It is becoming quite clear that Asia Pacific luxury market is no longer dominated by China like what happened in the past since its first boom. During the opening of ILTM Asia Pacific, Lucy McCabe, president of OgilvyRed of Asia Pacific stated that there is an exponential rise from Southeast Asia luxury market that comes with very different expectations. The luxury market blurs lines between mass and affordable luxury and between travel types, with categories like business and leisure overlapping more than ever before. Also with the existing of a generation of affluent travellers, will definitely bring very different demands, needs and expectations.
The design focus is becoming one of the topics that ILTM Asia Pacific brings into the limelight, especially with the growth of new generation travellers that have a high design aesthetic interest in choosing accommodation. Architect Alvin Huang who was one of the speakers during the opening forum brought this particular topic on “The Future Of: Design as a Destination”. As the founder and design principal of multi-award-winning experimental design firm Synthesis Design + Architecture, Alvin Huang put the emphasis on why design is going to shape the future of travel through the sophistication of technology and the global changes of lifestyle that we know of.
From the hotel industry itself, this first ILTM Asia Pacific was their chance to showcase the uniqueness of each of their properties. The soon-to-open Waldorf Astoria Bangkok for example, did an excellent job to sell the design of the highly anticipated 171-key luxury hotel by bringing Andre Fu, the award-winning architect who is designing the hotel to the morning breakfast event. Not only that we are wowed by the subtle touches of Thai motifs that are infused throughout the lavish accommodations, public and event spaces, but it is also quite fascinating to hear Andre explain it directly.
With respect to hotel designers, Bill Bensley is one that has received great fame thanks to his numerous hotel projects. He’s also given credit for bringing the concept of luxury tent back into the limelight. The designer who is known for his no boundaries style started his first tent project in 2006 with Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Thailand. Learning from the successful result of this concept, he started to replicate similar approach in developments in the Southeast Asia Region, including the newly open Capella Ubud, Rosewood Luang Prabang, and soon-to-open Shinta Mani Wild that will be part of The Bensley Collection.
On the classic and grand design, the travelling industry is very excited about the birth of Set Hotels third properties in the world called Hotel Lutetia. Opened in the second week of July this year, the hotel building that has existed since 1910 was transformed into its brand new state by world-renowned architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s firm. It is a legendary 21st Century hotel where Art Deco and Art Nouveau architectural elements from the past blend with contemporary design.
In conclusion, it’s refreshing to see ILTM Asia Pacific’s recognition of the importance of design in the whole luxury travel industry as both will soon be seen as one.