Luxury Travel:
How Do You Define It?

By Roy Stevenson

Luxury travel is one of the fastest growing forms of travel, and that makes it full of travel writing opportunities.  When you first think of luxury, you likely conjure up images of spas and resorts.  But luxury travel is much more diverse than that. 

Luxury travel marketing tip for travel writers.

I didn’t always write for the luxury market, and not everything I write today is for this market.  Early on, I was thrilled when someone provided me with only a low-budget  accommodation. 

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if you’re going to the trouble of traveling to a place and working while you’re there, as travel writers do, you may as well stay in luxurious places and then write about them. 

Luxury villa at Azur lodge in Queenstown, New Zealand.Luxury villa at Azur lodge in Queenstown, New Zealand.

What’s so great about writing about luxury travel?  Here are a few things that come to mind:

•    You get to stay at places you could never afford on a writers budget.
•    The beds are nice and soft, the amenities delightful.
•    You get to indulge your inner king or queen, if only for a few blissful days.
•    You may get to meet the world’s elite in their own habitat (bring some nice clothes).
•    The service is excellent, and sometimes you get your own personal butler and concierge.  (Often they provide you with services you didn’t even know you needed.)
•    It’s prestigious and we have great stories to tell other travel writers.
•    Luxury travel can be customized to the market you want to focus on.  It’s open for what you love doing, and where you love to travel. As long as it’s exclusive and upscale, someone wants to publish an article about it.

The Many (Pampered) Faces of Luxury Travel

Luxury travel might involve “taking the waters” in exclusive spas around the world and being pampered into a blissful coma with spa treatments.

It can be resort hopping from one high-end villa to the next and choosing the best of the batch for an article.

Chalkboard with our daily menu on the luxury barge cruise.

It could be relaxing on a luxury hotel barge cruise down a scenic canal in France, stopping off in pretty little cobble stone villages along the way to sample fine wines and delicious cheeses, and exploring ancient chateaus and castles.

It can be a rail tour on the world-famous Orient Express from Prague to London, dining on gourmet cuisine in an elegant dining car and sipping on Bellini’s in the afternoon. 

Or, it might be a trip on Maharajas’ Express luxury private train, watching the sunrise behind the Taj Mahal and stopping for a game of Elephant polo.

Exploring a small village in the Burgundy region of France.

Luxury travel could be walking up Mount Kilimanjaro with a porter carrying your pack, who then sets up your tent (complete with all the comforts of home), while your guide cooks your dinner.

Or, luxury travel could be an African safari where you barely lift a finger except to photograph the wildlife wandering past the front porch of your lodge.

It includes private cruises or private jet tours, or staying in castles, chateaus or private villas.

Or, it might be personalized guided tours or soft adventures like sipping champagne while floating along in a hot air balloon.  Luxury travel could also be zipping about on a helicopter tour or zooming down virgin slopes on ski adventures.

Luxury can include adventure with lots of action or none at all.  As such, it’s best defined by you travel writer and your personal preferences. 

Some of the things that define luxury include a high level of service and an exquisite experience beyond the average - usually far above average.  And, depending where you travel, it could be very expensive.

So what is luxury travel to you? 

How you define luxury will help you decide how to market your story ideas.  The diversity of subjects opens up the opportunities for where to sell your stories.

Sungai luxury villas in Bali, Indonesia.Sungai luxury villas in Bali, Indonesia.

Selling Your Luxury Travel Stories

Starting with the most obvious, there are many pure travel magazines interested in stories about high-end destinations and tours.  Look at the ones that you regularly read, or browse through the shelves at your local bookstore.  Focus on the ones that cater to luxury.

But you’re missing out on many marketing opportunities if you stop with the travel genre.

Lifestyle magazines also publish these types of stories.  Find the lifestyle magazines in your region – there are typically several to choose from.

Next, look for magazines in different travel niches.  For example, look at train magazines for pitching an exotic train trip, boat magazines and wine magazines to pitch the wine cruise on the Burgundy canal luxury barge, and spa magazines for spas and resorts.

This is a highly competitive niche for writers, for the obvious reason that everyone loves to be pampered and write about it.  So it’s important to find a unique story angle that will make an editor pay attention to your query. 

I’ve found that editors are rarely interested in an article about a single luxury property; so writing a “best” story, like “the best luxury spas in Bali” is an easier sell.  There are hundreds of luxury spas in Bali. Finding the very best is an adventure and helps readers narrow down the field.

Focus on what’s unique and locate the niche magazines serving that market.

Sometimes a single property is so unique it’s in a class of its own and caters to a unique niche of traveler.  

A couple years ago I was doing an article on the top spas and resorts in Bali, Indonesia.  One of the properties I visited was known as a “healing retreat”.  They served raw, vegetarian food and no alcohol, so I immediately knew this resort was not for everyone.  I didn’t include it in my “best spas” story targeted for the mainstream affluent.

Organic garden at Fivelements, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Organic garden at Fivelements, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Instead, I marketed the property to niche magazines, and sold two stories, one targeted to people interested in holistic/spiritual experiences and the other targeted to vegan health and fitness. 

A similar example was a story that I sold about hiking the Queen Charlotte track in New Zealand.  On the Queen Charlotte track we hiked each day along a beautiful coastal trail. It was hard work and we were hot and sweaty at the end of each day.

The luxury was that we stayed in luxurious resorts and boutique hotels every night along the way. Being greeted with a cold beer, a hot shower and a plush bed after a day hike is paradise - for hikers. A sumptious meal each evening was also a treat you don't usually get at the end of a day when you're hiking.

But not everyone loves hiking, so it wasn’t a story for the masses.  I pitched the story to hiking magazines in New Zealand and the UK, and sold it both places.

If you're still struggling with finding outlets for your travel stories, this article will help you.

Sell some stories in advance of the trip.

If you have a solid foundation of articles published in print media and online, this will serve as a benefit to you.  Your strategy is to build up your bylines in respectable national, international and online media to establish a solid track record in travel writing. 

Then, when you get an idea for a luxury trip that you would enjoy writing about, get out there and pitch every magazine and website that might be interested in a story and sell some stories in advance.

As a travel writer, you can experience the considerable joys of luxury travel by producing enough assignments to convince the resorts and tourist agencies that you will bring them good publicity by writing about their properties and attractions.

Related topics that will interest you:

Luxury Travel Writing: My Story and How You Can Do It Too

Travel Stories to Help You Find Your Niche

The Complete Guide to Query Letters for Travel Writers eBook

Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

If you want to break into writing about resorts, luxury hotels, villas and spas, my 12-chapter, 130-page manual, How To Break Into The Luxury Travel Writing Market tells you how to do it. It walks you through each step of the process. You’ll learn how to get luxury travel assignments and leverage them to land luxury travel trips. I’ve used these techniques to land assignments at dozens of the finest luxury resorts and spas in the world.

This manual contains an up-to-date list of 150+ print magazines and travel websites that publish luxury travel articles. It’s the most comprehensive list of luxury magazine outlets you’ll find ANYWHERE. Having immediate access to these lists alone is worth the price of the eBook, saving you hundreds of hours of research.

Learn more ...

Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of  Over the past ten years, he’s had more than 1000 articles published in 200 magazines, trade and specialty journals, in-flights, on-boards, blogs and websites and has traveled on assignment around the U.S. and to dozens of international destinations.