Contemporary architecture, curated adventure and farming create an elemental new luxury as the future of resorts come to life.
It’s always news in the resort development world when Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts makes a move, and it’s been revealing to watch the chain start on the expansion that will take it from 99 hotels to more than 150 hotels in the near future. Research in the Resonance 2016 Future of Luxury Travel Report shows that Four Seasons is the preferred hotel brand of the wealthiest 1% of American travelers, which makes the company a bellwether of trends in travel.
Four Seasons has experience defining and virtually taking ownership of destinations. Its early entry into Punta Mita in Mexico is one example; Four Seasons was first into the area, opening the door for other hotels like the St. Regis. Their Papagayo property in Costa Rica is another.
Resonance has had a chance to witness the growth of Four Seasons up close, with the branding and marketing of Four Seasons Anguilla, Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas and another soon-to-be-announced destination in the Caribbean. All of these properties point to the future of resort development – particularly Costa Palmas, a master-planned, from-the-ground-up community on the virtually undeveloped shoreline of the Sea of Cortés.
Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas capitalizes on the popularity of Cabo San Lucas while offering an alternative to it. It’s not located on Cabo’s well-known tourism corridor, between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, where The Ritz-Carlton, Montage and other high-end flags are clustered. Instead, visitors landing at Los Cabos International Airport will turn in the opposite direction to get to the calm, rich waters of the East Cape and the Sea of Cortés. So while the resort is easy to get to, it’s off the beaten track and far from the expected ‘Cabo’ experience.
Resonance research shows that these ‘off-the-beaten-track’ locations resonate with the wealthiest travelers, who rate privacy as one of their most important criteria when choosing a hotel for a vacation. And our experience analyzing trends in tourism and hospitality makes us think that plans for Costa Palmas and Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos reflect a number of other important development trends.
KEY RESORT TRENDS SHAPING RESORT FUTURES
1. AGRICULTURE AS ENVIRONMENT
Food, its provenance and preparation, is growing in importance for visitors and potential owners of resort properties. The designers of Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas decided to literally weave its food story into the property; pathways are lined with fruit-bearing trees; organic gardens and working fields are landscaping.
Menus in the resort’s five restaurants will be inspired by the local bounty, and also by the casual excellence of restaurant success stories nearby. Flora Farms, near San José del Cabo, has made a hidden location into a culinary and cultural destination made up of easy indoor-outdoor eating spaces, live music, fresh produce, local art, and goods.
2. WARM IS THE NEW COOL
There has been a dearth of ground-up luxury resort construction over the past decade. As such, a lot of resort architecture, built in a now-clichéd vernacular, doesn’t reflect evolved tastes in built form. Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos is boldly modern, with contemporary interpretations of local artisanship, putting it entirely in tune with a new generation of wealthy buyers who favor modern open spaces, authentic art and seamless indoor-outdoor living with materials that are warm rather than “cool.” The resort will offer villas of up to 10,000 square feet as well as private condominium-style residences, which speaks to a growing desire for what Resonance calls ‘Togethering.’
3. KINDER, GENTLER GOLF
Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos will offer a full 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II golf course, a seeming anomaly among media stories of the declining popularity of the game. But the Resonance 2016 Future of Luxury Travel Report shows that the top 1% of travelers consider golf a key vacation amenity, with more than 60% saying they play regularly or occasionally on holiday – they’re just playing less and differently than the wealthy did in the past.
The difference between today’s courses and those in resorts built before the downturn is that they’re more playable and enjoyable now than they were a decade ago: people play less often at home, and they don’t have an appetite to play difficult, ‘Tiger-proof’ courses on vacation.
4. CURATED ADVENTURE
Luxury travelers want experiences no one else can have, and our 2016 Future of Luxury Travel Report shows that 69% of the wealthiest 1% of travelers regularly or occasionally participate in ‘once in a lifetime’ activities. Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos has branded its adventure concierges as Aventura, and the group will create personal, signature experiences for guests, along with highly-coveted branded merchandise and wearables. Aventura opens doors to experiences no ordinary hotel can offer, and as relationships grow between Aventura and owners and their families, experiences can become ever more tailored.
The future of resorts? Equal parts of carefully planned elements – spectacular contemporary, but warm and generous architecture and interiors, fresh local food, the right people and unforgettable experiences – and the always indefinable magic of place.
For more insights and trends into the future of luxury travel, download your free 2016 Future of Luxury Travel Report here.