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What Is Your Definition of Luxury? Part 1
May 1, 2008By: Courtney W. May
Something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity, sumptuous or expensive, abundance or great ease and comfort - these are all definitions of luxury. In the past we have tried to help define luxury in terms of hotels and resorts at Five Star Alliance - but overall, there no longer seems to be one standard definition to help determine what is or is not luxury. No longer can something be considered luxury just based on cost, marketing campaigns, or desires. The Google Images "luxury" image results include a shower head, Phantom Rolls Royce, palm tree, a sleeping pod, and a villa exterior - just to name a few. After we asked hundreds of people for their definition of luxury, read quotes both online and off, we found a wide range of varied responses. Do you agree with the ones below? Disagree? What is your definition of luxury?

"A 'luxury experience' is something that simply makes me feel good. Or Special. In defining a luxury hotel, for some people this can be staying at 'the' Landmark property in town - while for others it can be checking into the newest, hippest, trendy Boutique. Luxury in a hotel goes beyond the physical presence and amenities and extends to the all important levels of service. Luxury is an experience. It's the total package. One of my friends once told me 'it's what I deserve' - I think that's pretty close to a perfect definition." Cal Simmons, Chairman, www.FiveStarAlliance.com

"When needs and desires are anticipated and fulfilled even before being realized to the extent that they become a requirement." Christie Gaderson, Priorities Concierge

"Luxury, by definition, means something that appears to be the best of whatever it represents. It's a word that raises people's expectations, whether talking about clothing for women or locations for people to live ... You pay for recognition, but probably the most important thing it represents is delivery on the promise of the brand's name." Isadore Sharp, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

“Luxury is defined by attention to the details. Meticulous workmanship, sumptuous atmosphere and discerning good taste.” Robert Mackasek, CEO, Valera Global

"Luxury means total serenity.” Herve Van der Straeten, Furniture Designer

"Time is the greatest luxury. In today's non-stop world, every second counts - so spending time with people you love is more and more precious. When planning time away, anything that can help to get us where we're going quickly and easily is incredibly valuable. This is evident in the increasing popularity of private aviation (go when you want), and destination or private residence clubs. What's more luxurious than being surrounded by your family, no to-do list in sight?" Jamie Cheng, Co-Founder and Chief Analyst, Halogen Guides

"Luxury is style and comfort, priced accordingly. Extravagance is style and comfort, cost be damned." Tod Herbers, Publisher, Home and Design Magazine

"Luxury - to me luxury is simply the best of the best. The finest quality and exceeded expectations in any area. Luxury is exquisite with supreme taste. In regards to the service that we provide, luxury is living without limits and having your time and peace to it ALL at the highest level.” Reginald Roberson, CEO, Lavish Lifestyles, LLC

"Luxury is … Uniqueness, exclusivity, these are luxury to me. Also, to be happy is a luxury. You could put me in the most beautiful place, but if I’m not happy, I’ll want to leave.” Bruno Frisoni, Accessories Designer

“Luxury can to be defined by consistent superior quality with an element of uniqueness and exclusivity. A stay experience that I can boldly share and recommend to people within my inner circle. A stay experience that will make me feel “very special” from arrival to departure and beyond. As a General Manager, selection of associates who are genuinely delighted to please others is an essential quality that I seek. The consistency of our brand elements must be maintained at all times to provide continuity of the “best Westin experience” for our guests from one Hotel to another. In my experience, this consistency of brand values and unparalleled personal service will drive customer loyalty that is “beyond reason”. This to me is luxury service.” John Varghese, General Manager, The Westin Alexandria

"Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort. Something desirable but expensive, something very pleasant but not really needed in life." Karl W. Friedrich, General Manager, River Inn Memphis

"To me luxury is defined as the best that life has to offer: an endless supply of amenities, a legendary setting, wondrous tranquility, spectacular scenery and the opportunity to embrace each moment because every needs has been satisfied." Jose Luis Mogollon, Director of Development, Quivira Los Cabos

"Travelers looking for a luxury trip want their dreams to become reality. They look for something unique, above their expectations with superb service where their needs and wants are fulfilled. This includes exclusivity, privacy, and everything from relaxation to adventure, with pampering and extras." Carrie McDougall, President, Cultural Crossroads

"The word luxury is overused and often ambiguous. True luxury delivers unexpected pleasures above and beyond what is essential or necessary. It exists in the small details that differentiate an experience from what is 'normal' or 'average'." Michael McFadden, Co-Founder, The Society of Leisure Enthusiasts

"I define luxury as the details that exceed your expectations and please the five senses. It's the touch and feel of fine linens or a plush robe. It's in the taste of fresh herbs and ingredients. It's the quality sound of live music. It's the beauty and fragrance of fresh flowers." Sheila Beal, Editor, www.GoVisitHawaii.com

"Something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity but makes you feel so good...who cares how much it costs." Victoria Winters, Adcision

"Exceptional: Five stars - The finest hotels in the world. Five-star lodging is characterized by luxury appointments, superlative service, and the highest standards of comfort. Five-star hotels offer originality in architecture and interior design, high-grade materials in construction and decor, and such special touches as fresh flowers and plants in abundance. These properties also maintain a high staff-to-guest ratio, gourmet dining, and 24-hour room service." Expedia Travel

Do you agree? Disagree? What is your definition of luxury? Let us know your thoughts and feelings in the comments below or send us a note. We will continue to share the best ones from the comments and that we receive in Parts 2 and 3 which will run in the next few months.