New Trends in Sustainable Luxury Travel: 2017 Edition

Let’s take a look at what is next for sustainability in travel, the word that’s been all the buzz in recent years. What will make people book their next trip? Will food be the main criteria when choosing where to go? Will adventure, nature and wellness become deciding factors? Will people become conscious of the difference between intelligent and senseless luxury?

Harmony Hotel Surfing
Connecting with friends and family.  Learning a new skill.  Experiencing nature’s elements.  Having fun.  Sharing experiences.  Travel done differently.

The United Nations proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. What a great opportunity to spotlight sustainable travel, and in Cayuga’s case to give more exposure to sustainable luxury travel. Here are the new trends we spotted while observing people search for ways to travel more responsibly and reduce their footprint. These trend predictions are based on our interactions with guests at the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Food as a new force in travel.   We find that our guests will choose or skip a hotel or resort based on its culinary offerings. They will go out of their way to have a great real-deal meal. It is not about fancy dining; it’s about sampling fresh local ingredients prepared in a simple and honest way (if the chef is a character, even better!).

Our guests love hands-on cooking lessons, visits to our on-site herb and vegetable gardens and trips to nearby farmers’markets. They want to understand where the food comes from, who is preparing it and whether the recipes are local, global or a fusion of the two. With programs like Dock to Dish gaining momentum in different parts of the world, how food is caught, butchered and harvested is being questioned, so you better have the answers.

Paul Bocuse was quoted that great food is 90% ingredients and 10% creativity.  We have access to a great variety of ingredients in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which are available year around.  You might have to share your breakfast though…

A deeper dive into nature.  The guests who visit the Cayuga Collection are looking for an active experience that often includes soft adventures. They don’t mind getting wet, dirty and sweaty if it means delving deeper into nature. They want to explore places in their “raw” state before they change. They love to find what feels undiscovered and often do their own exploring.

Their desire to go local has them seeking out the company of knowledgeable naturalist guides; evening discussions on conservation and wildlife preservation are really popular at our hotels and lodges. While guests appreciate knowing there is a pool and a soft lounge chair when needed, their inner explorer often takes over. We find that offering guided tours in the morning and evening not only enhances the guest experience, it is often the way guests become friends.

There is no better destination within Costa Rica than the South Pacific and the Osa Peninsula.  Gushing waterfalls, pristine beaches, tropical rainforests and the best wildlife viewing in the country.

Wellness is a way to connect with humanity. Wellness at the Cayuga Collection is so different than plopping down on a massage table in an air-conditioned room. Our guests always say they feel so healthy, happy and free when they visit us. So we came up with the term Pura Vida Wellness, which encompasses all the elements of a vacation experience in Costa Rica. It involves hiking in a dense rain forest, perhaps even hugging a 600-year-old tree, and then taking a shower back on your private deck during a tropical rain shower. It involves jumping into the pool of a gushing waterfall, and then sharing a craft beer and a typical dish with locals at a small restaurant.

Wellness is about connecting with humanity. Say, having a really interesting conversation with your waiter about why Costa Rica has no army. It also means doing a digital detox and jogging along a beach that you have all to yourself at 5.30am. Our guests love forest bathing and planting trees, they love the large variety of freshly squeezed fruit juices that we offer and they also love learning about how we manage Cayuga’s sustainability impact with our signature behind-the-scenes tour. We feel all these experiences contribute to our guests’wellness.

It is all about the freshest local ingredients. It does not only make for great tasting and healty food, but it supports the local farmers and small businesses.
Creating “connections” is a big concept for us.   We want our guests to interact with the locals, immerse themselves in local food and traditions and step out of their comfort zone, even if it is just a little.

Intelligent versus senseless luxury.  Sustainability – that word again. Isn’t there a sexier term? Our guests admit that they don’t choose our hotels and lodges because we are considered world leaders in sustainable hospitality. But once they take our back-of-the-house sustainability tour and they learn about all we do to keep our patch of the planet safe and protected, it really sinks in that there needs to be no compromise between sustainability and a pampered vacation experience.

When we think of senseless luxury, we think of plastic water bottles, eating ingredients from one continent while on another, recipes that call for endangered fish and driving a car when it is shorter to walk or ride a bike. As a new approach, intelligent luxury is about authenticity and doing things in a responsible manner.

Complimentary small plastic water bottles, often with the logo of the hotel are still considered a luxury by many tourists.  At Cayuga, we have banned all plastic bottles and plastic straws from our properties.  It’s not always easy – but it is the right thing to do.

Nothing like the people power.  We are living a new reality in travel. Automated check-in kiosks, smart phones as room keys, self-order tablets replacing wait staff at restaurants. For business travel, it may be working wonderfully. But when guests look to unwind and let go on vacation, it is not what they are looking for. Every day we see every day how much our guests love to interact with our staff. They love to learn about their culture and their individual lives, share their vacation experiences or just enjoy pleasant small talk.

What is great about traveling in Costa Rica and Nicaragua is that the people are friendly, welcoming and curious. While in other countries we have observed more of an invisible barrier between staff and guests, at the Cayuga Collection we see guests and staff connecting at the same level. Our guests mention that connection, that people power, as the most appreciated experience of their holiday.

No technology will replace the personal interaction between people.  We encourage all of our guests and staff alike to connect with each other and share experiences.

Do you agree with us.  Do you see these trends in 2017.  We would love to hear from you.  Comment on this blog or send us a note.

The Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua:

Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rain Forest Resort in Manuel Antonio

Lapa Rios Wilderness Lodge on the Osa Peninsula

Kura Design Villas on the South Pacific Coast near Uvita

Latitude 10 Beach Resort in Santa Teresa

Harmony Hotel in Playa Guiones near Nosara

Hotel Grano de Oro in San Jose

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Inn in Santa Barbara de Heredia

Jicaro Island Lodge near Granada on Lake Nicaragua


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