What Is Luxury?
“I love luxury. And luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity. Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the game to fight it.” Coco Chanel
My husband and I were chatting and he said, "you need to write a blog giving the definition for luxury. People may not know what you mean by that." I thought about it and determined he is right. Luxury is kind of an abstract. You may not know how to define it but you know it when you see it. And, luxury means something different for me than it does for you. For me luxury is the ability to do what I want to do in the manner I choose to do it. For others it's having the time to go where they want to go when they want to go. For still others it means having the money to go and do and see what ever their money can afford them while having the ultimate 5-Star experience.
So how do we define luxury when we are talking about travel? I think it's more than what we would have used as descriptors three or even two decades ago like "Five Star", "1200 thread count", "goose down pillows" or even the word "luxury" itself. Today luxury is about the ability to have what you want, when you want it, how you want it. Luxury is about an experience not just a rating or thread count. Don't get me wrong, I don't discount any of those things, I just don't believe those are the only factors that determine true luxury. Luxury is the ability to live like a local while not being local. Luxury is eating where locals eat and going to little known pubs and bars where locals are. Luxury is about sampling local cuisines, wines and beers while listening to local bands. Luxury is no longer about being confined to your resort with white glove service while you lounge on the beach sipping some adult beverage. Luxury has evolved from my mothers view through the lens of the opening scene of Dynasty and status symbols to the millennial worldview which places high value on experiences such as travel and dining at a farm-to-table establishments. Each generation defines what luxury is to them. That's the only way to keep the idea of what luxury is from becoming counterfeit and staying relevant to those who seek it.
One example of luxury that clearly comes to mind is a client who wanted to travel with her daughter and son-in-law throughout Italy and end their travels in Paris. I crafted the perfect itinerary for them. I made relevant suggestions based on their interests and we arranged a dining experience with a chef, entrance to attractions that were high on their priority list as well as leaving room to "get lost" and explore my "must-sees" that were based on their interests, and not necessarily on some best-of or top-10 list you can find from an internet search. Did I customize a luxury experience? You bet I did. The focus of luxury should never revolve around a certain dollar amount but rather a high experience value.
I'll even admit, I had a difficult time finding the right picture for this blogpost to convey what I picture in my minds eye when I think about luxury and the feelings that surround it. The lines of luxury have blurred in our very social age of Instagram, SnapChat and Twitter. Social businesses such as AirBnB have changed our expectations of luxury and what to expect out of our perceived notions of luxury. We are all forced to challenge the status quo of our grandparents definition of luxury to find a meaning that resonates within each of us. Luxury can and should be whatever you need it to be in that moment. More importantly, luxury is having someone else take care of all the details for you.
True luxury has an authenticity that can't be replicated that you create for yourself every single day. And that's how I define luxury.