Travel TrendsThe world's biggest hotel chain shares key trends driving its post-pandemic development in Asia Pacific.

Marriott hops on the slow luxury travel bandwagon

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The first all-villa resort under The Ritz-Carlton brand will open 2Q 2022, in line with the global trend for natural wonders coupled with luxury.
The first all-villa resort under The Ritz-Carlton brand will open 2Q 2022, in line with the global trend for natural wonders coupled with luxury.

Marriott International has its radar set on slow luxury, meaningful travel and secondary cities in its Asia Pacific development pipeline, the global hotel chain revealed during a recent hybrid event in the region on 1 September.

"Travel is the antidote to Covid fatigue," said Marriott's Jennie Toh, vice president of brand marketing and brand management Asia Pacific, citing insights from the 2021 AMEX travel survey — an overwhelming 87% of respondents said a planned trip gives them something to look forward to while 61% will spend more than they normally would.

The post-pandemic travel consumer preferences and priorities are also what Marriott hopes to tap and capture in its growth strategy, Toh noted.

Surge for smaller appeal

Secondary cities will become more attractive destinations for travellers, such as how New Zealand's top destination Auckland has now given way to "Wellington, the new Auckland".

In China, where domestic travel has nearly returned to pre-Covid levels, tourists are rediscovering new emerging locations for nature, history and dramatic landscapes, such as Yinchuan city, along the upper the Yellow River, and Zhangjiajie's forests, made famous by Hollywood director James Cameron's acclaimed sci-fi film, Avatar.

Have good, will travel

"Guests are telling us they want greener destinations, help and support waste elimination, responsible brands, eco-friendly policies. People want to make a personal impact on the places they visit, leaving those places better than when they first found them," said Toh, referencing the January 2021 launch of the Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy programme.

Intangible luxury

The first all-villa resort under The Ritz-Carlton brand will open 2Q 2022 near China's UNESCO site of Jiuzhaigou, a reflection of how "beachside destinations, natural wonders, and hidden gems are in fact the new luxury items to hold," said Toh.

Bart Buiring, Marriott's chief sales and marketing officer added that the age of the average luxury traveller in China is around 25 to 26 years old, with pre-arrival planning especially critical to the luxe experience.

"The new luxury amenities of today are private experiences, cleanliness and personalisation," Toh concluded.

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