Luxury as a word has become too broad these days. It’s as though it needs to be replaced with other words to explain how special a place can be. But what defines a true luxury hotel?
Having travelled the world from the USA where our career started to Europe, Asia and Middle East with our home base in Mallorca, it’s apparent that over the years what used to be luxury in hotels is now standard in most cases. These days having a great sleeping experience, combined with the best rain shower and of course that morning coffee at your fingertips, isn’t enough to justify calling it luxurious.
What defines a true Luxury Hotel?
What makes a hotel a luxury one is really how personalised the experience of one’s stay is from start to finish. How much can a hotel get to know upcoming guests, become acquainted enough with them during the stay to become friends and to ensure that they return again as family?
Another element that differentiates a luxury hotel is the level of authenticity and connection to the local scene and its people. These people add the character, story and experience besides the basic standards of quality. Imagine being invited into someone’s home for dinner when you truly are a ‘guiri’ (foreigner) and being able to learn the secret recipes of grandma’s cooking. That’s how hospitality started when that first innkeeper opened his doors up to strangers. Today it’s sought out and considered to be a luxury.
Fundamental luxuries in a hotel are the breakfast and honouring the local and seasonal food that one might not find back home. This is a basic and if it’s not 100% covered the luxury unfortunately gets lost.
Mallorca’s Luxury Hotels
In Mallorca, the hotel scene has taken an amazing turn thanks to forward thinkers like Purohotel and Hotel Tres. They were the island’s pioneers of boutique hotels. Today luxury hotels have a complete offer from a variety of rooms to suites and even some apartments. In most cases they also feature rooftop, outdoor and indoor pools and a spa. In addition, most have a bar and a choice of restaurants like Hotel Sant Francesc. It has opened its rooftop terrace to a sushi restaurant.
A hotel’s facilities are key elements of luxury. Most have wellness areas and offer massages. One example of a hotel with a world class spa is Castell Son Claret in Es Capdellà. It offers spectacular suites with direct access to a private garden, sun deck and pool. Guests can enjoy the spa either indoors or outdoors. Afterwards there are picnics available.
A new player on the block in Palma, Es Princep, follows the principle of unique luxury meeting Mallorcan charm. It has a top spa to compliment its 68 rooms and suites. Cocô Spa Oasis offers you the opportunity to personalise your treatment with the use of its unique brand by Anne Semonin besides its signature body scrubs and massages.
The Details make the Difference
There are different ways of maintaining the idea of luxury. If you were to reserve a room in any of Mallorca’s top hotels you would have some sort of luxury brand or product associated with your luxurious experience besides top service and facilities.
Take for example Summum Prime Boutique Hotel that opened last December. Parietti Suite with its majestic 50m² room, king size bed and a luxurious bathroom preserves the essence of the historic Ca’n Berga Palace. In addition to enjoying the exclusive design and soul of this suite at your disposal is a Porsche Macan S that you can use freely during your stay.
If you were to reserve the Presidential Suite at Belmond La Residencia in Deià, you would enjoy a spectacular setting with its ample living space, a 200m² terrace with private swimming pool and breakfast on offer. The hotel furthermore offers a unique experience of riding donkeys to the estate’s back country with a picnic. The luxury of this hotel lies in the space, the views and the charm Deià has to offer.
More luxurious Details
Because quality lies in the details Hotel Formentor, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, offers its guests all imaginable services that can be expected from a great luxury hotel. For a good night’s sleep, at Hotel Formentor guests can choose their own pillow. One that most resembles the one they use at home. The hotel also offers an express service that provides guests who have lost their luggage with everything they need in less than 12 hours. For added convenience before departure they also have a suitcase packing service.
Park Hyatt Mallorca offers with Hyatt E-Concierge a unique online service. It helps demanding clients customise their trip, save time and create unforgettable experiences. Guests can book and schedule special room requests, spa treatments, restaurant reservations, golf lessons, activities, transportation and more in advance. The personal service fulfils all requests within 24 hours.
Luxury in international Hotels
On another level of luxury, the probably most opulent hotel in the world, Burj al Arab in Dubai, has created an abundance of dreamlike offers. These include massages with tantalising aromas or a stay in a glamorous duplex suite. You can also enjoy transfers in a Rolls Royce Phantom and meals in one of the hotel’s exclusive restaurants. On the other hand, the Peninsula Hong Kong and Bangkok offer a helicopter transfer from the airport to the hotels’ very own helipads. With a butler check in and on call 24/7.
So what defines a true luxury hotel? No matter how great the luxuries are and what wonders they provide. It’s the service that really makes a place extraordinary. A hotel can’t be exclusively about design or a product. It has to provide for all the different elements that make up a journey. And the one that’s the most vital is the service component.
About the writer Olivier Heuchenne
Olivier Heuchenne is part of Heuchenne Bauge, a boutique hospitality consultancy based in Mallorca. Their team is made up of a Belgo-Swedish power couple passionate about hotels, service, discovery, travel and people. Consulting in hotel projects, representing luxury holiday villa rentals, crafting local experiences and conducting mystery shopping and training. They become an extension of your team and provide advisory with an insider view.
Photos by Pernilla Danielsson taken at Park Hyatt Mallorca.