Few locales are better suited for a conference on luxury travel than the Montreux Riviera. With an abundance of five-star superior hotels nestled in a resplendent landscape of crystalline lake and terraced vineyards against an Alpine backdrop, the picturesque region has attracted luxury travelers for more than a century.
Launched in 2013, Traveller Made hosted the second edition of its Luxury Travel Connection Forum at the five-star superior Fairmont le Montreux Palace. More than 500 participants from 48 countries convened at Le Petit Palais, the hotel’s in-house conference center for a two-day connection forum on the latest luxury travel trends and the future of bespoke travel. The conference was attended by 190 Traveller Made member agencies and 50 international journalists from Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Founded by CEO Quentin Desurmont, Traveller Made is a network community of luxury travel designers dedicated to creating exclusive travel experiences for clients of ultra high net worth (UHNW). With 420 hotel partners and 190 member agencies alongside 55 destination management companies, the Traveller Made community represents more than $1.4 billion in aggregated revenues.
With the expertise of travel designers such as Farewell Travels and Celestielle Travel whose primary focus is on customized global holidays, Traveller Made’s network community identified six emergent luxury travel trends, which include: private adventure travel, luxury expeditions, slow travel marked by detox, endangered flora and fauna travel, and spirituality travel. According to Traveller Made’s community, one of the top trends in hospitality is a customized sui generis experience.
According to research by Wealth-X, a global authority on wealth intelligence, there are currently more than 211,000 UHNW individuals with a combined net worth of $30 trillion. These individuals, who represent .004 percent of the world’s population, control 13% of the world’s wealth. With nearly 70,000 UHNW individuals, the United States contains the largest number of the ultra wealthy.
A conference on the “Essence of Luxury Travel” included speakers who focused on the new wealth’s values of sustainability and philanthropy, marked by companies such as Sarah’s Bag, founded in 2000, which trains underprivileged Lebanese women to create artisanal handbags.
According to Nathalie Remy, a principal in the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, millennials continue to impact the world’s wealth economy with phenomenal force. Born between 1980-2000, the Millennial Generation has unleashed global trends such as social networks, mobile payment, wearable tech—and music festivals. Social and connected, millennials are the major influencers of the “me-now” culture, with a desire for borderless environments and a values-driven authenticity—and a search for experience rather than product. As Remy noted, “Each millennial is like an entry door to their connections.” The millennial world is “me-spoke” as opposed to bespoke—and marked by personalized relationships.
Host hotels for this year’s Traveller Made Luxury Connection Forum included Le Mirador Resort & Spa atop Mount Pelerin, Hôtel des Trois Couronnes, Grand Hôtel du Lac, Grand Hôtel Suisse Majestic, and Fairmont le Montreux Palace, which hosted the annual Traveller Made Awards Gala Dinner for 400 guests at Le Petit Palais.
Approximately an hour’s ride from Geneva, Montreux is home to the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival, celebrating its 50th anniversary in July 2016, as well as numerous castles, including Chillon Castle, which served as the setting for Lord Byron’s “The Prisoner of Chillon.”
Long-time inhabitants of the Montreux Riviera have included Charlie Chaplin who lived for 25 years at le Manoir de Ban and Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, who lived in Belle Époque splendor atop Le Montreux Palace until his death in 1977. A lakeside statue of Freddie Mercury honors the musician who fell in love with Montreux while recording an album with his band Queen, while the gardens at Le Montreux Palace are filled with statues of Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and other jazz greats whose musical prowess has delighted music aficionados for decades.
Guests at the Traveller Made forum raised a toast to Montreux at Funky Claude’s Bar, named for Claude Nobs, the founder of the city’s Jazz Festival whose name is included in the lyrics to Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”