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Hotel Remota in the Chilean Patagonia. Pädaste Manor on Muhu Island, Estonia. Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Canada. What do the following hotels have in common? All are in the middle of nowhere and their rooms sport luxury-level price tags.
Which begs the question — is isolation the next big thing in luxury travel?
Aman chief operating officer Roland Fasel thinks so, “Especially for those who have seen and done it all, isolation or being disconnected from the pressures of everyday life can be a real luxury,” notes Fasel. “Guests nowadays want to achieve a deep level of transformation from the outside in which is sometimes best achieved with as few distractions as possible.”
Wilderness Hotel Nellim is a family-run hotel in Finnish Lapland. According to Milla Nissi, a sales representative for the property, “Especially for people living in large cities, isolation is a true luxury – to be able to just close your eyes and enjoy the peace and silence, without the constant reminders of your hectic everyday life. In Nellim, it is possible to hide from the world, away from everything, while still taking advantage of the high-quality accommodation and services we provide.”
Ah, there’s the catch. Even though they are traveling off the grid, most high-end travelers still want their Wi-fi and other creature comforts. Henna Konu, senior researcher and project manager with the University of Eastern Finland’s Centre for Tourism Studies agrees that isolation is becoming a form of luxury travel. However, she emphasizes, “in order to be a product for high-end travelers, the service chain needs to be perfect” and providers need to offer superior service.
Although several remote resorts offer private helicopter fly-ins for time-constrained travelers (talk about superior service), most visitors sojourn for hours to get to these isolated places. The lengthy journey, often combining travel by plane, car and boat, is an apt transition into isolation.
Remote is not just about literal distance, though. According to Martin Breuer, owner of Pädaste Manor in Estonia: “A remote location creates a setting in which it’s possible to take a certain distance to everyday life. Maybe it’s about a certain slowness and the freedom of not having to make choices.”
Indeed, option overload, as detailed in the book The Paradox of Choice, is a major cause of anxiety in daily life. So is noise pollution. That’s why a big part of the relaxation experience in an isolated setting is the sound of silence. Silence is indeed golden these days, according to Mia Kyricos, whose consulting firm specializes in wellness, hospitality, tourism and lifestyle brands. “In the past, luxury was defined by cushy bathrobes and the thread count of sheets,” says Kyricos. “But in today’s noise-saturated world, silence, solitude, space are the true definitions of luxury.”
Fogo Island Inn proudly boasts about “miles and miles of blissful nothingness” in its marketing material. Finland taps into the rising demand for isolation and quiet with its Silence, Please tourism campaign, perhaps inspired by research being done at the University of Eastern Finland. For more than a decade, academics at UEF have been studying ways to make silence a tourism asset in sparsely-populated areas.
Aman’s Fasel sums it up. “Properties situated in locations that are often quite remote afford a sense of escapism, calm and serenity, …often much sought after with today’s fast-paced life. As a result, our guests are truly able to switch off and let the beauty of their surroundings relax their minds.”