To understand the modernization of luxury in the hospitality and tourism industry and to then apply it to the Caribbean, one must first understand what luxury really is. Whether it’s the craftsmanship involved when artists create beautiful objects or services in a hotel – luxury in the hospitality industry means having a passion for delivering the best. It’s more than just fancy fixtures or gilded mirrors, it’s the highest level of excellence in all facets of the experience.
In the beginning it was exemplified through the ancient wonders of the world (think: the pyramids) and luxury was a way to create social stratification. Luxury was the the privilege of a few and that vision of luxury carried through the ages until the concept became westernized in France during the 17th and 18th centuries. There and then, luxury was codified into a type of lifestyle.
In postmodern times like these, the concept of luxury has become democratized as middle and upper middle class people indulge in luxury goods and services.
While luxury indulgences are still a way for people to showcase their successes and create social stratification, for the first time luxury has become more individualistic and less codified. In other words, luxury is no longer an island. Luxury in the postmodern world is now defined by the customers, not society, and expressed through personal appreciation. The movement of luxury consumption from social to personal shows a movement from recognition and distinction to one of emotional connection.
In terms of how the modernization of the luxury concept affects the hospitality and tourism industry in the Caribbean it means that luxury travelers are seeking things that cannot be replicated. They seek one-of-a-kind experiences, in one-of-a-kind resorts, in places that are culturally unique and they expect the highest level of individualized service possible.
With regards to the democratization of luxury, even if you’re a three-star hotel, creating attainable luxurious experiences that travelers can select is a great way to create individuality and therefore a sense luxury for all of your guests.