I struggled with this post. I didn’t have to write it, the fine folks over at Curio didn’t ask me to write it but I honestly wanted to write it. My problem though is how to write it without it seeming like an ad, which it’s not. I tend to get overly enthusiastic when it comes to the travel experience, and coming across as a little TOO excited is something I have to be careful about. But I think it’s ultimately a good quality. It shows that I love what I do, that I’m passionate about it unlike anything else in my life. Anyway, all of this is going somewhere, I promise. I recently had the opportunity to stay at The Logan Hotel in Philadelphia, a Curio hotel, in order to experience the best that the hotel and city has to offer. Curio invited me, it was a sponsored trip and I’ve already written a post about it. Turns out though that for me it was a lot more than just a simple press trip. I started to fall for Curio and hard. I began to identify with everything they’re doing and saw myself reflected in the style and ethos behind the company itself. Hence this post. I want to share a few salient facts about Curio, why I like them and why the modern traveler should add them to their list of hotels to visit as they travel the world.
What is Curio?
Curio – A Collection by Hilton is a set of more than 20 upscale hotels and resorts handpicked for their unique character and personality. In trade terms, Curio is known as a soft brand. All that means is that while Hilton supports the hotels, they retain their own branding. This is an important element in the overall experience, which I’ll get to in a few paragraphs. The properties are carefully selected based on their character and for offering a truly unique local experience. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I first learned about this concept because I firmly believe that it’s the future of upscale travel.
The Logan Hotel as exemplar
Staying The Logan in Philadelphia was my first experience with Curio, so the hotel had a lot to accomplish in order to win me over. A high-end traveler, those amenities I’ve come to expect are an important aspect of any hotel stay for me. Amazing service, well-designed surroundings and a commitment to offering each guest a remarkable experience all rank highly for most upscale travelers. The Logan accomplished this for me in a variety of ways. I always tell people that the hallmark of any great hotel is the service. It’s the one asset that can’t be purchased, it’s the result of great training and a personal commitment on behalf of each and every staff member to care. That means a lot to guests and sadly, it’s getting harder and harder to find. From a warm and enthusiastic welcome when I arrived to every single request I made, the service at the Logan Hotel was beyond reproach. It set the stage for all of the other elements to enter and add to my own personal enjoyment of the property. What’s most important though not just at the Logan but for all Curio hotels is the connection to the local community, and it was this aspect that won me over completely. The Logan calls itself Philadelphia’s hotel, and it has certainly embraced all that is great about the city. Every work of art around the hotel, the menus and even recommendations on what to see and do, they all indicate a certain love for the city that frankly can be hard to find. This isn’t a cookie cutter hotel, this is a unique and luxurious hotel that is the hospitality equivalent of a love letter to Philadelphia.
Why I think this is all very important
I few weeks ago I wrote about my own style of travel that I call honest luxury. Most travel experts would agree that experiential travel is the new luxury, and I couldn’t agree more. Sure, spending some time at a nice tropical resort where you do nothing but rest by the pool can be fine, but more often people want more. They want to get out and explore, experience local communities and cultures and feel like they’ve actually traveled somewhere. Nice pools exist everywhere, but those cultural connections, those are unique. I usually explain it by saying when I’m in Bangkok I love staying at the Mandarin Oriental or the Peninsula, but during the day you’ll find me in the markets, eating $2 street food lunches and getting to understand the city on a personal level.
The problem here is obvious. Experiential luxury just doesn’t cut it as a single term; it’s not really accurate for me and millions of others like me. I’m a Gen-Xer, but I firmly believe that what I’m about to lay out will be the new luxury of the future; how Millennials in particular will choose to see the world and how that in turn will (already has honestly) influence everyone else.
Honest luxury travel is the way in which we combine the finer elements of the travel experience with the real, unvarnished look into a new destination. Over time, I have realized that my own preoccupation with culture, history and the destinations themselves are truly what is at the heart of the experience. It’s the new way that upscale travel is being redefined thanks in large part to those slightly annoying Millennials, but also to the other generations who have emulated their style of travel. This is how I experience the world, this is how I combine those fancy hotel rooms with real and authentic travel experiences and that is why I call it honest luxury.
Several companies are doing this and doing it well, it’s not only Curio, but based on my brief exposure to them not only do they manage these concepts expertly, they’re also looking ahead for ways to further evolve the definition. That’s key I think, this style of travel is the new normal and frankly, it’s what people want. People want travel as exploration and not exploitation. Travel as an experience and not a voyeuristic activity. Travel as something that is life changing and not just an indulgence. That’s why I enjoyed my time at the Logan and that’s why I hope to enjoy even more immersive experiences with the Curio collection well into the future.