Is this luxury?

Jeff Thodal

What constitutes a luxury hotel experience? Is it the service? The offerings? The brand name? The location? Or something completely different and unexpected?Maybe its the sum of all its parts, or something that is just felt. And do these same offerings and attributes have to be offered at every luxury hotel?
Regardless of your definition of luxury, there are a few things that are true. There are certain brands that are luxury. Whether its the offerings, the experience a special feeling, or something else, when people say Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, to name a few, images of lavish offerings, perfect service, stars and luxury, come to mind. Luxury hotels come at a higher price than a standard or above standard hotel. Service will be spectacular, and include everything from personal butlers and service, to a staff ready and waiting when a request comes in. Or in the case of many hotels, the staff is trained to answer your need, before you really know you have it.

Then there are questions of amenities. Yes, they are often more lavish and plush, often ornate and detailed. There are more and quite often perks are available. Though, at want extent does more, stop? Have we uncovered every service and offering that’s available? I don’t think we have, but we are getting close, as exemplified by The Madison Hotel in Washington D.C. which now offers a social media butler to help tweet during your stay, and its included in the price of the room.

While there are agreed upon standards and certain expectations of a luxury hotel, I do find manners in which they achieve luxury are quite different and unique. But there is one underlying trait I feel speaks to all identified luxury hotels – its seeking out and finding new ways to be unique and provide guests something that makes each one feel special. It may be a social media butler like The Madison, or a specific shampoo, or going out of their way to replace a bottle of wine that the guest just bought, and then broke. The bottom line for me, luxury means special and in order for a luxury hotel to stay luxurious, it needs to continue to find new and relevant ways to make each guests get that special feeling.


Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.


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