Private yachts. Expansive spaces. Sugar and spice and everything nice.

According to Merriam-Webster, luxury is defined as a condition of abundance, something that adds to pleasure or comfort but is not absolutely necessary. It is an indulgence that provides satisfaction, pleasure, or ease.

But times have changed and so has the idea of luxury. Over the years, the definition of luxury has moved far beyond the glitter and glam. In hotel settings, marble bathrooms, crystal chandeliers, and golden fixtures do not automatically spell out guest satisfaction.

Lean Luxury

Luxury hotels around the globe boast of their own brand of fantastic facilities. From rooms the size of tennis courts to an array of amenities that offer lavish luxuries, the sky’s the limit as to how far you want to imbibe the luxe life.

Normally, all this opulence comes with a hefty price tag, and for those who want to luxuriate in such creature comforts, they would also need to shell out an inordinate amount of money.

More recently, the hospitality industry has experienced a shift. There is now what we call modern luxury. It comes in so many other names, “budget boutique”, “affordable chic”, and “lean luxury”.

Drivers of Change

What has caused this change? How did this revolutionary concept come about?

Here, we can look at three main drivers:

1. Consumers

There is a new generation of guests that are more in tune with their wants and needs.  

These modern guest looks beyond the gimmickry and prefer to give more value to what is meaningful to them. Although it is still a broad spectrum of personalities, the change in guests’ character has propelled hotels to adapt. These can still be people from all walks of life but notably, it is commonly comprised of empty nesters, families and millennials.

2. New ideas and aspirations

These consumers also carry with them a new way of thinking and looking at the world.

Guests come from different backgrounds, with dreams and aspirations conditioned by various factors that affect their choices. No longer are they widely influenced by five-star ratings, logo-driven brands, and celebrity endorsers. They look beyond the smoke and mirrors and actually shun the superficial and status-driven focus given to products and services.

Instead, they consider what their peers say on hotel recommendations, for example. They put more emphasis on the value they get in terms of overall personal experience.

3. Technology

Modern guests are also typically tech-savvy. They value technology and what it does to bring ease and satisfaction.

Hotels that have adapted to new technology on how they cater to their guests score points with this new generation of visitors. Booking rooms online, for example, is a welcome convenience for those who live the fast and furious lifestyle.

Looking at the drivers above, how, then, can hotels deliver the lean luxury experience to their guests? Here are some ways to do so:

1. Heartfelt hospitality

Even if they appreciate technology, these hotel guests would still very much value the warmth of human interaction as well as sincere and impeccable service.

Addressing them properly by their names, providing thoughtful welcome kits in their rooms, and even arranging for transportation to nearby attractions can spell the difference in earning their favor.

For example, a surprise slice of birthday cake (gleaned from information they keyed in while booking) during their stay can already make their hotel stay extra memorable.

2. Endow with essentials

Used to the “instant” lifestyle, the majority of these modern guests would appreciate a no-fuss, no-frill way of delivering service. They want quick, efficient, and friendly service that does not necessarily come on a silver platter or delivered by a white-gloved butler.

They don’t want to pay for things they do not really need but would be thankful for the basics. A clean and cool room with a comfortable bed and sumptuous food can already go a long way in satisfying their basic needs.

3. Carefree comforts

From a bath towel magically appearing on their lounge chairs to a complete wellness and spa center that offers over 30 indulgent spa treatments, modern guests would certainly appreciate the thoughtful considerations you make to ensure their stay is as carefree as possible.

Looking after the welfare of your guests is a given but going the extra mile to make their stay more relaxing adds to their overall satisfaction. Letting them choose from a variety of leisure activities, for example, allows them the freedom to engage in whatever they feel like doing whenever they feel like doing it.

4. Elevate the experience

Most importantly, what defines lean luxury to this new set of hotel dwellers is the mindful effort to elevate their hotel experience.

From booking their room to the time they check out, every aspect of their stay will stick with them especially if it was done with utmost regard to their needs. Well-thought out service that they don’t really have to pay for will most likely earn appreciative nods and, more importantly, referrals to their peers.

The luxury of giving them time to experience such little pleasures in life while in your hotel will certainly make a lasting impression. Aim to please without being too in-your-face and your efforts will be rewarded.

Living the Life

What modern guests truly appreciate more than the trappings and trimmings is a holistic hotel experience. When you put enough effort to understand each customer, you can create a relevant and distinct impression in their minds and hearts.

With careful attention to detail and a dedication to delivering essential service, you will be able to offer excellent and carefree comfort to these discerning guests of the new generation.


Thomas Grundner is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of “Heartfelt Hospitality” and “Casual Luxury.”