SmartFlyer’s CEO, COO reveal luxury trends, evolution

LATTE chats exclusively with Michael Holtz, Erina Pindar and Anthony Goldman

Ultra-luxe rail travel and five-star cruising are tipped to be the “major products” of choice for high-net-worth-individuals over the next five years, says Erina Pindar, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner at SmartFlyer. Pindar, who also serves on Travel + Leisure‘s Travel Advisory Board and who was recently named, again, on T+L‘s A-List of Travel Advisors, suggests ‘slow travel’ in the sense of rail journeys and serene ocean voyages, will continue to grow in popularity over the coming years.

Belmond’s new train in Malaysia, the Eastern & Oriental Express, “looks insane”, while the La Dolce Vita Orient Express luxury rail journey in Italy and Orient Express’ brand new partnership with LVMH “will be huge,” she tells LATTE in our exclusive one-on-three interview this week.

“Private villas and private residences will continue to thrive. For us safari is bigger than ever.”

Pindar and SmartFlyer Founder/CEO, Michael Holtz, were in Australia this week and sat down with LATTE to discuss the latest trends in luxury travel, the evolving role of the independent contractor, and their long-term relationship with Goldman Group. Also joining the conversation was Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director of Goldman Group.

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“There’s no doubt that clients have accelerated their desire for deeper experience,” says Goldman.

Pindar says that since the pandemic there’s been a shift for HNWI to look at less crowded, more personalised experiences that they can share with family, extended family and friends. While hoteliers are adapting, expanding into private residencies and offering ‘work from anywhere’ solutions for the working nomad.

“If you look at new hotels, within their upper suites and penthouses, they all have offices. And new properties are being designed with spaces where people can log on to their laptop for a few hours, then move on and enjoy the destination they are visiting,” she says.

“Life is becoming a lot more fluid in a more organsised manner, as opposed to in a haphazard-like, pre-pandemic manner. 

Pindar continues: “I think people used to say, travel to get away from your life, but that’s not the case anymore. People want to travel to continue their life and find and learn new things about themselves and the habits that they can also bring from home. When I travel I still want to go to a good gym because that’s part of my routine. I want to be able to get a great coffee… I want to be able to do everything I can do at home.”

“Travel is less about interrupting your life, it’s less about escaping, it’s about integrating,” she says.

Luxury travel evolution

Questioned on how they see luxury travel evolving, Pindar highlights the expansion of products that are “super, super high-end, really experiential and small.”

“If you take White Desert for instance. There’s only six cabins at each of their camps. If you look at the new La Dolce Vita Orient Express train, it only has 9 carriages and within that there are only 16 berths.

“Residences are huge, there is a private residence in Kenya that only has five bedrooms on a private conservancy.” She says another example is Thanda Island in Tanzania, a seven-bedroom residence on a private island. “These are products that are able to be privatised very easily.”

She continues, saying that post-COVID, the multi-gen market and travelling with family and friends has become bigger than ever.

“The idea of group travel is changing. Its becoming more high-end, and people are considering really interesting products.”

Pindar shared that SmartFlyer had a receny buyout of White Desert.

“That’s over $2 million for four nights. That was for a group of friends who travel together and want to knock off all seven continents, but doing it in a really interesting way,” she explains.

Holtz tells LATTE another project SmartFlyer is “working on” is a buyout of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht for a private charter in the Caribbean. “This buyout is going to be over $5 million AUD. But clients want it, they want to be together, they want to celebrate.”

“Cruising is coming back strong. And the concept of hotels entering the luxury cruise space gives non-cruisers the comfort of knowing that if they love hotels but feel uncomfortable going by sea, then there’s a solution.”

The launch of Four Seasons Yachts in 2026, another ultra-luxury hospitality company entering the cruise arena, also has the SmartFlyer executives excited.

“It’s going to be great,” Holtz says. “It’s going to be super popular. That level of detail is going to be like nothing else. I think they’re taking advantage of learnings from The Ritz-Carlton Yacht and some of the other products in that space, to fine-tune their own offering.

“A lot of these hotel brands know that a lot of bookings come through the travel advisors and we’re helping them get better bookings. We’re helping them get information on clients that they cant get on their own,” he adds.

“The ADR [average daily rate] tends to be higher as well,” Pindar adds.

More from SmartFlyer in LATTE next week.

Lead image: Pictured at Capella Sydney this week from left are Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director, Goldman Group; Erina Pindar, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner, SmartFlyer and Michael Holtz, Chief Executive Officer/Owner, SmartFlyer.

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