Bonding generations

Regional industry players are fine-tuning offerings to welcome a growing number of multigenerational groups from high-end longhaul markets

Greater connectivity and safety, and a wider range of family-friendly options could be some of the pull factors drawing the segment to Asia

From exclusive private islands and spacious villas to luxurious itineraries designed to cater for children through to grandparents, the region’s upmarket travel companies are eyeing the rise in longhaul multigenerational bookings.

Greater connectivity and safety, and a wider range of family-friendly options could be some of the pull factors drawing the segment to Asia

Generations of family members travelling together has continued to be a significant trend in luxury travel, making the top observation in Virtuoso’s Luxe Report for five straight years.

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, travel consultancy Strategic Vision’s annual Pulse of the Industry Survey 2020 found 81 per cent of the top luxury travel executives surveyed expected to see a surge in interest in multigenerational travel in 2020 and beyond.

Tailored experiences
Nicky Thongpunparn, director-sales, ICS Travel Group, shared that multigenerational travel has always been popular with the Asian market. However, she has seen an increase in longhaul bookings – particularly from the US.

Nicky’s company offers customised itineraries for well-heeled travellers through its premium brand, STYLE by ICS.

Recently, STYLE by ICS designed an itinerary for a family of 15 from the US who chose Thailand as for their vacation.

The itinerary involved luxurious private accommodation as well as curated experiences – cooking classes, picnics on the beach, and excursions to the countryside.

Nicky observed that travellers in the segment are looking for spacious villas, educational sight-seeing experiences, and the opportunity to forge lasting family memories.

Hospitable response
The segment’s interest in Asia has also not escaped the notice of Martin Koerner, group director-sales, marketing and distribution, The Anam.

Since the upmarket, 213-key resort opened in April 2017 at Cam Ranh on the central Vietnamese coast, Koerner has been seeing a “steady increase” in large family and multigenerational bookings from longhaul markets.

This prompted The Anam to launch its Family is Everything package in February. It combined a stay in one of the resorts’ two-storey Family Hall Villas and a wide range of culinary and recreational experiences for all ages.

The Anam is one among many accommodations that have been tracking and responding to the preferences of the segment.

Simona Chimenti, general manager, The Pavilions Bali – a boutique retreat with 24 traditional-style villas – noted that the segment would opt for beachside resorts with a kids’ club in the past. Parents would drop children off at the club and head to other sights and activities by themselves.

“Now, it’s about wanting to spend quality time with kids and (the rest of the) family. They want to be together in a boutique resort, experiencing things together and creating common memories,” observed Chimenti.

Drivers of growth
Koerner attributes the rise in bookings from the segment to three factors: more connectivity; wealthier, healthier, and more active retirees; as well as the wider availability of family-friendly options.

Commenting on the work Vietnam has put in for the last factor, he said: “Once the realm of intrepid backpackers, the destination is now on the luxury travel map and lends itself to extraordinary family experiences.”

For Andreas Grosskinsky, general manager, Destination Asia Indonesia, increased safety in the region has encouraged multigenerational groups planning longhaul trips to consider Asia.

Paradise dreams
It remains to be seen how important privacy will be for the segment. Some families have, after all, chosen to reserve an entire island.

Over at the Philippines’ North-eastern Palawan, multigenerational groups have been travelling to Banwa Private Island since its opening in 2019, shared Robert John Horrigan, CEO, Aquos Management, the company behind Banwa’s operations.

He shared that some of these groups booked out Banwa, which is able to cater for 48 pax at a time.

According to Horrigan, the Middle East is the top longhaul market for the island located in one of the Sulu Sea’s protected marine areas.

At Banwa, families are offered activities such as scuba diving at the famed Tubbataha Reef – accessible via a day cruise – and stargazing.

The segment’s influence cannot be underestimated.

“We are seeing a lot of bookings (where all three generations are) travelling together, wanting to share the ultimate experience. This is becoming a big thing,” Horrigan remarked.

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