Wealthy travellers are going barefoot and making a difference

The concept of barefoot luxury isn’t new, but the travel industry is maximising its potential when creating new experiences. Picture: Pexels.

The concept of barefoot luxury isn’t new, but the travel industry is maximising its potential when creating new experiences. Picture: Pexels.

Published Oct 20, 2021


Gone are the days when travellers want to flaunt their wealth on holiday with designer clothing, mega yachts, and other indulgent travel spoils.

These days, they want to dress casually, let their hair down, make a difference and relax, whether it’s at a resort overlooking white sandy beaches or a safari lodge that shines the spotlight on conservation.

The concept of barefoot luxury isn’t new, but the travel industry is maximising its potential when creating new experiences.

Money is no object to some travellers, and those who can afford holidays prefer to take trips away from traditional luxury travel.

Andrea Britt, the co-founder at Secret Getaway, said more travellers wanted to immerse themselves in outdoor and nature experiences without compromising on luxury.

“Barefoot luxury isn’t about being cheap, it is about the immersive experience that guests get to enjoy. These experiences are well out and different to what many have experienced before,” she explained.

According to Britt, this trend is rustic and laid-back but still offers plenty of comforts.

“You don’t have to wear a suit and tie or an expensive dress. You can dress casually while still enjoying all the creature comforts that come with luxury travel.

“Several new properties, especially upscale lodges, are including these rustic activities on their list of experiences. They want to showcase authenticity without skimping on the price.

“Barefoot luxury is thoughtful and well-considered,” she said.

Shezaad Gani, the operations director for Travel Juice, a specialist halal travel concierge company in South Africa, believes the barefoot luxury trend is fast gaining popularity from Gen X, millennials and Gen Z travellers.

“As the name would suggest, the basic concept is a simple one. It is a luxury holiday experience where you ditch your shoes and spend most of the time barefoot,” he said.

“However, barefoot luxury trips are more than that. They satisfy an urge to discard the traditional bling experience and, instead, connect and be one with nature without compromising on luxury.

“A holiday where you can be who you are.

“This concept was most likely a result of people reassessing life’s priorities and adjusting perspectives,” Gani added.

Luxury barefoot trips are in high demand, according to Gani.

“Private beachside villa accommodation is popular. Here, you have the ideal blend of luxury, beach and private spaces, all wrapped with the amenities of any five-star hotel. It’s the best of both worlds, and it’s how holidays should be,” he said.

Where to go

Britt said Africa was fast becoming a trendy barefoot luxury attraction for travellers.

She said many properties in Africa offered barefoot luxury experiences for guests – from trail and conservation camps to star bed experiences.

Among the destinations that were embracing the trend were Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and some parts of South Africa.

Places like Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana “beguile guests’ senses and stir their souls” through evocative interiors to one-of-a-kind encounters.

Here, guests can go on an art and design tour conceptualised by Toni Tollman, Philip Fourie and Anton de Kock in collaboration with award- winning South African gallery Southern Guild.

Guests can also embark on a helicopter safari, stargaze and sleep under the stars at The Baobab Treehouse.

At Travessia Beach Lodge in Mozambique, guests get to enjoy a Bush and Village Walk that allows them to learn about the customs of locals and visit sites like the rare baobab tree or the local bush bakery.

While the walk is complimentary for guests, they can donate to the Village Fund that contributes towards the building and maintenance support for the local schools and infrastructure.

Other experiences at the lodge include biking on the beach, ocean experiences and market visits.

Marataba Conservation Camps in Limpopo aims to balance conservation and adventure with fun and relaxation. The 21 000ha privately managed section within the Marakele National Park allows travellers to get involved in rhino conservation safaris.

How to plan a barefoot luxury trip

Gani said travellers are in complete control of what they want in a barefoot luxury holiday.

He said travel agents build experiences around guests’ preferences.

“Some families prefer cooking classes with their children while some enjoy horseback riding on the beach.

“Some couples want a romantic dinner on the beach while others book helicopter rides. Other guests want to soak in the views from their villa and connect with friends,” he said.

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