Antonio Cuellar is a world-renowned luxury hotel photographer and architectural photographer. He has long been a pioneer in this exclusive and specialized field of photography. Antonio has traveled the globe working with some of the most unique and luxurious properties in the world. He is an expert at capturing the essence of what makes a property unique and conveying this in a series of spectacular images and videography. In his spare time, Antonio is also one of the highly respected judges of the annual Luxury Travel Guide Awards. His website Antonio Cuellar Photography has all about him.
Antonio has a unique depth of understanding of the luxury hotel and travel industry. We were grateful that he could spare a few moments of his time to share some of his insights into the elite travel industry.
What is your definition of luxury?
Luxury trips are much more than the best seat on the plane or the most opulent hotel lobby. Naturally, magnificence implies something that costs more because affluent voyage offers one-of-a-kind escapades. Elite travelers are increasingly sophisticated and want more than a room with an exquisite view. There are now new and non-materialistic expectations that are part of a prosperous tour adventure. Grandeur travelers want to be able to explore and experience the local culture in a way that is respectful of the natural environment. People also desire to have the freedom to customize their escapades to their tastes.
Luxury travel has become increasingly sophisticated in this modern world. The contemporary luxury traveler expects luxury, of course. They also desire comfort, technology, understanding, and a destination that respects and embraces the local culture and allows travelers to feel something truly unique.
Who is the luxury traveler, and what are they seeking?
The demographics of the affluent traveler used to be the realm of the wealthy and the retiring elite.
However, modern tours are changing and evolving; thus, so too is the perception of luxury travel. As our modern-day lives become increasingly fraught with anxiety and constant stress, more people are now willing to pay for a magnificent trip experience.
For many, extravagant travel is synonymous with a stress-free encounter filled with unique and enriching memories. As a luxury hotel photographer, I believe that a luxury hotel experience provides comfort, quality, and exceptional service. It also offers people the opportunity to observe a way of life that is different from the seemingly mundane life of the home. When someone is paying for an opulent tourl experience, they also expect a world without stress or inconveniences.
A luxury traveler demands only the highest service levels and expects to feel optimistic about anything they might experience. Self-care and the wellness industry is now very much tied up with any luxury travel experience. Wellness could include menus that offer the best nutritional values or spas with an extensive range of treatments. The extravagant traveler is certainly expecting more when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing.
Another issue that is becoming increasingly important to the luxury traveler is sustainability and environmental practices. The affluent traveler does not want an escapade that comes at the cost of the environment.
Our lives have changed so rapidly over the past two decades. Travelers are looking for the latest ‘new’ places and social media-worthy destinations and adventures. However, increasingly, in the elite end of the market, travelers realize that it is not acceptable for unique experiences to be responsible for destroying our natural environment.
During my global travels as a luxury hotel photographer and architectural photographer, I have seen a shift in elite travelers’ attitudes. They certainly still expect the most luxurious and unique properties with exceptional service. However, there have been some notable changes. Now luxury travelers want exclusive adventures that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. They also desire local know-how and hotels that are doing as much as possible to reduce their carbon footprint.
Do you think the industry is listening?
Absolutely. The affluent travel industry is one that is continually evolving. Luxury hotel brands are increasingly looking at how to make their operations more sustainable. Not only that, in many instances, but they are also making sure that acceptable environmental practices are at the forefront of guest experiences.
Destination properties now focus on what makes their destination unique and try to incorporate this into their properties. Embracing the local culture is very much a part of the affluent travel guest’s experience. It can include interior styling, cuisine choices, and local activities on offer for their guests.
When it comes to the guest’s physical and mental wellbeing, it is almost mandatory now for a luxury hotel to offer a sophisticated wellness experience. These experiences can include spas, in-house therapists, wellness coaches, or personal trainers. Many properties now feature 24-hour fitness and spa facilities.
What to look for as a luxury traveler?
As each person is different, it isn’t easy to be general when assessing what to look for as an extravagant traveler. I think what is most important as a luxury traveler is first to have an understanding of the type of experience you are seeking. Then ensure that your chosen extravagant hotel or destination will be able to deliver that experience to you memorably and enjoyably. Funnily enough, the #1 hotel amenity that travelers from all demographics want is that of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is pretty much a standard amenity now though it is always wise to check.
By understanding the type of experience you are seeking, you will be more able to find the right luxury hotel or destination to suit your needs. You might be seeking an exclusive venue with few other guests or an off-the-grid experience. Alternatively, your priority might be spa facilities, incredible culinary experiences, or an endless list of day-trip and excursions. Regardless of what you are seeking, you should be able to find it. Extravagant travel now seems to offer almost every possible escapade that you can imagine.
What do you love most about being a hotel photographer and an architectural photographer?
As a luxury hotel photographer and an architectural photographer, I get to observe and feel the best the world offers in magnificent travel. I also love the opportunity of being able to document these genuinely unique properties and capture the essence of what they offer in a series of stills and videos. I love working in such an exciting industry. It is all about people experiencing a different world, one that they possibly had only thought about in their dreams.
Luxury travel is all about magical experiences, and I feel privileged that I am a part of capturing that magic.