The term luxury means different things to different people. For some it is the unequivocally high level of service that luxury establishments provide. For others it is gourmet food, fine décor and exquisite linens and furnishings. Liesl Venter finds out how to impart the luxury feeling.

Delivering luxury means ticking a lot of boxes, says Sue Howells, Sales & Marketing Manager of African Synergy, as it is not defined in just one way.

“For some, it is defined in the opulence and abundance of their surroundings, while for others it is the entrenchment of a memory that will last a lifetime.”

There has been a lot of talk about the ‘new’ luxury in tourism, says Janie van der Spuy, luxury travel and hospitality specialist and Head of Fivestar PR.

“This goes far beyond facilities, gourmet food, room service, free WiFi and high thread-count. Those are a given for top-end travellers. The ‘new’ luxury is all about providing authentic, genuine hospitality and service, and creating unforgettable, sometimes even life-changing experiences for the client or guest.”

And, make no mistake, says Anita Streich, Managing Director of African Travel Concept luxury division, Elite Travel Concept, the luxury offering starts with the very first contact made with a traveller.

Van der Spuy agrees, and says it is essential that the luxury experience is delivered before the trip starts and ends long after the traveller has left.

“The high-end traveller expects exclusivity throughout the service chain. It is therefore important to listen carefully to what guests need and want, anticipate their needs and meet their expectations.”

Streich says luxury is imparted in this personalised service.

“Tailoring services to the client’s specific needs, and delivering exclusive experiences that they would not be able to access anywhere else, is what makes the difference.”

Howells says, more than anything else, luxury is defined when the needs of the tourist can be met at any given time.

“It all depends on the traveller. Some very affluent travellers expect only the best, while others will combine their trip with different experiences of varying standards.”

Ultimately, says Nik Lloyd-Roberts, Commercial Manager of Federal Airlines, in the luxury sector, no request is too big and no detail is ever overlooked.

When service providers are able to meet these standards, they are optimally imparting the luxury feeling and experience.

“Private aviation is, by definition, a luxury offering. Whether guests are booked on a private charter or a shuttle flight, each individual’s needs are carefully considered. For us, it is critical that our service is an extension of the lodges we service. More often than not, we are the first people the guest will meet and the last they say goodbye to,” said Lloyd-Roberts.

According to Chris Anagnostellis, Chief Operations Officer of An African Anthology, another important element in the luxury sector is delivering consistent service.  

“This requires that one does not over promise and then under deliver, but rather do the opposite.”

Standing out in the crowd

Thread counts are the same all over the world, says Nicky Coenen, General Manager of The Last Word Intimate Hotels. “People and cultures are different. People with money want to spend it on immersion into a total experience.”

She says delivering luxury the African way has far more impact than trying to deliver what guests can experience elsewhere.