Travel Trade Luxury, March 2016, Issue 1

Page 37




A NATURAL CHOICE Nowadays, lavish villas, boats, bars and restaurants can be created in various places around the world, Elena Papanicolaou, CEO, flymetothemoontravel, observed. However, as she said, in Greece it all comes naturally, with the country boasting thousands-year-old history, culture, traditions, arts, favourable weather and outgoing, hospitable people – something that cannot be reproduced. The cosmopolitan atmosphere, bespoke services, ideal climate conditions and a proven expertise in tourism for more than 60 years make the country stand out, according to Kalia Konstantinidou, director of sales and marketing, Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini and Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel. Greece's main quality characteristics is its natural beauty, the architecture of each destination and above all, the people that are by nature hospitable, agreed Yiannis Daktilidis, general manager, Petasos Beach Resort & Spa. With perceptions constantly changing, nowadays, luxury travel is more about the overall experience rather than just high-end services and amenities, and it is linked to escapism, authenticity, and uniqueness that cannot easily be replicated, posited also Iossif Parsalis, managing director, Marketing Greece. The feeling of lavishness is created with ease in Greece where guests can enjoy a sense of immersion, while connecting with the destination and its people, Mina Agnos, president, Travelive, explained. “For some travellers, a luxury experience may be a private day charter on a catamaran from Milos with Captain Yianni who will teach them to dive for sea urchins and spearfish. For another guest, the luxury experience may be a 23m motor yacht charter through the Cyclades,” she said. Analysing the concept of absolute hospitality, or as the Greeks call it, filoxenia, George Moschotis, reservation manager, Astarte Suites Hotel, commented that tight competition forced the industry to up its standards, and at the same time, provide personalised services – a concept not far at all from the naturallyspringing Greek hospitality. As Manos Vatzolas, director of sales, Ledra Hotels and Villas, explained, Greece’s touristic progress occurred at a later stage compared to its neighbouring countries, thus, the product is newer and more attractive and luxurious. “The[...] scarcity of large resorts that led to smaller locally-owned developments that invested in authentic services, experiential tourism and boutique-style hospitality. It has been proven that this model is exactly what the high-end market needs,” he suggested. FOR THE FEW AND SPECIAL Vatzolas went on to say that Greece can appeal to those who want to feel special – and luxury travellers demand just that. “Offering tailor-made authentic hospitality and designing products with a customer focus are key factors. The lifestyle offered is also important. This could vary from being technology-savvy to offering experiences that allow guests to interact with locals and understand the culture,” Vatzolas elaborated. Papanicolaou on the other hand, deemed that the absolute price in high-end tourism is not what is important. “The universal tendency is for luxury travellers to seek unique, authentic, quality experiences and they are prepared to pay for the expert design and implementation of that,” she argued. Agnos concluded, “Greeks] know how to make a guest feel welcome and offer them a level of authenticity that they will not receive in other destinations. This is where true luxury comes from.”

MARCH 2016


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