How romantic travel will be different in a decade

A romantic sojourn once signified a commitment milestone, backdropped by a city known for its credentials d’amour (they don’t call Paris the city of love for nothing). But a new decade has arrived, with different desires emerging on the travel scape, according to new research from Mr & Mrs Smith and The Future Laboratory. From a rise in self-care to new travel milestones, these are the rendezvous to look forward to in 2030. By KATIE BERRINGTON

For true Maldivian immersion, Soneva Jani ticks all the right picture-postcard boxes

Room upgrades

Unsurprisingly, technology is expected to transform our romantic experiences in a variety of ways – and hotel bedrooms will see a sensual and scientific revamp in the coming years. While some people will increasingly seek a digital switch-off, technology can also be used to enhance communication. The dating-app era has expanded the ease for chance encounters and spontaneous connections – and the hospitality industry is catching on to the benefits. The Standard hotel chain, for instance, has created its own Lobby app, through which guests can chat with one another (and the digital trail disappears after checkout).

Then there are the ways technological developments could be used to heighten individual experience – from fabrics that respond to their occupant’s weight and movement to artwork and decor that changes based on mood. “Adaptable fabrics and artwork of this kind will be a feature of future hotel rooms to respond to each visitor’s biometric makeup, and these will be able to be programmed to suit a couple’s mood – from arousal to rest,” according to a report from luxury boutique hotel specialists Mr & Mrs Smith and future trends consultancy The Future Laboratory.

Moreover, the CBD cannabis-oil trend is likely to reach the bedroom – from in-room CBD-infused oils to vials provided at turn-down. To counter the evolving urbanization of modern life, getting closer to our natural surroundings will increasingly become a marker of luxury, with more and more hotels looking to “reignite guests’ senses by re-introducing them to nature”.

Where to try it now: Soneva Jani, Maldives, for Maldivian immersion – from castaway picnics to retractable roofs in suites (ideal for stargazing).

Planet love

Romantic travel might be best served hot, but environmental impacts are definitely not. The research acknowledges that sustainability will remain a vital conversation, becoming the expectation (rather than an added bonus) for most of our travels. Going beyond merely checking the eco-credentials of a hotel, couples are likely to be more proactive in engaging in conscious travel to leave positive impacts. According to the research: “[They] will be able to immerse themselves in their getaways with the full peace of mind that the only thing they’re leaving an impression on is each other.”

This may take the form of ‘Shared-purpose séjours’, in which you bond over a joint mission, or ‘Bio-positive beauty’, which will use locally sourced ingredients, treatments and services so you know that you are supporting the community and economy on your travels. Meaningful shared experiences will be bolstered by activities that benefit the place and people you are visiting, as well as enabling you to immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy environmentally conscious luxuries.

Where to try it now: Salt of Palmar, Mauritius, for its eco-friendly Salt Equilibrium spa, trips to the sustainable salt farm and skill-swapping with locals.

Salt of Palmar, in Mauritius, where supporting the local community is an integral part of the hotel’s ethos

Time well spent

More and more, couples are choosing to book separate rooms or independent activities, allowing for space and encouraging enhanced moments of intimacy when they are with each other. With singledom on the up, the hospitality industry will have to start catering to these individual quests for self-care, too.

Wellness-focused pursuits are expected to soar in popularity when it comes to activities taken together (or apart), from sound healing and digital-disconnection tours to couples’ mindfulness and sexual self-care. Far-flung gourmet getaways are also in demand, courtesy of the trend for restaurant-first and drinks-focused travel.

Where to try it now: Entre Cielos Luxury Wine Hotel & Spa, Argentina, for Malbec tastings and the loft suite situated in its vineyards.

For a Lisbon city break, Casa Fortunato is hard to beat – whoever you decide to take with you…

Non-clichéd keystones

Would you be tempted to invite a few close friends to join your honeymoon? The increase in ‘buddymoons’ suggests that many of us are foregoing traditional set-ups for a more sociable alternative, whether that’s an extended destination wedding or a group honeymoon. In general, non-couple trips are likely to see a surge in the next decade, with people enjoying bonding vacations with the non-romantic significant others in their lives.

Where to try it now: Casa Fortunato, Lisbon, for a next-gen guesthouse and sociable city break.

Redefining romance

From friends to lovers and the self, the travel industry will start catching up to accommodate the “plethora of polyamorous possibilities”, self-care and different kinds of situationships. “Just as it is no longer correct to discuss gender or sexuality as binary and fixed, so it is no longer correct to talk of romance in such linear and familiar terms,” says The Future Laboratory’s co-founder, Martin Raymond.

“In essence, by 2030, any traditional view of romance will have been challenged and repackaged in a hyper-personalized hospitality world that allows couples to explore,” says Raymond, “not only new places, but also their partners and themselves in more profound ways than ever before.”