Doug Logan

Destination Hotels in Tough Markets: Standing Out from the Crowd

Destination hotels bring unmatched style and sophistication to every aspect of the tourist experience. Often, however, we've mistakenly assumed that true luxury is only available in select locations or for specific types of travelers. That's beginning to change, however, as vacationers from all walks of life express a clear desire for unique experiences that draw on the power of the unexpected.

This was clearly evident in survey results from, which suggest that nearly three-quarters of travelers want to explore beyond their comfort zone — but that the vast majority also crave luxury and rejuvenation. Increasingly, this means seeking out unique destinations and experiences. These are often found stateside, in regions once derisively referred to as 'flyover country.' Others may be found abroad, in nations or cities that were once lost in the shuffle as travelers focused on their better-known neighbors.

These days, travelers recognize that the appeal of a luxury vacation lies in its ability to provide a much-needed escape from the stresses of daily life. This escape doesn't necessarily need to be found on a white sand beach or in a cosmopolitan location. Often, overlooked locations are just as luxurious — and frequently, far more serene.

As tourists express an increased interest in hidden gem destinations, travel businesses are clamoring to accommodate this sudden rise in demand. Many are realizing that the very qualities that make certain markets seem 'tough' actually provide a world of opportunities that would not be available in more conventional locations.

These provide an exciting chance to appeal to often underserved markets, including tourists who have previously been reluctant to treat themselves to luxury experiences. Below, we've highlighted a few intriguing ways that destination hotels and other travel businesses are providing curated experiences that go beyond outdated concepts of luxury.

Draw on the Appeal of Rustic Chic

Many guests crave luxury but also desire the coziness of a rustic design. Backwoods luxury resorts deliver the best of both worlds: the ability to escape real life, but also, curated experiences and luxury finishes that wouldn't be available in a 'typical' woodsy cabin.

Justin Trails Resort

In Wisconsin's Driftless Region, the Justin Trails Resort highlights the power of the luxury rustic concept. Self-described as an eco-luxury resort, this comprehensive location offers something for every type of traveler: cozy (yet upscale) cabins for couples who crave privacy, as well as fancier furnishings for visitors who wish to combine the best of rustic charm with personal pampering.

Elk Ridge Resort

Saskatchewan's Elk Ridge Resort brings a glamorous edge to the rustic aesthetic. This remarkable resort has it all: golf, hockey, and even a serene spa for unwinding after an active day. It's situated in one of Canada's most underrated provinces, but it leans into the local beauty to show tourists what they've been missing during their more conventional vacations.

Join the Far-Reaching World of Wine Tourism

Luxury travelers love the idea of sipping on fine wines, but many now realize that they don't need to visit Napa or Bordeaux to do so. Underrated wine destinations can be far more enjoyable. The wine is still fantastic — and the tasting experience feels a lot more relaxing. Many hotels have leaned into this growing niche, making it easy for wine tourists to explore unexpected but decidedly delightful destinations.

Chateau Elan Winery & Resort

An impressive example of a wine-based resort done well can be found in the town of Braselton, which is nearly an hour from Atlanta. Known as the Chateau Elan Winery & Resort, this elegant enclave is quickly emerging as an elite wine-tasting destination. Private villas and expansive suites bring the French country estate experience to the heart of Georgia.

The Chateau Elan Winery may be the main attraction, but the property has incorporated many other activities to achieve its reputation as a full-fledged destination. Steam rooms, championship golf, and painting classes ensure that luxury travelers are always smiling — even when they don't have a glass of wine in hand.

Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa

Texas Hill Country boasts a quickly growing wine scene. Many hospitality businesses are beginning to lean into this exciting opportunity.

Perhaps the most intriguing is the Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa. Its home turf of Johnson City has long been regarded as day trip territory, but this charming resort proves why visitors should spend a full vacation there: it provides a truly idyllic escape. Offering luxury villas, a bucolic vineyard, and a remarkable tasting room, this destination proves that luxury experiences can be cultivated anywhere imaginable.

Encourage Parents to Embrace Luxury

Luxury travel can be a struggle for parents, who crave the indulgent experiences of their younger years but also need to keep their kids entertained. Increasingly, destination resorts cater to these demands by providing an abundance of experiences that both kids and kids at heart can enjoy.

In their vision of vacation perfection, parents can sit back and enjoy handcrafted cocktails in an upscale setting. Some resorts even provide kid's clubs or childcare services, so parents can escape for a few hours and recapture the sophistication of child-free travel.

Often, these resorts are successful because they're located in underrated regions — certainly not in spite of these locations. Parents are relieved to escape the hustle and bustle of the busiest destinations, where chaotic airports or bumper-to-bumper traffic make what should be a relaxing visit feel more like work.

Great Wolf Lodge

Few family destinations are as recognizable or beloved as the Great Wolf Lodge, which boasts numerous hotels throughout the nation. While some of these are within an easy commute of major attractions, others appear, at first glance, to be less than idyllically located.

Despite this, these hotels never struggle to attract visitors — because the lodge itself is the attraction. From indoor waterparks to themed suites and onsite dining, these properties deliver everything that kids and parents could possibly want from a fun-filled getaway.

Germany & Austria's Kinder Hotels

Across the pond, the concept of child-centric luxury travel is alive and well. In Germany and Austria, family-friendly accommodations are frequently referred to as Kinder Hotels or Kinder Resorts. Kinder means children in German, so there's never any question as to who these resorts emphasize.

While some of these are situated in popular vacation towns typically deemed tourist traps, many can be found in unexpected locales, where parents are more intent on low-stress hotel experiences than on seeing specific sights.

In Germany, the perfect example is the Oberjoch Familux Resort, which brings families to Bad Hindelang. Offering care from friendly and highly trained 'kid coaches,' this resort gives parents the genuine relaxation they so desperately crave, as well as soothing spa treatments and lovely alpine views.

The Eden Resort

Typical visions of Amish Country include charming buggy rides and farm tours. These attractions are compelling, of course, but tourists who also want a taste of the finer life can experience just that at The Eden Resort.

Situated in the heart of Lancaster, this resort gives tourists the opportunity to relax in upscale settings while their young companions make the most of the Kids Water Zone and an onsite playground. It's an appealing option that many parents wouldn't expect to find in this seemingly quaint region.

Recapture the Golden Era of Luxury Train Travel

Some of the most luxurious tourist experiences occur while actively traveling to a new location. Luxury airlines immediately come to mind, but the classic railroad should not be discounted.

Many travelers are happy to skip crowded airports in favor of a more relaxed, and often, more luxurious approach to travel. Offering spectacular views of mountains, valleys, and the coast, these trains add gourmet meals and even live entertainment to create a travel experience like no other. Overnight options replace conventional hotel visits altogether, offering a far more memorable (but equally relaxing) experience.

In South Africa, The Blue Train brings upscale appointments to the overnight concept, delivering awe-inspiring views during its exclusive 31-hour journey. Across the globe, The Canadian takes train enthusiasts from Toronto to Vancouver in a four-day expedition to remember. The Canadian's Prestige Class appeals to luxury-minded travelers, who enjoy access to a personal concierge and even turndown service.

Entering a New Era of Luxury Travel

These days, there's a lot more to luxury travel than simply hitting the most iconic destinations. In the hospitality industry, true luxury means escape. This can take many forms and can occur in almost any region imaginable.

Moving forward, the most successful travel companies will go beyond the expected by emphasizing underrated destinations or appealing to new target markets. Opportunity abounds within the most unexpected niches — and the businesses that embrace this emerging appreciation for luxurious hidden gems will be poised to take the industry in an exciting new direction.

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