Virtuoso Survey Reveals Luxury Traveler's Top 5 Must-Have Experiences For 2016

From by Michael Patrick Shiels
Virtuoso Survey Reveals Luxury Traveler's Top 5 Must-Have Experiences For 2016

Everyone has a dream destination in mind when it comes to traveling or one that they return to year-after-year because of their unabashed love for the city. But what guides us in our decision-making efforts? As travel trends change and new ones emerge, how do today’s luxury sojourners look at the world and select their upcoming holidays?

Conducted by international luxury travel agency network Virtuoso, the Luxe Report provides insight into the decisions of the globe’s most upscale travelers and reveals emerging industry trends. The survey discovered travelers’ 2016 must-haves when it came to choosing a place to visit. They found that the chief travel motivator is discovering untouched, unique places. Unsurprisingly, Cuba is the top emerging destination, with Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma), Iceland, and Croatia also ranking high on the list.

Havana, until now forbidden and seemingly forgotten by time, is a crumbling yet vibrant city with live music at every meal (don’t expect haute cuisine) and vintage vehicles (don’t look too closely under the hood) lining the streets. But an impending lack of hotel rooms, specifically high-end properties, is proof that the country still has a ways to go before becoming a true luxury travel hotspot. While Old World charm can mean a dearth of modern convenience it can also mean that travelers should still carry their own toilet tissue each day. 

Another top-five, must-have is creating unforgettable memories. Since traveling with extended family is this year’s top trend (river cruising was right behind it), a multi-generational safari in Africa would qualify as an unforgettable memory. As would a food and wine tour of Italy, where not only the memories, but the edification, will live on. 

Crossing something off your bucket list also remains a motivation. This could mean anything from sleeping in an overwater bungalow at Four Seasons Bora Bora in Tahiti or walking the Holy Land’s Via Dolorosa in Israel’s Old City of Jerusalem. Mongolia and Iran are drawing interest, too, from intrepid travelers who thirst for something new. Transcending limits by pushing comfort zones is also propelling travelers to scuba dive on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or hop on an expedition cruise to Antarctica or the mainly-uninhabited Galapagos Islands.


How about gorilla trekking in Rwanda? Mountain climbing in New Zealand? Adventure travelers chose South Africa as the top destination for active travel, along with Costa Rica. The Galapagos, with its white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, and blue-footed booby birds; and pastoral, scenic New Zealand, with its wineries, culture and golf, came close behind. Italy, Mexico and Hawaii edged out Orlando and its theme parks on the family destination list followed by England. But families are seeking active, authentic experiences in unconventional destinations too, such as ice fishing in northern Canada and surfing in Sri Lanka.    


Close-to-home experiences will be big next year as well with New York being the top US destination since it appeals to a diverse range of travelers. Americans are also heading to Maui, Napa Sonoma, Las Vegas, and Miami/South Beach. What are your travel goals for next year? Will you be heli-skiing in Switzerland or taking the family on a safari in Africa? 

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