Humble Luxury in Hotels and Resorts – an Oxymoron?

A recent blog in Hotels Magazine caught our attention.  It was named ” Humble Luxury”.   This sounds like an oxymoron, right?     But so might ” sustainable luxury” and that is after all what we are all about at Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality.   So let’s explore this a bit more”¦

Ed Ng in his blog refers to wealthy Chinese, and how to them luxury has been synonymous with bling-bling showing of high end brands and looking for the most expensive hotels and restaurants.   But things seem to be evolving.   Here an excerpt from his blog:

In recent months, one word has been on everyone’s lips in China: ” tuhao.” Translated as ” the tasteless wealthy,” this buzzword pokes fun at the country’s nouveau riche, suggesting they lack the culture to understand the luxury they so ostentatiously flaunt.   But jokes about tuhao show a deepening awareness of taste and luxury, from upscale fashion to hotels.

The author mentions that every time more, the Chinese shy away from the ultra-luxury products and if a hotel for example is known for its opulence, they might avoid it.   He suggests that gaudy and stiff luxury is on the way out in China and understated, classy luxury is in.   He also observes that he has seen this development in other Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.
Guided Rainforest Hike with Edwin Villareal at Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula

We find this interesting as we never think of our hotels and lodges as opulent and over the top luxurious although, our guests really have extraordinary vacation experiences.   We strive to redefine the concept of luxury and move away from marble bathrooms with golden fixtures.   We believe that being in a remote and secluded destination with access to the creature comforts like high thread count linen, a very comfortable mattress, organic and locally produced bathroom amenities and of course delicious, fresh locally produced food is very luxurious in itself.   But the real luxury is created by the experiences that our guests have and the interactions with the local culture and people.

Our guests comment that for them it is a luxury to be so close to wildlife, without disturbing their natural habitat and behavior.    They love experiencing the elements and spending time being active outdoors.   They love the connection created with our staff by participating in local soccer games or going fishing at the beach with them during their afternoon break.   They define luxury as eating fresh tropical fruit for breakfast, having fish tacos and a cold local beer for lunch while their bare feet touch the warm sand and taking part in a cooking lesson (preparing fresh ceviche) with the kitchen staff before dinner.
Open air showers. An important element for a luxury/sustainability experience at Latitude 10.

At all Cayuga Collection Hotels and Eco Lodges, luxury is all about Experience ““ Learn ““ Connect ““ Relax.   A concept that is deeply engraved in our operations and guests experience every day.   And while some hotels and lodges are a bit more rustic in terms of architecture and de’cor (i.e. Lapa Rios and Finca Rosa Blanca), others have included more contemporary elements (i.e. Kura and Jicaro).   But always with a focus on sense of place and being true to our vision.

A year ago, we had a couple of consultants look at our hotels and eco lodges to help us define the perfect symbiosis of luxury and sustainability.   They visited all the Cayuga Collection Hotels, Resorts and Eco Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and left us some valuable observations.   Here is their main finding:

” Luxury and sustainability are possible, but it takes a change in attitude of  travelers to make it happen. What we need are travellers to hold the tourism industry to a higher standard, not to accept green-washing practices, and challenge the status quo.  You can read the full manifesto by our fantastic sustainability interns on  Huffington post  or  on our blog.”

Jicaro Island Ecolodge
Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Lake Nicaragua near the Colonial Town of Granada

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