more accessible in today’s increasingly connected world. The rise of the sharing economy has meant that we no longer need to fully rely on commercial hospitality chains to find luxury accommodation. Peer2Peer lending businesses such as AirBnB, HomeAway (who even have a designated ‘luxury’ section’ and Behomm have meant that people do not have to compromise on luxury when it comes to budget and even space requirements. It’s now possible to find rooms, flats an even entire houses in tropical destinations like Bali, among the redwoods in Yosemite National Park, a quiet cabin in Chile or an apartment for a city break in Brooklyn. This level of flexibility has meant that families who still require stylish accommodation are not forced to fit a travel cot around a claw foot freestanding bath in a hotel bathroom.

For those who are only seeking truly decadent experiences Exclusive Resorts could be the service that you are looking for. However, the homes on offer here often tip the balance at prices into the millions and come with amenities such as infinity pools, gourmet kitchens and concierge services.

waterfall / rainforest
People are becoming more adventurous, dismissing the classic package holiday, experts say. Image credit:

Travel expert, Chris Blackwell from, said: “Nowadays, we have found that people are looking for a lot more than just relaxation from their holiday. Scuba diving, skydiving, rainforest excursions and mountain climbing have replaced lounging next to the swimming pool or kicking back on the beach. That’s not to say people are completely turning their back​s​ on the beach. Holidaymakers looking for a bespoke experience are just more likely to seek out beaches that are off the beaten track. ​This is where the holiday industry has to get inventive and need to be able to offer bespoke and tailor made holiday experiences. Places like Phuket in Thailand are a perfect example of this. You’ll often find people seeking out the island’s more exclusive locations, even if it means taking a boat to get there. Many people are looking for ​an adventure ​on ​holiday and that’s why they are​ turning to bespoke and tailor made​ vacations. For example gap years have had a huge impact on people’s attitude toward​s ​travel.”

Many are coming to the realisation that package holidays are somewhat of a false economy, even those in destinations that have been sold as tropical or idyllic. Places such as Jamaica, where the onsite resorts offer a number of attractive amenities but the threat of danger means that you can’t leave the resort and soak up the culture. Creating a bespoke getaway means that you can focus your budget and time on indulging the culture and activities that are going to soothe your soul and give you a feeling of elation (or true relaxation) and leave you completely fulfilled. For instance, if indulgent food and drink gets you excited, why not spend the money on hiring a personal chef for an evening or visiting exquisite restaurants or even just plenty of traditional street food and local wine.

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