Great Hotels of the World shares why these independent destinations are mixing big business with luxury leisure

By Michelle Johnson | 11 Mar 2019 | Travel

CEO Pedro Colaco tells Tempus what the rise of b-leisure travel means for luxury hotels

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* Al Bustan Hotel & Spa, Beirut

Trends in luxury travel often focus on the destinations or activities that are growing more popular, but experts have also seen changing trends in the people enjoying these choices. Great Hotels of the World (GHOTW), which represents upscale independent hotels specialising in business travel and the corporate events market, says that high net worth business travelers are looking to combine their business trips with solo leisure travel.

A recent survey by Great Hotels of the World reported that there has been a 75% rise in "b-leisure travel", with 43% of corporate travellers opting to enjoy these extended holidays on their own. With both men and women enjoying these extended solo b-leisure trips, GHOTW CEO Pedro Colaco says that travellers are prioritizing safe and convenient options with access to authentic travel experiences.

"At GHOTW we have found both through experience and research that more than ever business travellers are looking to get more out of their business trips than just work," Colaco tells Tempus. "Not only are business travellers of all ages and levels looking to be able to fit some leisure into their work trips – they are looking for more authentic experiences that allow them to get know and connect with their destinations.

"Our portfolio offers unique upscale and luxury properties in exceptional locations throughout the world where, beyond their business objectives, guests can enjoy exceptional leisure facilities like Spas, swimming pools and golf courses, as well as experience the culture of the destination."

GHOTW represents more than 40 independent and boutique hotels, all catering to the luxury travel market and MICE market. From the five-star Atlis Grand Hotel, Lisbon, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai and Al Bustan Hotel & Spa, Lebanon, Colaco says each hotel has been curated to offer not just first-class business facilities, but also a truly unforgettable vacation experience. >>

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* Hotel Okura, Amsterdam

"I travel on business anywhere from 12 to 50 weeks in a year. So as a road warrior myself, I was experiencing first-hand how the needs of heavy business travellers like me were evolving and the lines between leisure and work were becoming blurred," he says. "Traditional corporate hotels started to become less interesting for business travellers and loyalty programs began to give way to individuality, great work areas with coffee shops, and lively locations that allow business travellers to relax after a heavy work day.

"This experience helped me in identifying the potential that was in Great Hotels of the World – a carefully curated group of largely independent hotels that have incredible business and meeting facilities, but also meet a complete checklist of requirements for the contemporary international leisure traveller," he says. "I think business travellers are looking for hotels that cater to business needs and provide outstanding leisure facilities on site or are really well located in an exciting destination."

When curating hotels, Great Hotels of the World focuses on independently owned properties that truly reflect the character their location. "Independent hotels are positioned to offer guests unique experiences. They take travellers, even busy travellers on a quick work trip, away from the cookie-cutter, bland corporate realm and offer them an experience they can go home and talk about," Colaco says.

"They offer character and authenticity – whether that's through interior designs that reflect the local history and culture, the restaurants that showcase the local cuisine or the staff that connect in a completely different way than that of a large multinational brand."