The rise of boutique travel, a new way to see the world

A new category of travel known as boutique travel is on the rise; a fully-immersive cultural experience while still being comfortable and safe at the end of the day.

A new category of travel known as boutique travel is on the rise; a fully-immersive cultural experience while still being comfortable and safe at the end of the day.

This article was sponsored by The Adventure Travel Group

Somewhere between backpackers with their turtle-shell packs sleeping on steel bunk beds, and cashed-up travellers enjoying a $400-a-night resort is a third category of savvy travellers.

They’re called the boutique travellers. The category is the natural progression of the increasingly hip Gen X – those who’d choose a moody hole-in-the-wall wine bar over a fine-dining table in a chef-hatted restaurant.

They enjoy immersing themselves in left-field art galleries, listening to live music with the locals and buying handmade at the markets over mass-produced counterparts. 

Instead of following tours, they design their own – they rent cars while travelling in small groups and write their own itineraries.

The rise in boutique travel is reflective of a changing travel industry largely lead by the rise of the web, says Anthony Hill. Hill has worked and operated adventure travel companies in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Australasia for over 30 years. 

“Over the years I have followed how the travellers experiences and travel style has matured,” he explains.

“Where once the traveller would take the limited travel itineraries in brochures as gospel, now they use the internet to search and want to travel further aboard to more remote areas.

“This desire to experience the ‘real’ destinations that haven’t been overdeveloped for tourism has created the need for boutique travel and touring.”

Bhutan, on the Himalayas’ eastern edge is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes including steep cliff faces.

Bhutan, on the Himalayas’ eastern edge is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes including steep cliff faces.

Anthony says boutique travel experiences can range from three star to five star accommodation right through to an Indian palace or remote tented camp. The appeal of the accommodation for the boutique traveller lies in the authenticity and personality the accommodation offers, not how fluffy the towels are or how cheap the beds are.

Often this means boutique accommodation is smaller, including family-run bed-and-breakfasts, converted structures, stand-alone villas - accommodation that offers complimentary cultural immersion. 

But travellers can encounter issues when bypassing the expertise of the travel agent and curating trips based on the information available online from vendors.

“Unfortunately the quality assurance in the industry has not kept up with this global expansion,” says Anthony

“This makes it difficult for travellers to compare and select the best hotel for themselves. A four star hotel in Paris can be a completely different standard to a four star in Phuket.”

It’s for this reason Anthony says the savvy boutique traveller will still invest in the quality assurance and safety of travel companies like The Adventure Travel Group.

Recently his team created ijurni (ijurni.com), a curation of tours for travellers who “like their creature comforts but also enjoy experiencing real destinations”.

“For this reason all of our ijurni packages feature local culture, local food and wine, history and local attractions,” he says.

Hill says the focus is on creating a fully-immersive experience that is engaging for travellers from start to finish. 

“Boutique touring is not all about the destination; it is about the journey and what happens enroute to that destination.”

This article was sponsored by The Adventure Travel Group

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