Positive Luxury is thrilled to announce the launch of our partnership with Elegant Resorts, the intersection between the worlds finest hotels and first-class client service. Elegant Resorts display the Butterfly Mark alongside awarded resorts on the site, see the partner page here.
We meet Michelle Sephton MD, Elegant Resorts, to discuss their commitment to sustainability and the next destination on her list…
You have been at Elegant Resorts for more than 20 years, what is it about the industry that inspires you most?
What actual inspires me is travel itself; the travelling that I and my colleagues do, of course, but also the journeys and experiences that our clients ask us to create for them. Luxury travel is simply a matter of relaxing on a beach for some people, but for others, it is all about inspiration – I thoroughly enjoy both. Some people don’t get the chance to travel or think of barriers as to why they can’t. For me, personally, I love to travel and because of my travels, I have been inspired to change many aspects of my life over the years. This could be simply adopting a coveted style or design from a property visited for the interior of a room in our house, to completely rethinking my perspective on life, which I recently did following a wonderful, thought-provoking, two-week experience in India. To travel is to be educated – to discover cultures, a variety of cuisines, history and adventure – and these experiences will change you… mostly for the better.
What have you seen as the biggest change in the travel industry since joining?
In most industries, people would say technology. When I started working in travel, we had brochures and people visited agents and discussed options for a good few hours. Booking a holiday required form filling, cheque writing, envelopes, stamps and the post box! Our accounting ledgers were hand written and currency conversion and hedging was a calculator job and an equation. However, continual breakthroughs in technology mean that tailor-made journeys can now be showcased and booked in a matter of hours. Information is abundant and the world has, literally, opened its doors to all generations of traveller. There is a constant need to be one step ahead through technology, both with service and the vast amounts of luxury product now available, from paying your bill, to opening your hotel room door – all through apps on your phone or tablet. Technology will continue to move this industry at a fast pace – from blogs to vlogs, video to virtual reality. All very exciting things that have to be embraced in order for travel companies to survive.
What is sustainability to you?
Sustainable travel for me is the ability to showcase what the wonders of the world are whilst ensuring 100% that their past, present and future is protected and supported. On a recent trip to Myanmar, I experienced first hand that sustainable travel is about valuing the environment, looking after natural resources and considering the effect of tourism on the welfare and wellbeing of local people. I visited schools, clinics and a village, all of which had been launched and supported by the luxury travel industry. There was not a dry eye in the house when the young children of the school performed an impromptu concert for us – for a group of children who have so little, they gave something larger than life and something I love to relive through my memories.
Do you feel luxury travel operators, like Elegant Resorts, have a commitment to promoting eco-travel and sustainable destinations?
Absolutely! Luxury operators should be committed to promoting eco-travel and sustainable destinations, but sadly the pressure to be profitable takes precedence in a lot of cases. The view at Elegant Resorts is that we are more than happy to showcase and sell these wonderful places around the world – whether new or time-old experiences – therefore, we have an obligation to play our part in protecting them so they are there for generations to come. We are an industry that creates pollution, waste and unwanted change to all parts of the world, but awareness is increasing and constant media focus means more luxury travellers are looking to be part of sustainability in some shape or form. Elegant Resorts works closely with various initiatives in supporting brands that are at the forefront of sustainability and eco-friendliness, such as Banyan Tree, Song Saa Private Island, Soneva Fushi, and Soneva Kiri
It is our responsibility to communicate their stories and plans for the future to our clients and continue with our support so that they can make an informed choice about the luxury holiday they wish to experience. Partnering with Positive Luxury underlines this commitment.
What is on your travel list for 2017?
This is more like ‘War and Peace’, so I’ll mention the top half dozen: Sri Lanka for the lush green countryside and the tea trails; ‘Dude’ ranching in Montana; luxury yachting in Greece to experience being part of the crew; cruising and exploring the Arctic; Iceland for the incredible scenery. I’d also love to squeeze in a trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat.
What is your personal luxury?
My personal luxury is space and time – the space to think about what I would like from life and, hopefully, the time for fulfilment.
Discover your next luxury trip with Elegant Resorts here