The Gap Between Luxury and Budget Travel is Larger Than Ever

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Photo Courtesy of St. Regis Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Photo Courtesy of St. Regis, Abu Dhabi

There has never been a larger gap between the high-end luxury market, and budget travel sector as what we are experiencing currently. At least thats the contention of a recent article from the Associated Press, which took an in-depth look at how shifting trends in the demand for accommodations is changing the way the ultra-rich, and budget-conscious are traveling. Considering the incredibly wide range of options that are available on both ends of the spectrum, it is hard to argue that there has ever been a bigger disparity between these two very different types of travel.

On a global scale, there are now more people traveling than at any time in the past. A growing middle class in places like China and India has made for a much larger group of international travelers, and as a result, hotels and resorts are attempting to offer something that can accommodate nearly ever budget. For most of us, that means a fairly nice, comfortable, and clean room, with few frills, priced to meet our needs. But for wealthy travelers, that translates into lavish multi-room suites with private entrances, personal staff, and access to amenities that the rest of us don’t even know exist. The AP article notes that it is not uncommon for well-heeled tourists from Russia, the Middle East, Brazil, and other countries to spend $20,000 per night on luxury accommodations that are beyond the wildest dreams of most travelers.

At the other end of the spectrum, the budget traveler has some interesting options at their disposal as well, although they aren’t nearly as glamorous. The Internet and smartphone apps have made it easier than ever to find alternative accommodations while traveling, and trends such as couchsurfing – or the use of a service such as Airbnb –  has completely changed the landscape for those looking to save some money on their next vacation. Hotels have countered these trends by selling basic rooms at a discount, although travelers sometimes need to be opportunistic in finding those bargains, or risk having the rooms sell out quickly. Offering perks such as free breakfast and WiFi also help sweeten the deal for budget travelers.

Photo Courtesy of the St. Regis Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Photo Courtesy of the St. Regis Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Those amenities pale in comparison to the luxury offerings that the wealthy have to choose from however. For instance, a certain suite at the Four Seasons in Vail, Colorado – one of the top ski destinations in the world – goes for $15,000 per night and includes six bedrooms, three living rooms, a media room, and more. It even comes with a dedicated member of the staff who has been assigned to the guests residing in the suite, helping them to arrange private ski lessons, schedule airport transfers, and meet what ever other needs might arise.

The gap between the budget traveler sleeping on a stranger’s couch, and the super-wealthy business man staying in a suite, such as the one described above, is massive. But at the end of the day, we are all still travelers, even if our experiences are a bit different. Sure, the ultra-rich have access to posh accommodations that the vast majority of us can’t afford, but the other budget-friendly options that are available have made it easier than ever to afford to travel. The gap between the two experiences may be larger than ever, but no matter where you want to go these days, chances are there are accommodations that can meet your needs, and at a price you can afford.

About the Author: Kraig Becker

Kraig Becker is a freelance outdoor and adventure travel writer who covers extreme sports, mountaineering and active travel. Based out of Austin, TX he writes about his own travels while encouraging others to seek their own opportunities for adventure where ever they go.

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