Week in Review: New Lifestyle Hotels, Pride Month and New Tours

At the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) 2024 Travel Advisor Conference held in Dallas, TX, on May 29-30, Avoya Travel was named the Host Agency of the Year. The recognition highlights Avoya Travel’s service, support and dedication to the travel advisor community and the independent agencies in its network. The award was voted on by ASTA’s leadership.

Separately, Dream Vacations/CruiseOne is celebrating Pride Month with new webinars crated in collaboration with LGBTQ+ travel expert Ed Salvato and the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA). These trainings will provide travel professionals guidance on how to engage with and grow sustainable business with LGBTQ+ travelers, which has a global spending power of $4.6 trillion, according to LGBT Capital. Salvato will focus on safety and inclusion, challenging advisors to take a deep dive to confirm destinations will be truly welcoming for their clients. He will also explore the important needs and concerns LGBTQ+ travelers may have and will provide the friendliest destinations and others where caution is necessary.

Tip: Brand g Vacations, an operator of luxury all LGBT+ cruises and land tours, has announced a new itinerary to Australia from February 16 to March 3, 2025. The tour combines the sights of cities like Sydney and Melbourne and journeys off the tourist trail to witness the scenery of southern Australia and Tasmania before concluding with the Sydney Mardi Gras.

Lifestyle Hotel Development

Graduate Princeton
Graduate Princeton, a new member of Hilton's porftolio. (Graduate Princeton)

Hyatt Hotels has announced that its pipeline has grown by nearly 85 percent since 2017, reaching a record 129,000 rooms. A major focus for the company will be its lifestyle hotels (which includes the likes of Thompson Hotels, Andaz, The Unbound Collection and JdV by Hyatt, plus more), Grand Hyatt luxury properties and its Inclusive Collection, among others. On that note, Grand Hyatt is expected to expand by more than 10 locations over the next two years, while Inclusive Collection resorts grew to over 41,000 rooms across 124 properties at the end of the first quarter.

Hilton is also looking to develop its lifestyle properties. With nearly 350 existing lifestyle hotels and another 350 expected to join the portfolio by 2028, the company is set to double its presence in the lifestyle category in the next four years. The recent addition of Graduate Hotels and NoMad to Hilton’s portfolio has positioned the company to further accelerate lifestyle category growth. This year alone, Hilton plans to open 100 new lifestyle hotels.

Christmas Market Fervor

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market
River cruisers might have the chance to explore the Christmas Markets along the Rhine River in Cologne, Germany. (Getty Images)

As the halfway point of 2024 is just a few weeks away, consumers may start thinking about their plans for a holiday season getaway later this year. But if they’re thinking about a Christmas Markets river cruise in Europe, they may be in for a shock: These voyages have soared in popularity and many 2024 departures are already sold out.

Advisors may still find some availability for holiday sailings, especially for lines that tend to release their schedules a bit later than others, but clients may find that their choice of departure dates and accommodations choices are limited. River lines also tell Travel Agent that strong consumer demand is also driving robust sales for the 2025 Christmas Markets season, with some lines even opening sales for 2026.

Tour Op Intel

CIE Tours this week unveiled an enhanced selection of guided vacations for 2025, giving travelers the choice of four new itineraries in destinations including Ireland and Italy, plus a first-ever guided vacation to Spain. This “Best of Spain” tour immerses travelers in the history, art and architecture of the country. Highlights include exploring Seville’s historic district and experiencing flamenco in its city of origin; discovering the Moorish legacy of Alhambra Palace in Granada; savoring traditional cuisine, including paella in Valencia; and marveling at Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, actively under construction since 1882.

Real NZ
Contiki's “Real New Zealand” tour takes travelers to the Doubtful Sounds, among other highlight destinations. (Contiki )

Contiki, additionally, has launched another trip to its homeland, New Zealand. The 15-day trip is called “Real New Zealand” and promises to show travelers the authentic aspects of the country. Travelers will have a spot at an exclusive lakeside Marae Special Stay. They’ll learn about Māori spirituality, traditional healing practices, customs and protocols, and music and will have the chance to experience a haka. Additionally, the trip includes stays at Blue Duck Station, a conservation project on the banks of the Whanganui River, as well as an overnight cruise across the Doubtful Sounds.

For golfers, Old Sod Travel launched its new specialty brand, Old Sod Golf. Born from the significant amount of golf trips hosted each year, the new brand is dedicated to curating golf trips to Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales.

Lastly, TTC Tour Brands has announced new "September Travel Sale" with savings up to 20 percent off select itineraries booked June 3 through June 27 for travel in September and a new incentive for travel advisors. (Advisors who sell five TTC Tour Brands September bookings during the sale’s run period will receive a $500 e-gift card. Plus, those enrolled in the Travel Advisor Discount Program will earn toward the newly expanded discount tiers.)

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