Travel trends an eclectic mix for 2023


With borders open and travellers keen to make the most of destinations all over the world, Forbes Life looks at the mix on offer.
Maroma, a Belmond Hotel, on the Riviera Maya, south of Cancun, Mexico. | Image source: Supplied.

Maroma, a Belmond Hotel, will reopen on the Riviera Maya, south of Cancun, Mexico. Set on 200 acres (81 hectares) of lush tropical jungle and the white sands of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, the property has been completely reimagined with Mayan culture at its core – and will be the first, extensive transformation within Belmond’s North America portfolio, under LVMH ownership. There are 10 new waterfront suites, a nature-focussed wellness experience in partnership with Guerlain, ground-breaking sustainability initiatives and a new gastronomic era under Mexican-born Executive Chef Daniel Camacho.

The original design and architecture of the property have been preserved, including the white stucco buildings, aligned to the Sacred Geometry of Mayan masonry. Each of the 72 accommodations are spread across Maroma’s private stretch of sand, and three quarters of them now have ocean views. Reservations for the hotel are open for guests to book stays from May 2023. A master suite with garden view with breakfast and taxes included is around $16,000 for five nights in June 2023.

Waterbom Bali, voted Asia’s No. 1 waterpark by TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice Awards 2022, broke ground this month on stage one of a massive park expansion, set to open in 2023 as the park also celebrates its 30th Anniversary.

Australian-trained architect Conchita Blanco of Blanco Studio Bali, says the focal point of the new space will be the sustainably-designed 20 metre tall slide tower, an impressive monument featuring a cantilevered viewing platform allowing guests to enjoy a tree-top view over the park and new lagoon pool area.

Aerial view, Waterbom Park, Kuta | Image source: Supplied

“I designed a tower which is intertwined between the slides and through the trees as one unified piece. I wanted to create a sense of continuity by designing an experience of moving in a circular direction as you would when you are inside the waterslides. We want the guest’s journey to the top of the tower to be a sensory climb through nature, while winding around the slides,” Blanco says.

Original plans to launch the new slides and pool area in 2020, were put on hold with the Covid pandemic and border closures, but since Bali’s borders re-opened in April 2022, the park is filling with guests again, with Waterbom keen to grow organically in its Kuta location, and expand to offer over 5 hectares of water adventures.

NSW’s largest holiday park operator, Reflections Holiday Parks, has become the first holiday park group in Australia to be certified as a social enterprise.

Nick Baker became CEO in 2021, with a focus on sustainability and profit-for-purpose, and in FY22, Reflections reinvested $9.1 million into their 36 holiday parks and 43 community Crown reserves.

Two million people a year go through the properties including day trippers and people overnighting in a selection of tiny homes, unpowered sites, cabins and glamping camp sites.

“We’re using technology to bring to life the community around our parks,” says Baker.

Visitors can download the app and see what local restaurants, cafes, golf courses, beaches or pubs are available and head to those, or what local attractions and facilities are around, and the local council is encouraged to display their information.

Seal Rocks, NSW, cabin | Image source: Supplied

“If the local council has a clean-up the beach or planting on the river on the first Saturday of each month, we want our visitors to know about it so they can go and interact with the local people. It’s something we want to integrate into our park experiences,” he says.

“It’s going to be especially relevant when international travellers come back and want to be with the locals. That can be just as much part of the holiday experience as going kayaking on the lake. Picking up rubbish on a beach or planting on a riverbank can make a travellers journey a more sustainable experience, as well, which people are really looking for now. We are pondering how to bring these sorts of things to life in 2023.”

Baker said Reflections is working on ways to further use the land the parks sit on, with an idea of taking on more camping grounds, perhaps along hiking trails to open up more remote areas.

SiteMinder, the world’s largest open hotel commerce platform found bookings for Airlie Beach, Broadbeach, Coffs Harbour, Docklands and Port Macquarie individually have all exceeded pre-pandemic numbers.

The Top 5 biggest source markets for international visitors to Australia based on hotel bookings for the period 23 December 2022-6 January 2023, as of December 8 (from highest to lowest) were Great Britain, the US, New Zealand, Germany and Singapore, SiteMinder’s data showed.

Tom Walley, Global Managing Director at Corporate Traveller, the flagship SME travel management division of Flight Centre, says the 2022 travel recovery is paving the way for emerging trends in both business and travel for the Australian market in 2023 and beyond.

“Flight Centre’s corporate divisions, including Corporate Traveller, recovered healthily in the 2022 financial year, outperforming the industry’s time to value recovery and with transaction volumes having returned to circa 90% of pre-Covid levels.

“From next year, I’m forecasting the business travel industry will continue capitalising on its post-Covid growth and success as businesses and their employees gain more confidence to return to the office and the skies, with the travel journey becoming more digitised and new industry partnerships emerging to improve and expand the choices available to travellers.”

David Fastuca, CMO and co-Founder of Locomote says that “within the travel industry we are seeing and will continue to see more purposeful travel, meaning longer stays, with more meetings crammed into those days away”.

He says that with lockdowns now a thing of the past he predicts travel to also increase from 2022 levels.

“We’ve missed face-to-face interaction for too long so building these relationships is key to winning more business in 2023. Travel is going to be one of the biggest investments companies will make and it will be well worth it.”

Further reading

Holiday bucket list: Where Aussies are desperate to travel

Travel insurance is thinking like a worried mum to keep you covered