MIAMI BEACH — For a span of four days in mid-June, South Beach was the place to be for movers and shakers in the luxury travel space, as around 1,700 hoteliers, destination marketing organizations, tour operators, travel advisors and other travel professionals descended for this year’s L.E Miami.
Fresh off its 10th edition, the trade show is known for its far-from-typical show floor, and the 2023 iteration was no exception. Taking cues from South Beach’s high-energy nightlife scene, L.E Miami attendees were greeted each morning by pink lights, pulsating dance music and a buzzing bar area serving not just coffee but champagne.
Buyers and other travel-trade attendees met with exhibitors speed-dating style in 20-minute increments, making the show an ideal place to hear the latest in hospitality trends. Here are six areas of focus that I picked up on during my time at L.E.:
Foodie focus in Denmark: Copenhagen’s high density of Michelin-starred restaurants is driving demand. Marco Wendicke, commercial director at the Nordic Hotels & Resorts portfolio, which includes the Villa Copenhagen in Denmark, called culinary-related tourism in the city a “booming” phenomenon.
“We’re seeing a lot of tourists coming into Copenhagen for the weekend, flying in from London just to wine and dine,” said Wendicke.
Fine dining with kids: Fine dining is also taking center stage at Switzerland’s Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, a resort that features six Michelin stars across its restaurants and bars. At the property’s two-Michelin-starred Igniv by Andreas Caminada, even kids are welcome; the restaurant has launched a children’s menu on Sundays at lunchtime.
Catamarans in Mexico: On the adults-only front, Mexican all-inclusive La Casa de la Playa, which is part of the Grupo Xcaret portfolio, has expanded its water activity options with a line of catamarans and, according to Yandra Orsini, a PR and communications rep for Grupo Xcaret, plans to launch a yacht line for resort guests later this year.
Hotel hopping in the Greek isles: Katikies, which comprises eight hotels across Mykonos and Santorini, has long had yachts on offer. The brand’s three-yacht fleet is available to guests for daytrips to neighboring islands, though with demand running extraordinarily high this summer, Katikies marketing manager Konstantinos Sigalas said the property is urging guests to book as early as possible.
More recently, Katikies rolled out a “hotel hopping” package, through which guests can book multiple Katikies properties. The customizable package includes transportation between hotels as well as packing and unpacking services so guests arrive to “find everything ready in their room,” Sigalas said.
Visa wait times impede China recovery: In China, where tourism has been slower to return to pre-pandemic levels, the Chao Beijing hotel is starting to see international business travel pick back up. Demand on both the leisure and business sides, however, has been slowed by visa wait times, which has also stunted rate growth, according to William Latour, managing director for the property.
“We’re selling at the same price as [we were] in 2019,” Latour said.
Still, Latour said his outlook is “pretty positive” for the year ahead as China’s tourism engine continues to rev up and that the Chao brand plans to open its second hotel in Shanghai this September.
Business travel surge in Dallas: A strong business travel comeback has also been a highlight at the Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas. Travis Carroll, the hotel’s group sales manager, reported that the property surpassed 2019 levels for transient business travel last year. Business travel has been far from an outlier, however.
“Last year we saw record-breaking revenue across all parts of the hotel, from our restaurants to groups, weddings, business and leisure,” Carroll said. “And this year, we’re on track to surpass last year.”