In the ever-evolving world of international travel, cookie cutter resorts with lagoon-sized swimming pools are losing favor among savvy travelers, in favor of smaller, more intimate boutique hotels which tend to better capture the essence of a travel destination.
For the longest time, cruise liners and all-inclusive resorts ruled the world of travel. It was a kingdom of all-you-can-eat buffets, perfectly-aligned rows of beach chairs, and identical bedrooms that catered to a families, couples, and single travelers alike: assuring that no matter where you were in the world, the same generic amenities would be at your front door.
This industry trend was fueled by a certain generation: one which had revolutionary access to better modes of transportation as well as exposure to increased globalization. Combined, these two factors spawned new air routes from the USA. They opened up new corridors into the Caribbean, they branched largely into Europe, and they did so in such a convenient (or accessible) fashion that packaged deals including transportation, room, and board became the way of the future.
This was a generation new to the international scene. It was one which rarely spoke second languages nor associated much with foreign culture, so it only made sense that travel offers accommodated this hesitancy: making an art trip to France or a vacation to the Bahamas as easy and non-worrisome as the click of a button.
Today though, travelers have evolved. And it is the decline of traditional packaged tour offers that has given way, almost predictably, to the phrase “boutique travel” which focuses more on cultural immersion and the uniqueness or authenticity of a destination, rather than remaining comfortably humdrum in a comfort zone.
New travel hot spots in Central America such as Panama and Columbia in addition to already-proven ones like Costa Rica and Mexico are working proof of the success and potential of boutique travel.
Scan the coast of Costa Ricas Manuel Antonio region where the cliff-based boutique hotels pop up subtly from the rainforest. Or at Boca Chica, Panama, where the coast is dotted not with giant spanning condo buildings, but with low-impact eco-hotels.
Perhaps the best example of old-world travel tendencies contrasting with new-fangled boutique trends is the quiet region of Tulum, Mexico which sits just miles away from the overly-developed Cancun. Nowhere are the contrasts so stark between grandiose development catering to an older, more hesitant generation and subtle sophistication playing host to todays movers and shakers of international travel.