They say a picture speaks a thousand words. We recently received some great feedback from folks who love our new profile photo. It is a great photo. The colors. The pool. The view. But, there is a story behind the photo. For me, this photo explains, in one single snap, our philosophy on what is affordable luxury travel.
The Concept of Luxury Travel
The luxury travel industry is vast. If you search twitter for luxury travel accounts, your search results won’t be limited to luxury hotels, private jets, and luxury tour providers. The industry reaches further than that, to fashion (what to wear on your next luxury holiday), to watches (how do you know whether you are late for your Michelin Star dinner), and more. The concept of luxury travel encompasses a luxury lifestyle. Think Robin Leach and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
But, at the heart of the luxury travel industry there are the hotels. Sure, there are loads of luxury hotels, or million dollar villa rentals, all over the world. But, if you ask someone in the industry to name the luxury hotel brands, they are limited. The Ritz-Carlton. The Four Seasons. The Peninsula. The Mandarin Oriental. Maybe there are a few others, but these are the tops.
For us, luxury travel means something a little more than just staying at the luxury hotel chains. Of course, we would love to stay at one of these luxury brands in every city we travel to, but it’s just not an option all the time.
More importantly, not everyone can afford that level of luxury on every trip they take. But, they still want creature comforts, hotels that pay attention to detail, offer great food, and most importantly, unique travel experiences.
The Concept of Affordable Luxury Travel
Most luxury travelers don’t actually need the private jet, the helicopter transfer, the Dom Pérignon welcome, and the private butler. Okay, a lot of that stuff would be nice. But, there is a level of traveller that cannot afford that experience on every trip, but still strives for a luxury travel experience.
And, that, is what affordable luxury means to us. It’s not just the number of stars of the hotel, but it includes the type of experience people seek when traveling.
What is it that this affordable luxury traveler is looking to experience? Something unique. They don’t want to stay at the 3 star motel, and board a bus each morning with thirty other travelers to experience the same tour that every tourist before them experienced.
These are the types of experiences we hope to share as luxury travel bloggers. It’s the concept of how to travel like Anthony Bourdain. How to have lunch with an Italian wine maker or how to have your meal prepared personally by a Portuguese chef. Or, how to eat cold pizza while drinking rum and cokes before noon in a multimillion dollar villa in Thailand.
Because, these experiences are all possible, and attainable.
Mixing Luxury Travel With Authentic Experiences
The thing about the way we travel, and I recognize it is all supported by the travel blog, is that we seek a mixture of experiences when we travel.
We may enjoy a luxurious $300 whisky and Cantonese pairing dinner at the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong. The following day, however, we sought out a $20 traditional dim sum lunch at a local tea house with tea spilled all over the table.
I do think this is how most luxury travelers actually travel. They seek the comfort while also seeking the authenticity. This is where I think affordable luxury travel is at its best.
Mixing Luxury Travel With Less Than Luxurious Experiences
So, let’s get back to that photo. This photo is now gracing all of our social media profiles, on Facebook, Twitter, and G+. It’s even on our YouTube channel. It’s all over the blog as well. Let’s tell the story behind this photo and why it exemplifies the type of affordable luxury travel we promote.
Last fall, we spent about 12 days in Koh Samui, Thailand, with some fellow social media influencers, Mr. Scott Eddy and Tieland to Thailand. This photo was taken during our last day, hours before our ferry ride back to the mainland.
Here we were in this luxury villa, with a view from an infinity pool over all of Koh Samui. Of course, I didn’t want to go home, but knew we had to because we had another trip planned in a few days.
There are a few more wrinkles to this story. First, we had a 12 day luxury villa experience in Koh Samui, while flying Thai Smile, a discount airline. Sometimes a compromise needs to be made in how you transport yourself to a destination in order to have an amazing time at the destination.
Second, we didn’t plan our final morning, before our flight. I swore to myself I wouldn’t drink that morning, with a ferry ride, to a bus ride, to a flight back to Bangkok. Scott Eddy had a different plan. That last day, Scott “forced” us to drink, to celebrate our last day in the luxury villa. It wasn’t too hard to talk us into it. Before I could finish a drink, Scott had Jai, our villa manager, pouring me another and another. This is how I ended up with 3 glasses of rum and coke in front of me in the picture.
I knew, with a few drinks in the system, I needed to eat before our journey back to Bangkok began. Jai had ordered us pizza the night before. After almost two weeks of luxury meals, we wanted simplicity. Jai offered to heat up the left over pizza. Being the Jersey girl I am, I asked her to bring it out, in the box, cold. As a snack. Next thing you knew we were all elbow deep into cold, left over pizza.
We asked Chris, of Tieland to Thailand, to snap a photo of us with his GoPro, which was a struggle in and of itself, as he was a little hungover from the day before. Hence the photo that will now be the image of our food, wine, and luxury travel blog. Luxury villa pool. Multiple rum and cokes. Cold pizza.
It’s the perfect embodiment of our concept of affordable luxury travel. Amazing million dollar villa. Amazing million dollar view. Cheap rum. Cold pizza. Great experiences. Does travel get any better than that?
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.