What Does Luxury Mean to You?

Velaa Private Island Resort

Bold and brash? Laid-back luxe? Rough luxe? Where do you fall on the luxury spectrum. In fact, what does luxury actually mean?

It’s the million-dollar question. When I started The Discoveries Of , I was reluctant to name it as a luxury travel magazine. I didn’t want people to think that it was going to be an eye-rolling parade of gold taps, OTT chintz and stuffy service. At the same time, I wanted to communicate the magazine’s high end focus.

In the end, I settled for branding the magazine as a luxury adventure magazine. It still doesn’t quite cut it, but reflects that we are a magazine for luxury travellers who love to explore.

Questions, Questions, Questions

Still, this isn’t about how I started The Discoveries Of. That story will have to wait until later. What still puzzles me is why I was so reluctant to say it was a luxury travel magazine in the first place. It features five star hotels, luxury spas and Michelin-starred restaurants, that much is true. But. It also covers adventures such as trekking the Torres del Paine and a four day (bumpy) road trip to the Salar de Uyuni. In my mind, those latter things were “anti” luxury.

I also wanted to distance the magazine from the traditional luxury of yore — stuffy service and OTT (bleurgh) decor. As someone who lived in Dubai for several years, I’ve seen enough of that to know that it really doesn’t float my boat (well most of the time anyway). But what do you call that to make it clear that it’s something separate and apart? Uber-luxe, garish-luxe, ultra-luxe? I don’t think any of those are right. I’d happily apply the terms uber-and ultra- luxe to hotels that I know and love. Would you?

Just Travel?

Though I started thinking about this in terms of luxury travel, the same can be said of so many “luxury” categories. Clothes, accessories, cars and cosmetics to name a few. What we would band under the generic “luxury” term actually covers a range of products and markets that deserve a bit more differentiation.

Take clothes for example. I know many would disagree, but for me, true luxury clothing is made out of quality materials. I don’t care how exclusive the brand is, I won’t pay an eye-popping price for a dress if it’s made out of acrylic. If you were buying a luxury item of clothing, would you rather pay for the brand or pay for the material and skill that’s gone into making it?

A New Way of Talking about Luxury

I recently stayed in Santani, a wellness retreat in Sri Lanka where the founder, Vickum Nawagamuwage gave me his take on what luxury means in 2017.

Today, luxury is the chance to switch off and actually escape from it all. We live in a time where we’re defined by our connectivity. We’re always online, always checking emails… Luxury is taking the time to step away from that for any period of time to focus on enjoying yourself.

Rather than focusing on the material side of luxury, Nawagamuwage looks at luxury as an overall experience. This is what has catapulted Santani to the top of the Conde Nast Travel Awards less than a year since it opened. I think we’ll see more and more properties focusing on Nawagamuwage’s kind of luxury. In the meantime though, I’ll stick with calling The Discoveries Of a luxury and adventure travel magazine and be done with that.

How would you define luxury? Would love to hear your thoughts. You can tweet me at Julianna Barnaby or leave a comment.