ILTM Asia Pacific 2023 Highlights The Present And Future Of Luxury Travel

At the start of the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Asia Pacific 2023, ILTM Portfolio Director Alison Gilmore revealed some findings in their latest Buzz vs Reality study which was centred on the Chinese market. Only 18 per cent of its travellers preferred domestic travel, with the overwhelming majority opting to make up for lost time with international destinations, given the duration of lockdowns which they have endured. The survey of Chinese travellers also discovered Japan, France and USA as the top travel destinations. What was perhaps more of a surprise is how quickly the attitudes to luxury travel has reverted to the mean; 82 per cent preferred to book holidays in advance versus spontaneous getaways, and an overwhelming 93 per cent of travellers chose to have a relaxing vacation versus seven per cent for active travel. Not surprisingly, the re-entry of the Chinese travellers in the orbit of international luxury travel dominated conversations across the floor at ILTM 2023, and this phenomenon was also reflected in the exhibitor mix which welcomed back Hong Kong-based Rosewood, Shangri-La Group and Mandarin Oriental, among some key global hospitality chains who had to take a hiatus from the previous edition. 

Over four days of the ILTM programme, 500 exhibitors from 45 countries participated, while over 500 buyers (57 per cent new to the event) from over 25 countries attended, all of whom represent the Asia Pacific outbound segment. Across the exhibition floor, the heavyweights of luxury travel rolled out the red carpet, offering specialised insights into how they have further and finely tuned their products and experiences to cater for an ever-discerning class of travellers. 

Rissai Valley, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Leading the way was Marriott International Luxury Brands, whose regional survey of the new generation of travellers unearthed the tribe of ‘Native Explorers’ – affluent millennials and Gen Z travellers who enjoy moving between continents and unsurprisingly ranking Japan as their top destination. “Globally, we’re seeing an undeniable shift among travellers towards more meaningful, one-of-a-kind experiences in both new and familiar destinations. This is particularly evident in Asia Pacific from our findings on Gen Z and Millennials’ travel patterns and behaviours,” comments Bart Buiring, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Marriott International Asia Pacific “With young affluent travellers in Asia Pacific gravitating towards under-the-radar holidays and culturally-rich itineraries, we’re expanding our luxury portfolio in the region’s most sought-after destinations like Nara, Sydney and Jiuzhaigou in China with a target of opening 12 properties in 2023 alone.”

Japan features heavily among the 12 new luxury offerings opening in the region in the coming months; The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka, Shisui, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nara and Bulgari Hotel Tokyo while other properties joining the regional portfolio include The Singapore Edition, W Macau – Studio City, W Sydney, JW Marriot Hotel Xi’an, JW Marriott Jeju Resort & Spa and JW Marriott Goa as well as Rissai Valley, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve where 87 private villas command views of the snowy Minshan mountain range, with the resort set within a 72,000-hectar nature reserve. 

For the LVMH-owned Belmond, which continually celebrates accolades for its hotels including the very recent La Liste World’s Best Hotel 2023 for Hotel Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, Venice, its market leadership and organisational knowledge in trains is adeptly reflected in a slew of offerings; an homage to murder mystery on The British Pullman with a host of enigmatic characters and  the Royal Scotsman’s three-night Ultimate Whisky Odyssey through Scotland’s rugged landscapes with Dr Bill Lumsden and Charles MacLean, two giants of the Scotch industry. For Gary Franklin, Vice President for Trains & Cruises at Belmond, this devotion to customer experience is continually at the forefront of innovation. Of course, some of the old ways are still the best like looking out the window.  “When you travel on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, there is a big brass lever in each of the cabins. And when you pull that a window comes down, and the outside world comes in – you can smell the countryside, the fields, what’s growing. And on the train and at every moment, the view is always changing as you share conversations with your fellow traveller.” 

British Pullman, Moving Murder Mystery

Hyatt International’s stratospheric growth over the years can be seen in its number; 399 hotels in 2009, to 1,263 for 2022 and projected to exceed 1,500 hotels by year 2025. Some of these numbers have been fuelled by acquisitions such as Miraval in 2017, Two Roads Hospitality (2018), Apple Leisure Group (2021) and this year, the Dream Hotel Group as well as the Mr & Mrs Smith platform with its access to boutique and luxury escapes. In Asia Pacific, its growing footprint in luxury travel is heralded by 33 new hotels in the region last year.This year, new properties include the Andaz properties in Pattaya Jomtien Beach, Nanjing, Macau as well as Hotel Toranamon Hills flagged under The Unbound Collection by Hyatt and situated near the Imperial Palace. Closer to Malaysia, the 2024 entry of the 232-room Park Hyatt Kuala Lumpur on the top 17 floors of Merdeka 118 – the world’s second tallest building – will usher in the most luxurious reference of Hyatt International’s properties in the country.

Rendering of the Park Hyatt Kuala Lumpur pool

Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) announced that beyond the 551 hotels has gone live, 10 more are in implementation. Continuing from its full year of 2022 with 61 hotels signed in 2022 (21 in APAC), it has, to date, signed 23 new hotels in 2023 (nine in APAC). Demand for luxury travel is in trend with Average Daily Rate (ADR) up by 35 per cent. Its DNA, with an average number of rooms at 50 keys to match ‘independently minded travellers’ with ‘independently minded hotels’ is now manifested in a campaign called “Hotels as Characterful as You” where travellers are paired with hotels exhibiting the preferences of these unique personalities. Among its new properties for the year are; Nobu Marrakech (the first Nobu on the African continent) and the two-room Fiji hotel where the sell is really one accommodation, one island. And in other news, SLH’s eco-friendly Considerate Collection has grown from an initial 21 hotels last year to 54 hotels, all the while adding greater stringency to its vetting of hotel that qualify for the Considerate Collection flag. 


For family-owned Rocco Forte, one of the oldest European hotel groups dating back to The Savoy café outside of Fife in Scotland in 1911, its new development for 2023 is its entry into real estate with the theatrical Verdura Resort in Sicily. Meanwhile, its continual effort to create impressively unique experiences within its properties has resulted in a slew of cool and quirky offerings; The Macallan Legacy experience where you are choppered to the distillery from The Balmoral in Edinburgh – a Rocco Forte hotel, an Emilio Pucci suite in Florence, the Sir Paul Smith suite in London with a wall reminiscent of the one that the fashion designer has in his own house, and the new Nijinsky presidential suite in Rome, where you can also sign up to open the Vatican’s doors at dawn with the papal residence’s key keeper. 

The Balmoral in Edinburgh

IHG, the second largest luxury lifestyle operator globally, announced a whopping 90 InterContinental properties in the pipeline, adding to a current 210. At its Singapore flagship, it also rolled out the all-day butler service for suite guests desiring greater personalisation. At a cocktail event held at InterContinental Singapore, a delicious spread of canapes inspired by global IHG properties showcased genmaicha-infused ivory mousse and grilled unagi inspired by Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo, king prawns in pastella and truffle zucchini rolls inspired by InterContinental Rome Ambasciatori Palace, fresh scallop tartare by Carlton Cannes, A Regent Hotel and Irish lamb loin satay with pineapple skewers representing Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur On The Park. In his speech, Rajit Sukumaran IHG’s MD for South-east Asia and Korea credited the end-to-end evolution for the group’s brands which has resulted in the exciting anticipation of Regent properties in Cannes, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Santa Monica, Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Kyoto. New Six Senses properties in Rome, London and New York join the fray, as do 35 new InterContinental properties in familiar places such as Bangkok and also off piste locations such as New Caledonia. Perhaps the most nostalgic announcement that evening for Malaysians is the redevelopment of the iconic Penang Mutiara as an InterContinental property, poised to open its doors in 2025. 

The front façade of Six Senses Rome

Langham Hospitality Group – on its biggest expansion in the past decade – acknowledged the recent challenging times but pronounced itself back on track and, in the same breath, celebrating the first-year anniversary of The Langham Jakarta. A new indoor-outdoor bar has been announced for this property which is rapidly becoming the centre of social and business events in inner Jakarta. The Langham Gold Coast, which offers serviced apartments – also new and recently online – has reinvented the neighbourhood’s skyline as the first major hospitality project on this strip in the past 30 years. A sneak peek of The Langham Venice – currently under construction and slated for a 2026 opening – represents the chain’s first hotel in Italy, located on Murano island and a 10-minute water taxi ride from St. Mark’s Square, and comes with its own dedicated club lounge for guests from the square. In Seattle, the Kengo Kuma-designed property is a short walk from Puget Sound, captures the aesthetics of the Pacific Northwest. And finally, the upcoming The Langham at Diriyah, Riyadh’s version of Champs Elyesees, will offer 200 suites and rooms with the upcoming opera hall as its neighbour. 

The Langham Jakarta’s Alice restaurant serves up modern French cuisine

Lucy Werner, Chief Commercial Officer of Rosewood opened her presentation at ILTM this year – the first time since 2019 – and spoke of the hotel chain’s new openings; Sao Paulo (first Rosewood in South America) housed in a former maternity hospital, and strictly sustainable by eschewing single-use plastics and utilising almost exclusively renewable energy. The 150-room Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, which opened on July 1, blends native Hawaiian and Polynesian history, and features a spa where guests walk across lava fields, making it an “irresistible” location for the brand to raise its flag. Rosewood Munich with a high suite count is another one on the cards. Overall, Rosewood’s portfolio plan is to add 50 hotels in the next five years, adding to the 30 already open. “Over the next year or two, Europe is a core focus, with seven more to open by 2025, with a key consideration in restoring iconic destinations to house its hotels.” Coming up next year will be Rosewood Amsterdam, and Schloss Fuschl in Salzburg. 

Rosewood Schloss Fuschl

For Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, the year that is and will be features some pretty phenomenal additions; a nine-bedroom villa in Bali and a total of 20 exclusive homes where guests will be accorded the quintessential experience that Mandarin Oriental provides. For 2023, the stable expands with a residential project in New York and four destinations (Zurich, Muscat, Costa Navarino in Greece) and Mandarin Oriental Mayfair which sits in the historical Hanover Square, offering 50 guestrooms and 77 private residences and slated for an autumnal opening.

The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Mayfair

One of the most dynamic hotel groups in the scene, Minor Hotels, announced new offerings with Anantara Plaza Nice where you may walk in the footsteps of Picasso and Coco Chanel. The Anantara Convento di Amalfi Grand Hotel lets you take a tour with a Cistercian monk on the famed Paths of the Gods.  The Anantara Naiadi Palazzo Rome, built over old Roman baths, lets you see its preserved ruins in the hotel basement, Anantara Grand Amsterdam offers dining at the tulip fields (with the hotel’s own buttery gold tulips being a feature),and Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel is set in Ireland’s Silicon Valley where one partakes in whisky tastings by the docklands. In Asia, a total of 15 Anantara hotels are opening with the coming months, among them; Koh Yao Yai, Ubud in Bali, Jaipur as well as new offerings such as the ultra-private two-bedroom accommodations at  Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara starting at US$17,500 per night, bundled with helicopter travel, falconry, and stargazing while perched on your own sand dune.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

In the 13 years since its launch, Marina Bay Sands continues to astound as a luxury hospitality destination. At ILTM, a breakfast at the rooftop Spago Bar & Lounge by Wolfgang Puck was the start of a journey into the wonders of a US$1 billion reinvestment programme by the destination to set a modernist tone for hospitality in the new era. Most impressively are its ultra-luxe suites, which offer marbled bars, cocktail trolleys, gold chinoiserie-patterned armoires and sprawling bathrooms. A revolving series of programmes from music and live entertainment to wellness-led sessions gives way to 21 days of glamour in October with fashion activities and programmes taking centre stage all around Marina Bay Sands.

Marina Bay Sands’ ultra-luxe suites

The enigmatic Four Seasons, a single hospitality brand with 126 properties around the world, has been racking up accolades including in the F&B scene with 32 Michelin stars spread across 25 restaurants around the world (half of which are found in the Asia Pacific region). Those heading for summer sun at the San Domenico Four Seasons in Taormina (of The White Lotus fame) will be able to splash into a Dolce & Gabbana-branded pool. Four Seasons fans can also make a beeline for Rabat scheduled to open end this year with Suzhou and Dalian next on the list. The Four Seasons Yacht is also on track to launch in 2025 while the current season sees the Four Seasons Explorer heading to the tranquil marine haven of Palau, located in the midst of UNESCO World Heritage Islands. 

Four Seasons’ luxury cruiser visits Palau for late 2023

At Singapore’s Grand Dame Raffles Singapore, breakfast with Accor offered a glimpse into the stratospheric future of Raffles Hotels & Resorts with incredible new properties unveiled. The Raffles Europejski Warsaw sees 150 Polish artists coming together to provide the fascinating artistic soul of the hotel, while Raffles Instanbul – the only hotel in the city to have been awarded the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star two years in a row – offers a fascinating blend of European and Asian perspectives. At the Raffles London, the Chef Patron of three-star Mirazur, Mauro Colagreco, dishes his magic while Raffles Bali advocates slow travel in a post-pandemic world where rejuvenation comes with a full engagement of the senses. At Raffles Udaipur, the 21-acre private island hotel has become increasingly popular for destination weddings , with its tranquil grounds and swish rooms framed by the majestic vistas of Rajasthan (rates for a 3D/2N bookout start at four crore plus taxes, approximately RM2.2millon). This year will also see the autumn opening of Raffles Boston in the city’s Back Bay neighbourhood with an anticipated Long Bar and chef George Mendes return to his New England roots at the hotel’s fine-dine Amar. Meanwhile the Raffles at Galaxy Macau boasts 450 suites, a phalanx of 100 butlers (the most of any Raffles property) and is slated for an opening on August 16. 

Raffles Udaipur sits in the middle of Udai Sagar Lake

Also getting in on the luxury travel action at ILTM 2023 were respective tourism boards with France, Japan National Tourism Organisation, Korea Tourism Organisation and Visit Portugal among the many. Korea Tourism, with its meteoric rise from the world riding its Hallyu wave, introduces its newer luxury offerings; the Conrad Seoul with 180-degree views of the Han River and one of the largest suites in its category, the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul with palace views from its executive suite, Sofitel Ambassador Seoul Hotel with its magical sunsets and the meditative Rakkojae Hanok Collection in the Bukchon Village, boasting old-world charm and harmony with nature. 

For Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), its refocus on luxury travel is offered in the Japanese culture of seasonal changes, a concept of impermanence coveyed by wabi sabi “simple and elegant patina of age” and ichi-go ichi-e: “every now is unique.” A resource to help travellers navigate the many unique Japanese experiences may be found in their dedicated website. Visit Portugal, with the oldest borders in Europe and 900 years of history, naturally had plenty to show and tell with fairy tale Sintra and the unique wine cask-shaped hotels in the Duoro Valley. With 26.5 million visitors in 2022 and EUR21.1 billion in tourism receipts, the country has seen an almost complete recovery at just 2.3 per cent below 2019 and an encouraging 84.3 per cent compared with 2021. 

An artist’s impression of Artyzen Singapore

ILTM 2023 also saw the emergence of Artyzen – a ten-year-old home-grown lifestyle hotel brand tailored for Gen Z and millennials, currently represented with a portfolio of 13 properties in Beijing, Chongqing, Macau, Shanghai, Zhuhai, Suzhou, Beijing and soon in October this year, Singapore. It announced through its Senior Vice President Peter Wynne, that this year sees a growth period, with a quartet of Artyzen Habitat Openings in 2023.

International Luxury Travel Market

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