What is luxury travel?  While luxury may be defined in the dictionary as the state of great comfort and extravagant living, people have different views of what those levels of comfort and living are.  From small boutique hotels to around the world trips on private planes, there are a lot of definitions of luxury tourism.  While a $20,000 trip may be standard to some, spending $500 a night for a hotel is the epitome of luxury to others.  Luxury is not just a price tag, but also a state of mind.  So, how do you define luxury?

what is luxury travel

Sunset at the Four Seasons Hualalai. Photo credit Sherry Wernicke, Luxe Traveling Mom.

I’ve written many articles about my amazing trip to Belcampo, Belize, but what surprised me most was how many people wanted to know how much it cost and what made it worth so much money.  The result was that what turned out to be not so expensive in my mind was shockingly expensive to many.  So, I started asking people to define what luxury travel meant to them and found out a lot about our different travel experiences.

Defining Luxury Travel

When I think of luxury travel, I think the best of the best where you are going.  Now, with that being said, people do have different definitions of the best.  We personally prefer boutique hotels and resorts or rentals where we have privacy.  We love great food, real experiences, and we do not like touristy anything.  Give me a comfy room that we can lounge around and hang out in and a staff that knows what they are doing any day.  But, there are plenty of people who prefer large hotels and resorts with a variety of restaurants and that’s their luxury.

The stage of your life also has a lot to do with how you define luxury.  When we were young, not making much money, and had twins, luxury was just getting away anywhere by ourselves, but within a budget we had defined.  As the kids got older and we had a higher income, our destinations and hotel choices changed commensurately.  Now, being empty nesters, we have notched it up another level with how we fly and what we have come to expect for our travel dollars.

how we define luxury travel

The Weekapaug Inn in Rhode Island. Photo credit Weekapaug Inn.

We travel for many different reasons, but no matter what, we look for what we want.  But even that comes with perspective and perception.  Recently, I read a review of a five star boutique hotel I have stayed at and loved.  The base price for a room is $515 and worth every penny for a variety of reasons.  Fast forward to the three negative reviews that all spoke about how expensive it was to stay there.  All three reviews expected “butler” type service for $515 a night.  I, on the other hand, would never have that expectation at that price, probably not even double that price.

There are many things to consider when you are paying for luxury tourism.  For instance, the location.  The cost of the same room with the same services in Jamaica will be way less than in New York City, simply because of the staffing costs, overhead, and cost of living.  And, where the Four Seasons brand may be luxury for one family, another may consider it a standard hotel.

Components of Luxury Travel

  • Type of lodging
  • Restaurants
  • Location
  • Amenities
  • Services
  • Variety of activities
  • Uniqueness of the property
  • What’s included in the price
  • How you define luxury based on your life experience

On our most recent trip, we spent a bit over $20,000 for two people for nine nights.  This was a fabulous trip with an amazing room, top notch service and food, and all the bells and whistles.  Here is how we spent the money.  And so you know, we have booked two additional trips back in the next nine months, because we love it so.

how we define luxury travel became belize

Boating at Belcampo Belize. Photo credit Dana Zucker, Luxe Traveling Mom.

The trip was to Belize for just hubby and myself.  We wanted to get away and relax and while he wanted to fly fish, I wanted to enjoy foodie activities, the spa, and a little snorkeling and fly fishing.  After speaking to the professionals at Orvis, we chose Belcampo Belize, who describe themselves as “agrotourism-chic” and “a sanctuary from everyday”.  Trust me, it truly is both.

Situated on a 12,000 acre nature preserve from the Maya Mountains to the Rio Grande which leads to the Caribbean Sea, our Ridge Suite had views of the mountains, the sea, holler monkeys, birds, and more.  Ninety percent of the food and drinks served are grown right there on the property and with only 16 suites, the attentiveness to each guest is unbelievable.

So, to us, the price tag for nine nights with six days of private guided fly fishing and all meals felt like a steal – don’t tell the management.  You must also take into consideration that the price was lower due to location as well.  Put this place in another part of the world where there is a higher cost for property and cost of living and we’re talking a lot more money.

how do you define luxury travel

The Cost of Luxury Travel

Here is the breakdown of my recent trip to Belize…

Lodging – $12,984

  • Private guided fly fishing
  • 3 meals a day
  • Air and land transfers from Belize International to Belcampo

Airfare – $1945

This was the total for two First/Business Class tickets from Omaha to Belize International with a change of planes in Houston.  Most of the time I book our own flights, but due to coordinating flights from domestic flights once in Belize, I reached out for help from my favorite travel agency, American Express.  They found our best option was on United.  The one thing we did not love about United for this trip was there is no true First Class; they use International Business Class, which is much like domestic First.

Drinks – $1000

Alcoholic drinks were not included in our package, but when we’re on vacation, we’re not skimping on cocktails. The wonderful cocktails at Belcampo were about $11 (US) each and the wine selection was unbelievable.  I would safely say our bar bill each day for a lunch cocktail, afternoon cocktail, and dinner drinks are about $100/day.

Experiences and Spa – $1183

One of the main reasons we chose Belcampo Belize is much like our other trips, the true authentic experiences. These are not jump on a bus with a bunch of people, but private experiences.  Here is what we did…

  • Bean to Bar Chocolate Class $70/person
  • Snorkel with the Chef and lunch $210/person
  • Sunset Cruise $50/person
  • Belcampo Belize Farm Tour $25
  • Toledo Spice and Farm Tour $135
  • Market Day in Punta Gorda $38
  • Massage $90
  • Signature Treatment $165
  • Facial $70
how we each define luxury travel spa treatment

Enjoying a spa treatment. Photo credit Dana Zucker, Luxe Traveling Mom.

Tipping – $2000

What was not included in these numbers – airport parking, dog boarding, shopping purchases, and anything we bought for the trip.

So, when you think luxury, think big and live big.  Your idea of luxury may be very different than mine and that’s absolutely fine.  Just remember to define your luxury as your own state of great comfort and extravagant living.