High end travellers are increasingly seeking immersive experiences with a sense of place, with Australia’s luxury lodges catering to the trend.
Luxury Lodges of Australia executive officer Penny Rafferty told Travel Today that many of its 18 member properties have moved away from “traditional” definitions of luxury in order to focus on the high-end experiential.
“It’s about immersive, connective and particularly food experiences,” she said. People want to see what happens behind the scenes, such as where the chef picks ingredients in the gardens, she explained.
“It’s very different to the resorts of the 80s which were all about fine service.”
The lodges are mostly owned by individuals rather than large corporations, with general managers that “really take custodianship”, Rafferty continued. That increases the level of interaction with guests, enabling them to share the types of experiences they enjoy and desire.
The properties can then design “bespoke” experiences accordingly, with their smaller size enabling them to be both agile and innovative.
“To be a member of Luxury Lodges, a property has to not just be about a room, it has to connect guests with a sense of place."
It marks a significant departure from those notions of luxury prevalent in the 80s which remained prevalent in Australia for some time. And with the properties active in showcasing their own regions, it makes them ideal partners for Tourism Australia’s most recent efforts, with the There’s Nothing Like Australia perfectly aligned with the Luxury Lodges proposition.
“When we formed, it was Where the bloody hell are you? But there’s been recognition that the product has changed, so the tone of messaging has had to change,” Rafferty said.
“We’re an expensive country to travel to but we offer extraordinary value for money on ‘money can’t buy’ experiences because of our pristine natural beauty, the scale and diversity of the country, as well as the unexpected food and wine experiences and connections that people can only have at one of these places.”
Meanwhile, she revealed that around 36% of Luxury Lodges’ guests are international, tracking above the national average of around 20%.
“There’s definitely traction and growth on the back of that recognition.”