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Beyond Luxury: Defining luxury in the vacation rental sector

Discerning travellers seek out the finest travel experiences to enrich their life and collect lifelong memories. They might only account for 5% of the overall travel market but they are worth attracting and catering for if you have the right accommodation to meet their demanding needs.

Their spending is understandably high: statistics from the US show that American travellers spend $390 billion per year on leisure travel alone and they take more trips: up to 14 per year.

The luxury traveller has high expectations when booking accommodation and will often hire a concierge team or bespoke luxury travel company to filter out and shortlist the best accommodation choices for them.

They are passionate about work and travel and will often choose a vacation rental for leisure travel, so they have space to work during their stay.

Hosts that deliver the perfect guest experience for their niche tier will benefit from repeat bookings and peer recommendation. But how do you determine if your accommodation delivers what the luxury traveller is looking for when they book a vacation rental?

In the world of luxury travel there are three distinct tiers: luxury, top luxury and ultra luxury and each cater very specifically to a specific guest profile.

These three terms are often used to describe the very best vacation rentals in the world. Each must deliver a personalised experience for each guest stay.

The Sirreti List awards luxury rentals in the top and ultra luxury sector, with Silver and Gold status and an Award category, which gives an honourable mention to accommodation which doesn’t fit into the top two categories but excels in quality and the guest experience.

Let’s take a look at the expectations for each.

Luxury Vacation Rentals (Award)

The rental price is a good indicator of how luxurious the accommodation will be. Vacation rentals in the luxury market rent from around $10,000 to $25,000 per week.

The accommodation will be fitted with luxury brand appliances, furnishing and lighting, and the interior space created by an interior designer. Every detail inside and out is immaculate – from the towels and linen to the cinema screen TV.

Other indicators that the accommodation sits within the luxury segment is that the property is architect designed and built.

There should be plenty of space inside and out and it will have more bathrooms than bedrooms – every bedroom should be en-suite and then extra guest bathrooms close to the entertaining space and by the swimming pool.

Another important thing to consider is privacy and security. Two details that the luxury traveller will insist upon before booking accommodation.

Adding original artwork to a luxury vacation rental, something that stands out to make it unique is also a plus.

Top Luxury (Silver)

This adds an extra layer of refinement. It could be that the accommodation is both highly unique and exclusive: an historic castle, manorhouse or ultra-modern villa.

A top luxury guest will also expect additions to the home itself, such as a car, private beach access or on-demand housekeeper, concierge or chef.

Vacation rentals in the top luxury market are available from around $25,000 to $50,000 per week.

Ultra Luxury (Gold)

The Creme de la creme of private vacation homes. For the A-listers who want extremely rare accommodation that won’t typically be found in the mainstream market.

While luxury accommodation may describe the quality of the home and furnishing, these will largely go unmentioned in ultra-luxury accommodation descriptions. That is because it is taken for granted that the accommodation will have all the luxury fixtures and fittings – and then some.

The description is more likely to be about the experience. The accommodation will be off-market or black book; you are unlikely to find it on Airbnb or travel portals.

Ultra Luxury offers the height of privacy and exclusivity for those guests who have unlimited travel spend.Not only will the property be spectacular but the address will be the most exclusive within the destination.

Ultra luxury accommodation choices include renting a private island. Probably the best-known example of this is Richard Branson’s private Caribbean islands, Moskito Island and Necker Island, that can be rented for exclusive use.

The accommodation will have multiple full-time staff with a chef to provide Michelin star quality dishes, a housekeeper to attend to the guests every need, cleaners, gardens and a chauffeur.