In the world of travel today, the powerful meaning of the words LUXURY and DELUXE when applied to hotels, tours, and cruises is being rapidly diminished. And that makes me mad as hell!
Here I’m going to give you several examples of the blatent, and sometimes deliberate misuse of these words by some of the biggest names in the travel industry. And in a later blog I’ll look at what really does constitute LUXURY and DELUXE.
Yes I may be fighting a real uphill battle here, but by pointing out what is going on I may save some travellers from possible serious disappointment.
Firstly, what do the terms LUXURY AND DELUXE mean to most of us? I would suggest that we envisage the ultimate, the absolute very best. If the terms are applied to hotels, then I would expect 5-star hotels. If applied to tours, cruises, or rail journeys, then the accommodation again has to be 5-star, and the services, sightseeing, and meals should be superb.
Someone recently said to me that they felt that DELUXE also applied to 4-star standard, but I cannot accept that. Twist my arm, and I may accept it for a very special, excellent, superior 4-star accommodation. That’s it.
SOME RECENT EXAMPLES OF DELUXE AND LUXURY “OFFENCES”
1. Hotels themselves. It is common practice for some superior 4-star and 5-star hotels to call their cheapest leadin rooms DELUXE. Why? Because of the high regard with which they hold their own hotel, they cannot bring themselves to call them STANDARD rooms. The rooms may be OK 4-star, but that is it. So if you are looking at booking into a LUXURY or DELUXE hotel, take a very good look at what you are going to get. I wouldn’t want the worst room in the best hotel.
2. Hotel and Resort packages offered each weekend in the newspaper travel supplements by well known travel companies selling what they claim is LUXURY accommodation. Here are a few fairly recent ones.
a. Arbor Hyde Park Hotel, London. Club Double Room $999 for 3 nights – cheap enough for London. And it looks ok as a modern 4-star conversion of a traditional building at Bayswater, but nothing special. See the picture below. LUXURY? No way!
The Ritz, Savoy, Dorchester, Brown’s, Connaught…That’s London LUXURY.
b. Angourie Rainforest Resort at Yamba NSW is being sold as LUXURY. I know it well having stayed there a few times. I quite like for an overnight passing through, and it’s OK at the right price. It’s a bit tired. service slapdash most of the time, and I would say a basic 4-star. And from the reviews on TripAdvisor from disappointed past guests there are very many who agree with me. A LUXURY escape it aint! See below – you be the judge.
c. Heron Island. This is without doubt one of the most amazing places on earth for its coral, fish, turtles and birdlife. I love it and have been there a number of times, so I know it well. I always stay in the Reef Rooms which are a good 3-star standard, each with a balcony with a view of the coral enclosed lagoon. However the cheapest rooms are the Turtle Rooms, which are a basic 3-star set back amongst the trees with no view – not somewhere that that I would want to stay. But these rooms were recently advertised nationally as a LUXURY escape. TOTAL NONSENSE. Anyone who bought this package will be sadly disappointed and no doubt very upset.
And to make it worse, the resort is now very poorly managed with many savage comments on TripAdvisor about the staff, the poor food, room cleanliness, poorly organized diving trips – the list goes on and on. And I totally agree after my experiences last year. I hope that you didn’t pay big money for this LUXURY holiday below.
2. Tour Packages. This example came to me today – 8 DAY LUXURY COACH TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND – from a very well known operator. To be fair the operator wasn’t claiming it to be luxury, but the on-line seller advertising the tour definitely is. When I looked in detail at it I saw firstly that it wasn’t cheap – $2969 or about $370 a day. But then I looked at the hotels. There were some standard 4-star hotels like Rydges, Rendezvous and Mercure, but also a fairly ordinary looking 4-star hotel in Rotorua, and a 3-star Ibis Hotel in Wellington! The hotel rooms look fine but LUXURY they aint. You be the judge.
3. Luxury Trans- Siberian Rail Journey. This one was advertised nationally by a rapidly rising, very prominent travel company in the weekend travel supplements. They are a serial offender when it comes to misrepresentation, but on this occasion they really excelled themselves!
LUXURY TRANS-SIBERIAN RAIL JOURNEY FROM $8999 – 17 days (including flights). WOW.
I know the Trans-Siberian Rail Journey intimately, and personally compose my own independent programs. I also work closely with the real luxury Trans-Siberian rail company – the Golden Eagle, which is at least twice this cost. So I rang the company advertising this amazing DEAL.
I spoke to a consultant who knew little, but she told me that it was operated by a Russian company with which I am familiar. The accommodation in Moscow and Beijing (4 nts total) was definitely luxury 5-star. Great. But then there are 11 nights on Russian, Chinese and Mongolian trains. So I asked for details – ” I assume that the compartments have ensuite bathrooms? ” I said knowing full well they didn’t. She assured me they did!! But I asked her to check.
Five minutes later she came back to confirm what I already knew. There are 8 compartments per carriage, all sharing one toilet with a basin, and one shower room at the end of the carriage. This supposed to be LUXURY? I call it total BULLSHIT. Oops sorry.
Here is a picture of a typical two berth compartment on Russian/Chinese railways. If you have bought this LUXURY Trans-Siberian rail journey then you now know what you have bought. Next time ask more questions about what you are buying. So here is HOME for 11 nights – with a toilet and shower room shared with 7 other compartments. LUXURY?
4. Deluxe River Cruise. This one I have the Insider knowledge because we were the wholesale supplier of the product to the Australian travel company. So this is the gospel truth!!! By the way, it is the same company as in the previous example of the ” Luxury ” Trans- Siberian rail journey. They are serial offenders.
I was approached by this company in 2015 to supply a sustantial number of twin cabins on a 3-star Russian river cruise ship in 2016, on 3 separate departures. I gave them a nett wholesale price, comprehensive details about the ship, and a series of photographs of the standard cabins, restaurant etc. I made it very clear that it was simply a good 3-star standard, and we put hundreds of satisfied pax on the ship each year.
To my horror. a couple of weeks later I opened the Sunday travel supplement of a national newspaper to see a full page advertisement describing it as a DELUXE Russian river cruise. I nearly died!!!!
On Monday I rang them and spoke to the person in charge of product/advertising asking why they had called it DELUXE. ” We call all our leadin product DELUXE”, she replied. I was gobsmacked! Neeedless to say it was the last time we did business with that company.
See your DELUXE cabin below.
CONCLUSION. As I said at the start, I may be fighting a losing battle here. Perhaps most people don’t care. However I am hearing more and more that some people are bitterly disappointed by their LUXURY or DELUXE holiday.
Yes there definitely are some LUXURY AND DELUXE bargains out there, but please read any cruise/tour/rail journey/hotel description very very carefully. And ask lots of questions if anything appears to be vague or lacking information. Never, never, jump in and impulse buy because it looks good on the surface.