The lure of luxury adventure online

Can adventure travel be luxurious?

Can you rough it and be pampered at the same time? Are activities like deep-sea fishing and tennis compatible? Can hiking through the jungle be followed by a five-course meal or a massage? Is it possible to conclude a hard day of Scuba diving with a cocktail reception?

For years, luxury adventure travel has been a favored pastime of trust fund kids and eccentric overachievers and the almost exclusive domain of high-end tour operators like Abercrombie & Kent – in other words, a niche within a niche.

Although there are no reliable figures on the size of this highly specialized market, there’s evidence that the Web is now giving it a boost. Or, at least, that it could be.

Case in point: the Web site for Caneel Bay, the Rosewood resort on the tropical island of St. John built by Laurance S. Rockefeller in 1955. In real-life, the 166-room property is framed by a national park on one side and the Caribbean on the other, but online, it all but promises you the best of both worlds – the excitement of hiking, sailing and fishing; and the sedate, restful vacation you’d expect from a luxury hotel.

I visited Caneel Bay last month to attend a writer’s conference. As a disclaimer, I should note that the hotel covered a majority of my expenses, which effectively means that I never saw a bill. That’s certainly not the norm. A typical guest will part with several thousand dollars to experience a week of this adventurous luxury.

Caneel Bay does an extraordinary job of balancing the guest’s need for relaxation with his or her need for stimulation. The hiking trails through its hills aren’t exactly meant for the sandal-wearing, shorts-and-T-shirt crowd. Long pants, sneakers and a bottle of water are a must for negotiating the terrain that can segue from a gentle slope to a steep incline without warning.

Diving with resident dive expert Bob Carney – a.k.a. “Uncle Bob” – is also no day at the beach. At this time of year, you’ll get ferried out to one of dozens of impressive dive sites in equally impressive swells, and dropped into the azure Caribbean. The sea turtles, moray eels and game fish that lurk in the watery shadows distract you long enough to be surprised by the surge. It’s the kind of diving that’s as rewarding as it is exhausting.

But guests do not rough it elsewhere. Speaking of days at the beach, the stretches of bleached yellow sand are every bit as restful as any at a Caribbean spa. And sure, you can order a massage or take part in Caneel’s yoga classes, and then dine at any of the on-property restaurants, where the fare is decidedly upscale.

How does all of this translate online? To be honest, not very well.

Caneel Bay’s Web site is simple, even simplistic, by today’s standards. While it does an adequate job of describing what guests can expect, it doesn’t draw them into the kind of adventure that the resort certainly can offer. The only way to see how the hotel blends these two seemingly contradictory vacations is to experience them yourself.

That may be the point of Caneel’s Web site, but I doubt it. The hotel industry typically lags behind when it comes to keeping a contemporary Internet presence, and my educated guess is that this particular property had bigger metaphorical fish to fry that to hire a cutting-edge Web design firm. Like renovating the rooms or taking care of guests.

Perhaps there’s little point in pouring money into a flashy site when a good number of your visitors are return-customers who probably didn’t even know the hotel had a site.

All of which brings us back to the issue of adequately describing luxury vacations to the Internet. With absolutely no industry numbers and a case study that proves only that it’s possible to straddle the fence between the two, where does that leave us?

If Caneel’s Web presence is typical for other resorts trying to achieve the same thing (and there’s nothing to indicate that it isn’t) then it means that the player in this “nichy” niche have got their work cut out for them if they want to communicate with their customer.

Assuming, of course, that they want to communicate with their customer online.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
This free newsletter will save you from scams.