International luxury travel network Virtuoso are trend forecasters. They examine what their customers have booked in advance, and then let us know what destinations are going to explode, months before it happens.
They have just done another mine of their data for the upcoming summer travel period. This window of time sees $35 billion in transactions take place in travel bookings. Most of their customers live in the U.S.A or in Canada. And their customers have money. Lots of money. Virtuoso provides its upscale clientele with exclusive amenities, rare experiences and privileged access. These customers are fancy pantses and they want to bring their money to Ireland. Come on over fancy pantses!
These upscale jetsetters are as enthralled as ever with European favourites for summer holidays, like Paris. But blazing up the chart are two newbies: Africa and Ireland.
The Virtuoso Hot 10
Below are the countries that have seen the largest percentage of growth in year-over-year bookings.
|1. Tanzania (+98%)||6. Russia (+44%)|
|2. Portugal (+88%)||7. Netherlands (+38%)|
|3. Ireland (+58%)||8. Jamaica (+28%)|
|4. Brazil (+53%)||9. Sweden (+23%)|
|5. Mexico (+48%)||10. Poland (+18%)|
Africa is hot, with a 15 percent increase in travel to the continent. Tanzania is experiencing a huge rise in bookings, as travellers seek out its incredible scenery and diversity of wildlife in new luxury settings.
South Africa is also up from 2015’s summer bookings; together the two countries represent 80 percent of Virtuoso’s travel to Africa.
Portugal is also up significantly, with travel to the Azores of particular interest. Its hotel rates are also favourable for travellers at 58 percent lower than the European average. So it’s a good price for a lot of luxury. Of the European countries, it’s exhibiting the strongest growth, although Ireland is rising fast.
Ireland’s room rates are 31 percent lower than the European average, leading it to see a 58 percent jump in bookings. Travellers visiting Ireland are flocking to Dublin and Galway in particular, along with County Laois in the centre of the country.
Why Laois? The 5-star Ballyfin Estate. Richies love this stuff. This ultra-luxe resort is a lavish 1820s manor on 614 acres. Among the outdoor activities offered is coarse fishing on the lake, which has a large stock of roach and pike. You can also take part in croquet, clay pigeon shooting, tennis, archery and falconry. The 20 rooms feature opulent Georgian decor and antique furnishings. Most rooms have fine art and many have lake views. There’s a formal dining room, and an intimate wine bar, plus an indoor pool, 6 art-rich parlours, a library and billiards. And it has a casual whiskey bar. Anywhere that has a casual whiskey bar is all good with us.
At Ballyfin, you can ever star in your own period drama. Americans love this shiz! With the backdrop of Ballyfin (one of the most lavish regency mansions in Ireland) and a stunning collection of period costumes (from the Lyric Opera Company in Chicago – one of the best opera companies in the world) – you now can pretend you are a lord or lady. Or the scullery maid, if you are into that kind of thing. You and your group all dress up and have a splendid evening with a fine banquet and entertainment. And it has photographers, because if it’s not on social media then it didn’t happen.
Ireland is now sitting at the number six slot for the most popular destinations for moneyed North Americans for summer holidays.
|1. Italy||6. Ireland|
|2. United Kingdom||7. Germany|
|3. France||8. South Africa|
|4. Spain||9. Greece|
|5. Netherlands||10. Israel|
France has rebounded nicely and remains strong, despite the terrorist atrocities of 2015. Brazil saw a big boost due to the Summer Olympics, held a few years ago. Mexico and Jamaica, more typical winter travel destinations, are benefiting from new inexpensive direct flights from the United States as well as reasonable hotel rates.
Overall, European countries offering great value to travellers are seeing spikes. So if you own a Father-Ted-esque B&B, perhaps it is time to burn it all down and build a luxury 5-star hotel in its place. Don’t forget the pet falcons, darling!