Image: The Brando
A “seven-star” property. As of now, this designation for a resort, hotel, destination, etc. exists only fictitiously, used most often by travel writers/editors such as myself to describe an absolutely over-the-top, unparalleled property—because at this point in time, ratings systems utilized by governments and hospitality associations worldwide do not go higher than five stars. But as drivers like online review sites, social media, and a growing audience of affluent travelers up the ante for “experiences far beyond five-star ratings,” we’re seeing not only new definitions of luxury but “new hospitality ratings [that] go beyond traditional star rankings as the only measure of quality,” reports our 2015 Global Spa & Wellness Trends Forecast.
So what can this mean for the spa and wellness world and for those who love to travel? For starters, we’ll witness the coming of more out-of-the-box spas, hotels, resorts, and destinations. “The luxury travel industry will be challenged to top itself with even more spectacular offerings and experiences. We see a future where five-star becomes the new baseline, as consumers redefine the stars in their eyes,” the trends report says. And in fact, travelers are experiencing that already—the following are among the ever-increasing number of properties with indescribable designs, locations, and services:
- Legend has it that UAE’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah was the one to inspire the “seven-star” property recognition. Designed in the shape of a sailboat billowing in the wind, the extravagant hotel offers guests lavish amenities like a private beach, optional chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, all-suite accommodations, and a host of personal butlers.
- The other-worldly Antara Palace in Cyprus—with its private cinema, spa, marble sculptures, fresco- and silk-covered walls, and 32-karat-gold leafing over 43,000 square feet—is available for private booking.
- The Brando resort, Marlon Brando’s baby, resides on French Polynesia’s stunningly exquisite private island of Tetiaroa, 30 miles northeast of Tahiti. Seclusion comes in droves; accessible via private plane, the resort has just 35 beachfront villas and provides intimate offerings from couple’s spa treatments in a palm tree-hung suite to private chats with scientists exploring the onsite marine mammal sanctuary.
- Face skyward and truly discover how “beyond the stars” can translate at Thailand’s InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort: Here you’ll find open-air restaurants, garden bathrooms where you can watch the full moon while you shower, and an observatory with telescopes for star-spotting.
- The Maharaja of Jaipur commissioned Jaipur, India’s SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace as a private residence in 1729. It became a hotel 35 years ago and a recent makeover led by designer Adil Ahmad brought in splashy design elements like countless different wallpapers, ornate chandeliers, and items from the royal family.
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