'Beyond Luxury' Experiences

Rita Andrade Soares

CEO of Herdade da Malhadinha Nova

In recent years, both theoretical research and more practical studies into tourism have pointed to experience tourism as one of the major trends for the future. In my opinion, this future is already a reality and appears as a commitment to the development of sustainable tourism in Portugal.

All around the world, concepts of unique experiences have been developed, in unlikely, sometimes inhospitable, isolated places, where luxury takes the form of time, space and nature...

The most discerning tourists of the present, as well as those who can be envisaged in the future, are looking for much more than luxury. In reality, in an age when human beings are connected 24 hours a day, these tourists are looking for experiences that somehow either take them out of their comfort zone and challenge them physically and mentally, or that bring them into contact with nature and local traditions they are unaware of.

As a result, the challenge for supply sources is, more than ever, to provide moments that are transformed into educational experiences, which reveal new or hidden facets and abilities of tourists. In this light, the quality of the location remains important, but it ceases to be the most important thing. The essential thing is what goes «beyond luxury»; it is being connected with nature and with everything authentic and profound it has to offer us, far from technological intensity and materialistic society.

The return to a more elemental way of living, sometimes under harsh conditions, of a climatic or inhospitable nature, that challenge you to overcome your comfort zone, is the latest trend and to this end, today more than ever, supply should focus on the creation of quality experiences, which are innovative and very creative.

At the moment, all over the world, renowned and exclusive «traveller designers» and hotels are specialised in the production of this kind of ‘luxuries’, venues appearing in unlikely places, and which promote memorable experiences.

Today, without a doubt, the challenge is creativity, while the limit is your imagination.

This year, Portugal was voted the best destination in the world, among many other aspects, for preserving its tradition and for the contemporary recreation of this same tradition, always with the motivation to go further and attend to the wishes of tourists of the present and the future. This should, without doubt, remain our focus.

Innovating and providing unforgettable, extraordinary and unique experiences is, in my opinion, the path to the future of tourism in Portugal.