The Hottest Perk in Tourism: Making the Crowds Disappear

High-end hotels in some of the world’s most tourist-jammed destinations are selling something increasingly elusive: privacy.

In Venice, Santorini, London and elsewhere, luxury hotels and tour operators are launching new efforts to help guests avoid the throngs of their fellow travelers. The endeavors go well beyond the after-hours museum tours and private palace visits that they have long offered. Now, hotels are arranging perks like guest-only boat-and-helicopter shuttles that dodge crowded roads, and out-of-town excursions timed to flee peak tourist surges.

Some properties have become experts at timing and strategic maneuvering. Pier Flavio Fornari, head concierge at the Aman Venice, books his guests boat trips on the quieter southern side of the city’s lagoon, and arranges gondola rides on its canals after 9 p.m., once the commercial water traffic dies down and the day-trippers have departed. (But if you want a singer to serenade you, you’ll have to do it before dark. Otherwise, “people can slip,” he says.)

When visiting the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, luxury tour operator Butterfield & Robinson ushers guests to a little-used entrance after the sunrise crowds have departed. Staffers at the Mystique Hotel on the island of Santorini in Greece study the cruise ship arrivals to steer guests’ sightseeing—and keep them away from the thousands of day-trippers.

A few years ago, “guests were starting to be a bit bothered,” by the growing crowds, says Kalia Konstantinidou, Mystique’s owner. “They were asking for advice and alternatives. It created our new way of thinking about how to protect them.” ….[Read More]

 

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