Prevue asked Wendell Long, CEO of Casino Del Sol Resort, Spa & Conference Center in Tucson, his thoughts about the concept of Affordable Luxury.
Q: How do you define the concept of Affordable Luxury?
A: Affordable luxuries are goods or services that can be considered luxury according to the marketed image, but cost less than proper luxury goods. For us, affordable luxury means providing guests with a level of comfort and attention that is commensurate with their expectations. Now, that can mean adding just the little touches that make the difference or adding an amenity.
Q: It’s been said that luxury is more experiential than just a few years ago. Do you agree?
A: Yes. Luxury is being defined in new ways and with shifting demographics and socio-economic factors, the ground will continue to move under our feet. Depending on a consumer’s individual circumstances, new luxury and its acquisition can be objective as well as subjective. From designer eyewear to fragrances to hotel and resort stays, the consumer wants to experience it in a way that is fresh and unexpected, and that provides an experiential thrill.
Q: For high-end groups, what are some of their priorities in 2012?
A: High-end travelers, whether individuals or groups, tend to have a different set of expectations. With groups, that expectation is magnified because the group compares notes and experiences and tends to be more demanding and critical of service levels. That being said, the priorities of these groups leans toward the advent of affordable luxury that is pleasing but not ostentatious. Conspicuous consumers who “over do” it are not in vogue. The image of a bloated company wasting its shareholder’s money on superfluous and gluttonous behavior is not lost on the public (right, AIG?).
Q: How do you respond to those priorities?
A: We make sure our sales and conference team is “in tune” with the client’s expectations. And we make sure there is a clear path of communication between our team and the client and their meeting planning team. Communication is the key because you don’t want to find yourself guessing what a client may or may not want or need. That can be a recipe for disaster.
Q: What are a few of the “wow” attributes at your hotel that you wish to tell meeting professionals?
A: Our pool and spa are truly unique. The Hiapsi (pronounced Yop-See) Spa provides a variety of Native American treatments that are indigenous to the culture. Our pool features dancing fountains, fire pits and intimate cabanas. The top level of our hotel is the Sky Level, where guests enjoy a suite of upgraded amenities and spectacular views.