With an almost endless number of reasons to visit an even vaster array of holiday destinations, tourist boards have continually looked to find, if not create, new and unique reasons to attract wealthy potential tourists to their localities. Some have proven to be successful in their endeavours, creating awareness of attractions in their jurisdictions that are now regarded as must-see attractions by tourists across the world. From the Great Barrier Reef to the man-made attractions of Disney World or the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, these sights have had an undeniable resonance with tourists for many years and will continue to do so. Why? Because these attractions tap into and fulfil a fundamental human desire. That is, the desire to escape from mundane reality into a fantasy, a different world entirely.
Yet one of the key components that adds to the timelessness of the aforementioned places is how stupendously epic they are. Despite their differences, these attractions are just so impressive that they provide even luxury tourists with a compelling reason to travel to the location they inhabit, and usually solely for that reason.
Let’s consider two more timely ways in which incredible, dazzling and, in some cases, far-fetched holiday destinations will attract the well-heeled tourists of tomorrow:
Extravagantly themed destinations and resorts – the revival of the niche
Today’s luxury travellers have become increasingly fragmented in their holiday preferences. High-end developers are providing an ever more unique and much-needed channel of escape for travellers looking to seriously indulge in their particular fancy while away. Consider these examples:
Water Discus Underwater Hotel, Dubai
Located on a tropical coral reef off the coast of Dubai, the Water Discus Underwater Hotel is a luxury resort complex developed by Polish firm Deep Ocean Technology. With both underwater and above-water compartments, the 21-room hotel offers underwater views of marine life, an underwater dive centre and diving lessons, as well as water sports facilities, rooftop gardens and swimming pools, and a helipad. Construction of the resort commenced in late 2012.
Kung Fu Kingdom, China
The Chinese city of Wudang recently announced plans to build the world’s first tai chi and kung fu-themed entertainment park. Set to open in 2015, Wudang Kung Fu City will be built at the base of the Wudang Mountains, the birthplace of kung fu, and home to some of China’s most important Taoist shrines. The theme park will include action rides based on traditional icons such as the Monkey King, and feature events such as daily expert performances of tai chi and facilities such as traditional teahouses.
Real Madrid Resort Island, United Arab Emirates
In 2012, Spanish soccer club Real Madrid announced that it had commenced construction of the Real Madrid Resort Island in the northern Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah. Located on an artificial island, the $1bn resort is scheduled for completion in January 2015, providing 4.6million square feet of leisure amenities including hotels, a soccer stadium and training academy, soccer-themed club museum and a marina. The island will be constructed in the shape of the soccer club’s logo.
Flamboyantly ‘faketastic’ attractions – the ultimate antidote to authenticity
We hear so much about travellers seeking out authentic cultural experiences and completely natural surroundings, but don’t overlook the inevitable counter-trend. Many will also be happy with, if not even prefer, holiday experiences that are shamelessly unnatural, and yet go far beyond the ordinary in their execution.
And this is moving way beyond cultural landmark replicas in Las Vegas, with a whole host of ever-more outrageous, ‘faketastic’ manifestations providing uncompromised luxury, perfectly imitated culture and unapologetic convenience. Meeting the cultural cravings of these wealthy (if perhaps slightly uninitiated) tourists is, for many in the tourist industry, as important today as catering for that of those who’d prefer to do the full-blown ‘authentic’ experience. See for yourself:
Hallstatt Alpine Village, China
Chinese metal and mining company China Minmetals Corporation opened a replica of an Austrian village near Huizhou. The original Hallstatt is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and the Chinese replica features copies of the houses, churches and buildings that can be found in the Alpine village, along with road signs and signposts in Chinese.
Taj Mahal, Dubai
October 2012 saw UAE-based real estate developer Link Global unveil plans for the Taj Arabia complex in Dubai, which includes a life-sized replica of the Taj Mahal. Once completed, the project will include a 300-room luxury hotel, mall and restaurants, as well as apartments and offices. The central point of the development will be a full-size replica of India’s famous Taj Mahal, in addition to smaller-scale versions of other well-known monuments.
In 2012, 250-acre eco-park Gardens by the Bay opened in Singapore. Singapore’s National Parks Board spent $1bn on the development. In addition to several conservatories containing exotic plants, it features a canopy of 18 artificial ‘supertrees’. The 50-metre-tall manmade structures are vertical gardens that are linked by elevated walkways, providing ventilation, harnessing solar energy, and collecting rainwater for the park.
Will these unorthodox attractions be first on every luxury traveller’s dream holiday wish list? Of course not, but a segment of that market will be drawn to these audacious developments. As lives get ever busier, and the desire for escapism rises even higher, expect to see more of these ‘extravagantly themed’ destinations or ‘flamboyantly faketastic’ attractions pop up.